Some Points on the Canadian Constitution

Topics: Separation of powers, Constitution, United States Constitution Pages: 8 (2005 words) Published: October 6, 2012

* The Canadian Constitution includes constitution documents (THE Constitution Acts of 1867 and 1892), unwritten conventions and ordinary laws. * The Constitution (or BNA – British North American Act) Act, 1867 * An incomplete document (no entrenched bill of rights and no amending procedure) * A parliamentary government similar to that of Britain

* A very centralized federal system (Articles 91 lists federal powers and Articles 92, 92A and 93 lists provincial powers) * The judicial Committee of the Privy Council
* The 1982 Constitution Act
* Patriation of the Constitution
* Articles 1-34: The Charter of Rights and Freedoms
* Articles 33: The notwithstanding clause
* Article 52: The amending formula
* Judicial review
* Failed attempts at constitutional reform
* The 1987-1990 Meech Lack Accord
* The 1992 Charlottetown Accord
* Bicameral:
* Congress is a bicameral legislature that includes the House of Representatives (435 members representing the population) and the Senate (100 members representing the states) * Current party standings:

* House of Representatives: 192 D; 242 R; 1 vacant
* Senate: 51 D; 47 R; 2 independents
* The Republicans control the House while the Democrats control the Senate DECLINE OF PARTY THESIS
* First put forward by American political scientists in response to new developments in the 1960s, namely, what they see as the decline of parties and the proliferation of interest groups * As parties become less ideological and more brokerage (or catch-all) parties * They lose faithful voters and activists (meaning that voter turnout decreases, voter volatility increases, and activists leave) hence the argument that they are in decline * Disenchanted voters and activists concerned about particular issues end up joining new interest groups CADRE PARTIES

* First formed in the 18th and 19th centuries before universal manhood suffrage * Small elitist organizations made of professional activists and controlled by the leader * Have tended to be on the right wing of the ideological continuum (for instance, the original Conservative Party of Canada) CANADIAN PARLIAMENT

* The Canadian Parliament is a bicameral legislature that includes the House of Commons (308 members representing the population) and the Senate (105 members representing the regions) * In the House, the most visible actors are the prime minister, cabinet ministers, leader of the official opposition, other opposition leaders, party whips and the Speaker of the House * The House is a law-passing (rather than law-making) institution. For a bill to become law, it has to go through 6 stages: 1. First reading (introduction

2. Second reading (first debate and vote)
3. Examination by the appropriate parliamentary committee (consultations and amendments) 4. Third reading (final debate and vote)
5. Senate
6. Royal assent by the Governor General
* The Canadian Senate has been criticized for being appointed, unequal, and ineffective. While some would like to abolish it, other would like to have an elected, equal and effective Senate (similar to that of the United States) CHECKS AND BALANCES

* To ensure that no individual or branch becomes too powerful, each branch checks on the other * The president can veto legislation passed by Congress
* Congress can override the president’s veto with a 2/3 majority * The Senate has to ratify the president’s appointments * Congress can impeach the president
* A constitution establishes the fundamental rules and principles ( refer to the institutions that make laws and governing decisions – the executive, legislative and judicial...
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