The question does surround the nature of political institutions in consideration of the rights and liberties that the state should grant its people. Citizens do have a moral duty to engage with and be informed about domestic politics considering it is a part of one’s civic duties as one would be expected to participate in a democracy. The Canadian constitution does establish the nation as a democratic republic since the people govern themselves. It is also a republic since the power of the government is derived from the people. It is this element of self-governance that gives the citizen the moral duty to engage with domestic politics and at the same time be informed about it.
The moral duty of civic participation does come from the constraints that the people have that prompt them to act against any inclination that comes their way. It is through this that the people decide to elect officials who represent them in parliament and can act as agents of the people in maintaining the moral law. Through voting, citizens can participate in democracy and it is the best possible means that allows citizens to make changes in their society. In the same line, as Canadian citizens, rights do come with responsibilities which include maintaining Canadian values, taking responsibility for one’s self and family since work does contribute towards self-respect and personal dignity. In essence, the responsibility of a Canadian citizen is to ensure the overall prosperity of the entire country which would entail participating in civic duties.
The most interesting element about text CA 1867 and CA 1982 revolves around the fact that both Acts are the foundational documents of the Canadian constitution. In addition to this, the 1982 Act is surprisingly not an entirely new constitution but rather an amendment of the CA 1867. CA 1982 is considered a landmark document in Canadian history (Malcolmson, et al). It is this constitutional document that allowed the nation to achieve full independence nation which allowed Canada to change its constitution without seeking approval from Britain. In addition to this, the act did enshrine the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in the country that is noted to be the highest law of the land. It is this element that underlines its surprising significance to the act of 1867 which is the foundational document of the Canadian constitution. The 1867 act does serve as a foundational template for the 1982 Act as it provides an outline of the government structure as well as the distribution of powers between the provincial legislature and the central parliament. Considering the value of both Acts, it is surprising to note that it took over 50 years even after gaining legislative independence for Canada to patriate their constitution by amending the 1867 Act to the 1982 Act (Malcolmson, et al). This allowed the government to affirm and codify numerous common laws rights into the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In addition to this, the 1982 Act does recognize the treaty rights of the aboriginal people along with codified equalization. The main element of the 1982 Act is that it keeps the same government structure as the 1867 Act.
The Canadian political regime is considered to be a responsible government since it conducts its operations through the parliamentary system of government. In this instance, the cabinet which makes up the real executive is practically accountable to the parliament and it only stays in office as long as it managed to hold the confidence of the parliament. A responsible government refers to the system of governance that takes into consideration the principles of parliamentary accountability while also ensuring it maintains responsibility to the people. This means the government is answerable to the parliament since its members are directly elected by the people. The major principle of a responsible government is that it cannot effectively carry out its functions as per its desires since it has to explain its actions to the parliament.
In Canada, a responsible government is seen as a cabinet or executive that depends on the support of the parliament rather than the monarch or even their representatives (Malcolmson, et al). It is through the adoption of a responsible government that the Canadian nation did manage to gain independence from Britain without violence as it opted to gain its powers from the process of democracy. The concept of a responsible government can be seen in the form that the government takes. Within the government, laws are created while taxes are levied by a body that is answerable to the citizens. Since the government is held accountable by the people, it means any move or choice made does depend on the confidence of the parliament to garner majority voted to push the legislation through with consideration to the needs of the people.
Federalism refers to a political system in which the powers of the government and its responsibilities are divided between the federal legislature and provincial or state legislature. The fundamental basis of federalism in Canada is noted to surround the need for balance, reconciliation as well as the accommodation of diversity. The Canadian constitution was written to express the need to make the structure of the Canadian government far different from that of the United States. The structure of Canadian federalism is complex as it describes the formal features which are established by the Canadian constitution while also describing the numerous informal institutions and practices that override the constitutional structure (Malcolmson, et al). The design ensures that each provincial government gains jurisdiction over its portion of the entire region and population while the federal government ensures that it maintains jurisdiction over the entire nation. This design ensures that both levels of government gain their authority from the nation’s constitution with insertion to structures that are unsuited with the approach to federalism.
