Executive Dominance and Presidentialization

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22 Apr 2012
Executive Dominance and Presidentialization
Herman Bakvis
Federation launched in 1867 was highly centralized court decisions and
practices over the years increased the power of provincial governments.
Rise of the Welfare state areas under provincial jurisdiction (education,
health care, social welfare) became more important.
1960s-70s: combined effects of state building at the federal and provincial
levels produced a system which pitted ten centralized, executive-dominated
provincial governments against a centralized executive-dominated federal
See notes for the 3 party systems (1867- wwi, 1919-deifenbaker, 1960s-93)
o Second party system: regional demands and prairie discontent
produced a series of third parties.
o Third party system: five parties in the HoC. Rules/adversarial style
remains those of a two-party system.
Party central offices: @ federal level, each party maintains some kind of
extra-parliamentary organization. @ Provincial level, governing parties are
more likely to maintain central offices than opposition parties.
PM is free to select and shuffle the cabinet at will.
Power of PM/Premiers is reinforced by the ways in which leaders are
selected as well as by the absence of effective de-selection procedures.
o First system: selected by legislative caucuses
o Second: adopted a more broad-based leadership including a role for
the extra-parliamentary party.
Conventions: typically included federal or provincial officials, MPs or
provincial legislatures, constituency executives and delegates elected by
party members at the riding level.
De-selection: a sitting PM could in the long run not avoid de-selection; he
could delay the process and exert some influence over it.
PM: “first among equals”. A premier cannot move forward unless there is a
consensus or a clear majority on any given position. The PM is the CEO and
other ministers are equivalent to vice-presidents. Ministers report to the PM
and the only collective role which cabinet plays is advisory.
PCO sets the agenda for the cabinet and cabinet committees. See they
coordinating the upper echelons of government.
Important constraint on the PM: material that he has to work with in
constructing a cabinet expected to be representative of Canada’s regions
and provinces. May be forced to include certain figures in the cabinet because
they have strong regional bases of support.
Controls timing of elections
The only genuine structural constraint is federalism.
Puts the PM into an elevated role as the chief negotiator on behalf of the
federal government.
Canada’s election laws – limit campaign expenditures*
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