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Lecture

The Machinery of Government


Department
Political Science
Course Code
POL214Y1
Professor
Victoria Wohl

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Canadian Politics: Week 4 t October 5th, 2010
www.daltoncampaward.ca
Link between democracy and the media in Canada
March 15, 2011
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Power of the Press (continued from Week 3):
- Before rise of public opinion surveys, PM was very dependent on members of parliament, MPs
talked to constituency to get sense of what people were talking about
o Now can get a more accurate reading of what people in a riding think than the MP
himself
o Undermined MPs and Parliament itself
Most of what goes on in Parliament is a procedural sideshow
Because have strong party discipline, subverts the theory of responsible
government, which is that the cabinet is responsible to government
x If PM controls the governing power, subverts the principle, can propose
sanctions and penalties on those who go against him
o Patronage is glue that keeps caucus together
o MPs who have voted against party leaders have often been
thrown out of Party caucus, can be kept from running in
elections for the party, PM can withhold benefits to the riding of
the MP in question
MPs frightened about going against party leaders,
especially the PM
- Too much power concentrated in the hands of one person
- Party discipline is too tight in Canada
o MPs are not free to vote as constituents want, nor as their conscience states, outcomes
of parliamentary debates seem to be predetermined
- Cabinet solidarity and cabinet secrecy
o Further drawbacks from democracy
Advantages of Canadian System:
- z}µlv}ÁÁZ}[responsible, you can fix accountability as have a centralized system
o Not the case in U.S.
- Prime Minister appoints deputy ministers as well as cabinet ministers, major source of power
o Deputy minister is plugged in to whole civil service
o Will appoint a minivµÇÁZ}}v[Àvlv}ÁZ}Z
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- Donald Savoie argues that Parliament and cabinet are getting bypassed, largely irrelevant
o Major issues are being worked out in central agencies, federal/provincial meetings, and
international summit (e.g. G8, G20)
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Only way, provincial premiers, media, judges
Central Agencies
- Support for government and Prime Minister
- Superbureaucrats
1. Department of Finance
- Department of Finance develops the budget, responsible for taxation policy, negotiated with
provinces regarding moving to HST, general supervision over policy that has a macroeconomic
impact on Canadian economy, negotiates with provinces over Canada Health Transfer, Canada
Social Transfer
- Gained a lot of power in 1990s as debt racked up
- Decided whether income trusts would be taxed
- Helped to guarantee mortgages to try to stabilize credit markets in coordination with the Bank
of Canada, trying to stabilize banking system in Canada in 2008
- Headed by the Minister of Finance
- Does projections of what the economy is going to be, how much tax revenue, how much
spending
2. Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS)
- Treasury Board is committee of cabinet
o TBS are the civil servants who help the TB do its work
- Assists departments of government in preparing their annual estimates
- }}o(}uZ]uv(}ÁZZÇ[P}]vP}v}v
- Manages and oversees the public service, bargains with their unions, with their association,
negotiates with civil service with regards to their pay what their working conditions will be
- Ensure Aboriginals, women, francophones, visible minorities are hired
- Advises the cabinet on expenditure management of the departments
- Has a human resource function, responsible for personnel and administrative functions
- 'µP}Àvuv[µ]vP
- Audits departments
- Evaluates programs, are we getting value for money
- Sets standards for accounting
3. Privy Council Office (PCO)
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