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Final Exam Review

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York University
Political Science
POLS 2910
Gabrielle Slowey

Sample questions from prior years The events surrounding the G20 meetings in Toronto in June 2010 raised a number of questions about our democratic freedom to protest, to be heard, to peacefully assemble, to be free from arbitrary arrest, search and prolonged detention, to be made aware of laws that govern us and so on. Which two of the many issues that arose out of the events are the most important to debate and why? Media ownership in Canada is more highly concentrated than in many other countries. A handful of large corporations control television, radio, newspapers, mobile devices and even access to the internet. What does this mean for our ability to initiate a democratic discourse that includes alternatives not supported by media-owning corporations? Explain the arguments for and against progressive taxation and personal and corporate taxation trends in Canada in the post 1945 period. What effect will these trends have on Canadian society and politics? Discuss with examples, Canada’s long and continuing history of state ownership or control of economic assets. What is happening to state ownership and control in the era of neoliberalization and globalization? Will these trends be good for Canadians? Why has the building of a rapid and effective regime of access to information laws and complimentary privacy legislation been so slow? What is left to do and why have governments not committed to doing it? Is this important or relatively unimportant and why? Should the government be invested in areas generally left to private business and the market? How do the examples of potash and the LCBO (or other examples you can think of) demonstrate some of the key issues, advantages and disadvantages between public and private ownership? 1. Prorogation Crisis of 2008: • Parliament • Prorogue • Minority/majority government • Coalition government • Speech from the Throne • Confidence vote • Canada Gazette 2. Stephen Harper being PM: • Neoliberalism • Social conservatism • Political parties 3. Elections, the Electoral System and Finance • Vote suppression • First past the post 4. The Justice System • Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Section 2) • Executive • Supreme Court • Criminal /Civil Law 5. Freedom of Information and Privacy • Access to Information Access to information • What: o Also called Freedom of Information or ATI, citizens must have access to governmental information which says how they make their policies and decisions • Significance: o Making this information accessible and allowing the public to see it whill educate them on critical issues directly affecting them (tar sands) o How do we know what information is collected on us by private companies and how do we know it does not fall into the wrong hands? o Prime example: wikileaks in which Bradley Manning is advocated for betraying national secrets o Canada Elections Act Canada Gazette Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Section 2 • What: o Charter of Rights is a bill of rights entrenched into the Constitution of Canada and makes up the first part of the 1982 Constitution Act o It guarantees certain political rights and all civil rights of citizens of Canada from all areas of governmental action o Section 2 guarantees 4 freedoms: a) Freedom of religion b) Freedom of speech and expression, includes press c) Freedom to peacefully protest d) Freedom of association • Significance: o Bryan V The Attorney General of Canada o During the 2000 Federal Election Paul Bryan posted the provisional voting results of the Maritime electoral districts while polling was still open in Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta, Saskatchewan and BC o He effectively violated section 329 of the Canada Elections Act which prohibits transmission of polling results to parts of the country in which polls are still open, and was charged as a result o Bryan appealed, stating that by him being charged of exhibiting polling results, his section 2b and 2d of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms were being violated, which states freedom of thought including press and freedom of association o In provincial court, it was determined that section 329 is a reasonable limit and is necessary for a democratic society o However upon appealing to the Supreme Court, section 329 was repealed and has yet to be reinstated o Significant to understand how Canada’s court system works and the manner in which the Supreme court had the final say. Also related to common law as the concept of stare decis was used; providing a formal explanation as to why a decision was made so future court cases could use as a precedent Chief Electoral Officer Civilian control of the police Coalition Common Law • What: o The basis of British and Canadian legal system (does not include civil law system in Quebec) which is associated with judicial precedents and the practice of seeking out previous decisions in cases related to the one at hand o The system in which Canadian federal, provincial and territorial legal systems operate, the basis of which is built upon the accumulation of judicial precedents over centuries in England and Canada. o In a typical court case both sides find precedents (previous court decisions) which favours their respective points of view. The judge decides which precedent most closely resembles the current case, related to stare decis + judicial discretion+ judicial review • Significance: o Confidence vote/motion • What: • Significance: th o During 40 General Election, Harper Government succeeded debate against speech from the throne as no party opposed it Criminal and civil law • What: o Criminal: a federal responsibility, branch of law which deals with wrongs committed against another individual which is “offensive to society as a whole” in which the state takes initiative to find a solution and if found guilty, those responsible are legally reprimanded (fine or jail) o Civil: regulates relationships between 2 private parties (ex. Individuals vs. corporations). If private agreement is not reached, one party can take the other to court. Most civil cases are within provincial jurisdiction as provinces have power over property and civil rights, not the federal government. Civil cases are solved on basis of “balance of probabilities” which takes into account the merits of each side. o Related to private and public law  Public: laws related to the state, go beyond criminal law to include constitutional law, administrative law, etc  Private law: like civil law as it centers on private interests • Significance: Crown corporations Crown land CRTC Executive • What: o The executive executes or brings charges under the law with the investigative powers of the police and the prosecutorial services. Both police and prosecution are part of the executive powers. In Canada these are done in the name of the Monarch who is the chief executive. In reality it is done by the Attorney General and really by lawyers or prosecutors in the Department of the Attorney General who decide to prosecute based on investigations by the police and other investigatory officers (Commissioner of Canada Elections). • Significance: First past the post • What: o Also called SMP (single member plurality) an electoral system in which the candidate with the most number of votes within an election wins, regardless if he or she obtained the majority of votes o Has 4 characteristics: 1. Country is divided into electoral districts 2. Each party elects one candidate to run in each district 3. Candidates are voted upon within districts rather than parties 4. The winner is chosen based on who has the most votes rather than who obtained the majority of votes o SMP is not proportional, meaning the percent of votes a party obtains across the country is not proportional to the number of seats won in the house of commons • Significance: o As a result of not being a proportional system, huge variation exists between the number of votes obtained and the number of seats w
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