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CA (170,000)
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2246E (30)
Chapter 9

Political Science 2246E Chapter Notes - Chapter 9: Individual Ministerial Responsibility, Emor, Merit System


Department
Political Science
Course Code
Political Science 2246E
Professor
Joseph Lyons
Chapter
9

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East Block & Westminster: Conventions, Values
and Public Service
INTRODUCTION
o “Westminster conventions”, that is, non-legal rules of the British
constitution, are central to the operation of Canada’s parliamentary
democracy
o constitutional conventions;
are ‘rules that define major non-legal rights, powers and obligations
of office-holders in the three branches of government, or the
relations between governments or organs of government’
three constitutional conventions;
1. ministerial responsibility
2. public service anonymity
3. political neutrality
o public service values;
are enduring beliefs that influence the choices public servants
make from among available means and ends
the conventions are especially tightly linked to such democratic
values as accountability, loyalty and impartiality
o in general, three features of the east block conventions distinguish them
from public service values
first, the conventions have constitutional status
second, they are interdependent parts of a coherent system: a
change in one usually results in a change in one or both of the
others
while some public service values can be interdependent,
values are often in a state of tension or conflict
third, public servants do not commonly perceive the east block
conventions as values
THE EAST BLOCK CONVENTIONS DEFINED
o Collective ministerial responsibility;
Requires that ministers, in their capacity as members of the cabinet,
are responsible for the policies and management of the government
as a whole
o Individual ministerial responsibility;
Has two closely related components
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First, ministers must resign in the event of a major error that they have
personally committed or that has been committed by public
servants in their department
Second, ministers must answer to the legislature, in the form of
explanation or defence, for their own actions and for all of the
actions of their departmental public servants
o Public service anonymity
a corollary of individual ministerial responsibility
It requires that public servants provide advice to ministers in
confidence and refrain from activities that bring them into the
public spotlight or involve them in public controversy
EAST BLOCK CONVENTIONS & THE POLITICAL NEUTRALITY MODEL
o The east block conventions are interdependent
o Political neutrality
Provides an analytical framework for examining relationships
between public servants and politicians
The model is not ideal in the sense of most desirable, rather, it is an
ideal-type construct depicting the characteristics of a public
service that is neutral in an absolute or pristine sense
The components of the model are these:
1. Politics and policy are separated from administration; thus,
politicians make policy decisions and public servants execute
these decisions
2. Public servants are appointed and promoted on the basis of
merit rather than of part affiliation or contributions
3. Public servants do not engage in partisan political activities
4. Public servants do not express publicly their personal views on
government policies or administration
5. Public servants provide forthright and objective advice to
their political masters in private and in confidence; in return,
political executives protect the anonymity of public servants
by publicly accepting responsibility for departmental
decisions
6. Public servants execute policy decisions loyally, irrespective of
the philosophy and programs of the party in power and
regardless of their personal opinions; as a result, public
servants enjoy security of tenure during good behavior and
satisfactory performance
o As a public service or a particular public organization departs in practice
from each of these characteristics, it becomes more politicized
The term ‘politicization’ refers here to the involvement of public
servants not only in partisan political activities but also in politics in
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the broad sense of the authoritative allocation of social values
policy advice and policy implementation
SEPARATION OF POLITICS, POLICY & ADMINISTRATION
o “policy does nothing without the aid of administration, but administration
is not therefore politics” –Woodrow Wilson
this statement of what is widely described as the politics-
administration dichotomy
o it was clear more than a century ago that politics and policy cannot in
practice be easily separated
o public servants have considerable influence on these decisions and
exercise substantial power through their dominance of the policy
implementation process
MERIT, NOT PATRONAGE
o the pre-confederation of appointing and promoting public servants on
the basis of partisan political considerations rather than of merit continued
unabated after confederation
o in the provinces, most governments by this time (1962) still presented ‘only
the façade of a merit system’
o in both the federal and provincial spheres, patronage appointments are
still made to semi-independent agencies, boards and commissions
NO POLITICAL PARTISANSHIP
o to combat patronage, public servants were prohibited from participation
in virtually all forms of partisan political activity for a very large portion of
Canadian history
o despite the gradual decrease in patronage appointments after that time,
these restraints were maintained until they were loosened somewhat by
the public service employment act of 1967
under this act, all public servants, with the exception of deputy
ministers, were allowed to stand for election so long as the public
service commission was satisfied that the person’s usefulness as a
public servant would not be impaired
o the challenge has always been to achieve the greatest possible measure
of political rights for public servants while maintaining the political
neutrality and efficiency of the public service
1. to preserve public trust in government, public servants must be
politically impartial in the development and implementation of
public policy. Members of the public must be assured that political
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