Parliament and Legislatures: Central to Canadian Democracy?

Paul G. Thomas

in The Oxford Handbook of Canadian Politics

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780195335354
Published online September 2010 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Parliament and Legislatures: Central to Canadian Democracy?

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This article discusses the role of legislatures as a central institution of Canadian democracy. While there is a negative stereotype of parliamentary reform as futile and of marginal value, the legislatures are, in contrast, not powerless and irrelevant: they remain a vital link between the citizens and their governments, and as a source of support and legitimacy of government actions. They are forums for public discussion and a source of democratic accountability. Legislatures benefit governments, which nowadays face a deficit in terms of public trust and confidence. The four sections of this article are devoted to legislatures. The first discusses the explicit and implicit functions attributed to legislatures in the literature, and how these relate to the main formal roles of legislatures within the Canadian political system. The second section discusses the decline of legislatures. The third focuses on the organizational arrangement, procedures, and activities through which legislatures accomplish their formal constitutional responsibilities and perform some informal functions within the Canadian political system. The last section discusses the potential for reforms that would allow legislatures to cope with the challenges of today and the future.

Keywords: legislatures; Canadian democracy; parliament; roles of legislatures; Canadian political system; decline of legislatures

Article.  8297 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; Comparative Politics ; Political Institutions

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