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Government

Structure and Function: an overview Political isms: Socialism: You have two cows. Give one cow to your neighbour. Communism: You have two cows. Give both cows to the government and they may give you some of the milk. Fascism: You have two cows. You give all of the milk to the government, and the government sells it. Nazism: You have two cows. The government shoots you and takes both cows. Anarchism: You have two cows. Keep both of the cows, shoot the government agent, and steal another cow. Capitalism: You have two cows. Sell one cow and buy a bull. Surrealism: You have two giraffes. The government makes you take harmonica lessons.

What is democracy? The Greeks were the first to develop the idea of a rule by consensus. Early human civilizations had been ruled by monarchs or shamans or priests of some sort. These were either the biggest baddest bully (monarchs) or they were ones who used the peoples lack of scientific knowledge to fool them into compliance with their whims (shamans) These systems of governing the people were needed as tribes grew larger and became city states. The need to govern was necessary to allow all people to pursue common goals. In the case of monarchies, the need to govern was necessary to allow the monarchs and their families to hold on to power and wealth. Eventually however, people began to look for ways to determine their own path in life. For western society, two pivotal events began to change the way the western world looked at government: The French Revolution: In France, the lower classes and the middle classes revolted against the tyranny of the monarchy. This was the first time that the divine rule of kings was not only challenged, but usurped. The Magna Carta: In England, rather than completely overthrow the monarchy, they created a document that the monarch was forced to sign. It severely limited the power of the monarchs. The Canadian system is based on a combination of the British system and the American system. The British system is called a Constitutional Monarchy: this means that the official head of state is a king or queen but that real power is determined by an elected body. The Canadian system is a federal state. Canada is divided into provinces and territories. The provinces have power to tax, use their resources, and make laws for the citizens.

Brian Mulroney weakened Canada by giving the provinces the power to override the federal government.

Executive

Prime Minister Head of State

Legislative

Cabinet The House

Judicial

The Supreme Court The Charter of Rights and Freedoms

The Prime Minister is elected to lead his/her party. The selection happens in a leadership convention. Canadian citizens can belong to a political party. They can purchase membership and receive a membership card. This makes them card-carrying members of a party. This membership gives them the right to vote at the leadership conventions. The party members elect who they want to lead them. Once elected, the leader will impose his/her vision on the party. An election is held where every Canadian citizen, eighteen years old and older, can cast a ballot. They vote on a local representative. Canada is divided into ridings. A riding is a geographical area based on population. In each riding, the political parties select someone to represent the philosophy of that party. Then each party will offer candidates to run in the election. On voting day, the citizens will cast a ballot for the party that they want to represent them in Ottawa. The Canadian system is called the First Past the Post system. Like a horse race, the first party to win a majority of votes will win the riding. The party that has the most ridings at the end of the vote, will be asked to form the government. Who asks? the Governor General/Lieutenant Governor Once in power, the leader of the winning party will become the Prime Minister. Role of the Prime Minister

Once the Prime Minister takes office, the first and most important duty is to select his/her cabinet. The selection of cabinet is complicated. The Prime Minister has the power to set the size of the cabinet. What are the considerations that the PM must weigh when choosing cabinet? Ethnicity, Gender, and Regionalism

The Prime Ministers Office The basic function of the PMO is to serve the Prime Minister (it actually has political power). The PMO will do important research and set the PMs agenda. The PMO is led by the Principal Secretary. The Prime Minister is in charge of the PMO. The Prime Ministers Office (PMO) is comprised of the executive staff of the prime minister, and plays a central role in the governance of Canada. This highly partisan organization acts not only as a source of support and policy advice for the prime minister, but also as a mechanism for centralizing political power. Three characteristics are important in this context: First, the PMO is intended to serve the Prime Minister exclusively; this is in contrast to other central agencies, such as the Privy Council Office, which serves the Prime Minister, and, more broadly, the federal cabinet. Second, the PMO is a partisan organization. Personnel of the PMO are loyal to the prime minister, not as the head of government, but as the leader of a political party and as a politician who seeks to maintain his power in a democratic system. In this context, the PMO provides support and advice to help the Prime Minister govern in a manner that will maintain his control over his/her political party, maximize his/her influence in government and the House of Commons, and ensure future electoral success. Finally, the PMO is comprised of exempt staff. These are government officials who exist outside the federal public service and are exempt from regular Public Service Commission staffing guidelines, controls, and protection (though, they are subject to specific terms and conditions set out by the Treasury Board of Canada). The Prime Minister enjoys wide discretion in choosing the staff of the PMO, and often selects individuals who can be trusted to show strong personal loyalty. Powers of the PM The PM has certain powers. These powers include the following: Power of Government Organization: In addition to appointments, the Prime Minister also has significant powers over the actual organization of government. Subject to usual routine Parliamentary approval, the Prime Minister has the ability to create new departments and agencies, transform or abolish old ones, and privatize or nationalize industries and corporations. He or she also has the power to assign specific mandates and priorities to individual government departments and agencies, with or without the permission of the responsible Cabinet Minister.

