Social Studies 9
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Social Studies 9 Introduction
Introduction • What do you know about Canada’s political process? You probably know that Canada is a democracy and elections are held to elect members of parliament. • You probably also realize that Canada’s federal government, comprised of Members of Parliament, make Canadian laws. These laws impact your identity, citizenship, and quality of life. • Canada’s federal government works to make a Canada for all Canadians. • What does economics mean to you? • You may know that economics has to do with money. Who makes the economic decisions that influence your quality of life, citizenship, and identity? • http://www.learnalberta.ca/content/t4tes/courses/junior/s s_09/mm/m1/ss9_m1_s1_001_inquire/ss9_m1_s1_001_in quire.html
Governance and Me • You may not realize it, but government has a role in many of the things you do each day. For example, how do you know that the food you buy is safe and healthy for you? • Government is involved. Or, how do you get to and from school safely? Again, government is involved. The government supports our lives in many ways. • governance: the way a group or a nation is governed; the process of governing
• Examine the news video “Deadly Bacteria Strikes Canadians.” • This news item looks at the outbreak of listeriosis—an infection caused by eating food with a harmful bacteria— and the public response to the problem. • As you watch the video, determine what role the government has in solving this problem.
• individual identity: how a person sees himself or herself based on a set of characteristics and values. • collective identity: a common or shared identity within a group of people; e.g., common language, culture, and history. • As Canadians, individuals share similarities such as language, culture, and history with other Canadians. • These similarities define the groups that Canadian citizens belong to. • Within these groups, individuals share collective identities. • Individual and collective identities will influence the choices and decisions each Canadian makes as a citizen. • Identity Activity • Consider how your individual identity can be defined and what makes you unique. Complete the Identifying My Individual Identity handout. • Read the point of views or perspectives about quality of life as presented by three Canadians on pages 6 and 7 of your textbook. • Summarize the main idea of the three speakers featured in your textbook. Which statements reflect an individual point of view, and which statements reflect a group perspective on factors affecting quality of life?
Economics and Me • How does money affect your daily life? Think about this past month. What have you spent your money on? What did your family spend money on? • Make a list of items that your personal money went towards. Make a list of what the family money went towards. • goods: things that someone wants or needs • service: something that someone does, or a performance of any duty or work for another, helpful or professional
Economics and Me • Economics impacts jobs, income, and taxes paid to the government. Canada’s economic system reflects the values we have as a society. It affects your quality of life and the quality of life of all Canadian citizens. • As an individual, you get to make many economic decisions, such as what part-time job you have, what clothes you will buy, or what form of transportation you will use. Your decisions will be based on the values you hold. • The Canadian government also makes economic decisions that affect you. For example, the price of gasoline is regulated by the federal government as is the Goods and Services Tax (GST) you pay at the stores. The decisions the government makes are based on the values of Canadians as a collective and enacted as law through legislation.
Chapter 1 How effectively does Canada’s federal political system govern Canada for all Canadians?
• Canada’s Federal Political System
• Canada’s capital city is • In this section you will Ottawa. The decision examine the three making for Canada takes branches of Canada’s place in the Parliament federal political system, the buildings. This is where the role of political parties, federal government meets. Members of Parliament and senators, lobby groups, and media. You will also investigate the legislative process of how a bill becomes a law.
• On July 1, 1867, Canada as a nation was born, so every July 1 we celebrate Canada’s birthday. Canada Day is a time when people from across Canada celebrate our nation, who we are as Canadians, and why Canada is such a great place to live. The Canada you know today has taken time to build. • The Fathers of Confederation created the British North America Act; this act was a set of rules for how government would attend to the needs of Canadians. We now refer to the BNA Act as the constitution. The constitution describes the rights, freedoms, and responsibilities that government and citizens have. With the signing of the BNA Act, a prime minister was chosen to lead the government.
• Understanding Canadian Government. • Answer the questions in the Understanding Canadian Government Questions handout. • The textbook introduces the role of the prime minister in a comic tour called “PM for a Day.” together we will read the comic tour on pages 21, 23, and 26. • In your notebook begin to identify the roles and responsibilities of the prime minister, the executive branch, and the legislative branch. • To further investigate the executive branch and legislative branch, we will read pages 22, 24, 25, and 27 of your textbook.
Canada’s Federal Political System • In government, people who have a similar perspective or ideas and agree on major issues often belong to the same political party. • political party: a group of people who hold a similar political perspective • A political party is an organization of people who hold a similar political perspective. The role of a political party is to promote a perspective within government and Canada. Any Canadian citizen can be a member of a political party.
• Political parties play a central role in Canadian federal politics. In the October 14, 2008, federal election, the Conservative Party of Canada was re-elected as the party in power by winning the most seats in the House of Commons. As leader of the Conservatives, Stephen Harper continued his role as the 22nd prime minister of Canada. • Examine the chart below to see how many seats each political party won in the 2008 federal election. To win a majority, the government must win 155 seats. • Did the Conservative Party win the majority of seats? Winning a majority is the ideal situation for a political party.
