Democracy and the Canadian State .
• Current Event topic: Provincial Liberals electing new leader in place of Dalton McGuinty and that person will become premier • responsible government - we elect a legislature and the party selects a leader to become our leader. • When the PM or premier resigns, the party picks a new premier or PM. Whoever is the leader of the liberal gov will become premier. • There are no laws governing how the parties choose their leader – it’s completely up to the party to decide how they’re going to pick their leader. • this weekend: Ontario Liberals are going to have a convention full of sixteen delegates (elected by local party members). These people will pick our premier. • The federal liberals are holding an online vote. The party makes the rules of themselves. • Years ago, the federal liberals’ leader was chosen by the MPs and ratified in a convention later. • Kim Campbell, John Turner, and Paul Martin became PM the same way – became leader of the party while their parties were in power and became PM. Contrasts with systems like the United States, where the leaders are elected directly. • Is this democratic? What are the principles of democracy? • majority rule? minority rights? inclusivity? • overview of democratic institutions in Canada and the principles that underly them, of which there are four (we will focus on each for a week later): 1. federalism 2. democracy 3. constitutionalism 4. British Parliamentary traditions
• part of framework underlying our institutions
• federalism: division of powers between two or more (in Canada, federal and provincial) levels of government, with neither of them being subordinate to the other. They are both sovereign – each level of government derives its power directly from the people and not from the other. • municipalities are not sovereign; they are subordinate to the provincial government.
• why do we have a federal state rather than a unitary state? • possibilities: • to ensure that not all government power is in one governmental body – we’re suspicious of governmental power and want to ensure that nobody is too powerful • ex. prioritized in the United States: Second Amendment right to bear arms is founded on a suspicion of government. They’re concerned about government having too much power. • to address and respect (regional & linguistic?) diversity • ex. prioritized in Canada: at confederation, diversity of a country based on “two founding peoples” who wanted to protect their own political and cultural identity results in a division of powers. • We allocate our MPs by province. Senators are also allocated by province/region. 3 Judges from province of Quebec on the Supreme Court.
• essentially the Rule of Law: we have an agreed-upon framework within which our institutions operate • BNA Act was founding constitution of Canada, amended in 1981 to be one that we as a sovereign people created
• Constitution, thru Charter of Rights and Freedoms, puts an important check on majority rule and minority interests
• when something infringes, we rely on the courts to play ‘umpire’
• in Cda, talking about representativeness of our institutions, rights of peoples to choose their legislators
British Parliamentary Traditions
• essentially, involves two things: • notion of representation: that we have a representative form of government • notion of responsible government: the executive (PM and Cabinet) is responsible to the legislature (Parliament). Also, the executive must come from the legislature.
• separation of powers: in Canada, three branches of government: • legislature (Parliament, provincial legislatures tasked with the job of making laws) • executive (to implement and execute laws, to govern) • judiciary (enforce and interpret the laws,…