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Introduction to Civics

A brief overview of what is being offered in Civics at EDSS
by

Chris Finnie

on 25 August 2014

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Transcript of Introduction to Civics

Introduction
Themes
Civic Mirror
Want Change? What should you do about it?
CHV2OH: Civics
What to expect from Civics
this semester

What is Civics?
What is Politics?
Civics is a branch of politics that focuses on the rights and responsibilities associated with citizenship, the role of governments, and how people can get involved in the political process and take action on issues of civic importance.
Course Objectives
1. Political Inquiry and Skill Development
Big Questions in Civics
How should we balance individual rights and the common good?
How should our government work?
CIVIC MIRROR!
Class simulation where YOU run the class!
Create your own country
Make your own laws
Take classmates to court
Politics is about how groups of people – large and small – make decisions about how to live together and govern themselves.
Just because you don't take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you. ~Pericles
• Analyse issues, events, and developments of civic importance.
• Solve problems and be critically thoughtful and collaborative citizens in your community.

2. Civic Awareness
• Focus on the beliefs, values, rights and responsibilities associated with
democratic citizenship and governance.
• Understand how people’s values and beliefs influence both their civic actions and their positions on local, national and/or global issues.
• Understand the roles and responsibility of the different levels and branches of government.
• Determine ways in which you can responsibly and effectively participate in political and civic decision making in Canada and the world.

3. Civic Engagement and Action
• Explore how communities express their beliefs and values, voice their positions on issues of civic importance, and contribute to the common good.
• Assess whether the perspectives and contributions of different people are equally valued.
• Explore the civic contributions of non-governmental organizations and other groups.

Who decides?
How do we decide and who decides?
What powers do they get?
Who gets what?
Whose needs are most important?
What resources are needed and available?
When do they get it?
When are resources needed?
Who should get resources first?
How they get it?
How do we get people what they need?
What is the most responsible way?
'How wonderful it is that no one has to wait, but can start right now to gradually change the world.' Anne Frank
It is up to all of us to work for a society we feel is just and fair. Doing nothing basically guarantees that injustices will continue.
Important Questions
What causes injustice in the world?
What can be done to ensure people don't abuse power?
Discussion
Is it fair that government ministries give preference to hiring members of visible minorities, people with disabilities, and women? Yes or No? Why?
Yes: groups face language, discrimination, and physical barriers that make it harder for them to get hired
No: hiring should be based upon merit alone
'A majority has no right to vote away the rights of. Minority; the political function of rights is precisely to protect minorities from oppression by majorities' Ayn Rand
In Canada we are committed to the principle that defining, recognizing, and protecting individual rights and freedoms are essential to the construction and maintenance of a free and just society.
Individual rights and what is best for society do not always align. It is a great test for society to see how we balance it.

Important Questions
What is the difference between a right, and a want or a need?
Name an injustice - what is the right to prevent that injustice?
ex. Injustice: slavery - Prevention: right to liberty/freedom of person
What is a right that you enjoy every day?

Discussion
Is it good for the rights of citizens if the government increases the powers of police to search for and obtain evidence? Yes or No? Explain
Yes: the police will be able to catch more criminals and keep Canadians safer
No: Canadians have the right to privacy and freedom from arbitrary search and seizure may be limited
'If the federal government just disappeared...it would probably take you a couple of weeks to really notice. If the provincial government disappeared, you would need a few hours, maybe a day, to become aware of it... but if the municipal government disappeared... You would, frankly, notice pretty quickly because you might be dead.' Naheed Nenshi
The ongoing debate about the role of government is an essential part of Canadian democracy and is at the core of how citizens vote and choose their government
Important Questions
How will government make sure that:
Everyone is treated fairly and with respect?
Citizens are made safe from crime?
Everyone is healthy and well educated?
The country is prosperous and people have good jobs?

Discussion
Should the government impose taxes and regulations to discourage smoking?
Yes: smoking has all kinds of negative health effects, costing taxpayers money
No: Cigarettes are a legal product. The government doesn't ban farmers from growing tobacco.
Is Our System Just?
'Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible; but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary' Reinhold Niebuhr
Whenever people live together, there will be conflicts and injustice. Laws help define how Canadians agree to live together. Our justice system determines how laws are used to resolve conflict.
Important Questions
What is a fair and just punishment for robbery?
What about intentional murder?
How are these decisions made?
Why is each scenario not black and white?
Discussion
Is it just that you have the right to protection from cruel and unusual punishment (ex. torture)?
Yes: if an accused person is treated harshly, they might confess to a crime the did not commit just to stop being tortured.
No: especially cruel and evil criminals should be treated harshly and are not worthy of our a protection and respect
If you didn't live in Canada, would you want to?
'We only need to look at what we are really doing in the world and at home and we'll know what it is to be Canadian' Adrienne Clarkson
'In Canada, nobody is ever overthrown because nobody gives a damn.' Mordecai Richler
What Canada is and what it is to become depends entirely upon its citizens.
Important Questions
What does it mean to be Canadian?
Is it a good thing that this question could be answered in many different ways by many different people?
Discussion
In Canada, does majority rule determine decisions in government?
Yes: the political party that wins the most seats forms the government
No: a political party can form a government even if the majority of citizens voted against them
Current Events
From time to time we will be watching the news
You should be paying attention to daily events in Canada and around the world
Weekly quizzes will be taken on current events
Sources:
Civics and Citizenship
by Canadian Investigations
Full transcript