Government

  • Write to your mayor or councillors. Invite them to visit your class and speak about their typical day. You should be prepared to ask them specific questions.
  • Go to the Supreme Court of Canada’s Judgment website (http://scc.lexum.umontreal.ca/en/) and use the search function for an interesting federalism case that discusses overlapping jurisdiction between the federal and provincial governments. Paraphrase what the case was about, what the court decided and the court’s reasons for its decision.
  • Create a two-column chart, with arguments for Canada remaining a federalist state on one side and arguments against Canada remaining a federalist state on the other side. Think about the role of democracy and the constitution when formulating your arguments.
  • Visit your community’s city hall and talk to a supervisor in bylaws or zoning to find out what types of current issues may be shared areas of responsibility with the provincial government.
  • Find three articles from a newspaper or magazine and cut out one example of each category of power: legislative, executive and judicial. Make a collage which clearly labels which power is illustrated in that article.
  • Research Senate reform. In a brief report, explain why people believe the Senate needs to be changed, what the possible issues are around getting rid of the Senate and what the possible issues are with forming a Triple-E Senate. Conclude the report with your opinion and reasons about whether and how the Senate should be changed.
  • Under the separation of powers, the powers of our government are separated between the executive, legislative and judicial branches to serve as checks and balances on the exercise of government power. To what extent does the press or media act as a check on government power? Write a paragraph in response, using specific examples to support your opinion.
  • Find out how your school government works. Get involved by running for election, volunteering to help in a campaign by being a volunteer or campaign manager or by helping with the actual vote.
  • Go through a local newspaper and clip out articles related to government action or issues at each level of government. Report back to the class on what you found.
  • Explore federal, provincial or territorial government websites to identify key announcements and news releases of the day. What are the priorities of each level of government on a particular day?
  • Visit a MLA or MP or Councillor and interview him or her. Prepare your questions before you go. If possible take a picture or make a video of the interview. Report back to the class on the role of the person you interviewed in the government.
  • Use Google Earth (http://earth.google.com) to create a tour of your favorite places in the local community or regional district. Provide a copy of your tour to your teacher and/or make a class presentation.
  • Use the BC Statistics website (http://www.bcstats.gov.bc.ca) to examine statistical demographic and economic information about the community or regional district. Make a two page flyer to distribute to the class. Make it look professional.
  • Create a survey on municipalities and regional districts with 5-10 questions. Take the survey to the street and see how many people in your area understand the difference. Ask at least 10 people to complete the survey. Compile your results and present your findings to your class.
  • Ward System vs. At Large System Debate

One common debate in BC politics is whether we should elect members of council using the current “at large” system, whereby all members of council are elected to represent the entire jurisdiction or if we should elect members of council to represent their own neighbourhoods or “wards”. The City of Vancouver had a referendum on the Wards issue in 2004, with 54% of voters rejecting the idea. This result, however, was based on a voter turnout of only 22% of registered voters. Information about the wards referendum, including a map of the proposed wards in Vancouver, is still available at the Vancouver City Clerk’s website: http://vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/decision2004/index.htm A class debate on At Large vs. Wards would still be relevant in many jurisdictions as the ward system is commonly used in other provinces and still has some popular support in BC even though it was not approved in the 2008 election. You can prepare this debate and then ask your teacher if you can take some time in class to present it.

  • Invite a local reporter who covers local elections to visit the class to discuss local election campaigns. Prepare questions ahead of time for your speaker to answer.
  • The Governor General normally takes advice from the Prime Minister and typically does not play a political role, except to give Royal Assent to bills and legislation. On two occasions in Canada’s History, The King-Byng Crisis and the 2008 federal election, the Governor General has dissolved Parliament. Do some research to find out what led up to these decisions. Then answer the following questions: What kind of implications does this have for our government? Should the Governor General have the power to dissolve Parliament if he or she chooses to on the advice of the Prime Minister? Does this make a Republican government a more desirable form of government? Why or Why not?
  • Why do you think a figurehead or leader is seenas necessary for a province, state or country? Could a system of government be created without a single leader to lead the people? If so, create a country without a leader. How would your country run?
  • Visit the legislature in Victoria or attend a council meeting in your local community. Report back to your class on what you observed and any impressions it made on you.
  • Over a two-week period, search through your local newspapers, The Province and The VancouverSun to find articles that relate to an issue(s) related to government. Organize the articles you have chosen into the levels of government the article relates to, summarize the articles and explain why you have chosen to place them within that level of government.
     
