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Home Policy Articles: Public Administration

Modern governments have increasingly come to play an important role in managing society, and rely on large public services to steer social and economic policies. This begs many questions. What ought to be the role of the public service in society? What are the best approaches to management of public affairs? How is public administration in Canada evolving?

This section of provides valuable insight on these and many other questions concerning public administration.



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A Management Accountability Framework for the Federal Public Service popular

This brief report is a summary of a roundtable hosted by the Public Policy Forum in May 2003 held to seek the advice of participants on the draft of the Management Accountability Framework developed by the Treasury Board Secretariat at the time.

Accountability and Risk Management in the Federal System popular

This report describes the discussions of a Public Policy Forum workshop held in April 2005. Leaders from the federal government, academia, the voluntary sector, and the private sector attended the workshop to explore the future of accountability in public service management as a result of changes announced in the federal budget and by the Treasury Board Secretariat.

Evaluating Policy Research popular

In this paper Caroline Pestieau aims to expand understanding of research that’s undertaken to advance public policy and how can best be evaluated. In her analysis, she defines public policy very broadly to include both policy decisions and the means through which policy is developed. There are two distinct parts to this paper.

From Cynicism to Organizational Disillusion: New Public Management as Confusion Factor popular

Christian Rouillard’s paper was presented as part of the IRPP’s research program on Governance. Rouillard was asked to examine the notion of cynicism (both outside and within the civil service), and to respond to the following three questions: 1) How do you define cynicism? 2) In what forms does it manifest itself? 3) What are its causes? In this paper, Rouillard distinguishes cynicism from organizational disillusion. He maintains that disillusion is a cultural and organizational phenomenon, one that is significantly more profound and difficult to address than cynicism.

What is Policy? popular

Public policy influences our lives in many ways, for example, air and water quality, transportation, and systems of taxation. Sherri Torjman discusses the overall concept of policy and the key elements that constitute the policy development process.

Who Decides? Government in the New Millennium popular

This is a book-length publication, edited by Richard M. Bird, which contains six articles relating to public governance. Bird argues it is critical for Canadians to understand how different political institutions can affect policy; accordingly, these essays explore a number of different political institutions and processes. As Bird points out, people care about results, not just the process of getting to results. Political institutions and processes, however, have a major impact on the behaviour of politicians and the outcome that results from their conduct.

From Rhetoric to Reality: Protecting Whistleblowers in Alberta

According to Keith Archer, there is widespread agreement regarding the need to protect whistleblowers, however several issues must be resolved in the design of whistleblowing legislation in Alberta.

A Canada Strong and Free

In this policy paper, former Ontario Premier Mike Harris and former Reform Party leader Preston Manning argue that Canada is a country of great promise and opportunity. However, they contend Canada is being held back by an absence of national vision and ill-advised public policies.

A Jew defends the cross

Dennis Prager, a Los Angeles-based radio host, raised the issue on his radio program at the time of the vote regarding whether or not the cross should be removed. He argued that it should not because the county was founded by Catholics.

A Proposed Strategy for Ensuring the Public Service of Canada has the Executive Cadre it Needs to Meet its Strategic Objectives

This brief report, prepared by Larson and Zussman on behalf of the Public Policy Forum, discusses executive development in the public service. The Public Policy Forum was asked by the Treasury Board Secretariat to diagnose issues and challenges facing executive development in the public service, and to propose a conceptual model for building overall executive talent capacity.

A Short Path to Revitalized Federalism

In this brief paper, Tom Kent argues that an elected Senate is an urgent need, too important to remain unrealized because federal and provincial politicians cannot agree on the constitutional issues required for full reform.

A Time to Reap; Re-investing in Alberta's Public Services

This report advocates improving the many public service areas that were subject to budget cuts a decade ago in the interests of improving Alberta's debt. With extensive empirical evidence the study considers the advantageous position of Alberta's economy and financial situation as well as the social conditions that have been created by budget cutbacks. Finally this report points to a lack of accountability of government expenditures and makes recommendations to improve specific public services.

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

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.

