DISCUSSION OF MID-TERM
25 February 2014
Q1. What did Allan Blakeney mean by “state of the nation”? What is the rationale for this
A1. “State of the nation” is an annual speech to Congress by US President. It is a period for
unstructured discussion that allowed ministers to raise issues of political concern. In Blakeney, it
was a political committee of cabinet that would report on the sale of party memberships, the
state of constituency organization, and other matters of organizational interest. There was also
discussion on how they were doing with the public, to question how public was reacting to
programs of departments (B&B, p. 29).
Q2. Premier Wynne has presented her fiscal year 2014-15 budget to the Ontario
Legislature and the two opposition parties have made it known that they will both vote
against the budget and defeat the government. You are the Premier chief of staff. One of
your junior staff members suggests that Premier Wynne follow Prime Minister Harper’s
precedent of 2008, when, with an impeding defeat of his economic statement in the
House of Commons, he asked the Governor General to prorogue Parliament to give the
Government time to produce a budget that would win the support of a majority of the
MPs. Do you think the Lieutenant Governor would be likely to agree to such a request?
Why or why not.
A2. No because it was not a precedent. It was Harper’s “economic statement” not a budget,
Harper’s prorogation was 2 months after election.
Q3. We watched a news story in class showing a meeting where representatives of
Canadian veterans publicly criticzed Veterans’ Affairs Minister Julian Fantino over the
Harper Government’s plan to close eight Veterans’ Affairs offices in smaller cities and
reassign their functions to local Service Canada offices. What might the Deputy Minister
of Veterans’Affairs have done in advance to prevent this from happening?
A3. This refers to the Deputy Minister, not Fantino and the implenetation of co-location and
meeting preparation. The public often does not see the intent of the government’s cabinet as a
whole and often misinterprets the government’s reasons as a negative change. What the
Deputy Minister of Veterans’ Affairs should have done before hand was positively support the
importance of the local Service Canada offices and its contribution to Canada so that when they
are reassigned it does not seem like a threat but a promotion.
Q4. Two of the most important federal committees are Priorities and Planning and
Treasury Board. The Prime Minister almost always chairs Priorities and Planning and
almost never chairs or is even a member of Treasury Board. Explain why.
A4. PM chairs Priorities and Planning because of its key role in setting direction for the
government. They are not a member of the Treasury Board because it is very detailed, a waste
of the PM’s time, and too early intervention in budget process.
Q5. Why is green the dominant colour of the Ontario Government’s website (Ontario.ca),
rather than blue, red, or orange?
A5. Green is a politically neutral colour, it is the dominant colour of the Ontario Government’s
website to not show any bias or favoritism as blue, red, and orange is the representational
colours of the Conservative, Liberal and NDP respectively.
Q6. Why is it important for there to be “no daylight” (that is, close cooperation) between
the Finance Minister and the Prime Minister (federal) or Premier (provincial)? A6. To avoid ministers attempting to go over the head of the Finance Minister to the PM,
because the Finance Minister handles significant issues of government budgets and fundings,
this topic should be secure and private as this position is highly important.
Q7. An old bit of so-called political wisdom is that politicians should never put a date and
a number in the same sentence (especially if the sentence is in future tense). What is the
reasoning underlying this advice? What have many governments (for example, New York
City and Ontario) done that disregards this advice? What is their rationale for
disregarding this advice?
A7. Politicians should never put a date and a number in the same sentence to not be held
accountable for promises by opposition, media, or public. It is also often related to a too detailed
policy and those are difficult to live up to (false promises) because future is always highly
unpredictable and unforeseen changes make exact or specific policies difficult to achieve. The
more detailed it is, the more difficult to obtain and change is less flexible. Some governments
disregard this advice because they feel as though this approach helps to secure votes as having
a detailed and established goal makes citizens believe their policies are going to be
implemented and trustworthy (not just empt