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Comparative Politics and Governance

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Comparative Politics and Governance

1.0 Introduction

The origins of liberal democracy can be traced to 18th Century Europe which is famously referred to as the Age of Enlightenment. Most of the European states at the time had political power vested solely with either the aristocrats or with the monarchs. The Age of enlightenment inspired both the French and American Revolutions. The French revolution sought the implementation of principles postulated by 18th Century philosophers in the establishment of government which embraced liberalist ideologies (Axworthy, 2012, web). As such, revolutions and subsequent reforms in governance propelled many of Europe’s countries towards embracing liberal democracy.

Canada and the US share a continent though the fundamental aspects of their historical background tend to differ profoundly. The colonies in northern America were inherited by Canada, a country that inherited the colonies from the British, an event which is viewed by political scientists as an evolutionary approach to governance. America on the other hand applied revolutionary tactics towards the realization of a form of governance based on American idealisms (Axworthy, 2012, web). This paper seeks to look into the Canadian liberal democratic model and how it conforms to three core features defining liberal democracy. These features include; constitutional rule of law in determining the legality of actions, rights defense as a core purpose of a liberally democratic model and external recognition of the validity of an entity’s political arrangement (Smith, 2009 p 58).

2.0 Constitutional rule of law to determine the legality of actions.

Canada has a constitution that was promulgated in 1791 which essentially saw the creation of democratically elected assemblies representing Lower and Upper Canada (Axworthy, 2012, web). The Canadian Constitution is the supreme law in Canada and defines the legality of all actions and by so doing led to the development of a government responsive to the needs of its people, mindful of the rights and needs of the country’s minority groups, government chosen by the country’s population and welfare.

According to many scholars, Canada as a liberal democratic model has progressively sought to adopt the legality of actions as prescribed by its Constitution presenting the strongest example as to the realization of sustainable democratic governance. It has provided a benchmark for other countries to emulate with regard to the reconciliation of ethnic pluralism and the upholding of the rights and needs of the minority (Chan, 2002, p 132). This has been a major challenge for many countries around the world. India for instance is a society challenged by rifts in religious and social affiliations thus a nearly tangible sense of discord among the county’s people. Moreover, Canada decided to entrench the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982 in the country’s Constitution. This ensured that both basic liberties as well as novel rights for minority linguistics. The main purpose of the enacted Charter was to ensure that minorities could use their languages as it was their constitutional right as entrenched in the Canadian Constitution. This was essentially to ensure that this right could never denied to any Canadian minority group irrespective of the form of governance adopted.

3.0 Rights defense

Liberal democracy is founded on the maxim that every individual person is endowed with a distinctive dimension which is in essence a uniqueness that ultimately seeks to be positively acknowledged (Offe, 2011, p 458). An individual’s integral life purpose is therefore to aim at realizing these unique potentials such that there should be no ceiling towards the attainment of one’s identified life purpose. Every human being is therefore a free agent with the ideal ability to define and work towards his or her accepted perception of happiness, his or her preferences as to what are good and personal values (Axworthy, 2012, web).

Liberal democracy dictates that it is the fundamental role of government to ensure that all the necessary conditions which can offer individuals the widest possibility of choices imaginable are available, such that individuals can make the appropriate decision as to what one can define as being good. As such, the society in a liberal democracy is tasked with appreciating diversity and more so ensuring there is equal treatment of all members regardless of religion, gender, race or social statu (Axworthy, 2012, web)s. This implies that an individual should ultimately acknowledge personal responsibility for personal fortunes as well as the fortunes of an entire community.

Liberalism in essence strongly roots for the realization of human rights such that it believes that political good arises from the will to ensure that human rights and needs are adequately and appropriately catered for (Offe, 2011, p 458). As such, all political parties in Canada are fundamentally liberalist as they stand for the self-actualization of the individual (Axworthy, 2012, web).

4.0 External recognition of the validity of an entity’s political arrangement

The world over, it is the objective of humanists to ensure for the realization of universally pluralistic societies (Page, 2011, web). In such societies, an individual has the total freedom to choose the religion of choice and where there are equal conditions offered to all religions by the government. In the Netherlands, the government ensures that all religious groups are funded by the state. There is a similar trend in Canada where equality among religious denominations is achieved by a ‘hands off approach’, such that the government chooses not to support any religious denomination apart from those provided for in the Constitution (Page, 2011, web). As a result, these two countries have realized significant declines in religious practices as tolerant pluralism has effectively depressed the growth of discordant religious fundamentalism.

Among the Western countries, only the USA has a supposedly libertarian ideology where its citizens enjoy a considerably low degree of security. This implies that the country has in many ways allowed for religion to bring about huge social alienation challenges (Page, 2011, web). Other countries who have enjoyed the fruits of a liberal democratic model as Canada has respect each other’s views on common issues such as actively participating in United Nations mandated Peacekeeping duties. More so, the Canadian disregard for religious beliefs have aided in the creation of a social environment that seeks to diminish the spreading of religious commitments (Page, 2011, web). The secular community in Canada has resulted in the development of a high degree for tolerance as well as regard for others despite race, creed, religion or gender.

5.0 Conclusion

The liberal democratic model roots for self-interest as a core motive towards the realization of the good for all. As such people have desires as well as burning passions though these very same people have the capacity to apply reason and logic to reign in and redirect their individual desires. Liberals call for a perception that human beings will always tend towards the promotion of efforts that result in the good of all in society. As such, individuals with a high degree of self-interest and rationally reason out what is good will actively compete with one another to ensure the good for all in a society.

Bibliography

Axworthy, T. S. 2012. Liberalism. The Canadian Encyclopedia. [Online] Available at :< http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/articles/liberalism> [Accessed 29 October, 2013]

Beetham, D. 1999. Democracy and Human Rights. Cambridge: Polity.

Chan, S. 2002. Liberalism, Democracy and Development. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Kymlicka, W. 2010. Testing the liberal multiculturalist hypothesis: normative theories and social science evidence. Canadian journal of political science, 43(2), 257-271.

Kymlicka, W. 2010. The current state of multiculturalism in Canada and research themes on Canadian multiculturalism 2008–2010. Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada.

Smith, M. 2009. Centralised Enforcement, Legitimacy and Good Governance in the EU. New York: Routledge.

Offe, C. 2011. Crisis and Innovation of Liberal Democracy: Can deliberation be institutionalised?. Sociologický časopis/Czech Sociological Review, (03), 447-472.

Page, D. 2011. Why Are We So Different? A Canadian View. North American Committee for Humanism. [Online] Available at :< http://www.humanismtoday.org/vol11/page.html> [Accessed 29 October, 2013]

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