Accounting for Gomery: The Money Links Between the Federal Government, Political Parties and Private Interests

This Digital Publication by Mark Mullins takes a new look at the Gomery inquiry and the deeper financial realities it revealed. To begin, Mullins states that the amounts of money and number of people involved in the sponsorship scandal are larger than previously known. Specifically, he cites 565 organizations and individuals this study found to be involved, compared to only 71 organizations originally cited in the 2003 Auditor General’s Report.

Adaptive Management of Climate Change Risks

Indur Goklany posits that despite claims that climate change is “the most important environmental problem of this century,” evidence shows there are other more immediate and pressing threats to human and environmental health.

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

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.

Archetypes of the Network Age: Articulating the New Public Service Reality

This publication is a report based on a forum hosted by Citizenship and Immigration Canada in October 2003. This forum was held to discuss international security concerns, border initiatives and the increasing incidence of identity theft and identity fraud.

Are Canadian Political Parties Empty Vessels? Membership, Engagement and Policy Capacity

This article analyzes the role played by political party members in Canada. William Cross and Lisa Young use the empirical evidence gathered by a survey of party members with the five major political parties, conducted in 2000, and find most to be dissatisfied with the roles they play.

Bringing Cities to the Table: Child Care and Intergovernmental Relations

This article by Jane Jensen and Rianne Mahon uses child care as “a lens to examine governance relations, both democratic and intergovernmental” between cities, provinces and the federal government. The first section describes the patterns and practices of accountability in Canada, specifically analysing three Canadian cities (Toronto, Hamilton and Vancouver), coming to the conclusion that modernizing these patterns and practices poses quite a conundrum as all cities are far from equal. The second section thus challenges the universal validity of three assertions: “That decentralization will automatically foster more integrated services; that decentralization will necessarily undermine equity and that Canada’s constitutional arrangements make it impossible for municipalities to have a direct relationship with the federal government”, concluding that the most important factor in determining whether a “danger” or an “impossibility” exists in any of the aforementioned assertions is “political, not constitutional or institutional.” The third section then offers means of progressing from the lessons learned in the first two sections. It offers, for instance, the idea that “there is a trade-off between equity across space and local knowledge of needs.”

Canada in Transition: Advice to the Next Prime Minister

This report, prepared by the Public Policy Forum (PPF) immediately before the change in leadership of the federal government in late 2003, examines a number of key issues pertaining to the future of Canada; the thinking was synthesized in this paper for the benefit of the incoming Prime Minister, Paul Martin. The Public Policy Forum surveyed members of the PPF itself, as well as senior level executives across the country, in order to gather the findings included in this report.

Canada’s Social Contract: Evidence from Public Opinion

This article by Matthew Mendelsohn provides “a detailed synthesis of the last ten years of Canadian public opinion data on what Canadians think about the social contract”, specifically how Canadians are “reconciling pressures for competitiveness, innovation, efficiency, and globalization, with the traditional view of a sharing and caring Canadian identity.” Mendelsohn finds that Canadians are overwhelmingly internationalist, open to immigration and integration, and manifest a strong sentiment of social solidarity and of belonging to the Canadian state. They have, however, moved away from the traditional left by becoming more open to trade liberalization and being committed to the maintenance of a balanced budget.

Caring for Canadians in a Canada Strong and Free

Former Ontario Premier Mike Harris and former Reform Party leader Preston Manning discuss the “vision deficit” and “policy deficit” they consider to be evident in Canadian politics, particularly at the federal level.

Challenges in Senate Reform: Conflicts of Interest, Unintended Consequences, New Possibilities

Gordon Gibson argues that Senate reform is neither a necessary nor sufficient answer to the problems of governance Canada faces.

Common Ground: The Case for Interprovincial Cooperation in Western Canada

Robert Roach argues that, although not homogeneous, the four Western provinces are interdependent, and that all stand to benefit by increasing the degree to which they cooperate with one another. He points out that, unlike the relatively large number of people concentrated in Ontario or Quebec, Westerners are dispersed among four separate political units.

Compliance and Administrative Costs of Taxation in Canada

In this report, Francois Vallaincourt, Jason Clemens, and Milagros Palacios prepare a calculated estimate of the “hidden” compliance and administrative costs of taxation in Canada.

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