Constitutional Law Study Guide

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Chapter 8 bureality shows that these compartments aren’t watertight; laws typically originate in the executive branch as bills that aren’t expected to change much as they make their way through legislative mill legislature dominated by small groups of members (Prime Minister and cabinet) who oversee executive branch bureaucrats, who implements passed laws, often have large discretion in determining the actual meaning of the laws legislative branch represent the people and accountable to them thru periodic elections debate public issues make laws executive branch implement laws carry out public’s business efficiently, accountable, and legally non-elected officials faithfully carry out policies of whatever party forms the government judicial branch free from interference by the government interpret law’s meaning not substitute its preferences for those of elected public officials in matters of public policy, as distinct from legal and constitutional interpretation

Executive branch
Monarch and Governor General
Canada is a constitutional monarchy (Monarch is Queen Elizabeth II)
Monarch embodies the authority of the Canadian state, any action of the country is taken in the Queen’s name
Monarch responsible for appointing Prime Minister and deciding when new elections will be held
Duties carried out by Governor General (Michaelle Jean) when Queen not in country
Both perform symbolic functions, where PM exercises the real decision making
Newly elected legislature must be given the opportunity to meet
Constitutional convention is more important than discretion of the monarch
PM’s request for dissolve of government usually granted automatically, unless the monarch says otherwise
Monarch and governor general play no specific role in setting the governments policy agenda or in the subsequent decision making process
Royal assent to legislation is virtually automatic
Although governor general and monarchs roles are basically symbolic, they are still important
Ceremonial duties that are part of government must be performed by someone
Non-elected head of state serves as a buffer against the self-aggrandizing tendencies of elected politicians
Monarchy is said by some to be an irritating reminder of Canada’s colonial ties to Britain and the dominance of Anglo-Canadians in this country’s politics
When French-English tensions run high, the issue of which groups in Canada are symbolically represented by the Monarch resurfaces

Prime Minister and Cabinet at the centre of the policy making process
PM is the head of government in Canada, and leader of the dominant party in the House of Commons
First duties is to select the people who will be cabinet ministers, who are usually other elected members of the House of Commons
Privy council AKA cabinet
Anyone who has been member of cabinet retains the privy councilor title after leaving
Powers of PM and cabinet include control over budget
MPs who are not cabinet members do not have right to introduce private members bills
Power of PM is to decide
Who is appointed to, or removed from, cabinet
When new election is held
Administrative structure and decision making process of government
Selection of persons to a wide array of appointive positions (deputy ministers, judges of federal and provincial courts, senators, members of federal regulatory agencies, board of directors of federal crown corporations, ambassadors)
Although individual cabinet ministers are separately accountable to Parliament for actions of their departments, the PM cant avoid personal accountability for overall performance of government and for all major policies
Responsible government encourages party discipline, which means that elected members of a party will act as a unified bloc on most matters
Party discipline ensures that members of governing party will normally be docile in their support of the government policies
When government has a majority in both the House of Commons and