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Course Description

Inside Canada's House of Commons

Canada's constitution and its federal system lie at the heart of the ongoing crisis facing the Canadian Confederation. This course examines the major features of our constitutional development, how the current system of intergovernmental relations has evolved, and the challenges posed by Canada's cultural diversity, pressures for decentralisation, and the maintenance of national sovereignty.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course, the learner should be able to:

  1. Identify and explain the distinctive social, legal, and institutional features of Canadian federalism;
  2. Explain the ways in which power can and has shifted over time from one order of government to the other;
  3. Evaluate the prospects for future changes to Canada’s constitutional regime;
  4. Assess the effectiveness of the Canadian federal system in meeting contemporary public policy challenges (eg. Environmental protection, quality social policies); and
  5. Evaluate the ability of the Canadian federal system to manage conflict.

Course Topics

  • The Promise (and problems of Federalism; Federal Principles and Organization
  • How is the Principle of Federalism Reflected in Canada’s Institutional Arrangements?
  • Is Canada A Federal Society? Political Identity and Quebec
  • Is Canada a Federal Society? Economic Regionalism and Wealth Sharing in the Federation
  • The Role of the Supreme Court in Shaping Federalism
  • Constitutional Reform: Explaining Failure
  • Using Fiscal Federalism as a tool to shape the social union of the Canadian Federation
  • Managing the Economy in a federal system and Using fiscal federalism as a tool to shape Healthcare
  • Federalism and Immigration
  • Federalism and Indigenous People
  • First Ministers’ Meeting
  • Federalism and the Environment

Additional Requirements

Prerequisite(s): POLS*2300


Assessment Item Weight Learning Outcomes
Critical Response Papers (2 x 10) 20% 1, 4, 5
Policy Brief and Analysis 20% 1,4, 5
Discussion Participation 15% 1-5
Quiz 1 (end of unit 3) 10% 1, 2, 3
Quiz 2 (end of unit 8) 10% 4, 5
Online Final Exam 25% 1-5
Total 100%  



Additional Technical Requirements

This course will use the following:

  • Respondus tool to invigilate one or more exams. 

Please view the Technical Considerations.

Technical Requirements

You are responsible for ensuring that your computer system meets the necessary system requirements. Use the browser check tool to ensure your browser settings are compatible and up to date (results will be displayed in a new browser window).

*Course details are subject to change.

Enrol Now - Select a section to enrol in
Section Title
The Constitution and Canadian Federalism
January 09, 2023 to April 10, 2023
Contact Hours
Delivery Options
Course Fee(s)
Domestic Tuition Fee (0.5 units) $683.39 Click here to get more information
Available for Credit
0.5 units
Section Notes
Note: If you are in a degree program at the University of Guelph, please DO NOT register using the link above. You must register through WebAdvisor.
Section Materials
  • e-book (Unconfirmed) (Mandatory) Canadian Federalism: Performance, Effectiveness, and Legitimacy by Bakvis and Skogstad © 2020 University of Toronto Press 4th edition ISBN E Publication: 9781487570453
  • Textbook (Unconfirmed) (Mandatory) Canadian Federalism: Performance, Effectiveness, and Legitimacy by Herman Bakvis and Grace Skogstad © 2020 University of Toronto Press 4th edition ISBN Paperback: 9781487570439
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