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HomePolicy Articles Article Summary

Addressing the Accountability Deficit: Why Paul Martin's Minority Government Must Pay More Attention to the Three A's

Working Paper by Thomas Axworthy

Axworthy argues that Canada’s first minority government in 25, and particularly the back-benchers, may significantly restore the overall influence of the House of Commons in executive policy-making. Axworthy argues, however, that Canada’s ‘democratic deficit’ goes far beyond the role of Parliament; institutions such as Canada’s electoral system, its political parties, federalism, and the public service all contribute to the deficit. Axworthy argues that in all of these institutions, accountability is frayed and confused.

Axworthy argues that Canada will not cure the ‘structural’ democratic deficit until this accountability deficit is eradicated. According to Axworthy, a clearly defined accountability system is crucial to our system of representative democracy because citizens, through their vote, give authority to their political leaders to act. Transparent and timely information regarding who is responsible to whom, and for what, is fundamental to democratic governance.

Axworthy identifies the “three A’s” that are critical to fixing Canada’s governance framework: authority (the formal power to act); accountability (the requirement to account for the authority delegated); and, answerability (the requirement that an account is tendered to those to who deserve an accounting). Axworthy also undertakes analyses of specific questions pertaining to accountability, which includes examining the sponsorship scandal that engulfed the federal Liberal government. To conclude, Axworthy presents a six-point plan to enhance the accountability of Parliament.

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Policy Publication Details

Author(s): Thomas Axworthy;
Publisher: Institute for Research on Public Policy [ Visit Website ]
Year Published: 2004; 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 / 2004
Policy Articles / Public Administration


Keywords / Tags:

accountability; answerability; authority; democratic deficit; Canada's governance framework; sponsorship scandal; managerial accountability;