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b)Interest groups represent democracy in action since the essence of democracy is people participating in the political process.

c)The interest group with the greatest financial resources will always emerge victorious.lxxxiv

This exercise can help students understand the political structure of Canadian democracy, while also interrogating its complex relationships of power.

Regardless of region or political orientation, all provincial/territorial curriculum guidelines assume that civic education is fundamentally knowledge-based:  “Knowledge contributes to responsible citizenship when it is used by students to inform their judgments, shape their options, solve problems and guide their actions.”lxxxv  With very few exceptions, it is assumed that this knowledge – primarily historical in nature – is essential for active citizenship engagement.  Other pedagogical interventions follow a fairly standard (and narrow) range of strategies that tend to emphasize critical-thinking and communication skills.  All provincial/territorial guidelines assume that civic literacy has a place from the earliest grades to the last year of high school, with curriculum advancing from local concerns to provincial, national and even international issues.  There is, in fact, broad public support for such content:  83% of Canadians agreed that “schools should do more to educate children in the benefits of voting and political participation.”lxxxvi

Provincial “Behavioural” Codes of Conduct

Guides for such lessons are often shaped by school codes of behaviour.  Within the past decade, many ministries of education have produced behavioural guidelines for students under their provincial jurisdiction.  One of the motivations behind strengthened behavioural codes seems to be the perception that students lack the ability or the willingness to solve their problems peacefully or respectfully.  Many people see this as an indication of the failure of civic knowledge or value development.  For example, British Columbia’s Social Responsibility:  A Framework (2001), despite being “voluntary,” defines civic values echoed in other mandated provincial documents, including the ability and predilection to contribute to the classroom and school community as a shared enterprise, solve problems peacefully, value diversity and defend human rights, and exercise democratic rights and responsibilities.lxxxvii

Similarly, Ontario Schools Code of Conduct notes that appropriate behaviours are based on respect, civility and responsible citizenship.  A student demonstrates those values when he or she “comes to school prepared ... shows respect ... refrains from bringing anything to school that compromises the safety of others; and follows the established rules.”lxxxviii  The Alberta School Act requires that every student "attend school regularly and punctually; co-operate fully with everyone authorized by the board to provide education programs and other services; comply with the rules of the school; account to the student's teachers for the student's conduct [and] respect the rights of others," among other demands.lxxxix

Opportunities for Civic Learning

After examining provincial guidelines in civic education and proper community behaviour, it is useful to revisit the competing ideas about citizenship discussed earlier in this report.  The spectrum

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