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What is the Cabinet?


The collection of ministers selected by the prime minister to provide leadership to government departments and agencies and to advise the prime minister on the development of policies and programs


What is a Cabinet minister?


A person selected by the prime minister to be the political head of a government department and participate in the decision making of the government overall. Usually MPs of the governing party, ministers must exercise their duties in accordance with the rules of individual and collective ministerial
- must also maintain the trust and support of the PM in order to stay in their position


How do Prime Ministers choose a Cabinet?


1) choose from the electorate
- must select from governing party who have earned a set in parliament , part of the concept of responsible government
2) Choosing from the unelected
- may appoint a senator and on very rare occasion an ordinary citizen, senator is usually the senate representative
- an ordinary citizen who has a strong party and policy credentials and only occurs when the prime minister wishes to see the person in cabinet for immediate political reasons
3) Choosing from experience and among rivals
- usually appoint veteran MPs or senior leaders of caucus
- find it better to have past and present leadership rivals inside the cabinet
4) choosing ideologically
- want ideological diversity inside cabinet
- will choose these representative to achieve balance of opinion most desirable and effective in developing and implementing his or her public policy
5) Choosing regionally
- ideal that every province and each major region is represented. often not easy as certain election results in certain areas having zero seat in parliament for the leading party
- another issue inexperienced members may be chosen if there is no one else, for example if Manitoba only has one liberal representative they have a strong chance of being chosen to be a Cabinet minister
6) Choosing demographically
- Especially between French and English speaking MPs , and will also strive for regional balance between these two groups
- religious balance
- gender equality (woman first entered cabinet in 1957)
- multiculturalism
- ethnic and visible minorities
7) Choosing on Merit
- all want strong cabinet staff
8) Choosing by performance
- regardless of how they were appointed if they prove incapable they will not last long in their cabinet position


What are the factors of Cabinet are determined by the Prime Minister?


1) Size of Cabinet
- cabinet membership grows overtime as the work becomes heftier and the Prime Minister wants to reward certain members of its caucus
2) Determines departments and their names


What are the ministerial roles and responsibilities of Cabinet

  • given one or more department to manage

Ministerial Responsibility has two distinct yet related concepts

1) Collective ministerial responsibility
- all ministers support together all cabinet decisions and actions (all for one and one for all)
- want all ministers to come to a consensus
- individual minister may propose department policy but other members can give their input or dispose
2) individual ministerial responsibility
- individually responsible for running their department
- held accountable to government primarily on their policy and program development for their department and accountable for all decisions made by their department, if they do not defend themselves they must resign


What is discussed during Cabinet meetings?


• Policy and program options
• The desired course of government action
• Weakness, problems and dangers confronting government and;
• The best means of overcoming these difficulties
• All cabinet deliberations are confidential
i. Ensure that not only that individual minister and senior officials can speak their minds freely but that the cabinet as a whole can debate the pros and cons of proposed courses of action, openly assessing their policy and political strengths


What is the decision-making process like in Cabinet?


• Cabinet documents are kept confidential for 30 years
• Most prime minister prefer wide-open discussions on policy and program proposals
• Often Prime Ministers sit back and let the other members of caucus discuss and hash it out
o Will intervene at the end to summarize or to give their desired outcome
• Not all ministers are seen equally in the eyes of the PM
o Priority given to those with lots of intellectual knowledge and experience


What are ministers role as members of parliament?


• A minister remains an MP and a caucus member and become a much more significant actor within the governing party
• Must continue their duties as MP’s along with their duties as ministers
• Must be available to discuss government policy and administrative matters and maintaining and building backbench awareness
o Important liaison especially if they want to be appointed to a more important cabinet position
 Can be seen as primary or secondary party leaders depending on their portfolio
• They are spokespersons for their region within Cabinet
• Must attend numerous caucus events and party events to promote everything from regional concerns and policy interest to the program ambitions of the social groups the minister is deemed to represent


What is a central agency?


A specialized support agency that provides expert policy advice and program assistance to the cabinet and prime minister in an institutionalized cabinet system.

  • Consists of the other half of the institutionalized system
  • a set of advisory bodies that provide the cabinet or the prime minister with detailed information and intelligence

What are the four prominent central agencies in Canada?