• In Canada, we have many different political parties because Canadians hold many different points of view and perspectives. • The news article “Opposition parties plan to oust Conservatives” is an example of the influence that political parties have on Canadian politics. Examine the article for names of the parties involved. • In the House of Commons, in 2009, there are a total of 308 seats. To receive a majority, a political party must win 155 seats in an election. If a party does not win 155 seats, but receives the most seats, then the party forms a minority government. • Once a government is formed, the parties have varying roles and responsibilities. The governing party (party with the most seats) forms the executive branch of government. The party with the next largest number of seats becomes the official opposition party. • official opposition party: the political party with the second-most seats in the House of Commons. • In the news article, the opposition parties want to create a coalition. If this were to happen, the Liberals and New Democrats, with support of the Bloc Québécois, would have a majority government as a coalition. Read page 28 of your textbook to further explore majority and minority governments. • Party Standings in the 40th Parliament. • In the News Assignment assignment
The Legislative Branch
• You have learned that the prime minister and cabinet make important decisions within the executive branch. However, the executive branch is just one branch of the House of Commons. • The legislative branch also has an important role in the House of Commons. Members of Parliament, along with senators and the governor general, make up the legislative branch. • Each member of the legislative branch has a role. Being accountable to Canadians is perhaps the most important role members of the legislative branch have. • Read Members of Parliament. • Read pages 27 and 29 of your textbook Issues for Canadians.
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Members of Parliament and senators are chosen differently. MPs are elected by citizens of Canada in federal elections, and senators are selected by the prime minister Candidates for parliament generally run in an election under a political party name in their federal riding. If elected, the candidate becomes one of 308 Members of Parliament representing ridings from across Canada. The role of an MP is to be accountable, first to their constituents and then to the Parliament. riding: a voting area that is represented by a Member of Parliament constituent: a citizen of a riding Sir John A. Macdonald, as first prime minister, believed that the Senate was the opportunity for “sober, second thought.” This means the Senate is used to ensure that the House of Commons is effective and accountable. The Senate is made up of 105 members from various regions across Canada. Historically, a senator is selected by the prime minister for many reasons. The reasons may be cultural, gender, profession, or political party affiliation. The main goal of the Senate is to represent the rights of regions, provinces, and minorities of the country. The Senate of Canada video. Read page 30 ,31 and 32 of your textbook Issues for Canadians . Rep by Pop: Making Votes Really Count.” Read “Reforming the Senate.” Position Assignment: resources you can use is the Rep by Pop Video, the handout titled Senators, text book, internet, and Notes
• The government is involved in your life and that of all Canadians through the services it provides and the rules it establishes to live by. The laws of Canada provide order for our society and protection for each member of society. • Laws may be like the rules you find in some homes. In some homes, not following the rules or breaking a rule may lead to consequences such as being grounded, having to do extra chores, or losing family privileges. Rules, like laws, may establish order in a home. • In your local community or city, there are also local or municipal laws. These laws are called bylaws. Bylaws are established to create health, safety, and wellness in the community. These bylaws might include traffic safety, animal control, and police services. For example, a city of Edmonton bylaw requires all residents to remove snow and ice from city sidewalks near their residences within 48 hours of a snowfall. All violations are dealt with by local or municipal courts. • At the national level, the federal court system upholds the laws of Canada. When the courts cannot make a decision, or a decision is challenged, it may reach the highest court of Canada known as the Supreme Court of Canada.
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The third branch of government includes the court system: Supreme Court of Canada federal courts provincial courts These three courts comprise the judicial branch. The judicial branch also ensures peace, order, and good government for all Canadians. It is the responsibility of the judicial branch to ensure the rights of Canadians are respected. The judges interpret the laws and apply them to specific situations. • judicial branch: the part of government that interprets and applies the law by making final legal judgments • Read the comic tour on page 34,and 35 of your textbook as you begin your introduction to the role of the Supreme Court of Canada. •
The Supreme Court • The Supreme Court of Canada is the highest court in Canada. It is considered the court of last resort as the Supreme Court hears appeals of civil, criminal, and constitutional cases that have been tried in lower courts. For example, a civil case may deal with matters of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Other times, the Supreme Court of Canada may be asked by the government to respond to constitutional concerns. • The judges who sit on the Supreme Court are highly respected and experienced. When a Supreme Court judge retires, a list of nominations for this special role is developed. A committee of Members of Parliament from all political parties creates a final short list of three judges to nominate. The prime minister then makes the final selection. • There are nine judges in total: Three judges come from Ontario, three judges are from Québec, two come from the Western provinces, and one is from Atlantic Canada. Did you notice that there are an odd number of judges sitting in the Supreme Court? This ensures that there will never be a tie in judgment.
