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Unit 2: Canadian Political System

Canadian Constitution, Federalism, and Parliamentary Government
by

Patricia Saunders

on 18 September 2012

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Transcript of Unit 2: Canadian Political System

What is It? Canadian Constitution Supreme law
Codified acts
Traditions
Conventions Why Do We Need It? Outlines system of government
Protects individual and collective rights
Describes organization of government Canadian Constitution Evolved and changed over time
Product of history and contemporary values, beliefs, and attitudes Executive: Crown, Governor General, Prime Minister, Cabinet, etc.
Legislature: Makes or amends laws
Judiciary: Courts British North America Act, 1867 Political union of British colonies
Product of lengthy, complicated negotiations
Canada was not fully independent Monarchy was retained
Act could only be amended by British parliament Federal division of powers and responsibilities
Strong federal government based on federal financial strength
Renamed Constitution Act, 1867 with patriation in 1982 Unit 2: Canadian Political System Patriation: Bringing Home the Constitution Patriation British parliament passes Canada Act, 1982
Canada passes parallel act Constitution Act, 1982
Processes by which future changes to Canadian Constitution could be made by Parliament, provincial legislatures without seeking permission from Britain http://www.nfb.ca/film/road_to_patriation/ Go to LEARN to view The Road to Patriation Patriation Collection of 25 primary documents outlined in Constitution Act, 1982 Written Document Meech Lake Accord, 1987 Post-Patriation Events Response to unfinished constitutional business including demands made by Quebec
Recognition of Quebec as distinct society
Quebec voice in appointment of Supreme Court justices
Quebec policy on immigration
Limits to federal spending powers in provincial matters
Vetoes on constitutional amendments affecting Quebec Manitoba and Newfoundland failed to pass the required resolution. Aboriginal demands would also have to be met before the Constitution was amended. Since the Meech Lake Accord called for major constitutional revisions, it required the approval of Parliament and all ten provincial legislatures. Meech Lake Accord was defeated Post-Patriation Events Charlottetown Accord, 1992 Agreement about what changes should be made to Constitution and negotiation of further accords
New division of powers
New Aboriginal self-government clauses
Social and economic union
Changes in House of Commons, Senate
Definition of distinct society for Quebec
Accord failed
Considered too decentralizing Upper (Ontario) and Lower (Quebec) attempted to form political union in 1841 but attempt failed
Sir John A. Macdonald brokered federal union in 1867 and created Dominion of Canada
Provided for economic expansion of Upper Canada
Protected language, culture of Lower Canada
Offered Maritime colonies (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick) economic advantages with development of transcontinental railway
Today, constitution specifically divides legal powers between federal, regional (provincial) governments
Neither level owes authority to the other
Both federal, provincial legislators may make laws that have direct impact on citizens
In each province Queen represented by lieutenant-governor
Provincial legislature elected for maximum of five years
Nunavut, Yukon, Northwest Territories remain under constitutional authority of federal government
Legal structures based on several federal acts such as Yukon Act, Northwest Territories Act
Fully elected assemblies What is Canadian Federalism? Read
How Canadians Govern Themselves: "Our Constitution" pp. 8-19 (OPAC)
Inside Canada's Parliament:
"The Foundations" pp. 5-8
"The Institutions" pp. 11-20 The Library of Parliament Legislative libraries of Upper and Lower Canada joined to form Library of Canada in 1841
http://www.parl.gc.ca/About/Library/VirtualLibrary/index-e.asp
Full transcript