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What is the structure of Canada's Federal Political system?

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Sherene Schmidtler

on 10 September 2018

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Transcript of What is the structure of Canada's Federal Political system?

Britain's Monarch
The King or Queen of Britain is the
in Canada

Britain's King or Queen does
play an active role in Canada's government.
The Legislative Branch
AKA: The Parliament
The Executive Branch
The Executive Branch include the

It is in charge of putting
into action by
Understanding Federalism
How effectively does Canada’s federal political system govern Canada for all Canadians?
is the monarch's representative and is part of the
branches of Canada's Government.
Canada's current Governor General is

Be elected as the leader of a political party

Be elected as a Member of Parliament

Your party must win the most seats in the House of Commons
There are approximately 30 MINISTERS
The Prime Minister appoints the CABINET MINISTERS
Together with the PM proposes most of the ideas that become LAWS
must be represented by at least one
in the
Each appointed Cabinet Minister is given a
A portfolio means that the Minister is
for a specific


For Example..
The Minister of the Environment runs the department of the environment, which deals with issues related to the environmental well being of Canada
Canada's Current Cabinet

Makes the
Consists of the
who were elected by the people (
Representation in the House of Commons is by population
Elected for a 5 year term
Represents the voters of a political riding
Belong to a political party
The party with the most votes forms the government
The other parties form the
The role of the
in the House of Commons
Question Period
Act as a
Speak the different views and perspectives of Canadians
Creates a
Shadow Cabinet
. Members of the shadow cabinet are the direct
of the Cabinet Ministers.
Majority vs Minority Government
Includes Canada's courts of law
The Supreme Court of Canada is the highest court

It gives the final word about rules and laws
The Judicial Branch acts as a watchdog for all of the other branches of government
The Judicial Branch interprets and applies the laws of Canada.
Judges of the Supreme Court of Canada
There are 9 in total (3 from Quebec, 3 from Ontario, 2 from Western Canada and 1 from the Maritimes)
It has an uneven number to prevent deadlock
How does one become a Supreme Judge?
Originally, Supreme Judges were appointed by the Prime Minister and Cabinet
As of 2006, judges are nominated and then reviewed by a committee of MPs.
As of 2007, the PM still has the power to appoint a judge of his/her choice.
First of all let's review what is a government?
The term government means a group which exercises power.
It is said that society needs people to make decisions and enforce decisions that affect the conduct of a group.

Do you agree or disagree with this belief?
Elements of Governments
There are a number of common elements found in all governments. They include...
Rules of Conduct
Law Enforcement
Rules that govern the lives of its members
The people are governed by a supreme power or authority
The people give the government the right to have power of authority over them
The area over which the government has the right or power to enforce rules or laws.
The power and ability to enforce government's rules and laws.

The absence of government
The people abolish the government because the believe it conflicts with a person's liberty
Chaos or Utopia - has proven ineffective for the growth and development of a country

The government is tightly controlled by one and only one political party
No freedom of choice
No private enterprises (business)
Restrictions on what a citizen can own, what groups they belong to and what they can say or do
Example: The Communist Party of China where they run businesses, pool resources and decides who gets what.

An extreme version of dictatorship
The government controls the running of the country and the lives of its citizens
Often destroys institutions such as churches, unions and corporations
Demands total loyalty to the government.
Use force and terrorism to enforce their rule
Example: Stalin

When a ruler or rulers have no restrictions on their power
Have exclusive control over the government
People have little to no say in the running of the country
A dictator often obtains and maintains their power through violence and trickery
Example: Hitler

The head of state inherits or is elected to the throne for a lifetime
Traditionally a monarch's power is absolute
Today, many remaining monarch's power is symbolic: leaving the running of countries to the various governing bodies.
Example: Queen Elizabeth

"Majority rules with respect for the minority."
Representative are elected by communities to represent them when decisions are made.
The people have unlimited opportunities to make the government truly representative
Political parties run against each other and the part with the most votes by the citizens generally creates the government.
Example: The Canadian Government

Constitutional & Parliamentary

A Constitution is a basic set of laws by which the people are governed
Parliamentary Government means that the country is governed by a representative group

For example, Canada was once a
but is a
that is run by a
Parliamentary Government
that abides by a
Therefore Canada is a

Functions of a Government
Provide order
Provide protection
Create a set of laws that allow people to live together with peace and security
Ensures laws are obeyed
Protects the interests of the people
Branches of the Government
The functions Canada's government are carried out by three main branches
Prime Minister = Lots of Power!