• Next, read each step of the Federal Accountability Act (FAA) • How a Law Is Made on pages 40 and 41 of your textbook • Go to pages 39, 40, and 41 of your textbook, and read • You will notice that after the bill went through the second “Case Study: The Federal house, it returned to the House Accountability Act.” On page of Commons and back to the 39 of your textbook, read to have more about the issues raised by the Senate amendments reviewed and “sponsorship scandal.” accepted. This was particular to the FAA—the usual path of a • Investigate the role of the bill is through the first and auditor general of Canada, second houses and then royal also known as a “watchdog” assent. who identified the need for responsible and accountable • Respond to the “Critical Thinking Challenge” question government spending. on page 39 of your textbook.
How do the media connect Canadians to their Government? • You are presented with current events and news every day. It may be a friend or neighbour saying, “Did you hear?” • It may be something that you saw on the front page of your newspaper, read in a magazine, heard on television or the radio, or read on a news service on the Internet. • Media is everywhere, and it is a very important part of keeping all Canadians informed about government actions and decisions. • Together read pages 46-47 • Slogan: a phrase repeatedly used by politicians or marketers to present ideas.
Questions • How does the source of your news affect the information you get? • Do some formats communicate more effectively than others? • How do you know if you have access to reliable, balanced information? • According to Mr. Martin on page 47, what is the main role of Government? Do you Agree or Disagree? Why?
What's the Parliamentary Press Gallery • A group of journalists who are assigned to cover the federal government • Includes 350 reporters from media outlets across Canada • Includes the following networks – – – –
Aboriginal Peoples Television Network Association de la Press Francophone CBC/Radio-Canada Ming Pao News
• Read page 48 • Why do you think groups in Canada want media outlets that serve their communities? HOMEWORK: How to DETECT BIAS, page 49.
• Media includes: newspaper, magazine, film, television, Internet, billboards • Politicians use media to: – Control how the media presents them – Communicate what they want Canadians to know
• All media messages are created – Journalists chose which story to cover, interpret the facts and make choices about how to tell the story – Need to be aware of who is giving the information, what perspective (side) is being told, and what the bias might be. – People need to dig around and find credible sources with credible information
Lobby Groups and the Media
• The ability to voice your opinion is an essential right that all Canadians enjoy. The ability to share your views on issues of governance is part of being an active citizen. This being said, many voices together have more power than one lone voice. Often, Canadians with a specific interest will join together to create a larger voice to influence and effect change on government decisions. These groups are known as lobby groups. • Media works to present the many points of view or perspectives within an issue to the general public. This may include points of view of individuals and government officials and the perspectives of lobby groups and government parties. • Lobby groups often represent Canadians and work to influence government decisions. A few examples of lobby groups are Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD), Greenpeace, and Friends of Medicare. • Each of these lobby groups has been actively pressuring governments to make changes to present laws or create new laws. For example, MADD has been lobbying for more serious penalties for drinking and driving. The group is working closely with government officials to pass bill C-32, which would increase conviction rates of impaired drivers. • Both lobby groups and media are part of an effective democracy. Both are used to influence and present the decisions that government makes to protect elements of democracy—justice, equity, freedoms, and representation for all Canadians.
• lobby group: an interest or pressure group that tries to influence government decisions • justice: the fair treatment of individuals and groups • equity: the ability for individuals and groups to have the same opportunities • freedom: the right for people to think and speak as they wish • representation: the process where citizens have someone (e.g, elected officials) to speak on their behalf
• What issue is represented in the political cartoon? • Identify the individuals, groups, and institutes involved in the issue. • Examine how each is represented and what this might mean. • You should see that the Internet pirate is big and well protected while the Canadian court is the leg of the pirate. You might assume that Internet piracy is a big issue and the courts are unable to do very much about it.
• Read the article “Canadian musicians form own lobby group.” • Determine how lobby groups and media are involved in an effective democracy. Find out what lobby group is involved and what they are working to achieve in the democratic process. • Now read“New Copyright Act targets online piracy.” • Examine how the Canadian Music Creators Coalition has become a lobby group to take on the role of influencing government decisions on music related issues. • In both articles you have seen how media and lobby groups are voices in an effective democracy. • Media and lobby groups work to ensure that the interests of Canadians are considered in government decisions. Both articles reflect how the pressures of media and lobby groups make government more accountable to Canadians. • Now Complete the assignment Identify Components of Effective Democracy • Now read page 51-53
Examples of Lobby groups • Royal Society for the Protection of Birds Founded in Manchester in 1889 to campaign against the 'barbarous trade in plumes for women's hats'. • Sierra Club Formed in 1892 to help protect the Sierra Nevada. • Stop the War Coalition against the War on Terrorism which included a march of between 750,000 and 2,000,000 people in London in 2003. • National Rifle Association Formed in New York is 1871 to protect the rights of gun-owners