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The Canadian Regime

The Canadian Regime: An Introduction to Parliamentary Government in Canada, Fifth Edition

Patrick Malcolmson
Richard Myers
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 274
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  • Book Info
    The Canadian Regime
    Book Description:

    Lucid and comprehensive,The Canadian Regimeprovides a unique analysis of Canada's political regime by challenging readers to think of the political system as an organic entity where change in one area inevitably ripples through the rest of the system.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-0591-6
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xiii)
    Patrick Malcolmson and Richard Myers
  4. Map Parlimentary Representation by Province
    (pp. xiv-xiv)
  5. Part One Introduction

    • Chapter One Canada’s Regime Principles
      (pp. 3-12)

      To the casual observer, it may seem that Canada’s political institutions are an arbitrary, perhaps even whimsical, hodgepodge of archaic ideas and quaintly named offices. To the political scientist, however, the political institutions of this, or any other country, have an inner logic that ties them all together into a coherent whole. The term traditionally used by political scientists to describe that whole is regime.

      The English word regime is derived from the Latin wordregere,which means to rule. From this Latin root come related words like “regent” (the person who rules on behalf of a monarch who is...

    • Chapter Two The Constitution
      (pp. 13-34)

      A constitution may be defined asa set of rules that authoritatively establishes both the structure and the fundamental principles of the political regime.We call this set of rules a “constitution” because it is these rules that “constitute” (that is, create or establish) the regime. A constitution will normally do so by performing four major functions.

      Thefirst major function of a constitutionis to establish what person or persons will exercise the various forms of political authority. In modern times, political power is understood to consist of three distinct types. Legislative power is the power to make law...

  6. Part Two Basic Principles of the Canadian Constitution

    • Chapter Three Responsible Government
      (pp. 37-57)

      We have seen that one of the chief functions of a constitution is to determine who will exercise legislative, executive, and judicial power. It is therefore not surprising that this should be one of the very first topics addressed inCA 1867.In the preamble to that act, it is stipulated that Canada is to have “a Constitution similar in Principle to that of the United Kingdom.” Above all else, this phrase means that legislative and executive power are to be organized in accordance with a set of principles that may be summarized by the term responsible government. The purpose...

    • Chapter Four Federalism
      (pp. 58-76)

      The preamble toCA 1867indicates that the Dominion of Canada is to have “a Constitution similar in Principle to that of the United Kingdom.” We have seen, in Chapter 3, that this phrase is primarily a reference to Canada’s adoption of the British tradition of responsible government. Yet the British constitution was not the only model for the Fathers of Confederation. Their new dominion was to be afederalunion, although the principle of federalism was utterly foreign to the British constitution. In developing the federal aspect of the Canadian regime, then, the Fathers of Confederation had to look...

    • Chapter Five The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
      (pp. 77-94)

      With the adoption ofCA 1982,Canada acquired a constitutionally entrenched charter of rights. For reasons that will become evident later in this chapter, the introduction of the Charter marked a profound transformation of the Canadian regime. But there are many other questions that must be addressed before we can discuss its impact. The first of these is the most obvious: what is a charter of rights?

      The basic idea behind a charter of rights is best understood by thinking back to our discussion of Canada’s regime principles in Chapter 1. Because Canada is a democracy, one of our regime’s...

  7. Part Three Institutions

    • Chapter Six The Crown and Its Servants
      (pp. 97-115)

      Canadians usually refer to those who exercise political power in this country as “the government.” But “government” is a very imprecise term. For some, it appears to refer to a specific team of ministers—“the Harper government” or “the Chrétien government,” for example. For others, the term “government” includes a large number of public servants, such as the person who processes your passport application.

      The source of the confusion here is the fact that “government” is an informal and unofficial term. Our Constitution nowhere defines the meaning of “government” because, strictly speaking, there is no such institution in the Canadian...

    • Chapter Seven Parliament
      (pp. 116-134)

      Under the heading “Legislative Power,” Section 17 ofCA 1867declares that Canada shall have a “Parliament” consisting of a House of Commons, a Senate, and the Queen. Since Canada’s senators are appointed and the Queen has her position by heredity, only the House of Commons can claim to be a democratic institution. By constitutional convention, then, it is the House of Commons that takes the predominant role in the exercise of Parliament’s powers, and this in turn explains why people commonly equate “Parliament” with the House of Commons.

      The Constitution says relatively little about the structure, role, or powers...

    • Chapter Eight The Judiciary
      (pp. 135-156)

      The first thing that students of the Constitution should notice about the provisions ofCA 1867governing “the judicature” is the location of those provisions. As we have seen, the sections governing executive and legislative power occupy a prominent position close to the beginning ofCA 1867.Judicial power, on the other hand, is not discussed until Part VII, three-quarters of the way through theAct.To some extent, this is a consequence of the fact that Canada’s judicial system has a federal dimension to it, a fact that makes it reasonable to outline the provisions governing judicial power only...

  8. Part Four Participation

    • Chapter Nine Elections
      (pp. 159-175)

      We learned in Chapter 1 that the Canadian regime is not a direct democracy but a representative democracy. This means that the central democratic mechanism of our regime is elections. Section 3 ofCA 1982entrenches the most important of our democratic rights in the following language:

      Every citizen of Canada has a right to vote in an election of members of the House of Commons or of a legislative assembly and to be qualified for membership therein.

      To understand the significance of these rights, it is important to consider them in light of the basic principles of responsible government....

    • Chapter Ten Political Parties
      (pp. 176-193)

      Political parties are publicly organized groups of people who are motivated by some common set of political ideas and whose goal is to have their particular members win public office so that those ideas can be put into practice.

      It is obvious to even the most casual observer that Canadian political life is dominated by political parties. Every Canadian Parliament has been divided along party lines, and, except for a brief interlude during World War I, membership in every Canadian cabinet has been restricted to those who were members of the dominant political party at the time.¹ It is worth...

    • Chapter Eleven Interest Groups, Public Opinion, and Democratic Citizenship
      (pp. 194-210)

      The liberal democratic regime aims at the ideal of “government of the people, by the people, and for the people.” Those who are elected to office and serve in the government are ordinary citizens like you and me. They are responsible to the people as a whole to do what is in the public interest. For the regime to have a reasonable chance of working well, there must therefore be a substantial amount of political participation on the part of its citizens. People must be willing to run for public office or take part in other aspects of electoral politics....

  9. Appendix The Constitution Acts 1867 and 1982
    (pp. 211-260)
  10. Index
    (pp. 261-274)