Chooses the Ministers for the Cabinet
Can ask Ministers to resign
Can oppose the ideas of the Cabinet
Gets to help choose the Governor General
Chooses Senators for the Senate
Gets to live in a house maintained by the Canadian Government

What about the Members of Parliament who are not appointed Cabinet Ministers?
Members of the governing party who are not in the Cabinet
They sit behind the Cabinet Ministers (thus the name backbenchers)
The Cabinet Ministers must try to convince them that proposed policies are a good idea
Backbenchers often have to weigh their loyalty to their party to the wishes of their constituents when voting for policies
Let's get to know our Parliament a little better.
The House of Commons is also known as the Lower House
Parliament sits about 27 weeks of the year
Sitting usually starts in September and continues until June
This allows house members to work in their regions or ridings
Parliament opens with a speech from the throne made by the Governor General
A good MP will learn about the problems of Canada and how to solve them
They will use this knowledge to debate, study and vote on laws proposed for Canada. (A proposed law is called a BILL)
MPs will also inform their constituents about new laws and policies and how they may be affected. They will do this through newsletters, their website, blog, phone calls or letters.

Each sitting in Parliament has its own agenda. The agenda could include:
Committee reports
Minister's Statements
Presentations of petitions
Introduction of Bills
Debates of legislation

The best part of each day is Question Period.
This is when Members of the House can ask Ministers all kinds of questions about their departments and policies
It looks a little like our classroom debates
The Speaker of the House runs the proceedings
Only one person should speak at a time
Sometimes the Members get quite heated and behave badly
Presides over the House of Commons
Is impartial
Reads the daily agenda, reads the text of any motions and introduces Members during debates
Most importantly, the Speaker ensures that everyone follows proper rules of conduct
Hon. Geoff Regan
So know that we know a little more about happens in the House of Commons, let's go back to one simple reality in Canada's Parliamentary make up.
That means the province or territory with the larger population has more say in the House of Commons. They have more say in issues that affect the entire country
Do you feel the number of seats per province is fair?
Seats in the House of Commons
The Senate is also known as the Upper House
The Senate can be made up of up to 105 men and women.

Are appointed by the Governor General on recommendation of the Prime Minister (Trudeau meets with an advisory committee to help make his choices)
Must be at least 30 years old and must retire at 75
They must live in the province or territory for which they are appointed and own real estate worth $4000
Being appointed to the Senate is often seen as a reward for service to the country

The Senate is made up of members who have specialized knowledge. This can include...
Business Executives
The Senate can initiate, amend or reject a Bill as they see fit.
They can propose laws that affect all Canadians and the Parliament include taxes and revenue.
No Bill can become law unless it has been passed by the Senate.
The Senate will examine a Bill clause by clause. Rarely does it outright reject a Bill, but will often make amendments to Bills passed by the House of Commons to simply of clarify
The Senate will also examine and investigate important problems in society:
Senior Issues
Land use
Science and environmental policies
Aboriginal affairs
Relations with the US and other foreign countries
The efficiency of Governmental departments
Above all else the Senate is to be the
Sober Second Thought
to the Bills that are passed in the Legislature.
Unfortunately, this is not a perfect world and there have been some difficulties with how some Senators have behaved.
What is the message the author is giving about the Senate of Canada?
Despite this, the public and political parties are still arguing about what to do about the Senate
Leave as it is
The changes that have been made so far:
Candidates can apply to be a Senator
A non partisan committee makes recommendations to the Prime Minister
New appointees are non partisan (independent)
Senators must have full disclosure of activities and finances

First of all we have to explain a few terms...
Canada's electoral system is a FIRST PAST THE POST system.
This means the party winning more than 50% of the Seats in the House of Commons forms the government. This is a MAJORITY GOVERNMENT
In this case, if the Governor General agrees, a MINORITY GOVERNMENT is formed.
Canada is organized into electoral ridings. In total there are 338 ridings or seats up for grabs in the House of Commons. In a FIRST PAST THE POST system, the party that wins 170 seats wins the right to lead Canada's Government.
Now because Canada has many different
political parties, sometimes the voice of the
people is a little more divided and the
voting across the country is split.
Sometimes there is an election where no
single party wins 170 seats in the House of

In this case the leader of the last ruling Party tries to convince the Governor General that they can form an effective government.
For example Party A was the last ruling party. The recent election results were like this:
Party A - 61 seats
Party B - 64 seats
Party C - 58 seats
Party D - 47 seats
Party E - 78 seats
In this example, Party A, even though they won fewer seats than Party E, can still try to convince the Governor General to let their party rule the country
This system is based on a few simple rules about how a ruling government is defeated.

