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POLS 2300 (129)
Chapter 5

Week 4 Readings - Chapter 5.docx

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Political Science
POLS 2300
Tamara Small

POLS 2300: Canadian Government and Politics Chapter 5 Readings: The Executive Origins and Powers - Executive is the oldest branch of government - Modern history is one attempting to bind political executives to democratic impulses, as mediated by parliaments and to various refinements of the rule of law - In the British Tradition, the evolution happened particularly slowly and peacefully for the most part, creating a wealth of precedent, convention and common law - Westminster Model: Model of representative and responsible government used in the UK and in other countries - Prime Minister: Nominates the cabinet meaning there is a fusion of legislative and executive power in the Cabinet, the head of government as chosen by GG to form government that is able to maintain confidence in majority of the elected house of parliament and commons - Formal Executive: Consists of Queen, GG and Queen’s Privy Council for Canada, possesses formal constitutional authority and by convention acts on the advice of the political executive - Informal refers to political executive, whose far reaching powers derive largely from custom and convention but also from political resources The Formal Executive - Section 9 to 11 of the Constitution Act 1867, Formal executive means “vested in the Queen” - Queen remains Canada’s formal head of state - Formal duties of GG: o Summoning people to membership in the Senate o Appointing judgments o Summoning Parliament o Dissolving Parliament o Giving royal assent to legislation o Duty of picking new PM in case of resignation or death o Appoint and remove members of Privy Council - Performs these duties on advice of the Cabinet or the PM - The Queen’s Privy Council For Canada is to aid and advise in the Government of Canada - Privy Council consists of all those that have ever been federal cabinet ministers plus a limited number of honorific appointments - Privy Council main source of advice to the GG - Cabinet is the only active part of the Council The Crown, Monarchy, and Prerogative - Crown: Repository of all the executive powers of the state and is the supreme authority for government o Most generally understood to be the repository of all the executive powers of the state o Authority of government comes from the Crown o Powers of Crown come from statute and common law o Parliament grants the Crown statutory powers, which give the Crown both executive power and legislative power - Prerogative Power: The powers the monarch once uniquely possessed that have not been taken away by Parliament - Discretionary Prerogative Powers: Powers that the monarch’s representative may exercise upon their own personal discretion, include the appointment/dismissal of the PM and the dissolution of Parliament - It is a primary responsibility of the GG to ensure there is a government in place that has the support of the majority in the H of C A Governor General Stirs Up Controversy: The King-Byng Affair - William Lyon Mackenzie King, won the Liberal party’s first leadership convention, 2 years later became PM as head of the minority government that relied on the support of the Progressive party - Second place finish but King didn’t resign, asked GG Byng to dissolve House and call an election, Byng refused - King resigned and Meighen accepted the GG request to form a government The Political Executive - Political Executive: The PM, Cabinet and Ministers of State - PM sometimes referred to as First Minister - Political Executive most powerful part of the political system - Operates under cloak of custom and constitutional convention - Convention dictates that only the active part of the Privy Council (the government) can exercise governmental power - Doesn’t imply that the GG actually presides of the Cabinet, but that the GG acts on the advice of the Cabinet The Flexibility of the Westminster System - Nunavut and Northwest Territories don’t have political parties, candidates run as independents, all members of the legislative assembly elect the premier and cabinet in secret ballot and the cabinet as permanent minority often sees its policy and budget decisions subject to change by legislature - The parliamentary causes of the UK Conservative Party and the Australian Labour party can choose and remove the PM - In Australia and New Zealand, the parliamentary caucuses of the Labour parties select members of the ministry Categories of Office in the Ministry 1) PM – most powerful, appointment, electoral base, various prerogatives 2) Ministers – head departments of government, Intrepretation Act sets responsibilities for ministers 3) Ministers of State – secretaries of state were bound by the convention of collective responsibility, earn ¾ of the salary of cabinet ministers, attend Cabinet on a rotational basis in the Chretien years, and in Martin’s interlude they were expected to attend all Cabinet meetings 4) Parliamentary Secretaries – government party members chosen by the PM to assist a minister or occasionally more than one minister The Political Executive in Action - Recognizing responsible governments and ministerial responsibility - Responsible government is the central convention of the Canadian constitution - Collective responsibility: Cabinet needs the continued support of the majority of the elected House to stay in office - Responsible government consists of two things: o Individual ministerial responsibility  Responsibility of individual cabinet ministers to the H of C for the decisions and actions of the department they administer, minister is responsible for every action that takes place in the department whether or not they knew of it o Collective responsibility  The convention that the Cabinet as a group is responsible to the H of C for decisions and actions of the government - Cabinet Solidarity: basic principle that ministers must avoid public disagreements over policy once Cabinet decides on it and that they must vote in unison in the House of government business - Range of consequences that flow from cabinet solidarity: o 1. Government advice to the Crown must be unanimous even if arrived at after considerations of strongly held but opposed views o 2. Minister must loyally support and defend cabinet decisions and not quaver by suggestion he was compromised or reluctantly persuading, defend them publicly, not announce a new policy, must not express private views on government policies - Cabinet solidarity is important because of its strategic value - The PM decides the degree to which the words or actions of ministers count as a breach of cabinet solidarity and a threat to the stability of the governments - Cabinet Secrecy: A convention that forbids the disclosure of the views expressed by particular ministers in the setting of cabinet discussions in order to encourage frankness, safeguards cabinet ministers from having their opinions made public and having to defend them in the public realm Executive Dominance - Canadians live in a system marked by executive dominance - The PM and Cabinet dominate the legislative branch - The power structure itself contributes to the executive being the pre-eminent body in the political system - The political structure promotes executive dominance through constitutional authority and organizational factors - Executive dominance is sometimes weakened - The minority government has been toppled by a vote on a matter of confidence while in other cases the PM has requested an election in hopes of gaining a majority - The threat of defeat by vote of non-confidence is often enough to convince the government of the day to adopt some policies promoted by the opposition The Powers and Functions of the Prime Minister - Both the PM and Cabinet have special powers and functions in the Canadian version of the Westminster Model - The PM in the Canadian system enjoys the “5 p’s of power”: Parliamentary leader, party leader, patronage, policy-maker, public face - PM leads the Cabinet, which sets the principles for Parliament, and is influential in allocating Parliament’s times, along with the government House leader - There are thousands of non-public service-related positions in the public sector to be handed out - The PM is also powerful as a result of being the principle communicator with the Crown - The PM powers include the ability
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