Powers of the Prime Minister: a researcher Justin Trudeau calls for caution

Justin Trudeau
Justin Trudeau
The dean of Canadian scholars studying public administration has some advice for the Liberal leader Justin Trudeau: be careful with its promises.

Last week, Mr. Trudeau pledged on national television to reverse the trend of concentration of power in the hands of the Canadian prime minister, which began during the reign of his father in the 1970s, and which has subsequently picked.

“We’re at the end,” said Mr. Trudeau host Peter Mansbridge on CBC, recognizing the family history is behind this commitment. “I recognize, and I think I like the symmetry of the idea that it was me who put an end to this,” he added.

“If I had to give advice to Justin Trudeau, it would be very careful in taking this road,” said in an interview Donald Savoie, the Canada Research Chairholder in public administration and governance of the University of Moncton, which notably signed the book “Governing from the Centre: The Concentration of Power in Canadian Politics.”

One might expect that Mr. Savoie, analyst and fervent critic of governance systems, Trudeau applaud this commitment to limit the powers of the Prime Minister’s office and review the system which, according to the researcher, is the Cabinet of Ministers simply “think tank” that advises the true leader: Prime Minister.

“If it is really serious on this issue, it is not by his office that he should start. We must begin to Parliament. Respect Parliament. Give all the necessary tools to make (the prime minister) accountable. ”

There are so many good as bad reasons for a prime minister to want to control everything, believes Mr. Savoie. According to him should be a “cultural revolution” to change the mentality of both ultra-cautious generations of public servants who have become obsessed with the idea to please the leaders and escape liability.

Opinion polls reveal a desire to change the population and the New Democrats and the Liberals promise to fix it if elected. In this context, the latest book by Donald Savoie, “What is Government Good At?” (“What is good government?” In French), is timely.

In his work, he concluded that politicians and officials “are good to blame, avoid blame, blame others, to address a segment of the population to win the next election, avoid risks, adopt and defend the status quo and add layers of Directors and staff. ”

They also know “avoid trouble of Ministers in the media, meet the demands of the Prime Minister and his office, and manage a complex organization with multiple objectives, centered on the Prime Minister who operates in a politically volatile environment.”

What is it good government, then?

“In short, the government is good for the long view, manage big problems (such as climate change) and make visionary investments,” writes Mr. Savoie.

“This confirms once again that governments should be able to do things that nobody else does, should not want to do or be able to do,” he concluded.

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