The fathers of the confederation choose a federal system like the US since they desired to ensure that the central government remains with the power to pass on the order to the local or provincial government. The federal government in this instance is better as compared to a unitary government since it is through it conflicts would be avoided. As the power is not concentrated right at the center, it is divided among the governments. Within the federal system, the national government, as well as the state government, only share power. In the unitary system, on the other hand, all power lies within the national government which allows constant conflict.
- Increasing power of appointed judges is fundamentally undemocratic
The increasing powers given to appointed judges under the judicial review are noted to have with it democratic justification though it is not a necessary element for any democratic government. This is because, within a democratic nation, the powers of the elected judiciary are speculative hence they are controversial. Judges are noted to be no less than the legislature and in their duty, they can embody democratic forms of accountability, representation as well as participation. Their powers are undemocratic since it allows them to overrule elected legislators even when individuals disagree over issues such as rights. While judges are expected to be better at protecting the rights of the people, there is no need for a special virtue or wisdom in democratic governments hence their services and powers are seen as the state stretching its limits too far.
Since judges have powers that can be used even in political arguments, then they as well have to be subject to political accountability through the election. The appointment of judges in each case is rather political which means there is an opportunity for influence as well as the conflict of interest. Thus judges have to be subject to political accountability since elections are largely open and cannot be subject to deal-making. It is through this that judges would be ensured to be independent as it would be a good practice to avoid being swayed by political opinion in decision making. Since the appointment of judges in a democratic setup is not necessary, there has to be a screening system that would provide an evaluation of candidates for the various positions.
A judicial review refers to the power that the judiciary has in providing an interpretation of the constitution and also to declare any law or order of the executive and legislature void if it finds them in conflict with the country’s constitution. A judicial review does act as an important tool that ensures all the executive, legislative and administrative actions conform to the various provisions that are found in the constitution. The Supreme Court in any nation has been given the powers of judicial review through the provisions of the constitution. It is through a judicial review that the state court determines whether or not the state statutes or acts are valid. The basis of such rulings is placed on the principle that any state law that violates the country’s constitution is invalid. In addition to this, it decides the constitutionality of the state laws under the constitution.
A judicial review is triggered on three main grounds, procedural unfairness, illegality, and irrationality. It is through this that any decision that is made by the government can be overturned by the courts especially when the decision-maker does not have the legal powers to make the decision. For example, a decision can be termed as illegal when parliament gives less discretion. At the same time, a decision can be termed as unfair if the procedures that were taken in delivering it were unfair. In most cases the decisions could be from a biased party then it is termed as unfair. When it comes to irrationality, a decision can be overturned if it was unreasonable.
- Guardian of responsible government
By saying the Governor-General is the “guardian of the responsible government” idealizes his position within the system of government in Canada. Since Canada has a parliamentary form of government that also has a constitutional monarchy, it is based on the British parliamentary model that is in place to suit the needs of the country. The constitution of Canada does recognize the Queen as the Head of State in the representation of the totality of the sovereign powers of the nation which includes the provincial and the federal governments. Thus the Governor-General holds the highest position in the country in the representation of Her Majesty The Queen at a federal level in the country. Being the guardian for the responsible government means that the Governor-General represents the queen in addition to carrying out all her responsibilities in the country. Some of his duties in representing the queen include managing the country’s honors system, signing the letters of credence for outgoing diplomats, representing the nation abroad, signing declarations of war and treaties on behalf of the queen in addition to granting coat of arms to individuals who petition to receive them. The Governor-General does hold the title of “Excellency” while in office and he does have very important parliamentary responsibilities. The Governor-General in his duty does summon, prorogue and dissolve parliament. He is also tasked with the duty of setting the state programs through the reading of the Speech from the Throne while also providing royal assent that allows parliamentary bills to be brought into law. He is also the Commander in Chief of the nation in his responsibility as a guardian of responsible government.
