Canadian Political Culture

Subject: Politics & Government
Pages: 18
Words: 4883
Reading time:
17 min
Study level: College

Why Is It So Difficult For One To Define Politics?

Many considerations have to be put in place to study and understand politics in a comprehensive manner. There has been no clear definition of what politics is because of the different perspectives and many ways of approach defining politics. This renders the term politics a halo of ambivalence. This makes it difficult for an individual to come up with a clear definition of politics which can be standardized. Politics is a dynamic phenomenon, varying in hues and tones from one region to the other, and from one period to the other. It is not frozen in time and space. The fact that politics differs from different places and times creates the need to inculcate political science students with the knowledge that reflects their environment. While studying politics, students will be oriented towards the kind of definition that suits their particular country’s systems and riding ideologies (Whyte 27).

A case in point is a political science student in the United States of America. The experiences of this student, with respect to their country’s system and ideologies, are different from that of another student from another country outside the United States of America. The American student is likely to study politics from the definition of the American federal system and Government (Leftwich 209). This is one of the reasons why it is an uphill task to come up with a standardized definition of the politics phenomenon. Coming up with a standard definition of politics therefore becomes a very contentious issue since people understand politics as they perceive it in their territories. This explains why the definition of politics by an American political science student may differ from the definition of politics by a student in Canada or Australia (Leftwich 209).

How Would a Canadian Definition of Politics Differ From an American Definition of the Same?

A comparative analysis of politics in Canada and the United States of America reveals subtle similarities between the two. Few similarities are discernible even though they are very different (McIsaac 5). One conspicuous difference between the two definitions of politics emanates from the perspectives of politics adopted by various schools of thought. The fact that politics can be defined as a system of government will reveal the major difference between the Canadian definition of politics and the American definition of the same term.

There is a different between the forms of government in the two countries. The first point worth noting when this comparative analysis is adopted is the fact that the Canadians are governed using a parliamentary system of government. This is as opposed to the Americans, who are governed using a presidential system of government. This dichotomization of the two country’s politics has one major weakness. Whyte (25) regards it as a layman’s way of differentiation. One needs to analyze it further in order to reveal the link between the various facets used in the definition. One needs to identify the relationship between politics and the government (Kalowski 7).

Politics, as earlier indicated, is not a static phenomenon. It varies from one geographical region to the other. It also varies from one historical period to the other. But amongst all these variations, a common factor remains constant. Kalowski (7) is of the view power is common feature of politics regardless of the geographical region and point in history. It is against this backdrop that many scholars conceptualize politics as a struggle for power and influence amongst individuals in the society (Leftwich 215). The difference between regions and historical times is the system used in the struggle for power.

For example, the Canadian system uses the parliamentary system to scramble for power and influence over the populace. This is whereby the political party with majority seats in parliament takes over the government (Kalowski 7). In America, it is the presidential system of government that is adopted for this struggle. This is a situation where politicians who are affiliated to the political party that has the winning presidential candidate are in control of the government. This development and feature makes the definition of politics in the United States of America different from that one in Canada.

Another notable difference between varying definitions between the two countries is the fact that administration in Canada assumes the shape of a confederation. This is as opposed to that in the United States of America, which assumes the form of a Federation (Kalowski 6).

A confederation, like the one in Canada, is an establishment of a large state that is made up of many self-governing regions. On the other hand, a federation is a large and multi-ethnic state that was originally formed on mutual agreement between the participants. The agreement is based on the creation of two levels of administration in the formation of a state. The role of the federal government and central government are clearly laid out. This erases all semblances of conflicts (Kalowski 6).

In a confederation, the central government is usually weak and has very little influence over the actions and policies of the member regions (Whyte 27). There are particular issues which are categorized as very important. For example, matters concerning defense and the issues of finance and the currency are very crucial to the confederation. These matters, given their delicate and sensitive nature, are handled by the central government. This is to safeguard the security and well being of all member regions.

This is a clear differentiation of the politics in Canada and the United States of America. However, Canada practices its politics in a federation-like style. It is more oriented towards the federation formula as opposed to the confederation one. This is despite the fact that on paper, the Canadian is a confederation form of political entity. This subtle confusion between theory and practice is as a result of the general weakness associated with the central government and the major power lying in the regions and provinces (Kalowski 7).

