Poli 305 - BC polítics 4 - The legislature
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What is the seat of all government and state authority? And who is the head of state?
The crown is the seat of government and state authority and Queen Elizabeth is the head of state and is represented by the lieutenant governor
When does a bill become law?
a bill becomes law when it is signed by the Lieutenant Governor. the lieutenant governor does not have the right to refuse.
If the lieutenant-governor only has reserve power, then why are they important?
Symbolism is very important because the person that is appointed to that office may reflect changes in British Columbia and society. She used to be British citizens sent to Canada and now they are Canadian citizens. Minority groups that have been excluded in the past are becoming lieutenant governors in order to symbolize change. Whenever original people become lieutenant governors it shows a mending of relationships
What is the role of government in the legislature? What is the role of the opposition?
The role of the government is to make the decisions that characterize what the government is going to do.
the role of the opposition is to oppose what the government is doing. This is their job in order to discover all the weaknesses in the government's plan
What is the advantage of the Westminster style system?
It is competitive and therefore the hope is that having the two sides competing will make the best legislation
What is the role of the cabinet?
it is the principal decision making part of the government
What is the executive branch in BC?
the lieutenant governor and the cabinet which includes the premier
Who is in the cabinet?
Cabinet is made up of members of the legislature who sit inside the legislature, and are selected by the premier. a cabinet member must be elected to the legislature in order to remain.
What is the responsibility of the speaker? (2)
- 1. The speaker is responsible for managing the affairs and conduct of the legislative debates. The speaker enforces the rules of the legislature such as anyone who calls someone else a liar is kicked out
- 2. The speaker is supposed to be neutral and non partisan even though they belong to a political party
Describe Responsible government? 3 points
- 1. Is the key instrument for making a democratic government
- 2. The executive branch is answerable to the legislative branch
- 3. The whole body of the legislative branch is supposed to hold the cabinet to account
what are three key features of responsible government?
- 1. Members of the cabinet are drawn from the legislative branch
- 2. Executive branch must have the confidence of the legislative branch. key issues and money bills must have majority support in the legislature
- 3. Each cabinet minister is responsible to the legislature and is responsible for their own Ministries. If they cannot give an adequate explanation for problems in their ministry than they are supposed to resign
what is the purpose of the legislature?
To pass legislation / bills
What are two types of bills?
Government bills which can be money bills and private members bills which cannot include the spending of money
What are the stages bills go through? (5)
- 1. First reading: introduces the bill and identifies it
- 2. Second reading: minister or private member will identify something of its contents or direction
- 3. Committee stage: bill could go to committees for discussion at this point
- 4. Third reading: the bill is examined and debated more closely, then it is put to a final vote
- 5. Royal assent: Once it passes with the majority it is signed by the Lieutenant Governor and becomes law
What is the budget? (3)
- 1. It is the key money bill
- 2. It is an issue of confidence
- 3. It is a key piece of legislation that tells the direction the government intends to go
What is the Public Accounts Committee? (4)
- 1. The committee is made up of government MLAs and opposition MLAs
- 2. It gives time for these families to examine the budget clause by clause
- 3. It is responsible for monitoring the overall spending of the government at the end of each year
- 4. It gives the opposition the opportunity to question the government on spending and proposed ideas.
What are some ways in which the legislature does not symbolically represent the population? (4)
- 1. There is a relatively small proportion of women compared to society. Roughly 25 to 30 percent
- 2. The amount of ethnic minorities is smaller than the population
- 3. In social in class terms MLAs are better educated and more urban than the majority of the population
- 4. the average income in the legislature is substantially higher. There are no poor people in the legislature.
What is party discipline? (4)
- 1. Every MLA will support their party n on the rare occasion that the deviate there are severe consequences
- 2. BC party discipline is especially strong
- 3. This means that the MLAs are not necessarily representing their electoral districts
- 4. The real power rests with the officials in the party
What is a reward for party discipline and what is a consequence of disobeying party discipline?