The throne speech refers to the summary of the government’s goals for any new parliamentary session. It is the speech that opens every new parliamentary session as it introduces the government’s directions and goals while providing an outline of how the government intends to work to achieve them. The throne speech is read by the Governor-General but the Office of the Prime Minister must write it. The speech does provide a legislative to-do list which the government lays out for the entire House of Commons as well as the Senate right at the start of each session. Before the speech is read, there would be no other parliamentary business that could take place, including bills, common votes, or even debates. The throne speech affair does lead into the connections with the British parliamentary traditions hence it is a meaningful ceremony that is conducted in Canada.
The importance of the speech is underlined by the fact that it provides a list of policies and issues that the government wishes to address over its term as well as the legislation that it plans to bring to the parliament. Through the throne speech, the government can present its political objectives in a context by narrating the outline of the state along with the challenges that it faces. The program as well as the general performance of the government are placed under debate for a few days hence the throne speech has to collect a vote of confidence in the house and also maintain it for the matter to be pushed ahead.
- Voter Turnout
Voter turnout in both Canada and America is noted to be inhibited in the voting process institutional context. This means institutional variables do affect the voter turnout, they include electoral disproportionality, interest in politics, work, and lack of faith in the electoral process. Electoral disproportionality refers to the degree of disproportionality that is created between the shared votes as well as the shares of the seats gained by each of the competing parties. Both Canada and the U.S have the highest single-member plurality within their electoral system. It is this element that features greatly at all elections to the national parliament. This element reduces proportional representation at all levels which does affect voter turnout. Owing to the disproportional nature of the representation, voters view the entire process as useless hence do not turn out to vote.
Numerous voters in both America and Canada are noted to lack interest in politics hence it becomes a factor that affects voter turnout. The issue of interest in politics is held for a large percentage of age groups between 18 and 64 where a large number of individuals with citizenship are noted to provide their lack of interest in politics as a reason for not voting. Health reasons are presented as well as common causes for a lack of voter turnout. In most cases, there are American and Canadian citizens who would not turn out to the ballot citing health concerns or even disability. Voters had to work on voting day does underline a reason why voter turnout is low. Some voters present the argument that they were too busy to attend to political issues. A large percentage of American and Canadian citizens do lack faith in the electoral process hence it does affect the turnout.
- Political Parties in Canada
The modern political system would not be able to exist without political parties. It is noted that problems with collective actions are common since societies try to solve the problems of distribution of scarce resources in light of the numerous groups of people. Political parties in Canada are an organized group of people with similar ideas concerning the scope and function of the government. The party members are united under one leader and do have a party constitution. These parties help Canadian politics function effectively by providing points of linkage between institutions of the government and the public. It is through this that they can use their influence and position to influence public policy and pushing through the interest of the people. In addition to this, they do help Canadian politics by aligning and identifying the sets of issues that are fundamental to the people and presenting them in parliament with the hopes of bringing change.
Despite their vital role in Canadian democracy, strong political parties in Canada do have the threat of presenting selfish propaganda that would harm the national interest. This would mean the policies would only benefit a few individuals while damaging the rest of the nation. Strong political parties in Canada could bring an end to individuality and encourage corruption as the parties may force people to share their views through the distribution of money to seek votes for candidates.
- Which influences shape the content of public policy?
The making of public policies is a complex process that does involve numerous participants with various roles, interests as well as resources. The influences that shape the content of public policy include economic and social conditions, public opinions, new scientific findings, technological changes, political activities as well as interest groups. When it comes to the economic and social conditions, priorities are presented within developmental and political terms which are left open to international influences. For example, in the recent case of COVID-19, numerous public policies were presented in light of the social, political, and economic conditions that were presented by the pandemic to secure the health of the public. Public opinion on the other hand does entail the democratic process that spurs the public to form opinions that would consider constitutional amendments in approving or rejecting proposals. Each legislature has to be placed within the public sphere to allow the people to decide on whether it is good for them or not.
There are numerous ways in which the public can participate in policy-making decisions. The public can participate in the process of public policymaking through public hearings. Through this, the public can determine the scope and approach taken by the government in the presentation of public policies thereby create a continuous and open debate on the matter. The public can as well participate through public polls in which they can vote in the policies they see fit and shoot down the ones they do not approve of. Public voting, formal objections, as well as citizen forums, are also means through which the public can as well participate in policymaking.