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Cdn Pols Study Notes 2014 winter

9 Pages

Political Science
Course Code
POLS 2910
Gabrielle Slowey

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Weeks 1-4 Parliamentary Democracy - system of democratic governance of a state in which the executive branch derives its democratic legitimacy from, and is held accountable to, the legislature (parliament); the executive and legislative branches are thus interconnected. In a parliamentary system, the head of state is normally a different person from the head of government. This is in contrast to a presidential system in a democracy, where the head of state often is also the head of government, and most importantly: the executive branch does not derive its democratic legitimacy from the legislature. Constitutional monarchy is a form of democratic government in which a monarch acts as a nonpolitical head of state within the boundaries of a constitution, whether written or unwritten. [1] While the monarch may hold formal reserve powers and government may officially takes place in the monarch's name, they do not set public policy or choose political leaders. The Formal Executive- Canada became a country out of confederation of 1867, Represents the Crown in Canadian politics. Queen Elizabeth II is represented as head of state by governor general David Johnston in Canada. This is thought of mainly as a ceremonial positional and the Governor General has two main roles. 1. Representative of the Queen “ Unifying symbol for the Country” 2. Guardian of Responsible government, (Ensuring the executive branch (PM/Cabinet) maintain the confidence of the House of Commons) – The GG has played vital roles in Canadian politics such as the King-Binge affair 1926- Where the GG did not allow the prorogation of government as it was seen as a political technique against responsible government. – (Reserve Powers) power to appoint PM, dismiss PM, power to desolve government The Political/Effective Executive - Prime Minister and Cabinet, advises the governor general, Centre for policy making process, largely controls the legislative process due to a “fusion of powers” Pm determines size of cabinet usually between 25-40 and this is the central goal of all federal politicians PM select MPS for cabinet based on merit, regional representation, part of his party, convention of at least 1 from each province ( French Canadians, women, visible minorities) Prime Minister – powers – 1. Advise governor general on make up of cabitnet 2. central agenda setter in Canadian politics (chair of cabinet, sets agenda, unilateral decision, spotlight. 3. Party leader 4. Power ofAppointment – appoint senators, judges governor general 5. power to advise governor general with respect to dissolution of parliament and holding elections 6.Canadas chief diplomat – face on world stage – power to negotiate- Is PM too powerful? Argument – pm no longer relies on cabinet for advice but rather looks to PMO Counter argument – always option of non-confidence, cabinet or caucus revolt, electoral defeat, opposition of provincial premiers. Cabinet/Cabinet Committee system – cabinet ministers are put in charge of a particular ministry or department, the member becomes the top politician responsible for public policy in this particular department or jurisdiction. Informal hierarchy of ministers, most prestigious portfolios or departments are given to members most trusted by PM, Finance generally understood to be most important Work as a team to develop general policy decision, convention of collective responsibility = entire cabinet must retain the confidence of the house of commons not just individual members - Group cabinet ministers whose responsibilities relate ( priorities & planning committee) Prime Minister Office - (PMO) made up of non-career politicians, personal, partisan staff of the prime minister, policy experts, political strategists, public relations, ( Support staff the PM knows and have a trusting relationship to help advise him) Main focus on helping the PM win the next election. – Gets completely remade with each new PM Privy Council Office ( PCO)- Manage PM minutia, principle link between PM and public service Non-partisan career civil-servants who assist the Prime Minister and Cabinet, logistical assistance and policy expertise, non-partisan advice Clerk of the Privy council is the head of PCO.Assist Cabinet in decision making House of Commons – Main legislative body in Canadian politics, made up of 308 Members of Parliament, include the Prime Minister, The Opposition, Speaker, backbench mps, Cabinet ministers, adversarial layout : derived from the principle of Responsible government Role to hold the executive accountable, in practice it is a place for MPs to vote on bills “ The Legitimation phase” – Most bill are generally introduced here Committee system, 12-15 mps that focus on bills related to a particular policy area, inspect and vote on every clause of the Bill, often propose amendments to the Bill, vote of non-confidence MPS – Elected through a single member plurality system based on their constituency, cabinet ministers, government backbenchers, opposition avenues for MP influence = 1. Membership of legislative committees 2. Weekly caucus meeting 3. Private members bill. Subject to Party Discipline Modes of representation 1. Trustee – vote based on conscience 2. Constituency Delegate – vote based on what the MP’s constituency might want 3. Party Delegate – Vote based on what their party leadership wants. Party Discipline - Why is party discipline so strong 1. responsible government 2. shared ideological outlook 3. general deference to leader 4. prospects of promotion 5. prospects of other perks 6. job security consequence of party discipline – “Cabinet