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Political Science
Victoria Wohl

POL214Y1 Course Readings Sept 13 2010 Brooks Chapter 5: The Constitution A constitution is the fundamental law of a political system, but it does not guarantee the rights and freedoms of people within the country All laws made most conform to the constitution both in how they are made and their substance state of nature is a state of chaos where no individual can feel secure Alternatives to a constitutional government in modern times are anarchy or totalitarianism A constitution empowers the state to act on behalf of the people and at the same time limits the powers of the state. This is done by the identification of individual rights Constitutions also distributes the powers between different parts of the state o Legislature, executive and judiciary Three forms: written documents, court decisions (common law) or unwritten conventions, however conventions are not a part of constitutional law The constitution describes the basis and method by which representations in government are chosen o Representation by population, federalism (territorial representation), proportional representation A constitution provides a legitimate exercise of state power, at the same time limiting it with tools like elections which make politicians accountable The fundamental right the constitution guarantees is the right to the vote but also extends to various human rights Constitutions establish community Canadas constitution is based on a series of laws passed between 1867 and 1982 Provinces are not constitutionally subordinate to the federal government www.notesolution.com Relationships that the constitution deals with are: o Between individual and state, between institutions and government, between national and regional governments Fundamental freedoms: freedom of religion, belief, expression, media, assembly and association Democratic Rights: right to vote on a regular basis Mobility rights: allows reasonable residency rights Legal rights: procedural aspects of law Equality rights: rule or law principle (everyone is equal under the law) Language rights: French and English are the official languages of Canada Aboriginal rights: The UK constitution is a series of political traditions, rather than laws, which the Canadian Constitution is modelled after Parliament o Consist of the Queen (ceremonial role) and the legislature o Privy Council: all members of the present and past cabinets, however only present members exercise the powers of the privy council. o Executive Branch: Queen Governor General Prime Minister Cabinet o Legislative Brach: House of Commons and Senate o Members of the executive branch are drawn from the legislative after a political party gains a majority of seats in the House of Commons. If the majority is lost, tradition requires a resignation and a new election Responsible Government o When the Prime Minister requires the support of a majority of members in the House of Commons in order to govern. If the government loses confidence then it must resign o Party Discipline: MPs of a particular party vote as a unified block in the legislature www.notesolution.com
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