POLI 321 Lecture Notes - Lecture 6: Individual Ministerial Responsibility, Treasury Board, Bmw M54

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[Topic 6: The Political Executive]
The Political Executive
Composed of the Prime Minister, the Cabinet, and central agencies. They dominate
the policymaking process.
Cabinet (aka The Queen's Privy Council of Canada)
By constitutional convention, cabinet members are appointed by the prime minister and
could be either members of the HoC or the Senate, although it is almost always from the
HoC unless there aren't enough members elected from a particular region to meet
regional cabinet requirements. The regional cabinet requirement is an example of a
representational concern (others include women, visible minorities, language, or even
business community when considering the Minister of Finance).
The PM can use cabinet appointments for political means - appointing cabinet ministers
from key regions of the country to make the PM's government appear more sensitive to
that region's interests (i.e. Harper appointing a whopping 4/10 of his Quebec MPs to
cabinet)
Powers of cabinet set by s11, CA1867 (for example the Minister of Finance has power
over the budget, or estimates). Expenditure budgets. Revenue budgets (economic
statements) S54, CA1867 says that any bills dealing with spending/raising money must
pass through cabinet.
Central Agencies
Central agencies are parts of the civil services who's only purpose is to support the
decision making activities of the cabinet (not the prime minister) (she repeated this 3
times). They help the cabinet and the PM with the workload that has been created with
an increasingly complex country. Although they do have the power to intervene in the
policy making process in certain line departments of policy.
Cabinet almost exclusively gets their information from central agencies.
Once the cabinet makes a decision, the central agency is the entity that directs the
rest of the civil servants about what to do. They may also have to talk to provinces
to make sure that cabinet decisions go through.
Central agencies may also communicate cabinet decisions to the public
Central agencies: Finance, treasury board, PCO (privy council office), PMO (prime
minister's office)
Different from line departments
Department of Finance
The Finance department has exclusive authority over budgets, expenditure budgets,
and any economic statements delivered to parliament by the prime minister. They also
are responsible for anything taxation-related. They administer (not decide) all
provincial transfer payments (federal money going to provinces). They regulate the
financial sector of Canada.
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