Power of Appointment: In addition to appointing Cabinet Ministers, the Prime Minister also has the power to dictate who holds many key offices in the public service. This includes the appointment of Senators, Supreme Court judges, deputy ministers, and heads of government agencies, boards, and corporations. The ability to exercise such power helps keep a Prime Ministers followers on side, while allowing a Prime Minister to impose his/her ideological stamp on much of government. In this way, a Prime Minister who believes in a particular vision of how government should function can use the powers of the Prime Ministers Office to appoint persons of like-minded thinking to key government positions. Powers of the Crown: It is customary for the Prime Minister to exercise many of the powers that were formerly under the discretion of the Monarchy. While these powers technically still belong to the Monarchy, they are exercised completely on the advice of the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister, for example, decides when to dissolve Parliament and when to call a general election. It is even customary for the Prime Minister to choose who will be the Governor General (the Monarchs representative in Canada).

Power and Influence: Influencing the Lawmakers in the Canadian System


Influencing the Lawmakers There are three ways in which citizens can, to some degree, influence events in the House of Commons: The Election Process: Canada has a form of democracy. This means that elections to choose the local representatives are held from time to time. Voter turnout has been a source of criticism in recent years. Citizens can also contact their local representative on matters of concern: These can be issues regarding immigration, legal issues, or any issue where the citizen feels powerless against the bureaucracy that is government. MPs and MLAs will almost always respond to letters written to them by their constituents. Another way to affect legislation is through special interest groups: Lobby groups are a form of special interest groups; they represent a concern of a group of people and petition the government on behalf of those people to enact or change laws. Lobby groups can influence laws as they represent a larger population. Politicians are likely to listen to these groups as they have a lot of influence or money. Committees The MPs have many duties. Only one of their duties involves sitting in the House of Commons. MPs are also required to sit in on committee meetings. The committees are most active between the second and third readings of a bill. The committees are responsible for refining and polishing the bills.

This is an important stage as the bill in its original form may not adhere to the constitution or the bill of rights. Implementation of the bill is discussed during committee. Not all MPs are required to attend all the committees. There are several types of committees: A special committee may be formed to deal with a temporary event such as the Olympics. Standing Committees are those that are matched to a specific ministry. Committees of the Whole are composed of the entire House of Commons. Their meetings are held in the Commons chamber. During a committee of the whole, normal parliamentary procedure is relaxed. These sessions are held for special types of legislation such as a clause by clause analysis of the budget. The Prime Minister

As the central figure in Canadian politics, the PM has a very important role. The PMs powers are not written down. They have evolved out of the British Parliamentary system. Essentially, the Prime Minister has four powers. There are: The power of Party Leadership The power of Appointment The power of Government Organization The power of Dissolution The Power of Government Organization

The head of the PMO is the Principal Secretary: This person is one of the most influential figures in the government. The Principal Secretary is a partisan position. This means that the person is a good friend and supporter of the PM. The Privy Council Office: Unlike the PMO, the PCO is part of the government bureaucracy. This means that it is not a partisan position. The top person in this office is the Clerk of the Privy Council. The Clerk is mean to be a neutral figure. The Power of Party Leadership

The political party will elect their leader. This is done in a leadership convention. The leader will then determine the direction that the party will take. This direction is not necessarily the same philosophical direction that the party may have. As party leader, the Prime Minister can count on the support of the governing partys MPs in the House of Commons. These MPs will always side with the leader as many of them owe their jobs to the leader. The Power of Appointment

In theory, making appointments to most government offices is an executive power of the Governor General. However, the GG always accepts the appointments made by the PM. Remember that the GG is also an appointment made by the PM. After an election, the most important task for the new PM is the selection of Cabinet. The PM will always consider ethnic, gender, and regional representation in the selection process. Why is this a concern? Because the people in the Cabinet, running our country, were chosen based on factors other than ability - they may not be qualified for the job. Another factor in the selection of MPs for Cabinet is patronage. Important ministries are given to those MPs that have supported the PM. Sometimes, the appointment to the Cabinet can be a way to placate an opponent to the PM. The Prime Minister also has the power to make many other appointments. Sometimes, there are so many that they will be handled by the PMO. This is always done with the consensus of Cabinet. The Power of Government Organization

The Prime Minister not only appoints Cabinet ministers, but also may create, abolish, or combine government departments and ministries. Joe Clarks government had 37 members while Brian Mulroneys had 40. Having 30-40 members of Cabinet can make it difficult to come to agreements. For day-to-day business, the PM will often have a smaller group of trusted members. This group forms what is called the inner Cabinet. Also known as the Priorities and Planning Committee, this group is most responsible for shaping the direction of the government, under the leaders guidance. The majority of the people working in the PMO are involved in answering mail, making up schedules, screening requests for appointments, and so on, but the top people act as advisors to the Prime Minister.