  • Answer the following questions:
  1. Do you see a connection between your feelings and views and government laws and policies? Why or Why not? Explain your answer in detail.
  2. Do you believe that politicians represent all members of public, just the people who vote or the people that just vote for them? Explain your answer.
  3. Do you believe that youth can have a greater influence on how policies and laws are made by the government(s) if they expressed themselves more in open forums and during election votes? Explain your answer.
  • Choose an issue that was brought up during the Graffiti Wall activity that you feel passionate about and write a letter to have the issue/law changed or dealt with. Write a letter to the appropriate person in that level of government.
  • Create a trading card of each political leader at the provincial level. Answer the five Ws (Who, What, Where, When, Why) and discuss the leader’s political ideologies.
  • Plan a trip to your local city hall to watch the council in session. You might want to speak on an issue they are discussing. Find out how you can get on the speakers list and then prepare what you want to say.
  • Watch Government in Canada Part 4: Local and Provincial Governments – Working Together (A National Film Board of Canada Production). Write a short summary of the film.
  • Visit your local MLA’s office. Find out what kind of work he or she does there and what kind of information and/or assistance the general public can get.
  • Compare a First Nations community’s government, services, economy and population with a neighbouring municipality’s government, services, economy and population.
  • Compare and contrast the government of the Nisga’a First Nation with the requirements in the Indian Act for a Band government. Pay special attention to how traditional governance practices are included or not included.
  • Research and describe the efforts of other indigenous people to obtain self-government in another country, such as New Zealand or Australia. Compare and contrast their fight for self-government with that of First Nations in BC.
  • Research and describe some traditional governance and decision-making activities for First Nations (potlatches, Talking Circles, elders)
  • Interview an elder or traditional/hereditary chief about how their system of governance differs from the elected system of governance.
  • Find out if there is a Royal Commission in progress in your community. Report back to the class on the issues and the progress so far. See if you can interview a participant or if you can attend it to see how it works. http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca
  • Find out who the police or RCMP liaison officer is in your area and arrange to interview him or her on the issues of the drug trade. You may even have an officer attached to your school. Prepare your questions ahead of time. Report back to your class on your interview. http://www.rcmp.ca
  • Contact your local MP and ask him or her to sit for an interview about the legislative process; a more preferable option may be to interview him or her about a Private Member’s Bill that he or she sponsored. Prepare a set of questions in advance of your interview. http://webinfo.parl.gc.ca
  • Volunteer at the local office of your member of parliament (MP) to help with constituency questions. See http://webinfo.parl.gc.ca for a list of MPs.
  • Have students visit the website for the Government of Canada (http://www.parl.gc.ca) and choose a proposed bill that has some controversy. Conduct some research on the nature of the bill and its purpose, advantages and disadvantages for Canadians. After researching the merits of the bill write a letter to your local constituency office, or that of an opposition MP, providing your position on the proposed legislation.
  • Meet with your local MP and interview him or her regarding a specific piece of legislation before Parliament. Prepare a series of questions on the legislation in advance of your meeting. Alternatively, write a letter to the editor of your local paper on a contentious piece of legislation. http://webinfo.parl.gc.ca
  • Conduct Internet research on an extremist political party (e.g., British National Party) and prepare a summary of its core beliefs. What is the appeal of such a party? Who might support or vote for a party with extreme social, racial, economic or religious beliefs? http://bnp.org.uk/
  • Research one of the Canada’s federal political parties and draft a comparison chart between the beliefs of the party and the principles you have learned while studying ideologies. Consider that Canada has Conservative (Conservative, Bloc Quebecois), Liberal (Liberal), Socialist (New Democratic Party) and Communist (Communist Party of Canada) parties at the federal level. http://www.politicswatch.com/index2.html
  • Volunteer with a political party of your choice. Usually, they have opportunities for youth. See http://www.politicswatch.com for more information.
  • You are a candidate in the next federal election. Describe five key issues that you would use to build your campaign platform around. For each issue explain the 5 W’s (who, what, where, when, why).