Join Date: June 30, 2004
Location: Van Island, BC
Social Studies 30
Democratic Institutions in Canada and US
To start out this week, we will review some important info from the first 3
First of all, letâ€™s go back to the term ideology. In your text it discussed that every ideology has about 8 characteristics. Letâ€™s look at some examples to help you remember these characteristics.
â€¢ set of basic assumptions about human nature
i.e. â€œGoodâ€ or â€œEvilâ€
â€¢ interpretation of the past
i.e. Anti-Semitism- This means racism against the Jewish race. Someone like Hitler would have interpreted past events to make it look like the Jewish people were to blame for many problems.
â€¢ Explanation of the present
i.e. â€œKleinismâ€- Ralph Klein might say â€œThe reason Alberta is in such great economic shape today is because of my policies of fiscal responsibility etc..(not to mention great oil prices!)
â€¢ a vision of the future i.e. Karl Marx vision of what would happen eventually if the working class (proletariat) continued to be exploited.
â€¢ heroes-easy one i.e. Gandhi, J.F.K., Martin Luther King
â€¢ rituals (pledges, anthems, salutes) i.e. Me having to do my â€œpledge of allegiance..to the flag, of the United States of Americaâ€ every morning.
â€¢ Sacred documents i.e. BNA Act, American Constitution Now letâ€™s move on to scarcity. A very important concept! What is the central economic problem all societies face? Scarcity!
Scarcity of both human and natural resources. Because there is not enough of these things governments must make choices and sacrifices.
Each economy must decide:
â€¢ What goods and services to produce
â€¢ How they will be produced
â€¢ Who will own the means of production
â€¢ Who gets the goods and services that are produced.
The various countries of the world will answer this question differently depending on what the people value. Take the example of Health Care. In the United States, private industry owns the means of production; in this case health care. In Canada, the government does. Why is this? Who receives the service in each country? In Canada, everyone receives it and in the US only those that can afford it. Why is this? What is the central political problem all societies face? In this case, there is not one defining problem.
Countries must answer several questions:
â€¢ Who should govern?
â€¢ Who exercises power?
â€¢ How is power maintained?
â€¢ Who makes the important decisions?
â€¢ Why are these decisions made?
Again, different societies answer this question differently. Political and Economic Systems - Models(theory) vs. Practice Think of the â€œtheoryâ€ vs. â€œpracticeâ€ in political systems using a car as an analogy. All cars have basically the same components. You have to be able to steer them, they have wheels, they have seats,they have lights for seeing at night etc...
Car manufacturers take this basic model and form the basic components to meet the wants and needs of the people. Political systems work the same way. Every country has to answer the same political questions (the basic component) but everyone country forms those basic components to best meet the needs and wants of the society.
Canada and the USA
Up to this point, you have examined democracy primarily in theory. Theory is essential to an understanding of the ideology and characteristics of democracy. In this lesson, you will have the opportunity to examine democracy in action and to apply your understanding of a model democracy to the working of democracy in Canada and the United States. Let's start at beginning - with elections!
THE ELECTORAL PROCESS
The electoral process is designed to enable citizens to exercise their basic democratic right of choosing who will govern them. This process reflects the democratic principle of majority rule. However, the majority rules only if the majority votes! Both Canada and the United States are democracies. However, Canada has a parliamentary system and the United States has a Presidential system. As a result, their electoral processes differ in several important ways. Elections in Canada Canada is divided into 295 electoral districts commonly called constituencies. This reflects the democratic principle of representation by population. After each census, constituency boundaries are adjusted in line with
population shifts. In each constituency, members of the various political parties meet to choose a candidate to represent them in the election. Independent candidates may run, but it is almost impossible to win without the support and organization a political party provides. Party workers, financial support, volunteers, expertise, and experience are all mobilized by a political party to assist it's candidates to win.
The character of a candidate is a factor in campaigns, but sometimes party affiliation is more important. Canadians tend to vote for a political party rather than for an individual.
CANADAâ€™S PRIME MINISTER
Canadian citizens do NOT elect the leader of our country Each political party chooses a leader. When a party forms the government, the leader of the party automatically becomes the Prime Minister The candidate with the greatest number of votes is elected to represent the constituency in the legislature. The party with the greatest number of candidates elected to the legislature forms the government and its leader becomes prime minister. If the number elected is greater than 50 percent, a majority government results. If the number elected is less, a minority government results. A minority government requires support from elected members of another political party in order to remain in power.