Values that are Essential for the Existence of a Just Society

The major values of a just society, and which are essential for its existence, are the right to “life, liberty, and happiness” (Sray 113). Politics should be the practice and struggle for control of power in government in order to maintain the core value of life. This is to protect the citizens’ right to life. The political field should also allow democracy to prevail. Democracy is characterized by various developments in the society. The selection of leaders is carried out through periodic elections. Whichever system the political class selects to govern their people, it should be founded on democracy. This is the ability of people to choose the leaders they want and those that they believe in. It is also vital that a country’s political arena respect the ethics of life. It should embrace all the religions and make none of it superior to the other (Sray 112).

The politics should also protect and respect human rights. This is the backbone of a healthy political divide. Freedom of expression is such one human right that should be protected by the political leaders. The presence of these values which are essential for the existence of a just society translates into freedom, empowerment and healthy life for the citizens. Therefore, politics is the active participation of the people in the struggle for power and authority in an environment that is conducive for the same. The environment should include the values that are essential for a just society (Sray 117).

Is There A Different Political Culture In Each Canadian Province?

The political culture in Canada differs from one province to the other. For example, the political culture in Québec is quiet different from that in other provinces. This difference in political culture across Canada is mainly because of the revolution that has taken place in the country since the 1990’s (Kalowski 6). Another factor that contributed to the difference in political culture in the different Canadian provinces can be attributed to their history. Canada was a conglomeration of different components of the British North American Empire that did not have any commonality. There was no common culture, common past and there were no common interests (Kalowski 6). This is why the Canadian political culture differs in the different provinces. This is the explanation of the differences that resulted from the separatist movement in Quebec, and conservatism in the West of Canada which stepped on the liberals (Kalowski 6).

An Outline of the Main Components of the Canadian National Political Culture

To understand the Canadian national political culture, it is important to study its history and also compare the political state with that of other countries. First component is the political ideologies that are to be found in Canada. There are two major ideologies that permeate the Canadian political landscape. The main ideologies that political parties follow in Canada are liberal and conservatism. The conservatism is an ideology that opposes the government’s intervention in the economy. This is as opposed to the liberals, whose major aim is to improve economic equality through government’s interventional measures. Governments can intervene, according to the liberals, by formulating public economic policies. Therefore, the main component of the Canadian national political culture is the development of political parties on the platform of the above identified ideologies (Sray 119).

The other component of the Canadian political culture is the institutions in the political terrain. The main institution in the Canadian political culture is the parliament. The parliament is the centre of legislation and making of all laws in that govern the Canadian populace. This works hand in hand with the constitution of the country and the political parties. The political parties present their candidates to the electorate and they are voted in as members of parliament. The parliamentarians are the legislators who make the laws. The party leaders are elected as member of parliaments and the party with most seats in parliament forms the government, as earlier stated elsewhere in this paper. The leader of the party that acquires majority in parliament becomes the prime minister of the country. The prime minister appoints the cabinet. Being a monarch, Canada’s head of state is the Queen. The Queen is represented by a Viceroy (Sray 109). The monarchy is inherited, meaning that it passes on from one member of the royal family to the other (Sray 110).

How Does Quebec’s Political Culture Differ From Those of Other Provinces?

The political culture in Quebec is different from that in other parts and provinces of the country. The citizens in this province, who are a mixture of French and Canadian culture, have been agitating for autonomy from the larger Canada (Sray 116). They were known as the separatists. This political culture of Quebec has created conflict with the central Government. Through the party Bloc Québécois, they propose policies for Quebec and its people. Their policies clash with the federal policies formulated for and adopted by the country’s other provinces (Sray 116).

This is the reason why the Quebec government representatives strongly believe that they should push for separation from the rest of Canada. The Bloc Québécois as a party which has members from both the Liberal and Conservatism ideologies believe that Quebec can be better off as a sovereign and politically independent state. This means that they have different ideologies hence different party affiliations. One notable difference is that Quebec collects its own tax as compared to other provinces whose tax is charged on the federal collection (Kalowski 6).

Distinguishing The Roles Of The Federal Government, The Provinces, The Territories, And The Municipalities In The Politics Of Nation Building In Canada

The Federal Government works hand in hand with the provinces in proposing programs and supporting them. Federal power is synonymous with the power of the parliament and its jurisdiction is enshrined in the constitution of the country. It involves the authority of spending in the interests of the Canadian citizens. They allocate funds to the provinces. These funds are directed towards promoting equal opportunities and for the well-being of Canadians, enhancing economic development to reduce disparity in opportunities among its citizens. This is in addition to providing essential public services of reasonable quality to all Canadians. However, the Federal Government does not wield any considerable power (Leftwich 213).