government” – meaning the cabinet can basically always count on support of the party due to party discipline, thus they pass propose legislation and steer the government in a manner that they find to best fit the interest of the party. Often this conflicts as backbench MPs thus lose power in this relationship and are essentially forced to represent the party more so than their constituency who they were elected by to represent in parliament. Omnibus Bill – All bills presented in legislature must pass all the stages of ratification before the end of the session or they are completely erased from the records. Abill that covers a large number of diverse & unrelated topics put together, which is accepted/rejected via a single vote in HOC. Example being Harpers budget bill in 2013, Because of the large size & scope it limits opportunities for debate and scrutiny. Thus scene as political technique to pass more legislation that might go unnoticed. Arguments 1. Anti- democratic vs efficiency argument. Parliament – institution as well as the length of time between two elections, can be devided into sessions. 4 sessions each lasting a year generally . Each session begins with a throne speech & budget. Recess/Adjournment – short break that does not end a session or effect “bill progress” Prorogation – Termination of a session, all bills in progress die, however there are mechanisms to revive “bill in progress” in the next sessions - Can be used as a political technique like harper, King-BingeAffair 1926. Carried out by GG Dissolution – Termination of a session followed by an election ( end of parliament) All bills in progress die - Happens if the executive (Pm/Cabinet) don’t have the confidence of the HOC. Determined by a Vote of non-confidence by all MPs in HOC, - Carried out by GG Throne Speech - The Speech from the Throne officially opens every new session of Parliament. The Speech sets out the broad goals and directions of the government and the initiatives it will undertake to accomplish those goals. The Speech is usually given by The Queen’s representative, the Governor General, although it may be given by The Queen in- person. It is called the Speech from the Throne because the Governor General reads it while sitting in the seat in the Senate Chamber reserved for the Head of State or her representative, as the head of Canada’s system of executive government. The Governor General reads the Speech to a gathering of Parliamentarians (Members of the House of Commons and Senators) and others, such as the Justices of the Supreme Court of Canada. Question Period – refers to the daily activity in the house of commons where the opposition has a particular time frame to question and debate the Prime minister and party in power on action or policy they may find to be unjust. This question periods significance has been ironically called into question as many share the view that it has simple become a strategy to injoke the media and shed light on something insignificant piece of information.Also this question period is essentially referee by the speaker of the house and one of the few points in time the house of commons is full. Private Members Bill - a parliamentary system of government is a bill (proposed law) introduced into a legislature by a legislator who is not acting on behalf of the executive branch. The designation "private member's bill" is used in most Westminster Systemjurisdictions, in which a "private member" is any member of parliament (MP) who is not a member of the cabinet (executive). I.e. – Michael Chong MP – bill on empowering backbenchers in HOC and loosening party discipline. RoyalAssent - RoyalAssent is the name for the method by which any constitutional monarch formally approves an act of his, her or their nation's parliament, thus making it a law or letting it be promulgated as law. Week 5 Senate – obstruct or veto bills ( rare ), helpful amendments to bills, fulfull useful research roles Appointed on a patronage basis. is a component of the Parliament of Canada, along with the House of Commons, and the monarch (represented by the governor general). The Senate is modelled after the British House of Lords and consists of 105 members appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister. Seats are assigned on a regional basis, with each of the four major regions receiving 24 seats, and the remainder of the available seats being assigned to smaller regions. The four major regions are Ontario, Quebec, the Maritime provinces, and the Western provinces. The seats forNewfoundland and Labrador, the Northwest Territories, Yukon, and Nunavut are assigned apart from these regional divisions. Senators may serve until they reach the age of 75. The Senate is the upper house of parliament and the House of Commons is the lower house. This does not, however, imply that the Senate is more powerful than the House of Commons, merely that its members and officers outrank the members and officers of the House of Commons in the order of precedence for the purposes of protocol. Indeed, as a matter of practice and custom, the Commons is by far the dominant chamber.Although the approval of both houses is necessary for legislation, the Senate rarely rejects bills passed by the directly elected Commons: between 1867 and 1987 the Senate rejected a little less than two bills per year. Moreover, members of the Cabinet are responsible solely to the House of Commons; the Prime Minister of Canada and the rest of Cabinet stay in office only while they retain the confidence of the Commons; Senators are not beholden to such control. Although legislation can normally be introduced in either house, the majority of government bills originate in the House of Commons. Under the constitution, money bills
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