Paul Martin is Canadaâ€™s Prime Minister
CLICK ON THE
PICTURE TO VISIT
HIS WEB SITE
The party with the second greatest number of candidates elected forms the Official Opposition, and its leader becomes Leader of the Official
Opposition. It is the responsibility of the Opposition to monitor the activities of the government in order to insure against misuse or abuse of government power. Elections are held at least once every five years. Prime ministers have the power to call an election sooner. Usually, prime ministers call an election when they sense that there political party is popular and will win an election. Elections in the United States The electoral process in the United States is similar to Canada's except for the election of the President. A successful candidate for President must, in fact, run in four elections! Campaigning for the presidency starts about two years before the actual election year. The campaign hits high gear with the primaries in February and June of the election year.
Like their name suggests, primaries are a sort of first election. Primaries choose delegates to attend the national convention of either the Democratic or Republican Party during the summer. Primaries are important. Delegates are usually committed to support a specific candidate for the party's nomination. If candidates win significant support in the primaries, it strengthens their position going into the convention. Only registered members of the party may vote in the primaries.
The PRESIDENT of the UNITED STATES
American citizens DO elect the leader of their country. The process of electing their President is a long one for the American people, but ultimately it is the people who choose their leader. George W. Bush President of the United States
CLICK ON THE
PICTURE TO VISIT
HIS WEB SITE
Running in the primaries is optional. Candidates must choose carefully those state primaries they will enter because once entered candidates must make a strong showing or appear to be a loser. Losses in the primaries usually stall or kill a campaign. A strong showing in the primaries gives a candidate the look of a winner. With success comes heightened public interest and increased media coverage. Not all fifty states have primaries. Some states hold caucuses or state party meetings to choose delegates. Once all the states have chosen their delegates, the parties hold their conventions. At the convention, a party chooses its Presidential candidate by an open election. The third election is on the first Tuesday following the first Monday in November when a general election is held. At this time, all eligible adults may vote. This popular vote indirectly chooses a President. In fact, the voters elect electors. Electors are people who are appointed by the two parties to vote for their party's candidate in the fourth, and final, election. A state has as many electors or electoral votes as it has members of Congress. On the first Monday following the second Wednesday in December, the electors members of the Electoral College) meet in their respective states to choose the President. If the majority of people in a state voted Republican, then all of the states electoral votes go to the Republican candidate. In early January the electoral votes are counted, and the successful Presidential candidate will soon take office. Do you remember in last week's lesson when we talked about POWER, and how it is divided evenly between the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial branches in a democratic government?
The Executive Branch of Government Canada is divided into 295 electoral districts commonly called constituencies. This reflects the democratic principle of representation by population. After each census, constituency boundaries are adjusted in line with population shifts. Cabinet members are chosen by the Prime Minister to head government departments, such as health and welfare or national defense, and to provide advice and expertise.
The executive branch in Canada is influential and very powerful. In addition to enforcing legislation, the executive also proposes legislation and submits it to the House for approval. Because the Canadian political system includes both cabinet solidarity and party discipline, this proposed legislation is almost always passed into law. This is a significant power! Theoretically, this power is somewhat limited because the executive is responsible to the House of Commons. If the executive loses the support of the majority of members in the House as expressed by a vote of nonconfidence, then the prime minister and the Cabinet must resign. As a result, either an election will be called, or another party may attempt to secure the support of the majority of the members of the House. Because the executive is responsible to the House and members of the House are responsible to the electorate, Canada has a system of responsible government. Responsible government is effective in theory. In practice, however, it is not effective at all. The reality of party discipline means that elected representatives within a party must vote the way the executive of the party dictates - not the way that is best for the people they represent. As a result, the executive - and particularly the Prime Minister - of a majority government has enormous power in the Canadian political system.
The President is the head of government and chief executive officer. The President is responsible for the operations of government but must rely on Congress for the funding needed to operate government. Congress receives a budget from the President. It has the power to alter the budget in any way before approving it. This allows Congress to impose its priorities. The President is commander-in-chief of the armed forces, but only Congress can declare war or vote the funding needed to support the armed forces.
The President has the power to appoint cabinet members, federal judges, ambassadors, and senior civil servants. However, these appointments must be approved by the Senate, the upper house in Congress. The President is responsible for the conduct of foreign relations, and signs treaties with foreign nations; but these must receive the support of two thirds of the Senate before taking effect.
In the United States, executive power is exercised only by the President. However, exercise of this power is limited by Congress through a complex network of checks and balances. Canada and the United States are both representative democracies. They share a commitment to democratic principles. However, these two countries have chosen to organize their governments differently. As a result, their practice of democracy varies considerably in some respects.
Because BELIEFS DETERMINE ACTIONS, the politics of any democratic country operate within the boundaries set by the political beliefs of the majority of the population. What do I mean by this?? Letâ€™s look at an
Gun control laws are much weaker in the United States than in other Western countries fundamentally because Americans believe in the primacy of individual rights, and many Americans have been persuaded that gun control would threaten these rights. Canadians are much more willing to limit individual rights to protect the public interest.
Thats a cut n paste (a rather crapy cut n paste) of a lesson in my SS30