1) The Prime Ministers Office
2) Privy Council Office
3) The Clerk of the Privy Council
4) Department of Finance


What is the Prime Ministers Office?


a central agency providing direct policy-making support and operational, administrative, and communications support to the prime minister. The PMO is a wholly partisan body, and the prime minister chooses its employees directly. The senior officials of the PMO , all unelected advisers to the prime minister, rank among the most influential people in the government

-Members are personal staff for the PM, not members of the permanent public service
- hand picked by the PM, usually long term friend who share the same political interests
- Provide political and partisan advice on how
• How the PM should address leading issues
• How the PM should be developing policy
• How the PM should be directing ministers and other senior officials in the development of the governments policy and program agenda
• What decisions the PM should refrain from


What is the Privy Council Office


a central agency providing direct policy-making support and operational, administrative support to the prime minister, the cabinet, and its committees. The PCO is a non-partisan institution staffed by public servants, functioning as an important link between the political executive and the administrative organs of the federal government in terms of policy and program transmission. The head of the PCO is the clerk of the Privy Council Office and the secretary to Cabinet
o Gives administrative support and policy advice to the entire cabinet
o Staffed by career public servants, and its head
o Provide logistical support to cabinet and its committees
o Develops agendas, organizing meeting, preparing information material, and analytical briefing notes for ministers etc.
o Also performs a review and analysis function
o Oversee the machinery of government and the appointment of senior


What is the Clerk of the Privy Council?


The highest ranking public servant in the federal public service. The clerk is also the secretary to cabinet and, as such, acts as the deputy minister to the prime minister. the clerk is the official head of the public service of Canada and has the non-partisan function of giving expert advice to the prime minister and cabinet with respect to the operational dynamics of policy making and program implementation within the federal public service. The clerk supervises departmental deputy ministers and advises the prime minister on matters respecting deputy ministers promotions, transfers, and removals
- meets daily with the PM to review ongoing issues such as structuring cabinet committees, department portfolios and functions, appointing senior public servant , appointing promoting or demoting or even removing deputy minister
- o Secretary assists the ministers in cabinet and committee organization and operations, ensuring that
• The cabinet and committees receive briefing materials, policy and program analyses, and administrative-operational reviews
• Ministers are y to relevant information
• The paper flow into and out of cabinet and committee is detailed, accurate, efficient, and strictly confidential
- Clerk is overall responsible for the administrative operations of the federal government


What is the Department of Finance?


One of the key support departments in the federal government and also a central agency of great power and authority. Finance is responsible for setting the annual federal budget and providing the prime minister and cabinet with advice on macro-economic policy, trade, and taxation

  • macro economic policy adviser to the prime minister and cabinet on all matters, including health of the national economy and its effects of government activity in general
  • develops the government budget along side the PM and its ministers
  • Provides advice to cabinet about
    1) international trade
    2) foreign borrowing and debt repayment
    3) overseeing the national debt
    4) balance of payments and foreign exchange

What is the Treasure Board of Canada?


The only statutory cabinet committee of the federal government, established pursuant to the Financial Administration Act, 1985. All other cabinet committees exist at the discretion of the prime minister. The treasury board is responsible for federal public service human resources policy, oversight, and management. The minister responsible is referred to as the president of the Treasury Board, and the board usually consists of five or six minister, one of whom is always by its administrative wing, the treasure board secretariat

  • provide micro-economic advice to the cabinet regarding all internal government expenditure -
  • department headed by a cabinet minister and the president of the treasure board
  • oversees the general management of federal public personnel policy

What is a Crown Corporation?


A commercial enterprise established and owned by either the federal or the provincial state but possessing relative operational autonomy from the government. A Crown corporation is not a department and thus is not headed by a minister but by a board of directors appointed by the government

  • provide either commercial services to Canadians or interact with citizens and businesses in a corporate-like fashion and is often in direct competition with the private sector
  • other crown corporations do not have direct commercial and competitive mandate
    ex. Royal Canadian Mint

What are the mandates for governments to establish Crown Corporations?

  • for the state to play an important role in the management of a particular field of commercial activity
  • defend traditional forms of economic activity and service delivery
  • promoting new industrial activity and commercial activity
  • ensuring the delivery of important services nationwide

What are the benefits of independence of Crown Corporations?

  • Independent from the financial and personnel management associated with government departments
  • Can hire who they want
  • Can engage in business undertaking
  • Board of directors can be chosen from the private sector
  • The operational heads of Crown corporations are often appointed by the PM and Cabinet to serve for three, fiver or seven years
    • Once appointed the board is now free to hire senior management from outside the public service
  • Independence, arms length from the government, is important so partisan political interest does not interfere with professional managerial judgement
    • Also helps for political controversies
    • Sometimes governments do intervene with Crown Corporations
    o Ex. Atomic Energy of Canada limited – Harper Government 2007
  • Crown corporations are established by legislation that provides the broad policy mandate of each corporation
    • Approved by parliament
    • Exercise of mandate is left to staff and management
    • No single minister, reports annually to parliament on its work

What is a department?


the chief form of institution through which a government organizes its policy and program activities and delivers services either to the public or to other governmental institutions. Every department is headed by a cabinet minister who is the political leader of the institution, the link between the department and the cabinet and parliament


What are the four general functions of government departments?


