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Policy Analysis in Canada

Policy Analysis in Canada

  • Book Info
    Policy Analysis in Canada
    Book Description:

    This volume offers a comprehensive overview of the many ways in which the policy analysis movement has been conducted, and to what effect, in Canadian governments and, for the first time, in business associations, labour unions, universities, and other non-governmental organizations.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8552-9
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. List of Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. List of Figures
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. 1 Policy Analysis in Canada: The State of the Art
    (pp. 3-18)

    In this volume we hope to help lay the foundations for a more systematic understanding of policy analysis in Canada, and thereby contribute to the enhanced practice and utilization of analytical work undertaken within both governments and those organizations that wish to influence public policy. Before moving to the various contributions made to this project by the individual chapter authors, we will attempt to briefly clarify what policy analysis is, and how its practice has been broadly construed by academic researchers over the past several generations, and to identify several general research questions that provide a framework for ongoing research...


    • [PART I Introduction]
      (pp. 19-20)

      Modern policy analysis in Canada is a professional activity, carried out by a corps of specially trained individuals. Their emergence, and the training, administrative, and research institutes in which they work, has been frequently called ‘the policy analysis movement,’ and has been a characteristic development of governments and governance in the late twentieth century.

      The extent to which different countries have been influenced by this movement, however, has been little studied outside the United States, its archetypal case. In this section of the book, the basic activities and types of policy analysis are set out, establishing the foundation for the...

    • 2 The Policy Analysis Profession in Canada
      (pp. 21-47)

      On the face of it, the question of how a given number of dollars can be used to achieve the best health care outcomes for a population might appear to be a matter on which experts should be able to agree. Answering this question should be facilitated, one might also think, by the fact that there exists today more data on more aspects of the health care system – both resources and outcomes – than at any point in Canadian history. Moreover, there are more health care experts, including economists, public health researchers, sociologists, health administration experts, and health policy...

    • 3 The Choice of Formal Policy Analysis Methods in Canada
      (pp. 48-85)

      One of the primary purposes of applied policy analysis is to assist public policy decision makers in comparing and evaluating policy alternatives.² However, there is considerable evidence from all levels of government in Canada, as well as from other countries, that policy analysts, as well as their political and bureaucratic clients, have considerable difficulty at this stage of the policy analysis process (Mayne 1994; Muller-Clemm and Barnes 1997; Greene 2002). Although a major purpose ofex anteanalysis, also sometimes referred to as policy or project appraisal, is to assist decision making, the Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) notes ‘its actual...

    • 4 Beyond Formal Policy Analysis: Governance Context, Analytical Styles, and the Policy Analysis Movement in Canada
      (pp. 86-115)

      Seen as an intellectual movement in government, as Michael Mintrom describes it in chapter 6 in this volume, policy analysis represents the efforts of actors inside and outside formal political decision-making processes to improve policy outcomes by applying systematic evaluative rationality (Heineman et al. 2002). Policy analysis, in this sense, is a relatively recent phenomenon, dating back to the 1960s and the U.S. experience with formalized large-scale planning processes and statistical analyses in areas such as defence, urban redevelopment, and budgeting (Lindblom 1958; Wildavsky 1969; MacRae and Wilde 1985; Garson 1986). While there have been debates about whether policy analysis...

    • 5 Policy Analysis and Bureaucratic Capacity: Context, Competencies, and Strategies
      (pp. 116-142)

      The policy literature has done a good job of delineating the full array of possibilities for where policy-related work can be undertaken inside and outside public sector bureaucracies. Marcus Hollander and Michael Prince (1993) have shown that many kinds of analytic work are pursued in different parts of public service bureaucracies, in addition to the work of policy units: research, policy, planning, evaluation, auditing, operational reviews, quality assurance, financial analysis, management consulting, and information systems. John Halligan (1996) reviewed the many different sources of policy advice from inside and outside government, which include internal expertise, other government departments, other governments,...


    • [PART II Introduction]
      (pp. 143-144)

      The rise of policy analysis and analysts in government, and later in the nongovernmental sector, is often portrayed as the backbone of a more general ‘policy analysis movement.’ This movement is alleged to have aimed to ‘rationalize’ politics by bringing reason and evidence to bear on political decision making.

