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Prime Ministerial Vs. Parliamentary Government
Parliamentary systems place direction of executive side in the hands of the leaders
who have a majority support in the legislature.
Prime Ministerial Government
Transition to PMinisterial government is marked by the phrase “primus inter
pares” – first among equals.
“PM is the sun kng around whom all revolves and to whom all must pay
WW1 was the turning point in the move toward concentrating power at the
o Focus up activity and decision during the war shifted from Parliament
to Cabinet – and it would never shift back.
o After the war the Clerk of the Privy Council became top civil servant
and the PCO became the hub of government.
o Department of Finance and the Treasury Board emerged as powerful
Reduced the autonomy of line departments and their ministers
o PMO = central agency – entirely political office. Staffed by short-term
political appointees hand-picked by the Prime Minister – political
advisors to the PM and organizers dedicated to making the PM’s reign
a political success.
Head of PMO is PM’s chief of staff or principal secretary
(second most powerful person in Ottawa)
Emergence of a central agency is linked back to Trudeau
o Cabinet government suffers when the influence of cabinet minister is
subject to direction by political staffers from the PMO.
o Cabinet ministers come from Parliament and make government
responsible to parliament.
o Media plays a key role in PM’s success
Emulate large corporations in trying to market themselves and
their government’s products
Give political product a “positive spin” and to “stay on
o Push back by parliamentary reformers
o HoC is “the first, last and only authoritative voice of the Canadian
o Bills can be sent to standing committees after first reading so that
their basic purpose can be considered. (with gov’t permission)
o Have produced a “presidential” style of government.
PMs have begun adopting a style of leadership that seeks
popular approval directly from the people instead of MPs.
Election campaigns are increasingly treated like presidential