1) Policy administration
2) Policy development
3) Research analysis, and record keeping
4) Communication and liaison


What is policy administration?


o Department delivers programs within its field of jurisdiction and act as conveyor belts of government activity
o When a new policy is developed the department closely linked with be the one responsible for developing its program
o Most programs are derived from the policy initiatives of previous governments
 Governments can inherit and not make any changes if they do not want too


What is policy development?


o Each department becomes expert within its field dealing with
 Operations strengths and weaknesses of existing policies
 Continuing needs of citizens, interest groups, or business corporations as clients of the department and;
 The potential for new state action to enhance government effectiveness in that field
o Chain of departmental command
 Front-line field office worker to the senior management and policy advisors
 Develop either reforms or fine-tuning or new
• Tied closely to the leadership interests of the department’s ministers
• Every minister wants to work


What is research analysis and record keeping?


o They must perform ongoing research analysis and record keeping to maintain their institutional memory
o Keep records of all their policy and program initiatives
o Analyze the activities of other departments with similar portfolios
 In Canada and abroad
o Department must know itself
 Why its field has evolved and why certain policies and program were implemented
 Understanding lack of action


What is communication and liaison?


o Closely tied to research analysis and record keeping
o Departments must communicate about everything that they do
o Provide information and services to citizens (clients) entitled to a service
 Between business and other public interest groups
 Keep MP’s an the media up to date about the activities of the department
o Interact closely with parliamentary officials at the office of the auditor general, Official languages, Privacy Commissioner
o Department members are expected to possess excellent communication skills, enabling them to accumulate and synthesize information


What are departmental structures?


Two Broad Categories

1) Service Departments
2) Support Departments


What are service departments?


• Primary responsibility is to provide services directly to recipients (ex. The public)
 Ex. Department of Agriculture provides funded programs for Canadian farmers and the food production industry
 Departments are subject to change
o Ex. 1999 Revenue Canada turned into a special operating agency of the federal government now know as the Canada Revenue Agency
• Service departments are the largest but not the most influential within government


What are support departments?


• Provides support to the government
• Provides policy and program assistance
 Ex. Finance, Global Affairs, Health, Justice and Attorney General
 Provide either administrative or policy services or some combination of the two, to the government itself
 These departments and not their service counterparts, play a most powerful role as the information and intelligence links between the social, economic and political life of Canada and the policy makers in the federal government.
 Typically, smaller than their counterparts
o Each is geographically tied to the Nations Capital


What is the First Minister?


refers to any leader of a national (prime minister) or sub-national (premier) level of government

  • the head of government and is the most influential person
  • selects cabinet, also sets the tone of cabinet

What is the machinery of government?


The machinery of government (sometimes abbreviated as MoG) means the interconnected structures and processes of government, such as the functions and accountability of departments in the executive branch of government.

  • Two categories that the machinery of government tools fall under
    1) Non-Structural
    2) Structural Change
  • the tools available to the Prime Minister but the advice received from the Clerk of the Privy Council and secretary to give shape to the governments
  • there are non-structural tools and structural change
  • recent studies suggest that structural changes in the machinery of government can be expensive

What are non-structural tools?


Tools which encompass leadership to make strong appointments
ex. Cabinet minister appointments and identifying policy issued to be placed on the governments agenda, and, structural change which refers to re-shaping the structure of government through mergers


What is structural change


Refers to re-shaping the structure of government through mergers

ex. one of the first things that a first minister must do is to decide how many departments will form government
- some decide to merge two or more departments together


What are the main debates regarding the machinery of government?

  • One important debate is the fact that first ministers want to structure their governments quickly so change can occur, yet the reality is that it takes years for civil servants to adapt to their newly emerged department, a new mandate, new financial procedures and so forth

What is a bureaucracy?


In order to implement decisions, Cabinet requires an administrative body to do so and this body is referred to as the bureaucracy or sometime the public service or civil service
- Civil service is comprised of two types of administrative institutions
1) Crown Corporations
Ex. CBC, VIA Rail
2) Departments
Ex. Health Canada


What are two types of departments?


