Textbook Notes (280,000)
CA (170,000)
Western (10,000)
2246E (30)
Chapter 1

Political Science 2246E Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: Canada Gazette, The Unwritten, Judicial Independence


Department
Political Science
Course Code
Political Science 2246E
Professor
Joseph Lyons
Chapter
1

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Departments and Other Institutions of Government
FUNDAMENTALS OF DEMOCRATIC INSTITUIONAL DESIGN
o The design of a government, as well as the selection of ministers, is one of
the PM’s perogaritives
The principle departments of government are the administrative
institutions necessary to enable ministers invited into the
government by the Prime Minister to carry out the mandates he or
she assigns to them
The creation of departments also reflects the particular priorities of
the head of government of the day
o The domain of state administration relating to public institutions is based
on law; its democratic essence is that it is dependent on the will of
parliament
o Departments are what the legislation says they are and have authority to
perform those functions for the public interest and benefit that the law
attributes to them
STATUTORY FOUNDATIONS
o Self-standing statutes
Some departments have been created through provisions in
substantive statutes
There is no correlation between the apparent importance or
significance of a department within the government and the
legislative technique by which it was brought into existence
o There is no correlation between departments and ministers
o Another particularity of departments is the location of their headquarters
Most departments are located in Ottawa
o Cabinet portfolios can also be created by the provision of funds pursuant
to the Salaries Act
o Another way of creating departments is through the Ministers and
Ministries of State Act
o Prime Minister Stephen Harper has continued this practice of having
ministers of state but there are no more ministries of state
o Departments have the competence and ability to carry out their public
mandates and to make decisions that are both legally binding and
politically valid
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POWERS, DUTIES AND FUNCTIONS
o Departments are mandated to administer and achieve the political and
policy purposes in their respective domains of public affairs
o There is a persuasive blending of law, politics, and public administration in
regard to both goals and means
The most fundamental and permanent tasks of departments are laid
out in the statutes that establish them
Such tasks are allocated through the minister responsible for the
portfolio
o The consequence of assigning mandates to governmental institutions by
law is that departments may exercise only those powers with which they
are endowed
o In Canadian practice, the powers, duties and functions attributed to
specific departments are not immutable
They reflect the rise and demise of public policy issues that
government needs to address
Many departments thus have defined life cycles
o As public policy needs arise, new departments can also be established
o Government-wide, the collective work of department is affected by the
platform of the party coming into effect
DEPARTMENTAL STRUCTURES
o The traditional organizational model of departments is also enshrined in
law
o The only statutory description of the deputy minister’s function is that he or
she is to be the “deputy head” of the department
The unwritten but universally understood meaning is that the minister
is the political head of the department while the deputy minister is
its public service head
In reality, these two officials must work in close conjunction
o The development of new activities within government, had led to
significant increases in the number of officials within departments who
have deputy ministerial rank
o Prime minister’s entourage;
Privy council office has six deputy ranked officers
Foreign affairs also have six
Justice four and finance three
o The structure of departments tends to be pyramidal, operating through
upward-reporting relationships
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REARRANGEMENT AND TRANSFER OF DUTIES
o The government as a whole must have a legal device to give itself the
capacity to arrange the duties carried out by its various departments in
accordance with its political program and its policy goals
o Public service rearrangement and transfer of duties act
This bill authorizes the governor in council to change any
department or any branch of a department from the direction of
one minister to the direction of another
It enables the government to transfer powers, duties and functions
The use of this act poses two problems
1. The lack of a centralized registry of orders made under it.
Over the lifespan of a government, it can become difficult,
without constant reference to the Canada gazette
2. In relation to the reforms conducted under prime minister
jean Chrétien, this act is not useful for transferring powers to
the provinces or to joint-federal agencies
RESPONSIBILITY AND ACCOUNTABILITY
o The Canadian constitutional system has also developed conventions for
harnessing the powers that ministers exercise through their departments
o Responsibility entails representing the department before parliament,
piloting legislation relating to the work of the department through the
legislative process
o Accountability process consists of setting expectations, pursuing expected
goals and holding public sector officials to account for their performance
o Responsibility and accountability relate principally to the general direction
of a department to its policies and programs
o For deputies, the most common resolution of accountability problems it to
transfer to another function
o It must be acknowledged that dealing with issues of political responsibility
and accountability in such manner, by law, is rare
o Federal accountability act
Was to impose various new layers of expenditure control and review
and to establish several new offices, all aimed at keeping the
system accountable and improvising deputy ministerial responsibility
and accountability
THE PRIME MINISTERIAL CLUSTER
o Is the group of institutions serving the prime minister in his or her capacities
as political head of the government?
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