8 Heads of Governments.doc

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15 Apr 2012
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8. HEADS OF GOVERNMENTS
The Constitution Act, at no point, makes any reference to the Prime Minister, the
Cabinet, political parties, the Leader of the Opposition, or the legal custom that a
Cabinet minister must be an MP. These are all customary usages, constitutional
conventions.
Canada’s Prime Ministers
- 22 Prime Ministers to date, but some have been more important
- Macdonald, Laurier, King, Pearson, Trudeau, Mulroney, Chretien, Harper?
-
Role of the Prime Minister and Provincial Premiers
- appoint Cabinet Ministers
- summon, recess, prorogate and dissolve Parliament and set the date for
elections
- overwhelming position of the Prime Minister and the Prime Minister’s
Office (PMO), as well as provincial Premiers and Premiers’ offices.
- Message Event Proposals (MEP)
Representative Cabinet
- represents provinces and regions within provinces: currently Ontario 12
(including 1 Senator); Quebec 5; BC 4; Alberta 7 (including the PM);
Manitoba 2; Saskatchewan 2; Nova Scotia 1; New Brunswick 2;
Newfoundland 0; PEI 1; Nunavut 1; total 37
- balance of Anglophones and Francophones, representation of different
religions and ethnic groups, females
- over-represents native born Canadians, university educated professionals
(especially lawyers) and businessmen, males
Role of the Cabinet
- three types of Ministers, i.e. currently Prime Minister (1), Cabinet Ministers
(26), Ministers of State (10); aided by Parliamentary Secretaries
- major initiatives, e.g. speech from the throne, budget, estimates,
legislation, orders in council, regulations, war and peace keeping
- cabinet principles: collective ministerial responsibility, cabinet solidarity,
cabinet secrecy
Evolution of the Cabinet
- departmental cabinet, institutionalized cabinet, Prime-Minister-centered
cabinet
- cabinet committees: Priorities and Planning, Operations, Treasury Board,
Social Affairs, Economic Growth and Long-Term Prosperity, Foreign
Affairs and Security, Environment and Energy Security, Afghanistan
- work through staff in the Privy Council Office (PCO) and the Treasury
Board Secretariat (TBS).
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