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Chapter 5

Political Science 2246E Chapter Notes - Chapter 5: The Elected, Responsible Government, Occupational Safety And Health

Political Science
Course Code
Political Science 2246E
Joseph Lyons

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Ch.5. Public Administration and Institutions: The Real World of
Organizations and the Machinery of Government
o Governing in Canada takes place within the context of capitalist
o At the root of capitalist economic systems is the right to private property
To defend that right, state structures are created that act in the
interests of those who hold property
If we define property here to mean the “means of production”,
then in a capitalist system, state structures act in the interest of the
Business interests (capital) must be defended through the
structures of the state
Since the majority of Canadians are not capitalists, the state
must also respond to the democratically expressed will of
ordinary citizens
o A federal system of government is one in which the constitutional
authority to make laws is divided between a national government and
regional governments
Neither the national government acting alone nor the regional
governments acting together have the authority to alter the power
of the other level of government
Where there is a dispute, the governments negotiate or resort
to the courts to adjudicate between them
o In the Canadian federal system, power divided through the Constitution
Section 91 lists the federal government’s powers and section 92 lists
the provincial government’s powers
o The national government has what is called the spending power
The spending power is the convention that if the federal
government has money to spend, it has the authority to do so even
in an area of provincial jurisdiction
o Executive branch
Consists of the monarch, the Governor General, and the Cabinet
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It administers the programs devised by the executive and tender’s
advice on the formulation of those programs
o Legislative branch
Consists of parliament, which is divided into the House of Commons
and the Senate
o Judicial branch
Consists of the Supreme Court and all the courts and judges below
it in the federal and provincial court systems
o There are two main features of cabinet-parliamentary government
1. The relationship between the branches of government
2. The Constitution tells us that certain offices are conferred with
tremendous powers, to practice reveals that they do not actually
exercise those powers
o In Canada, the monarch is represented by the Governor General
Who has the power on behalf of the monarch to decide which
political party will form the government, when Parliament will be
dissolved, and when a new election will be called
o Privy council
An advisory body
It consists of all current and former ministers of the Crown, more
commonly as the Cabinet
Only current members of the Cabinet exercise the powers
spelled out in the Constitution
They are chosen by the prime minister, who heads the
o Constitutional convention
Is the idea of habit or tradition: that is, when things have been done
a certain way for a long period of time, it becomes a convention
o Responsible government
Principle that the government must explain itself and be
accountable to the elected representatives of the people
In order to govern, the prime minister and cabinet must have the
confidence of the elected house of commons
if a government loses that confidence, it loses the right to
govern and can be removed from power
o fusions of power in the Canadian ration of powers
in the United States, the president is not a member of congress, nor
does he require the support of a majority of its members to retain
the fusion of powers in the Canadian system facilitates
accountability, in that the prime minister and cabinet must
participate every day in question period and other activities of the
House of Commons, explaining their policies and actions
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o legislative branch
is a law passing, rather than a law making, body
o party discipline
suggests party members always vote according to the instructions
of their leaders
o minority government
the power of legislature vis-à-vis is the executive is enhanced
o judicial branch
is composed of elected of appointed rather than elected officials
where constitutional law is concerned, the judicial branch mediates
two types of disputes
1. disputes related to the division of powers in the Constitution
2. relates to the relationship of government and citizens
the judicial branch is also concerned with administrative law,
making sure that the administrative processes, rules and regulations
of policy are followed
o the hallmark of the relationship between the judicial branch and the two
other branches is that the judicial branch is regarded as independent of
the control of the two other branches
o Politics-administration dichotomy
According to this principle, in the organization of government there
is a division between the elected officials and the appointed ones
The elected officials are the key decision-makers because, as the
theory of representative government tells us, they represent the
The appointed officials- the public servants- are there to take
orders, administer programs, and assist the politicians in formulating,
implementing and evaluating the government’s policies
o Governments are involved in making countless choices about what
policies to enact
This involves making compromises between competing groups and
If the people do not like their representatives’ decisions, they can
replace those representatives in the next election
Elections, therefore, are the mechanisms by which citizens
hold governments accountable for their actions
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