      Although it is frequently assumed that this general movement has been a characteristic development of governments and governance in the late twentieth century, its impact on different countries has been little studied. In this section of the book, the contours of the policy analysis movement and its reception in Canada are...

    • 6 The Policy Analysis Movement
      (pp. 145-162)

      Since the mid-1960s, an increasingly large number of people have come to devote their professional lives to producing policy analysis. This is a global phenomenon, although the intensification of activities associated with policy analysis has been most pronounced in the United States. Here, I term this amassing of personnel and resourcesthe policy analysis movement. Use of the term is intended to imply a deliberate effort on the part of many people to reconceive the role of government in society and renegotiate aspects of the relationships that exist between individuals, collectivities, and governments. However, the term should not be taken...

    • 7 Soft Craft, Hard Choices, Altered Context: Reflections on Twenty-Five Years of Policy Advice in Canada
      (pp. 163-185)

      This chapter offers a retrospective view on developments in policy analysis and advice in Canadian governments over the past generation. I also look at the present situation in the federal government and consider the future of policy advice. These reflections come from my own academic research on policy advice and consulting work with governments, the writings of other colleagues on policy analysis, and from change in the politics, policy making, and governance of Canada since the late 1970s. I am interested in reflecting on policy analysis and advice as public service work in Canadian governments and, at the same time,...

    • 8 In Between Trends: Developments of Public Policy Analysis and Policy Analysis Instruction in Canada, the United States, and the European Union
      (pp. 186-216)

      This chapter seeks to place academic Canadian public policy programs in a comparative context and provide an overview that identifies the status of policy analysis/policy studies instruction in light of domestic and global developments.¹

      In this comparative examination we will primarily discuss: a) the characteristics and training needs of policy analysis by tracking the needs of the profession; b) the development of the field to date; c) orientations arising from conceptual and historical developments in Canada, the United States, and Europe, shaping particular public policy programs, curriculum orientations and practices; and d) implications of and lessons drawn from the various...


    • [PART III Introduction]
      (pp. 217-218)

      Many players contribute to the policy process, but none more directly than elected and appointed government officials. Not surprisingly, therefore, policy analysts working within government departments and agencies occupy a strategic position: the advice these analysts provide is usually viewed by political or administrative decision makers as being immediately relevant to their concerns. This is not to say, however, that policy makers always get the information they expect, nor to suggest that ‘in-house’ policy analysts have access to all the resources they need to carry out their research.

      Budgetary priorities led all levels of government to make more or less...

    • 9 Policy Analysis in the Federal Government: Building the Forward-Looking Policy Research Capacity
      (pp. 219-237)

      A decade ago, senior managers within the federal public service had a collectiveprise de consciencewith regard to the need to reinvest in the federal government’s policy capacity. A special Deputy Minister Task Force on Strengthening our Policy Capacity was established in 1995, and it subsequently issued what is commonly referred to as the Fellegi Report. This report presented a key examination of the state of policy capacity across the federal government, and laid out a roadmap for future reinvestment in this capacity. Almost ten years after the Fellegi Report, what has happened?

      Studies of policy analysis in government...

    • 10 Policy Analysis in Provincial Governments in Canada: From PPBS to Network Management
      (pp. 238-264)

      There is a relative paucity of scholarly work on provincial governments and their workings with respect to policy making (Imbeau and Lachapelle 1996). This is somewhat odd, given that the provincial government sector now provides almost two-thirds of the services of the government sector in Canada. Further, a very large part of federal activity is made up of passive transfers to individuals, requiring minimal policy and management attention, compared to the dynamic, ever-shifting environment within which provincial governments work. The simple fact is that in substantive terms, the largest proportion of policy development, adaptation, and change is concentrated in the...

    • 11 Immature Policy Analysis: Building Capacity in Eight Major Canadian Cities
      (pp. 265-288)

      Policy analysis in Canada’s municipalities varies significantly from that undertaken at senior governmental levels, mainly because of the three communities of actors involved:decision makers, knowledge generators, andknowledge brokers. The first operates under a much more debilitating set of institutional arrangements while the other two are either less populated or, at worst, non-existent. As the bulk of this chapter explains, the capacity of local decision makers to direct, receive, and act upon sophisticated policy advice is severely hampered by an antiquated approach to local governing. When coupled with a paucity of knowledge-generating researchers and knowledge-brokering commissions, task forces or...


