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Chapter 11

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Political Science
Erin Tolley

POL214 Week 2; Chap 11 Political Culture Chapter 11 - The Canadian Political Culture  Pol culture can be defined as the sum total of the politically relevant values, beliefs, attitudes, identities and orientations in society.  A 2 nd aspect of pol culture involves beliefs regarding the role of the state-how large a part do Canadian want govt to play in their lives & what kinds of policies should it adopt? Theoretical Considerations:  Pol culture consists of the ideas, assumptions, values, and beliefs that shape our understanding and behaviour as citizens in the world of politics.  Jane Jenson adds that pol culture sets boundaries to pol action and limits the range of actors that are accorded the status of legitimate participants.  Bell points out that pol scientists use 2 principal methods of identifying the ingredients of pol culture. 1 is to survey individual Canadians and ask them about their attitudes and values. If and when such nd values and attitudes are widely shared, they can be said to constitute the collective pol culture. A 2 approach is to develop an understanding of the pol culture from observing the operation of the pol system and society more generally.  Hartz enunciated the “fragment theory” according to which the dominant values established in different parts of North America were those held by the Europeans who 1 arrived on the continent and reflected the pol culture of the country from which they came.  In Lisper’s analysis, sometimes called the “formative events” theory, the dominant values of any society have their foundation in great historical events. That would be American revolution, as far as the U.S pol culture goes, and the “counter – revolution”, the reaction against that revolution, that was a formative event in Canadian history. Democracy  The preamble to the 1982 Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms acknowledges democracy to be a foremost value in the country when it speaks of Canada as a “free and democratic society”, but the Charter is not particularly enlightening about what this means.  Democracy in the modern western world usually includes the elements of popular sovereignty, pol equality, pol freedom and majority rule. Popular Sovereignty  Popular sovereignty means that the people have the final say, which in large, modern pol systems usually takes the form of elections at certain specified intervals. Although their incidence is slightly higher at the provincial and municipal levels, only 3 national plebiscites or referendums have occurred since 1867: in 1898, on the prohibition of liquor sales; in 1942, on conscription; and in 1992, on the Charlottetown Accord. Political Equality  Every person has 1 vote and no more than 1 vote, as provided by the Canada Elections Act and the Charter of Rs & Fs. The principle of 1 person 1 vote is a minimal expression of pol equality.  A major deviation from the ideal occurs if members of Parliament are not distributed among provinces on the basis of “representation by population”.  Those who have the resources to help finance elections are likely to have more influence than those who merely vote. POL214 Week 2; Chap 11 Political Culture Political Freedom  Just as the 1982 Charter of Rs & Fs enhanced protection of aspects of popular sovereignty and pol equality, it also provided an explicit constitutional statement of pol freedom in Canada.  3 of the most striking cases where pol freedoms were seriously infringed upon occurred at the federal level. The 1 interference w/ freedom of speech or assembly had to do with section 98 of the Criminal Code prohibiting “unlawful associations”.  The 2 nd major case involved the incarceration or deportation of Canadians of Japanese extraction during WWII, depriving this group of personal liberty, property, and livelihood. rd  The 3 ex, the invocation of the War Measures Act in 1970, outlawed support for the FLQ but was used to imprison more than 400 nonviolent Quebec separatists who had no connection to that organization.  Although Canadians normally believe in pol freedom, they seem prepared to let the authorities restrain such individual or group liberty at the least suggestion of violence. Majority Rule and Minority Rights  The Canadian conception of democracy also incorporates the notion of majority rule-, it is felt necessary to protect certain minorities from the actions of the majority, so that specific minority rights are given constitutional protection.  The Charter also guaranteed equality rights for women (who are not actually a minority), and prohibited federal, provincial, and territorial discrimination against various types of minorities. Distinguishing between Canadian and American Values  Beyond the consensus on democracy, it is difficult to find widespread agreement on other values that constitute the Canadian pol culture. 1 approach that bears promise, however, is to contrast widely held Canadian values with those of the United States.  While the American Declaration of Independence list the objectives of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” Canada’s 1867 Constitution Act talks about “peace, order and good government”.  This approach leads us to identify 5 basic Canadian values that can be distinguished from those in the United States.  They are a balance between individualism and collectivism; particularism, diversity, and tolerance; deference to authority, egalitarianism and caution, diffidence, dependence idealism and nonviolence. Balance between Individualism and Collectivism  If there is a value other than democracy to which most Canadians adhere, it is probably that of individualism, liberalism, or capitalism, often expressed as the sanctity of private enterprise or individual eco freedom.  The general principle is widely shared that everyone should be free to go about their business as they choose and that those with the greatest talent or who work the hardest should reap the benefits of their abilities and labour.  Canada however, has been hostile toward public intervention and more inclined to rely on govt. It also stems from the basic Canadian value of collectivism or community. The accumulation of public demands has been given Canada an economy almost equally divided between private and public POL214 Week 2; Chap 11 Political Culture sectors. In just about every policy field, in fact, the extent of govt intervention is greater in Canada than in the U.S. Particularism, Diversity and Tolerance
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