1) Service departments (line departments)
- provide public goods and services directly to Canadians
2) Central agencies
- more powerful than line departments
- central agencies such as Finance or Treasury Board have roles and responsibilities that extend to line departments, they must provide budgetary approval for larger projects


What is the role of regulatory agencies?

  • a government institution that operates semi-independently from the government of the day in order to engage in socio-economic regulation. Regulatory agencies apply legal rule of conduct to individuals, corporations and other institutions of government with respect to a given field of activity
  • second type of crown agency in this country and share some feature with Crown Corporations
  • They are quasi independent from the government
  • they develop and implement general forms of economic and social regulation across wide fields of activity, as prescribed by law
  • regulation refers to rules and standards developed by government agencies and departments approved by parliament
  • govern the actions of all individuals groups, business’ and even federal government bodies

What are the 3 broad types of regulatory agencies?


1) Economic regulation
- deals with price and tariff setting and oversight
2) Social regulation
- deals with labour standards, health and safety provisions, protections of human rights, support for Canadian culture
ex. Canadian human rights commission
3) Environmental Regulation
- conduct comprehensive reviews of all major economic development projects within the federal sphere of jurisdiction that might have environmental consequences


What are the benefits of independent regulatory agencies?

  • are mandated to develop and implement standards in their field of jurisdiction, regardless of the source activity
  • arms length relationship with the government
  • must apply legal provisions in their enabling statues
  • final decisions carry the force of law
  • must be free from government bias

What are special agencies?

  • Fall under the general rubric of crown agencies
  • public bodies provide special services to the government, public or both
  • neither departments nor crown corporations nor even regulatory agencies

What are the two categories of special agencies?


1) Permanent
ex. Election Canada, Public Service Commission of Canada
- vital in the delivery of public service within their fields of jurisdiction
- provide service that are either unique or politically or legally sensitive enough to require quasi-independence
2) Temporary
- Organization such as Royal Commissions of Canada and special policy task


What is the bureaucratic executive?


two types of institutions

1) Departments
- headed by a minister
- fulfill chief roles of public sector management
- the 5’s of policy making and modifying
2) Crown Agencies
- crown corporations
- regulatory bodies
- other service institutions specifically designed to be substantially independent from the government of the day in their routine operations
- develop and implement special policies and programs


What are the two broad categories of departmental structure?


1) Service Departments

2) Support Departments


What are service departments?

  • a federal government department whose key policy and program responsibilities are to provide services directly to citizens, corporations, interests groups, and other clients. The majority of federal departments are in this category.
    primary responsibility is to provide services directly to recipients
    Ex. Department of Agriculture provides funded programs for Canadian farmers and the food production industry, departments are subject to change
  • service department are the largest but not the most influential within government

What are the departments hierarchical structure?


1) Minister
2) Deputy Minister
3) Associate Deputy Minister
4) Regional Director General of Director General
5) Director


How many crown agencies are there in Canada?


Over 400 federal


What do Crown Corporations, regulatory agencies and special agencies share in common?

  • they are designed to be relatively independent of government
  • organized differently from government departments
  • not subject to departmental systems of accountability, financial management or personnel administration

What is a line department?


another description for service department
- a federal government department whose key policy and program responsibilities are to provide services directly to citizens, corporations, interests groups, and other clients. The majority of federal departments are in this category.


What is a Cabinet Committee?


one of the functional groups into which a prime minister will divide cabinet ministers to assist in the conduct and development of policy and program decision making. As of September 2016, the Trudeau Cabinet includes 11 full cabinet committees: Agenda; results and communications; treasury board, open transparent government and parliament, growing middle class, diversity and inclusion, Canada in the world and public security, Canada-United States Relations; intelligence and Emergency management, Environment, Climate Change and energy, defence procurement and litigation management


what is caucus?


all the members of parliament representing a given party. With respect to the governing party, members of cabinet remain caucus members and are expected to keep their caucus colleagues updated on the work of their portfolios


what is a backbencher?


a member of parliament who is either a member of the governing party but not in cabinet or a member of an opposition party but no an official critic for a given portfolio


What is ministerial responsibility?


The principle that cabinet ministers, as legal heads of departments, are individually responsible and answerable to parliament for all matters dealing with the running of their department portfolios. Collectively, ministers are responsible for all policy and program decisions made by cabinet on behalf of the government. All minister are expected to participate in setting strategic policy and to support the strategic and tactical initiatives of the government.


what are crown agencies?


Any crown corporation or regulatory agency, as distinct from a government department