    • [PART IV Introduction]
      (pp. 289-290)

      Governments do not always get the information and analysis they need for planning ahead from their ‘in-house’ analysts. Commissions of inquiry, research councils, and parliamentary committees provide institutional settings for conducting policy research that is more or less independent from both governments and private interests and that can be made available to opposition parties, the media, and the public at large. More informal methods of probing public opinion, such as polls or the work done by consultants, also contribute to policy deliberations by generating ideas or ways of framing problems. But these sources are less transparent and, consequently, incite more...

    • 12 The Public of Public Inquiries
      (pp. 291-314)

      Just when it looks like inquiries have fallen into disuse as tools of policy making, along come a slew of new ones. Then, when it looks as if inquiries have become a mainstay of policy making, the pundits suggest that inquiries have had their day, being too expensive and unpredictable for those who commission them. Meanwhile, many of the same issues – accountability, cost, the relationship of inquiries and the courts, etc. – continue to be raised regularly.¹

      But something new has happened. The literature on public policy has advanced considerably in the last decades, driven by new theory and...

    • 13 Back to the Future? Is There a Case for Re-establishing the Economic Council and/or the Science Council?
      (pp. 315-350)

      In 1992, the Economic Council of Canada (ECC), the Science Council of Canada (SCC) and the Law Reform Commission fell victim to the budget cutters’ axe.¹ Although at the time many observers felt that this was a regrettable decision, especially in the case of the ECC, the issue of whether there is still a need for institutions such as these has quietly disappeared from the policy agenda. This would seem to suggest that the decision to abolish them was not, after all, without grounds. Since then the Law Commission of Canada, which looked rather similar to the Law Reform Commission...

    • 14 Committees inside Canadian Legislatures
      (pp. 351-374)

      Committees operating inside Canadian legislatures can and do shape public policy, yet their contribution is often downplayed in policy studies and by the news media. This chapter seeks to rectify this situation by demonstrating that parliamentary committees can play an important role in the policy process. Another aim is to identify some of the criteria that need to be taken into account when assessing their policy-making capacity.

      At the outset, we think it is important to explain why we qualify as policy analysis ‘insiders.’ We are both political scientists, who specialized in public policy analysis in our graduate work and...

    • 15 How Policy Makers View Public Opinion
      (pp. 375-398)

      Public opinion research and polling are not only indispensable features of election campaigning, they have also become an essential form of communication between government decision makers and their environment.¹ Politicians presumably take the pulse of public opinion in order to achieve some degree of harmony between government policy and the preferences of the public. This, however, begs the question of what exactly politicians take the pulse of.

      Some readers might dismiss my question as irrelevant on the apparently reasonable grounds that public opinion has no visible effect on public policy, at least in Canada (Howlett and Ramesh 2003, 75–7)....

    • 16 The Invisible Private Service: Consultants and Public Policy in Canada
      (pp. 399-422)

      In 1967, John Deutsch contended that civil servants would have a reduced role in the development of new policies because of the ‘increasing use of private consulting firms, research institutes and the latest phenomenon, the so-called think tank’ (Meredith and Jones 1970, 383). Almost forty years later, the rise of the consultant has been one of the most significant changes in Canadian public policy analysis, evaluation, development and implementation. The latest figures available state that as of 1998, 70 per cent of all business and government organizations in Canada have used the services of a management consultant at least once...


    • [PART V Introduction]
      (pp. 423-424)

      This section explores whether what appear to be influential policy contributions by political parties and organized economic and social group actors are backed by focused or systematic policy analytical work. Four authors inquire into the quantity, character, and impact of policy analysis in Canadian political parties, business associations, trade unions, and voluntary sector organizations.

      William Cross shows that Canadian parties are generally uninterested in the kind of policy analysis that one sees conducted by many European parties. In chapter 17, he contends that neither internal party officials’ time and resources, nor party members’ potential to engage in serious consideration of...

    • 17 Policy Study and Development in Canada’s Political Parties
      (pp. 425-442)

      Given the primary place of political parties in modern democracies, it seems logical that a book about policy analysis should include a chapter about parties. Canadian political parties play a crucial gate-keeping role in the selection of elected officials, they dominate our election campaigns and our legislatures are structured along party lines. Many Canadians experience politics only through political parties: they vote for candidates chosen by the parties, volunteer to assist a party in its election campaigns, and, perhaps, petition an elected party member with a policy-related grievance.

