Sept 9 and 16 Reading Notes

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Political Science
Nelson Wiseman

Sept 9& 16 POL 215 Reading Notes Brooks Chapter 5: The Constitution -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) 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 Soviet Union) -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 Provincial Levels 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 can’t infringe. 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 -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 Constitutional Functions Representation - 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 voters. - 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, aboriginals etc.) - Constitutions also establish the methods through which holders of public office are selected. - 2 Methods for Holding Public Office: Election and Appointment. Also, within Canada, the legislative power is divided between an elected chamber and an appointed one. (Proportional Repres
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