Chapter 18 the provinces and the federal system.docx

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Political Science
Jennifer Levine

Chapter 18 the provinces and the federal system  The federal system is closely related to regional economic cleavages and regional identities, is important for ethnic cleavages and identities, influences the Canadian political culture, and affects the opration of the electoral system, political parties, and advocacy groups  In a formal sense, federalism can be defined as a divison of powers between central and regional governments such that neither is subordinate to the other  This definition distinguishes the relationship between national and provincial governments from that between provincial and municipal governments; in the latter case the municipalities are clearly subordinate entities while in the former, provinces are “coordinate” or equal in status to the central government  Other aspects of federalism are also important such as federal-provincial financial relations (taxing and spending) and joint policymaking mechanisms. The provincial Political Systems  Canada is made up of ten provinces and three territories  The provinces are autonomous within the powers given to them by the constitution, but the territories are constitutionally subordinate to the federal government  Even though the territories increasingly function as provinces, exercising similar powers, these powers could theoretically be revoked  Each province has considerable political and economic significance in its own right and can be considered a separate political system  Each provinces also has a somewhat distinctive political culture, party system, and array of advocacy groups.  Each province is theoretically headed by a lieutenant governor, who functions in the same way the monarch and governor general do; primarily performing ceremonial and social functions  The effective head of the provincial government is the premier, the equivalent of the prime minister, along with the cabinet, who are officially called the executive council  The provincial cabinet typically sets priorities, decides how much money to raise and spend, and how to do so, determines policies, gives direction for the preparation of legislation, oversees departmental administration, and makes order in council appointments  Premiers usually select their ministers from the elected members of the legislature and try to balance various interests; keep in mind that the size of the cabinet varies in proportion to the size of the province  The provincial legislatures are the elected representatives of the people, usually chosen at four- year intervals  These representatives are termed MLAs (members of the legislative assembly) in seven provinces, MPPs (members of the provincial parliament) in Ontario, MHAs (members of the house of assembly) in Newfoundland and Labrador, and MNAs (members of national assembly) in quebec  Each provincial legislature has only one chamber, which is divided between government and opposition members  The most important provincial responsibilities in Canada are health and education, meaning that these departments are usually the largest in terms of budget and personnel  Although provincial cabinets, legislatures, and beaurocracies may regularly interact with their federal counterparts, they do so on a basis of autonomy and equality.  However the federal and provincial judicial systems in Canada are completely integrated  Each province establishes its own hierarchy of courts, at the base of which are “provincial courts”, whose judges are appointed by the provincial cabinet. Above this level, the judges are appointed by the federal government  Every orovince also establishes a municipal level of government, typically including cities, towns, villages, counties and rural municipalities  The province determines the structures, responsibilities, and financial powers of these local governments  They are usually responsible for services to property, such as streets, sidewalks, water, sewers, garbage, police and fire protection and libraries  Province building is usually related to increases in provincial revenues and in the size of provincial bureaucracies, the creation of provincial crown corporations and central planning agencies, and the willingness and capacity of provincial governments to intervene in the process of industrial development and diversification The confederation settlement  The fundamentals of Canadian federalism, are often called the confederation settlement  The principal architect of confederation was sir john A macdonald, who intended the country to be a highly centralized institution  The confederation settlement consisted of five principal components: o The division of powers between the central and provincial governments o The division of financial resources o Federal controls imposed on the provinces o Provincial representation in the central institutions o Certain cultural guarantees  As far as the division of powers between the federal and provincial governments was concerned, the fathers of confederation gave the provinces 16 specific enumerated powers in section 92 (eg. hospitals and municipal institutions) and then left everything else – the residual power- to Ottawa, in section 91  For greater certainty however, section 91 also included a list of 29 federal powers, such as trade and commerce, and national defence  Two concurrent powers – agriculture and immigration – were listed in section 95  In the division of financial resources, federal dominance was even more clear cut  The fathers gave Ottawa the power to levy any mode or system of taxation, which included both direct and indirect taxes  Something else of importance is that the federally appointed lieutenant governors had an alternative to giving royal assent to a provincial law – the power or reservation  They could reserve provincial legislation for the consideration of the federal cabinet, which could then approve or reject it. But even if the lieutenant governor gave assent to a provincial law, the federal government could subsequently disallow it – the power of disallowance  Given the highly centralized nature of the division of powers, the limited financial resources of the provinces, and the federal controls, it is clear that the provinces had been placed in a subordinate position  In the light of the federal government’s dominant position, it is not surprising that the provinces were concerned with heir representation in the national policy making system  The great compromise that allowed confederation to go forward, regarding provincial representation in the house of commons and the senate, was that, the provinces would be represented according to population in the commons, but that regional equality would prevail in the senate  Thus each of the three original regions, the maritimes, quebec and Ontario, was to receive 24 senators, appeasing smaller provinces that could easily be out-voted in the lower chamber Evolution of Canadian Federalism  The following bit is about the division of powers, financial resources, and federal controls Division of Powers  The evolution of the division of powers between federal and provincial governments can be
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