COUNTERPOINTS – SS11 NOTES
THE STRUCTURE OF CANADA’S GOVERNMENT
1. government = decision-making system
2. traditions = established rules and procedures
3. institutions = bodies or groups responsible for carrying out specific aspects of the government’s work, e.g. military, post office, police forces, schools
Foundations of our Government
1. Aboriginal people relied upon hereditary leaders whose positions were handed down through a clan or family; others chose leaders based on their wisdom, strength, and other abilities. carried on from one generation to the next, not formally recorded or written into documents were part of the oral (spoken) traditions of Canada’s First Nations
2. Our formal method of decision-making have their roots in the traditions of the nations of Europe.
European colonists brought their forms of government with them to North America In Canada, the British parliamentary tradition became the basis for our national and provincial governments
3. Democracy = “rule by the people” (first practiced by the Ancient Greeks)
4. Constitutional Monarchy = recognition of a monarch (king or queen) as head of state Canada has strong historical ties to Great Britain
Current monarch of Canada is Queen Elizabeth II, who is also the monarch of the United Kingdom and 16 other nations The monarch is represented by the governor general
The Crown (monarch) is not involved in the everyday affairs of governing the nation, but has ultimate power to safeguard democracy
5. The Canadian Constitution = a legal document that outlines who should have the power to make various decisions.
the supreme law of the land
outlines the structure of our government and defines and limits the government’s power powers and responsibilities of the monarch are subject to the laws set forth in the constitution The Written Constitution
i. drafted in 1867 during Confederation, originally called the British North America (BNA) Act ii. powers of the representatives of citizens, the federal and provincial governments, and the monarch were set out iii. has 3 main parts:
- a description of provincial legislatures and Parliament
- a Charter of Rights and Freedoms that outlines the basic rights and responsibilities that all Canadians possess - an amending formula, which sets out ways in which the Constitution may be changed or altered. Requires that the federal government and 7 of the 10 provinces agree on the proposed amendment or change. The 7 provinces must make up at least ½ of the total population of Canada - The Unwritten Constitution
i. based on thousands of years of parliamentary tradition inherited from Britain
ii. e.g. no mention of political parties in the Constitution Act, yet they are an important part...