Evolving Parliamentary Democracy

Because Canada has a constitution, Canadians have reliable rules to follow. But sometimes, old laws do not fit society anymore. For example, in 1923 Parliament passed the Chinese Immigration Act, which closed Canada’s doors to people of Chinese origin. This law was changed in 1947. The democratic system is flexible and allows Parliament to change old laws and create new ones. National and even international events and issues influence Canadians’ values on many levels. As Canadians consider these issues through open discussion and debate, their ideas may change over time. In turn, Canadians influence Parliament to change laws or introduce new ones.

THINK ABOUT IT

When Canada became a country in 1867, the laws were different than they are today. According to the laws of the time, many groups of people were not allowed to vote — people such as Indigenous Canadians, women, Chinese Canadians and Japanese Canadians. Why do you think this was?
The voting age used to be 21, but in 1970 it was lowered to 18. Some Canadians talk about lowering the voting age again. How would lowering the voting age affect Canada and its youth? What if voting became mandatory?

WHAT ABOUT ME?

Think about the issues listed below. How do they affect you or your classmates? What might parliamentarians do about these issues?

  • environmental concerns
  • child poverty
  • international terrorism
  • illnesses such as AIDS
  • street crime
  • Internet crime
  • promoting Canadian arts (music, television, films, literature, visual and theatre arts)
  • promoting multiculturalism and preventing racial and ethnic intolerance
WORD BUILDER

FLEXIBLE/INFLEXIBLE

The word flex means to bend. If you are flexible, it can mean that you can bend in certain ways (touch your hands to the floor, for example), or it can mean that you are able to adapt to changes as they occur. Consider these sentences:

  • My yoga teacher is very flexible – she can put her foot behind her head!
  • My yoga teacher is very flexible – she does not mind if I come on Mondays or Wednesdays.

Adding an im- or an in- to the beginning of a word sometimes turns the word into its opposite: flexible into inflexible, for example. Consider these words:

politeimpolite
completeincomplete
capableincapable
sincereinsincere

Careful! -in can also mean incoming or into. Here are some more words starting with in or im:

  • interior, income, input, injury, involve, incline, include, investigate, important.

Look them up in your dictionary. Are they opposites?