Constitution, Political Parties and Elections in Canada

Constitution

Definition of Constitution

A constitution can be defined as the collection of the fundamental confines and principles by which an organization or state is governed. These rules are a representation of the definition of the organization or state and represent the written legal status and form of such an organization or state. It provides the rules and regulations creating and governing the operations of the various functional and constituent organs of the organization or state and provides for their jurisdiction rights and duties.

Constitutions are categorized as either flexible or rigid. Flexible constitutions are those whose provisions and parts can be easily amended through a simple statutory process while rigid constitutions are those whose provisions are un-amendable unless the amendment goes through complex political processes such as a referendum and majority vote. Therefore under a rigid constitution it is possible to establish and maintain long term control measures to ensure that there is conformity to the provisions of such a constitution. However under the flexible constitution it’s possible to alter the provisions of the constitution respond to implementation gaps.

Constitutional jurisprudence has provided several major contemporary constitutional tenets.

  • Sovereignty of the people;
  • Unalienable and inherent rights of the people, including individual liberty;
  • Universal principles;
  • Representative and accountable government;
  • Government limited and circumscribed;
  • Separation of powers and checks and balances;
  • Judicial independence;
  • Right of the people to reform their government;
  • Constitution as the paramount law of the land;
  • Amending power of the people.

The rights and freedoms of Canadians and the ideal constitution

The Canadian people are guaranteed of several fundamental rights and freedom through the Canadian charter of rights and freedoms. These rights and freedoms are meant to include the following.

Fundamental freedom

  • Freedom of conscience and religion
    • Every Canadian citizen has right to a free conscience as well as the right to relate with any such religion without criticism or victimization.
  • Freedom of opinion as well as expression,
    • Every Canadian citizen has a right to express themselves by all available means including mass media. These should be without coercion and harassment.
  • Freedom of peaceful assembly;
    • The right to peaceful assembly allows every citizen a right to participate or be part of any such peaceful assembly without harassment or unlawful arrest.
  • Freedom of association
    • The charter vests an independent and infinite right to associate with any person of whoever nature color or origin.

The charter further provides for basic rights that every citizen is entitled. These include but not limited to

Democratic tights

These rights go to guarantee a citizen their elective right in as far as political leadership is concerned. Every citizen is entitled to a vote as long as they meet the basic requirements of very voter. They should be given a chance to cast their vote in a free and fair election.

Mobility rights

Every citizen has a right to freely reside or live and move to any such area or province within Canada. Every citizen has a constitutional right to aquire and maintain a livelihood in any part of Canada.

Legal rights

The charter specifically provides for fundamental legal rights of every citizen which are meant to include the right to life liberty as well as security. These are to be provided on equal basis to all citizens.Every person has a right against unreasonable search and seizure of their self and property. This right goes to protect citizens against arbitrary arrest and unfair detention without a legal trial and conviction.

Equality rights

In line with the rule of law, the right to equality guarantees that every citizen shall be treated in the same manner by the law. This means that no one shall be victimized or unfairly treated. In effect the law should provide equal measures of protection to every citizen regardless of their color or origin.

The charter is not the only legislation that provides for the basic fundamental freedoms and rights. Other statutory legislation such as the royal proclamation of October 7th 1763.

Political Parties

Political parties and democratic politics

A political party can be defined as a political entity whose objective is to influence the governance and government policy by nominating their individual representatives with the intention of giving them their mandate and convincing the general jurisdictional population to give these candidates their mandate in leadership. Political parties the fore are the societal vehicles in political leadership. Parties therefore bear different ideologies which they use to support and advocate for in their campaigns.

Political parties facilitate and at the same time undermine democratic politics in the country. The function of these parties is among other things to create political awareness and ensure that the electorate understand and value the importance of the voting system. In this aspect the political parties invest very little and therefore contribute to the low turnout of voters. On the other hand they act as political vehicles that provide the electorate with a choice in leaders. They allow the electorate an opportunity to choose between the various ideologies.

The differences in the functions of political parties and pressure groups

Political parties have the following pertinent functions.

Representation

Political parties have an obligation ion to represent the interests of their followers to the best of their ability. They therefore function to unify and represent the interest of their followers in the political realm and sphere.

Recruitment and formation of the elite

Political partied are the human resource functions in politics and therefore have the responsibility of recruiting and training leaders for political positions. The types of leaders who are presented by political parties finally represent the state since they are subsequently elected and appointed by the people.

Goal formation

The state as an entity cannot formulate policies on its own since it requires the input criticism and contribution of all parties. Political parties therefore has the responsibility to prepare and present policies to government for review and implementation.

Socialization and mobilization

Political parties are the political tools of the state and therefore bear the greatest share of the social confidence of a state. Political parties therefore function to educate and socialize the people within the state. They also sensitize the citizens on political policies and provisions alongside other national and regional issues.

Pressure groups on the other hand are an essential component of any healthy democracy. The continued growth and increase the number of pressure groups within a political society indicates a rapid growth in the political setup. They contribute heavily to the political process and therefore form an important component of any democracy. They have the following the functions of pressure groups

  • They motivate and stimulate debate among citizens generating opinion and suggestions on political social and economic issues.
  • They educate the general population on general and specific national local social political and economic issues
  • They are important tool and vehicle of stimulating democratic thought and stimulating popular thought among citizens in support or gains a specific issue.
  • They address individual concerns that often escape the notice and jurisdiction f political parties. They offer grievance procedures to individuals affected by these issues and provides representation in the political front.

They also provide representation to minorities alongside providing expert and specialist information and resources to these individuals. The Canadian tax foundation offers reference and tax consultancy for individuals in the country. The Canadian federation of agriculture offers critical technical and structural advice to individuals and the state in as far as agricultural issues are concerned.

Voting and Elections

Vote as a powerful political tool

The Canadian charter of basic rights and freedoms guarantees every individual a democratic elective right. In effect every individual bears the right to vote in a general election. Every citizen is therefore entitled to a single vote in a general election and they are therefore obligated a citizen to exercise this vote. In any strong democracy, a single vote represents the concentration of power and choice. A single vote therefore represents a large portion of rights vested in the voter.

The voters turn out of Canada in general and national elections have not been encouraging at all. In the previous elections the number of voters fell to an all time low of 59 percent of the eligible voters (Guy 2010 pp 243 -458). This therefore means that the leader appointed to electral posts is a representative of a simple majority of the population. This is goes against the political prospect and rationale of democracy. It creates a bias in the leadership since the leaders are not elected by the whole population. The situation is caused by the lack of participation by the elderly population since the voter turnout comprised mainly of the young.

An electoral system

A voting system is a procedural structure or method which allows voters to exercise their choice between alternative candidates in an election or policy referendum. It is an administrative mechanism that oversees the participative exercise by citizens of their choice in an election. An electoral system bears the various pertinent rules that are to be followed in the voting exercise in as far as casting counting and announcement. The system provides for the physical materials and manpower to facilitate the conduct of elections and provides for grievance procedures for offences against the electoral code.

The principles and rules of democracy demand that the voting system should as far as possible represent the view and choice of all the people. In effect the government is by the people for the people and should remain so. The candian voting system fundamentally fails to represent a popular opinion by the fact that it fails to present a proportional setup. It is therefore important and urgent that the Canadian system of voting and election adjusts to a more representative front.

Reference

Guy, J. (2010). People, Politics, and Government. Scarborough, Ontario: Pearson Education.