This is because the provinces are responsible for most of the activities in Canada. These are under provincial administration since the Federal Government was only given powers in times of war while the provinces became regulators of civil rights. This led to disparity in standards of social service from province to province (Kalowski 7).

As a result of the disparities in services such as health care services across the different provinces, there have been considerations into the provision of these services. Areas such as health care have been negotiated between the federal government and the provinces. This is in order to reduce the differences in standards of services provided. Thus it is being coordinated by the federal government (Kalowski 5).

The provincial administration has the choice to express which activities they would like to run. Hence, the provinces are responsible of taking the services of government close to the citizens. Quebec has some affairs run by the provincial administration. For example, it collects its own tax as compared with the other states whose collections are surcharged on the federal government’s collections (Kalowski 5).

The provincial Administration is headed by a governor whose roles in the provinces are the same as the premier in the Federal Government. He heads the province (Kalowski 5).

The municipals have no particular powers but they carry out the duties allocated by the provincial administration. They are only under the provincial administration they are located in and they can be disbanded at any time. According to the way the provincial administration deems it necessary, they may be reorganized to suit particular interests of the province (Kalowski 5).

How Do Rural Areas in Canada Contribute To Nation Building?

The government of this country has realized the importance of put into consideration the wellbeing of the rural citizens. Most Canadians live in the rural areas. To be able to support the growth of the cities, a healthy rural population is necessary, and the government realizes this. The population sums up to nine million people. The basic components for urban living for example food, water, energy, building materials, are also directly from the produce of rural communities. This calls for the government’s prioritization of the health of the rural communities (Canadian Institute of Health Research 2).

This is an effort in contributing to nation building by supporting the rural areas (Canadian Institute of Health Research 2). The government and other stakeholders have realized that for urbanization to be successful there is need for a thriving rural populace. It is the rural residents that will provide the urban dwellers with food and other necessities to run the cities.

How Are Canadian Cities and Urban Centers Contributing To National Prosperity?

Programmes to accommodate immigrants into areas where there were economic opportunities were developed. The economic opportunities lie in the city. Hence Canada adopted the idea of regional development by creating incentives to draw immigrants to where there were economic opportunities. People were meant to be drawn from rural areas and other parts of the world into Canadian urban centers. The aim was to provide affordable labor to fuel the growth of the urban centers. This will help in the speedy growth of population and industrial growth. This in turn would lead to national prosperity (McIsaac 5).

Question 10: Does Canada Need To Be A Federal State? Can Canada Be Built As A Country Without Building Its Cities?

The answer to the above question is yes; the federal state has a stronger central government. It is also efficient in implementing ideologies across the country. This will do away with the need of Quebec’s separations needs. The first step to building Canada is the building of its cities before embarking on building the country as a whole. The political system and ideologies can not create an environment within which to build a country without laying a foundation on the cities. This is because the cities have different perspectives politically and this affects development (Kalowski 5).

Do Political Opinion Polls Strengthen or Weaken Democracy in Canada? Why Must We Know What Others Think About Political Issues Before We Make Up Our Minds?

Political opinion polls strengthen democracy since they open a platform for freedom of expression and interaction between people with different political ideologies. It is through opinion polls that the opinions held by the public regarding various attributes of the society are gauged. This helps in aligning the public policies formulated by the governments with the wishes of the citizens. A bond is hence established between the ruled and the rulers. This interaction bonds them together since they respect the principles, choices and reasons of the choices of different individuals. When we get the attitude of the people and the riding public opinion on a given issue, we are able to make informed decisions (Leftwich 214). It gives us different perspectives on which to base our decisions. From this discussion, it appears that it is important to have these opinion polls. They are an avenue of collecting data and polls on the particular issues. This serves as records for making decisions on public policies since the citizens have access to a platform that gives them a chance to air their views (Sray 118).

Should we Trust the Science behind Polling? If Not, Why Not? What Question About Politics Or Government Would You Like To Ask Canadians Or People In Your Local Area? What Do You Think The Results Would Be?

Yes, the science behind polling is efficient since it is a direct and simple way of predicting outcomes of a poll on a particular issue. A question I can ask Canadians is whether they support Quebec’s’ separation bid. I expect a positive answer of up to fifty four to fifty eight percent while the negative answer may range from forty six to forty two percent (Kalowski 5).

Evaluate The Relative Importance Of Ideas And Ideologies In Politics. Discuss The Role Political Socialization Plays In Support Of A Society’s Formal Ideology. Which Values And Beliefs Are Likely To Comprise An Ideology? What Three Questions Would You Ask A Politician About Her Or His Political Beliefs To Determine His Or Her Ideological Profile?

