Poli 101 Final Paper.docx - Remi Guindon Poli 101 Final Assignment Dr Craigie 26123166 In theory the Prime Minister of Canada is supposed to act as the

Poli 101 Final Paper.docx - Remi Guindon Poli 101 Final...

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Remi Guindon Poli 101 Final Assignment Dr. Craigie 26123166 In theory the Prime Minister of Canada is supposed to act as the first among equals. However, Canada’s particular institutional arrangement has led to an absence of institutional checks that has granted the Prime Minister a wide array of mechanisms to control, shape and dominate government. In this paper I argue that the Canadian political system has failed to adequately place checks on the powers of the Prime Minister. I argue that certain institutional arrangements, such as the leadership selection process, the operational changes to central agencies such as the Privy Councils Office and the Prime Ministers Office, the Prime Ministers powers of appointment, and the Prime Minister’s control over cabinet have made it nearly impossible to constrain the head of government’s power. A pertinent example of the unstrained power of the Prime Minister can be seen in his power of appointment. The power of appointment is a tool that rests with any party leader who becomes Prime Minister and is an extremely valuable facet of political power that 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 his powers of appointment to select the majority of the Senate, his cabinet, a large part of the Supreme court, every lieutenant governor in the country, among other highly coveted positions of political power (Findlay 2017). Moreover, Chretien’s actions were not unprecedented or illegitimate but rather fell well within his power as Prime Minister.
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What is troubling is that these highly influential positions are appointed by the Prime Minister without any public consultation and most of the time without any input or confirmation from parliament. This means that individuals who are selected for these positions, by virtue of being selected by the Prime Minister, become beholden to his/her agenda, rather than being accountable to the people of Canada, or to the government as a whole. The significance of the Prime Ministers power of appointment should not be understated. By being able to hand pick individuals for highly influential positions of power without any resistance, the Prime Minister is afforded the immense ability to shape and determine decisions made in government. Thus, by granting the Prime Minister the unfettered powers of appointment, the Canadian political system fails to check the powers of the Prime Minister. A corollary to the Prime Minister’s powers of appointment is their unrestrained capacity to fire ministers. Firing a minister is fully within the political powers of the Prime Minister and he/she is able to do so unquestioningly when needed. In contrast to other Westminster parliamentary systems, the tendency for the Canadian Prime Minister to fire large amounts of ministers is unprecedented. For example, in Britain in 1962 the Prime Minister Harold Macmillian fired six of twenty-two cabinet ministers. This was seen as an “extraordinary event” of unprecedented nature. Comparatively, Paul Martin
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