[The Charter of Rights & the Legalization of Politics in Canada. Rev Ed]

By Mandel, Michael; Dyck, Rand | Journal of Canadian Studies, Spring 2000 | Go to article overview

[The Charter of Rights & the Legalization of Politics in Canada. Rev Ed]


Mandel, Michael, Dyck, Rand, Journal of Canadian Studies


Recent Work on Canadian Political Institutions

Rand Dyck

Rev. ed. Michael Mandel. Toronto: Thompson Educational Publishing Inc., 1994.

Patrick Malcolmson and Richard Myers are among the political scientists who regret that the discipline has "moved away from the study of government and political institutions in an attempt to explain political phenomena in terms of economic, sociological, psychological and anthropological phenomena." Instead, they argue, "the starting point for a sound understanding of Canadian politics is to focus on the basic institutions of government." Three of the other four books in this varied collection do deal with government institutions - the public service, the House of Commons and the courts - while the fifth concerns a quasi-governmental institution, the New Democratic Party. This review can thus be said to examine recent books on Canadian political institutions, but not all of them depend on an institutional or neo-institutional approach.

The Canadian Regime has about 200 pages of text and 50 pages of Constitution Acts, 1867 and 1982. Malcolmson and Myers aim for a "short and clear account of Canadian government." Given the "poor condition of civic education in contemporary Canada," their target audience is first-year political science students and ordinary citizens who want to be better informed. They hope "to articulate the inner logic and coherence of the regime," that is, to explain the interactions among the political institutions as well as their underlying principles.

The book is a fairly basic "civics" text, which briefly describes the constitution, federalism, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Crown, cabinet and prime minister, Parliament and the judiciary. It looks beyond this institutional base to include chapters on elections, political parties and "interest groups, public opinion, and democratic citizenship." Although they eschew theoretical approaches beyond their affection for institutions, the authors make reference to Aristotle, Mill and Locke in their categorization of political regimes and in their discussion of the fundamental principles of equality and liberty. What they say is clearly written, necessarily condensed, and conventional; most theoretical questions are handled well; and while some of their examples are excellent, others are hypothetical when better "real" examples exist. They touch upon such controversial questions as the merits of majority and minority governments, the reserve powers of the Crown, fixed election dates, the federal spending power, Michael Mandel's critique of the legalization of politics, prime ministerial government, the principle of ministerial responsibility, the effectiveness of backbenchers, the Triple-E Senate, the effects of the single-member plurality electoral system, party ideology and the "horse-race" coverage of election campaigns.

The book's main strength is its defence of the existing parliamentary system, with its executive dominance, party discipline, institutionalized opposition and accountability provided by the principle of responsible government. It sees no reason to look to American institutions to improve the operation of the Canadian system. The explanations of the components of the constitution, the conventions of responsible government, the constitutional amending formulas, Charter cases such as Southam and Oakes and the Thomas Berger affair, are impressive. Key terms are listed at the end of each chapter and discussion questions are at the end of the book.

While the authors succeed in their general explanation of the Canadian political regime and in clarifying basic principles, they falter on many of the details. Explaining such a broad subject in 200 pages leads to oversimplifications, such as in collapsing several phases of Canadian federalism and in devoting only three pages to the civil service. Since they rarely refer to the Constitution Acts that consume the last 50 pages of the book, the authors might have made more profitable use of that space. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

[The Charter of Rights & the Legalization of Politics in Canada. Rev Ed]
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.