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Chapter 8

POls 2300 Chapter 8 pols.docx

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University of Guelph
Political Science
POLS 2300
Nanita Mohan

Chapter 8: The Machinery of Government  The legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government have different roles: ­ Legislative branch: o Represents the people and undergoes periodic elections o Debates public issues o Makes laws ­ Executive branch: o Implements laws o Ensures that public’s business is carried out in accordance with the law o Is non-partisan at bureaucratic level(faithfully carry out policies no matter what party is in power) ­ Judicial branch: o Is non-partisan and free form interference by the government o Interprets the law o Will not be biased to the preferences of elected public officials The Executive Branch The Monarch and Governor General ­ Queen Elizabeth II (the monarch) is technically responsible for appointing the Prime Minister and for deciding when a new election will be held. These duties are to be carried out by the Governor General when she is not in Canada. ­ However, the Queen and Governor General perform mainly symbolic functions and are part of constitutional conventions. They have no significant role in the decision- making process. ­ When, then is the real role of the monarchy? James Mallory argues it serves as a buffer against self-aggrandizing politicians ­ In the past, the monarchy’s status has been controversial (1990: Quebec politicians called for cancellation of Queen’s visit; 2001: Governor General Clarkson was criticized for expressing views against existing laws etc.) The Prime Minister and Cabinet ­ The PM and cabinet are at the center of the policy-making process ­ PM = leader of dominant party in the House of Commons. Responsible for: o Selecting/ removing cabinet ministers (who are from the same political party and will likely be other elected members of the House of Commons) o Deciding when a new election will be held o Determining the administrative structure and decision-making process of government o Selecting persons to a wide array of positions (deputy ministers, judges, senators etc.) ­ Cabinet (aka Privy Council) = generally b/w 20 – 40 members. Has control over budget and entire legislative agenda of Parliament ­ PM and cabinet dominance is reinforced by responsible government (see Chapter 5) and weakness of political party organization Adequate representation of different regions is important: o Must be mindful of francophone representation among anglophone numerical dominance o PM is bound to be accused of favoring central Canada because the alternative is to risk losing support of that region, which is 60% of seats in the House of Commons Budgets are also important: o Estimates: government’s spending plan for upcoming fiscal year (April 1 –t st) March 31 . They are tabled every winter by Minister of Finance in what is known as the expenditure budget. o Revenue budget: government’s plans to change the tax system o Economic statement: provides the government’s analysis of the state of the economy and where the government plans to steer it o Priorities and Plan (P&P) Committee - key committee of cabinet between 1968 and 1993; responsible for establishing government’s policy and budget priorities; chaired by PM and most influential members of government PM’s status in cabinet is sometimes called primus inter pares (“first among equals”); BUT there is only primus (the PM) when dealing with agenda and taking major decisions Ministerial control over bureaucracy is also part of decision-making authority ­ Ministers are never involved in day-to-day running of departments ­ Exception: Clarity Act (2000) – idea from time of 199 referendum Central Agencies Central agencies provide the cabinet with the help it needs to deal with the large volume of information and the hundreds of separate decisions ­ Central agencies: parts of the bureaucracy whose main or only purpose is to support the decision-making activities of cabinet; this means that they provide cabinet with needed information, apply cabinet decisions in dealing with other parts of the bureaucracy, and communicate cabinet decisions and their implications ­ Central agencies include: o Department of Finance  Plays a leading role in forming economic policy  Authority found in Department of Finance Act (1869) and Financial Administration Act  Has authority over preparation of revenue budget, budget speeches, and economic statements  1990’s: dominant status was reinforced  Responsible for fiscal equalization (unconditional payments to provincial governments with sub-level revenues) o Privy Council Office (PCO)  Cabinet’s secretariat and pr
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