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Remi GuindonPoli 101 Final AssignmentDr. Craigie26123166In theory the Prime Minister of Canada is supposed to act as the first amongequals. However, Canada’s particular institutional arrangement has led to an absence ofinstitutional checks that has granted the Prime Minister a wide array of mechanisms tocontrol, shape and dominate government. In this paper I argue that the Canadian politicalsystem has failed to adequately place checks on the powers of the Prime Minister. I arguethat certain institutional arrangements, such as the leadership selection process, theoperational changes to central agencies such as the Privy Councils Office and the PrimeMinisters Office, the Prime Ministers powers of appointment, and the Prime Minister’scontrol over cabinet have made it nearly impossible to constrain the head ofgovernment’s power. A pertinent example of the unstrained power of the Prime Minister can be seen inhis power of appointment. The power of appointment is a tool that rests with any partyleader who becomes Prime Minister and is an extremely valuable facet of political powerthat has been used to the advantage of all Prime Ministers while serving. For example,during Jean Chretien's tenure in the Prime Ministers Office, he effectively used hispowers of appointment to select the majority of the Senate, his cabinet, a large part of theSupreme court, every lieutenant governor in the country, among other highly covetedpositions of political power (Findlay 2017). Moreover, Chretien’s actions were notunprecedented or illegitimate but rather fell well within his power as Prime Minister.
What is troubling is that these highly influential positions are appointed by the PrimeMinister without any public consultation and most of the time without any input orconfirmation from parliament. This means that individuals who are selected for thesepositions, by virtue of being selected by the Prime Minister, become beholden to his/heragenda, rather than being accountable to the people of Canada, or to the government as awhole. The significance of the Prime Ministers power of appointment should not beunderstated. By being able to hand pick individuals for highly influential positions ofpower without any resistance, the Prime Minister is afforded the immense ability to shapeand determine decisions made in government. Thus, by granting the Prime Minister theunfettered powers of appointment, the Canadian political system fails to check thepowers of the Prime Minister.A corollary to the Prime Minister’s powers of appointment is their unrestrainedcapacity to fire ministers. Firing a minister is fully within the political powers of thePrime Minister and he/she is able to do so unquestioningly when needed. In contrast toother Westminster parliamentary systems, the tendency for the Canadian Prime Ministerto fire large amounts of ministers is unprecedented. For example, in Britain in 1962 thePrime Minister Harold Macmillian fired six of twenty-two cabinet ministers. This wasseen as an “extraordinary event” of unprecedented nature. Comparatively, Paul Martin