Ideologies and ideas are important in providing means of curbing the negative traits in human beings. In politics, the source of ideologies is ideas. Ideas are the seeds that sprout into ideology plants. Ideas may be complex perceptions on how to carry out a particular political activity and an ideology simplifies it further and fits it into the facets of reality. An example is Aristotle’s effort to describe how the political structures could be analyzed in his era by constructing a set of ideas trying to explain the real features and what was existent in the political circles in his time. For example, he named the rule by the few as aristocracy or oligarchy. He named the rule by the many, or by the majority, as polity or democracy. Finally the rule by one individual was referred to as monarchy or tyranny by this scholar (Sray 117).

An ideology offers the platform to understand, explain and change political reality (Sray 115). For example, changing of the political reality of Aristotle’s time could have been to come up with ideologies criticizing the one man and few people system of ruling. Thus, ideologies and ideas work together to come up with ideas of governing the human behaviour.

According to David Easton, it is political socialization that buffers a political ideology (Whyte 28). When ideology is formed, then it is inculcated into the populace through the use of political socialization techniques. These techniques include education in schools, propaganda and such others. When an ideology is adopted, it becomes a political system. Political socialization through its established structures helps the citizens embrace the political system and focus on the benefits of the system. It is an avenue of helping citizens adapt and carry on with a new political system while ensuring order and stability. This helps in changing opinion (Sray 116).

Moral value and religious values are likely to compromise an ideology. To understand the ideology profile of a politician, one can ask them what motivates their political beliefs. Another question that can be posed is the political ideology that drives their chosen party or which party they belong to. With answers from these questions, one is likely to know the politician’s ideological profile.

Discussion on How One Could Go About Examining a Society’s National Ideology. Does Robert E. Lane’s Classification Of The Functions Of Political Ideologies Suggest Any Particular Ideology? Which One and Why?

By studying the cultural and the social structures of a country, one is able to tell the political national ideology it pursues. From the countries budget to the countries trading patterns, they all show the ideology the nation leans towards. For example, nations which are more affiliated to capitalist countries in bilateral trade and which are more oriented towards economic prosperity may be pursuing a capitalistic ideology. A nation that has minimum reforms and is comfortable with their structures of governance as they are is likely to be conservatives (Sray 112).

Canadians Are Not Highly Ideological

It is a fact beyond doubt that Canadians are not fanatic about ideologies, political or otherwise. Whyte (26) is of the view that though liberalism and conservatism are the main ideologies in the state of Canada, the people are not as fanatic about them as would be expected. Perhaps Québec is the only region that diverges from this view of Canada, given the agitation by these citizens to obtain autonomy from the rest of Canada.

The lack of ideological enthusiasm in Canada can be put own to the cultural diversity of the country. Given that individuals in Canada are drawn from different cultural backgrounds, the ideologies tend to diffuse in this multitude (Whyte 26).

Most Canadians Regard Themselves as Liberal or Conservative, but there are no Sharp Differences between them

As earlier indicated, conservatism and liberalism are the main ideologies in Canada as far as politics is concerned. However, it is important to note that the differences between the two are subtle. This can be put down to the Canadian lukewarm approach towards ideologies. As such, the conservatives are not so committed to their ideology as to set them apart from the liberals. The latter also lack the firebrand nature of liberalists in other political regions in the world.

Nazism Could Not Flourish in Canada

During the world war that was marked by Nazism, it is important to note that Canada was spared the fever that seemed to be sweeping other parts of the word such as Germany and other Asian countries. Nazism, which flourished in Germany during the time, could not do the same in Canada. Nazism calls for a great deal of commitment as far as the followers are concerned. Given the lack of enthusiasm as far as ideologies are concerned, Canadians could not fair so well in Nazism. They lacked the high commitment to Nazism or any ideology that was bandied at the time (Whyte 28).

Assumptions of Various Ideologies

There are various assumptions that are made by those who subscribe to the conservative, liberalism and socialism political ideologies. It is not all the assumptions made by these ideologies that are popular, but some tend to endear these ideologies to the populace.

In my opinion, the most sensible assumption by liberalists is that the government should not play a regulatory role in the economy. The market should be left to the regulation of its forces. This is sensible because in cases where the government is incompetent, the interventions made in the economy tend to be incompetent also, leading to economic turmoil.