The ruling party (in our country that means the Conservatives) can be defeated if:
Another party wins majority seats in the House of Commons
The Prime Minister resigns
The ruling government loses a "vote of confidence" on a major motion in the House of Commons. (For example a vote to accept budget)
There are many who argue that this electoral system is not effective.
The GOVERNOR GENERAL is APPOINTED by the Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister.
Roles of the Governor General
Opens and ends Parliament
Gives royal assent to bills
Reads the speech from the throne (Queen)
Approves Cabinet decisions or bills on the advice of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
Swears in the Prime Minister, Cabinet Ministers and the chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada
Ensures there is always a prime minister in office
Many people feel that the maintaining the Governor General is too costly to tax payers and that Canada should take a final step towards true sovereignty and eliminate the role entirely
What do you think?
Well... not always but more on that in a bit...
What factors do your think the Prime Minister must take into account when appointing Cabinet Ministers?
How a Bill
Becomes a Law
Time to slow down and get the the real work of the Legislative Branch - Making Laws!
Step 1: Introduction and First Reading
The title of the bill is introduced in the House of Commons. It is printed and give a number. Eg: Bill C50
Step 2: Second Reading
In the House of Commons the principle (idea) of the bill is debated and voted on. Essentially they are voting on if they should keep debating the bill
Step 3: Committee Stage
The bill is then examined clause by clause by any Parliamentary Committees that it applies to.
Step 4: Report Stage
The committees report on any amendments to the bill. All amendments are considered and voted on.
Stage 5: Third Reading
The now amended bill is debated and voted upon in the House of Commons. If the vote is a majority YES then it will go to the Senate
Stage 6: Senate
Once in the Senate the bill will now go through the same process of debate and amendments.
If the Bill is unamended and is accepted by the Senate it is given
and becomes
If the Senate has amended the Bill then it goes back to the House of Commons where it must be debated and voted upon AGAIN
If the House of Commons accepts the amended Bill then it is given
and becomes
If the
House of Commons
only accepts SOME of the
Senate's amendments
then it goes back to the
to be debated and voted upon again
Once the
House of Commons
AND the
accept the bill is given
and becomes a
An easy chart to follow is on page 40-41 of your textbook
Currently, there are 95 Senators and 10 vacancies in Canada
Virtual Tour of the HOC:
Virtual Tour: http://tour-ext.sencanada.ca/tour/index.html
Currently, 43% of Canada's Senate are women

Canada's Senators: https://sencanada.ca/en/senators/
Source: williamssocial9.weebly.com
Source: williamssocial9.weebly.com
Source: williamssocial9.weebly.com
The problems is, we don't have the time or space for every citizen in Canada to have a say on everything
Therefore Canada has a Representative Democracy
That way only one decision has to be made: we vote on who our representative will be
to ensure the whole systems remains democratic, there are rules that must be followed
In Canada, we have representation in THREE LEVELS OF GOVERNMENT
: Responsible for things like defense and international trade
: Responsible for things like resources and education
: Responsible for things like water distribution and garbage removal
A political party is a group of people who share the same ideas and gather together with the intent of having their chosen candidate be elected to represent a region and their party become the government.
Each party has a platform, which outlines the policies they feel are most important.
social programs
military spending,
foreign policy
In an election, parties will advertise these ideas
through the media to help voters know who they
should vote for. The party will often created a slogan to catch the attention of voters
If a party gains power and becomes the government,
they will introduce bills that will make their platform
Secret ballot
Candidates represent an area, known as a riding or a constituency
These representatives are responsible to voice the opinion of the majority of people in their constituency
Because most candidates belong to a political party, they are also responsible to their party
Candidates not affiliated with a party are called independents
The role of political parties is to represent the views of those who support them
We have a variety of parties to choose from to
represent our ideology
There are dozens of parties in Canada. This allows for minority groups to express their opinions during elections.

Currently there are 5 main parties
created in 2003 by blending other right-wing parties that have existed since the creation of Canada.
are associated with right wing views that want to see more individualism in Canada.
includes lower taxes to allow people to support their own needs instead of depending on social programs.
conservative = want to keep traditional values (often related to Christianity)
longest running party in Canada
seen as the centrist party
wanting to balance freedom and government control (in social programs, taxation and individual rights)
until the 1990s they were seen as a fringe party
created to represent the Canadians who have more left wing views E.g. members of unions
want more government controls to ensure high quality social programs
want more laws to protect individual rights (like gay marriage)
created in 1990 to represent the views of Quebec separatists in federal elections
why it only has candidates in Quebec
that doesn’t mean they are not powerful – 1993 -1997 they were the Official Opposition (second largest party in Canada).
fairly left wing in their social and economic policies
makes sense as Quebec is often seen as the most left- wing province in Canada.
only recently elected a member to the House of Commons
initially created to raise awareness of issues relating to the environment
There are Green Parties in most democratic nation-states
has evolved to look at broader issues left of center
means it is left of the Conservative Party but to the right of the NDP party when it comes to economic issues
To be appointed, a candidate must demonstrate
A high level of experience in the legislative process and public service at the federal or provincial level;
A lengthy and recognized record of service to your community
And/or recognized leadership and an outstanding record of achievement in your profession or chosen field of expertise.
The Judicial Branch is independent of the Legislative and Executive branches.

This is important because it allows the Judicial Branch to interpret laws without being influenced by politicians.
Overall, the Judicial Branch makes sure that everyone in Canada is treated fairly by looking at law

E.g. when someone breaks the law the Judicial
Branch will look at what the person did, look at
the law and decide whether the law was broken,
and then look at what punishments are to be
given for breaking that law

The Supreme Court of Canada is the highest court of Canada

It ensures the rights of Canadians are being upheld and respected. All laws must agree with the Constitution (Charter of Rights & Freedoms). This includes the rules for making and applying laws.

Any constitutional questions are looked at in the Supreme Court (this court looks at appeals or any cases that want to change the law, they do not try serious cases like serial killers)
Full transcript