      Nonetheless, this chapter argues that Canada’s political parties are not effective vehicles...

    • 18 Business Associations and Policy Analysis in Canada
      (pp. 443-472)

      One of the outstanding features of political economy in Western industrial societies is the uneasy coexistence of capitalist economies and democratic governments. The rocky marriage of competing distributive mechanisms – one based on the formal equality of political representation, the other based on the right to unequal ownership of property – is a central problematic of capitalist democracies. The idea of popular control over ‘who gets what’ grates against massive disparities in wealth and income, and any theory of pluralism has to contend with the reality of pervasive corporate power.

      Analysis of corporate power can be conducted on a number...

    • 19 Policy Analysis by the Labour Movement in a Hostile Environment
      (pp. 473-496)

      Canadian unions have been, and perceive themselves to be, very much on the defensive, facing major challenges to their legitimacy, role and effectiveness within the workplace, and relatively marginalized from the policy process. The latter role of unions has been little studied compared to extensive research on union impacts on the economy and the workplace, and on union involvement in party politics. This paper explores policy analysis by Canadian labour against the background of a changing relationship to the policy process.

      Canadian unions are a significant economic and social force. One in three employees belongs to a trade union, with...

    • 20 Policy Analysis and the Voluntary Sector: Evolving Policy Styles
      (pp. 497-522)

      It is widely accepted that the policy process has become porous, open at many points to influence from the outside, with such influence being broadly divided and dispersed across multiple actors. The shift to a new model of ‘governance’ that emphasizes governing through collaboration, networks and horizontal management and that makes use of a varied array of policy instruments has done more than open wider cracks in policy making through which the influence of interest groups and other non-governmental actors can seep in. The new governance has systematized and institutionalized their involvement (Salamon 2001; Prince 2007). That’s the story, anyway....


    • [PART VI Introduction]
      (pp. 523-524)

      This final section of the book investigates the contexts of and orientations to policy analysis undertaken by several key players in the broad policy community: the media, think tanks, and academics. Each of the authors notes that the general shape and impact of policy analysis conducted by these players is ambiguous because it is less than fully public, less than systematically rigorous and/or internally quite heterogeneous. Yet between them the media, think tank employees or associates, and academics contribute a huge amount to policy debate and arguably to both the broad outlines and specific elements of public policy. So if...

    • 21 The Media
      (pp. 525-550)

      With their resources, reach, and potential leverage of elite and public opinion, the Canadian news media play an important part in Canadian policy networks. But as institutions and actors at the meso- and micro-levels of the policy system, the media are apparently disaggregated and uncoordinated, negotiating highly differential access to the policy sphere depending on personal political capital, economic constraints of ownership, and the news culture within each organization. It is thus not surprising that little is systematically known about the media’s role in reporting, interrogating, investigating, or interpreting public policy in Canada. Early public policy texts rarely included them...

    • 22 Any Ideas? Think Tanks and Policy Analysis in Canada
      (pp. 551-573)

      At different times and in different contexts, they have been described as brain trusts, idea brokers, laboratories for ideas, public policy research institutes, policy clubs, and policy planning organizations. In the mainstream media and in the academic literature, they are best known as think tanks. Although the vast majority of the world’s 5,000 or more think tanks are located in the United States, most advanced and developing countries count think tanks among the many types of non-governmental organizations that engage in research and analysis. Along with interest groups, trade associations, human rights organizations, advocacy networks, and a handful of other...

    • 23 Academics and Public Policy: Informing Policy Analysis and Policy Making
      (pp. 574-598)

      Academics – those who hold permanent faculty positions at universities and colleges – have a somewhat privileged position when it comes to public policy making and analysis in liberal democracies such as Canada. Unlike bureaucrats, they are not burdened by the responsibility to represent an official position they might not agree with. Unlike politicians and corporate actors, they are free from the need to produce immediate results. These and other freedoms also impose a heavier responsibility on academic experts to advocate for good policy that is the result of careful analysis, that goes beyond simple technical advice and which is...

  12. Contributors
    (pp. 599-604)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 605-605)