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HomePolicy Articles Article Summary

Accountability to Citizens in the Westminster Model of Government: More Myth than Reality

Digital Publications by W.T. Stanbury

Stanbury argues that accountability is essential to what is meant by ‘democratic government.’ He contends the need for accountability flows from the delegation of authority and the exercise of discretion, coupled with the possibility that such authority will be used in ways not anticipated or approved. Stanbury notes that in a popular democracy citizens sit atop a complex accountability chain; accordingly, it must be determined how well a given democratic system serves those citizens.

Stanbury argues that the Westminster model is not designed to provide for the accountability of individual elected representatives to individual voters. In this paper, he explores reasons why the accountability of government to ordinary citizens is so problematic. He also suggests that the very design of the Westminster system accounts for, in his view, the serious accountability deficit in Canada.

Stanbury points out that this paper is focused on the diagnoses of the problem of accountability deficit, rather than on finding solutions. Although further research concerning prescriptions to this problem is of prime importance, he suggests that until it is fully determined what is wrong with key elements of Canada’s political system, it remains unlikely that proposed remedies will prove effective.

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Policy Publication Details

Author(s): W.T. Stanbury;
Publisher: Fraser Institute [ Visit Website ]
Year Published: 2003; Publisher Type: Research Institute
Publicly Available: Yes Research Focus: National;
Registration Required: No Language: English
Payment Required: No Publication Format: Adobe PDF

Subjects / Categories:

Policy Articles / Public Administration / Accountability
Policy Articles / Public Administration / Accountability / 2003
Policy Articles / Public Administration


Keywords / Tags:

accountability deficit; Westminster model of government; democratic government; elected representatives; individual citizens;