Sept 9& 16
POL 215 Reading Notes
Brooks Chapter 5:
-Constitution essential to democratic politics, but constitution doesn’t ensure political democracy
and protection of human rights (ex. African constitution denying rights to blacks, People’s
Republic of China Constitution)
-fundamental law of a political system. This is because all laws must conform to constitution in
terms of how they are made and their substance.
-without it, there’s no way of resolving conflicts or checking powers of govt and people.
In modern societies, the alternative to constitutional governments is anarchy (ie. The former
-Within anarchy= no accepted rules of resolution between different members of population,
therefore the state does not exist whereas in totalitarianism, the state does exist.
- Constitutions are derived from 2 sets of relations: 1. Citizens and the state 2. The distribution
of power between different parts of the state 3. Distribution of powers between Federal and
1. Constitution empowers the state to act & to pass laws on behalf of the community. However
most constitutions also limit state power through individual rights, group rights that the state
2. 3 parts: Legislature (making laws), executive (implementing law), judiciary (interpreting law)
3. The Rules governing relations between the Federal and Provincial powers also part of the
-Constitution is made up of rules in the form of: written documents, court decisions
(common law), unwritten conventions.
Constitutional Conventions: Practices that emerge over time & become accepted as rules of
political system. (ex. Leader of party that gets most seats in house of commons election is
called to create the new govt)
*conventions though part of constitution are not ranked the same as constitutional law (written
docs+ common law)
** Rules of constitutional law are enforceable by courts, but constitutional conventions are not
- Representative Democracies =politicians make decisions on behalf of those who
elect them. - Representation by population (rep by pop) based on principle of “one person,
one vote” meaning elected members of legisl. Should rep same number of
- Federalism: a form of govt that embodies principle of territorial rep by giving
regional govts exclusive rights to pass laws on particular subjects.
- Representation in Canada can be by region (ie. Provinces), groups ( women,
- Constitutions also establish the methods through which holders of public office
- 2 Methods for Holding Public Office: Election and Appointment. Also, within
Canada, the legislative power is divided between an elected chamber and an