Social Studies – Grade 9 Close this window
  What's this?

Government Intervention in the Economy: How Far Should It Go?

  • Determine the significant differences between political parties in Canada and the United States.
  • Design an effective advertisement for a political party that reflects its position on an environmental issue.

Assessment Outcomes References Related Resources

Suggested Activities

Students consider the extent to which government intervention in the economy contributes to improving the quality of life for Canadians and Americans. They consider the similarities and differences in the roles played by the two governments in the economy. Finally, students create a powerful philosophical statement for each political party in both the Canadian and American political arenas and develop an effective advertisement by a political party on an environmental issue.

A. Determine the significant differences between political parties in Canada and the United States.

Set a context

Pose the question: Should someone who chooses not to vote or take part in the political process complain when he or she does not like what the government is doing?

Invite students to share their views on the importance of Canadians taking part in the democratic process. Then ask, "Is it better to be an uninformed voter or someone who does not vote at all?"

After allowing for some discussion, inform students that this challenge will help them uncover the broad philosophical underpinnings of the major political parties in Canada and the United States so that they can understand how the parties approach issues. Tell students the philosophical views will be applied to an environmental issue.

Uncover the range of views of major political parties
Invite students to uncover the range of views regarding the role of government in the economy by considering the economic policies of major Canadian political parties (Liberal and Conservative) and American political parties (Democrat and Republican). Ask students to assess how these policies reflect their underlying approach to regulating the economy.

You may also wish to explore the platforms of the New Democratic, Bloc Québéçois and Green parties. To research these issues, students may refer to basic authorized student resources or other references.

Use Venn diagrams to organize information
Ask students to gather evidence using a graphic organizer that encourages them to move from minor ideas to major generalizations.

The categories political, social, economic and environmental would be a useful way to categorize information about how each political party intervenes in the economy. After students have gathered and sorted information, ask them to compare the similarities and differences in the political platforms on how governments should intervene in the economy. Include social programs, specific taxes and taxation model to address the specific outcome 9.2.6 bullet 2. Students should choose the Venn diagram that best reflects the relationships between the parties:

Some similarities and
some differences

All aspects of one
party (inner circle)
shared with other
(outer), but some aspects
of outer not part of inner

No similarities

For more information, see Venn Diagrams (Support Material).

Use a continuum to show relationships of political parties
Place a long economic continuum on the classroom wall with the words Market Economy on the right and Command Economy on the left. Ask students to put sticky notes where they think each political party would stand.

Engage students in a whole-class discussion as to where these parties might fit and why. A consensus is needed from the group. Students should be encouraged to understand that parties do not stay stagnant over time but can change.

Assign political parties
After students have examined a range of policies and approaches regarding the role of the government in the economy, assign them to one of the political parties considered. You may assign parties randomly or ask students to select a party that most closely reflects their beliefs.

Explore criteria for a powerful philosophical statement
Provide students with a variety of statements that range from making a powerful comment on an issue to making comments that would not be considered powerful. Invite students to sort the statements into two groups—powerful and not powerful. Sample statements could include:

 Powerful Statements

Not Powerful Statements

 “Ask not what your country can do for you.  Ask what you can do for your country.”
- John F. Kennedy

We should all be concerned about global warming and need to find a solution.

 “It is better to be feared than loved.”
-Niccolo Machiavelli

Raising taxes is an important measure to pay for programs.

 “An iron curtain has descended upon Europe.”
-Winston Churchill

Traffic congestion is a major problem in Canadian cities and our government will try to solve the problem.

 “The government has no place in the bedroom of Canadians.”
-Pierre Elliot Trudeau

Ask students, “What makes a powerful statement?” and “Why did you sort the statements as you did?”

 “Conscription if necessary but not necessarily conscription.”
-Mackenzie King



Suggest students select up to three criteria that they think are important in recognizing a powerful statement, such as the following:

  • broadly applicable
  • clearly and concisely worded
  • reflects an aspect of human nature.

Create a powerful philosophical statement
Using the criteria for a powerful philosophical statement, invite students to create a powerful philosophical statement for their designated political party. You may wish to have students share or display the statements.

B. Design an effective advertisement for a political party that reflects its position on an environmental issue.

Create a set of environmental recommendations

Inform the students that their challenge is to prepare a set of environmental recommendations reflecting the philosophy of a political party. Invite students to examine how government decisions on emerging environmental issues impact quality of life, including the preservation, exploitation and trade of natural resources (see References). Ask students to determine how each political party would respond to specific issues.

Introduce an effective advertisement
Inform students that their challenge is to create convincing advertisements in order to highlight the benefits to all Canadians or Americans of a particular political party's approach to dealing with an environmental issue. The advertisements are to be created from the philosophical perspective of a political party and are intended to be pitched to the public.

Invite students to examine media messages—television, Internet, radio, print—to identify techniques used in effective advertisements. Aspects examined should include:

  • techniques used to enhance authority and authenticity
  • representations of values, lifestyles and points of view
  • impact.

Create an effective advertisement (Summative assessment)
Distribute the student task sheet Damage Control: A Call to Action (Lesson Material). Invite students to use effective techniques to create an advertisement on an environmental issue. The advertisement should be:

  • consistent with a particular political perspective
  • appropriate for the intended audience
  • responsible and ethical in uses of information and technology
  • convincing.

The advertisement should take into consideration the potential impact of the environmental issue on quality of life for Canadians.

Share advertisements
Invite students to share their advertisements with the class. Encourage them to use the advertisements to convince their peers that the political perspective on the issue is the most sensible one. Remind students to offer constructive and respectful comments on the perspectives.

Last updated: July 1, 2014 | (Revision History)
Copyright | Feedback
Back to top