- Opportunities to participate on favorite activities such as delegations to China for example are given to party favorites.
- someone deviating from the party line could be evicted from the party
What is the overall negative effect of party discipline?
It weakens the power of the legislature to hold the government to account
What is the Auditor General? 3 points
- 1.An officer of the legislature that is appointed by the premier but responsible to the legislature to look into how the government spends its money
- 2. They have accountants examine if the money is being spent wisely
- 3. They provide an annual report to the public and to the Public Accounts Committee
What is the Ombudsman? (2)
- 1. An officer of the legislature with the authority to go into the government files in detail
- 2. If someone feels like the government has wronged them, they will look into it for them
What are two officers of the legislature in BC politics?
- 1. Auditor General
- 2. Ombudsman
What is the recall legislation?
- A way in which the BC public can hold the government to account by being able to fire their MLA.
- it has never actually happened but it came close and the MLA resigned
What is initiative legislation. Give an example
Initiative legislation are bills that are created by the public. the HST referendum was an initiative created by the public
What is one way we can constrain the power of the premier?
put legislation in place to create secret votes in the legislature which may solve the issue of party discipline and decrease the power of the premier
What is the responsibility of the crown? (2 points)
- 1. Crown swears in the premier and members of cabinet
- 2. The crown is the official and give her of the speech from the throne, written by the premiers office. this is a statement of what the Government intends to do
What are the three powers of the cabinet?
- 1. Introduces bills: cabinet ministers are sponsors of specific legislation and have the ability to spend money
- 2. They advise the crown
- 3. They are responsible for ministries: cabinet ministers are put in charge of the overall political direction of their ministry. sometimes a cabinet minister can be responsible for more than one ministry. Sometimes they can be members of the cabinet and have no ministries. These are called ministers of state and may have specific tasks for the premier.
What are the two rules that the cabinet members must stand by?
- 1. Cabinet solidarity: cabinet members must all agree in public. Because the crown can only speak with one voice, the cabinet can only speak with one voice.
- 2. Cabinet secrecy: what goes on in the Cabinet Room must remain secret
What is the hierarchy of a ministry? (3)
- 1. The cabinet minister give political direction to the department
- 2. the deputy minister is a career civil servant who has worked their way up through the burocracy and is responsible for managing the ministry.
- 3. There are many experts who advised the deputy minister.
How are cabinet usually composed? (4)
- 1. Geographic representation is taken into account.
- 2. Ethnicity: the premier will want to make sure that the prominent ethnic groups are represented in cabinet. At least one Chinese Canadian and at least one Indian comedian
- 3. The presence of women: the number of women are important. The finance minister is the second most important position so who gets this shows the priority of the premier.
- 4. Cabinets are not formed on the basis of expertise but rather on representing the population
When choosing a cabinet what are the geographic areas that must be represented? (7)
- 1. At least one from Metro Vancouver maybe one from Richmond and
- 2. one from the North Shore
- 3. At least one from the Okanagan
- 4. Vancouver Island,
- 5. Kootenays,
- 6. caribou and
- 7. maybe one from further north
Why are premiers so powerful? (7)
- 1. Premier appoints the cabinet ministers so the cabinet is a tool of the premier. The premier can direct the cabinets and if the cabinet ministers strongly disagrees with the premiere they are forced to resign
- 2. The premier controls the MLA's on the government side through strict party discipline. In a majority government, the premier controls the whole legislature
- 3. because of their there is no chamber of sober second thought -(Senate), the premiere has the ability to pass almost any law they wish
- 4. The premier can appoint whoever they want to major government corporations including BC Hydro and BC Ferries
- 5. The lower levels of the courts are appointed by the premier
- 6. The election process is focused around the potential premier. Clark for example was able to present herself in a more charismatic way then Adrian Dix and therefore she won
- 7. The premier has a direct relationship with the crown
**all of these points compromise the idea of democracy because the premier hold the vast amount of power in the province
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