But it is ironic that I also tend to consider the conservatism argument that government should regulate the economy. This is because when left to the market forces, the economy will tend to benefit the elite, leaving the common man in poverty. Resources will not be distributed equally. The socialist’s argument that all resources in the economy should be distributed equally to all the citizens is also sensible. This is because every person has the right to equally access the resources, and no single individual is more privileged than the other.

Ideologies, Values, Beliefs and Human Nature

There are certain values and beliefs that are likely to compromise an ideology. A case in point is the belief that changes in the society are negative and should be avoided. When the populace holds such sentiments, they are unlikely to embrace ideologies that oppose the established belief systems.

It is very important to address human nature when constructing an ideology. This is given that the ideology will be affected by this same human nature. For example, when the ideology fails to address the desire for stability by humans, then it is likely that it will not be adopted.

There is a difference between ordinary ideas and ideologies. Ordinary ideas, as the name suggests, are ordinary thoughts by ordinary men. They lack the momentum to mobilize the populace en masse, and are limited to the individual who founded them. On the other hand, ideologies are great ideas by great minds. They have the potential to change the status quo. As much as the idea may be regarded as great, it might have negative or positive effects on the society. For example, Nazism could be regarded as a great idea that was to some extent evil.

Ideologies: What they do, Why they Criticize Others, Observations and Generalizations about Ideologies and how they Help One Understand Political Ideology

Ideologies can be used by the dominant group in the society to justify their dominance. For example, the Nazism ideology was used by Germany at the time to justify the repression of the Jews. They are as such regarded as vessels of social reproduction. Various ideologies in the society tend to criticize and compete with one another. For example, the democratic societies regard the dictatorial regimes as societies that are not conducive for human existence. The reason for this criticism and competition is for the ideology to try and justify itself in the eyes of the populace.

Some of the observations and generalizations made about ideologies are very helpful in my understanding of political ideology. This is especially the generalization to the regard that ideologies are vessels for social reproduction (Whyte 28). From this observation, I can now understand that the claims by the democratic societies in the world to the effect that they are superior to other political systems is just a way of trying to entrench themselves in the society.

My Beliefs on Human Nature and their Consistency with Observations in the Political World

Humans like to have balance, to feel they are in control of what is happening around them. Anything that threatens this balance is regarded with doubts. This belief is consistent with what happens in the political field. The political elite, to justify their dominance in the society, try to exhibit themselves as the sources of balance in the society. A case in point is the last presidential elections in America. The democrats portrayed themselves as potential stabilizers of the economy, at a time when the American citizenry was plagued by economic uncertainties.

My Political Belief System and Fundamental Political Beliefs as they Apply to Individuals in the Society

My political belief system is a combination of various political ideologies. I believe that the government should control the economy, but only to some extent. I oppose those who say that the government should not interfere with the market forces at all, and I also oppose those who say that the government should take full control of the economy. I tend to find these stands rather extreme. I believe a balance should be struck between the two.

I have several fundamental beliefs that I think do apply to the individuals in society. First, I believe that individuals should be let to choose their destiny and have control over it. To this end, they should be allowed to elect leaders that they suppose are fit to lead them. It is also my belief that as much as the individuals in the society should be let to control their destiny, this should be regulated by a force that is agreed upon by all. This is because s they pursue their destiny, some individuals may endanger the safety of others in the society. For example, people should be let to achieve their material destiny by stealing from others. Thirdly, I believe that any development in the society that has the potential to affect majority of the people should be a negotiation between all of them. For example, formation of governments should be negotiated between the citizens. These fundamental political beliefs that I hold dear tend to be related and interlinked with one another.

Works Cited

Canadian Institute of Health Research. “Strategic Initiative in Rural and Northern Health Research.” Canadian Institute of Health Research Library. Canadian Institute of Health Research, 2005. Web.

Kalowski, Harrison. “Canadian and American Politics Compared.” KnowledgeRush Library. KnowledgeRush, 2009. Web.

Leftwich, Alexander. What is Politics:The Activity and its Study. Malden: Polity Press, 2004. Print.

McIsaac, Eric. “Nation Building Through Cities: A New Deal for Immigrant Settlement in Canada.” The Caledon Institute of Social Policy 1.2 (2003): 1-10. Print.

Sray, Larry. Modern Comparative Politics: Approaches, Methods and Issues. Delhi: Prentice Hall of India, 2004. Print.

Whyte, Richard. “Construction of an Image: Canada’s First Nations.” Federal Politics Journal 3.8 (2007): 26-29. Print.