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Off and Running

Off and Running: The Prospects and Pitfalls of Government Transitions in Canada

Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 328
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  • Book Info
    Off and Running
    Book Description:

    This book is ideally suited to those seeking an understanding of how government works during one of the most crucial points in its life cycle.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-6726-6
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. ix-xii)

    Assuming the role of government is a lot like a novice rider approaching a horse for the first time in that both take equal measures of firmness and sensitivity. One nears the animal (and the state) with purpose – after all, one should have maps and destinations – but not without intimidation. Here is the problem: the horse has a mind of its own, even though it is willing to recognize direction. Like the state, it has a powerful sense of itself, and, while it is sure-footed, it has an innate sense of risk and feels danger acutely. It can be obedient,...

  4. Preface
    (pp. xiii-xviii)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xix-2)
  6. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 3-13)

    One of the most vulnerable and meaningful moments in a constitutional democracy is when one political party loses and voluntarily – peacefully – gives up power to a political opponent.¹ Change is never easy, and there is no more difficult change to experience in government than a transition from one political party to another at the senior-most levels of political leadership. The mere possibility of a change of leadership sets into motion a complex series of activities that can make or break the effectiveness of a government’s first weeks and months in power.

    In changing power, there is a whole human drama....

  7. 2 The Context of Transitions: Setting the Stage
    (pp. 14-38)

    This chapter captures the elements of a transition plan by first describing the three types of transitions that are possible in the Canadian system and then describes the four phases of the transition process that all transitions are subject to, regardless of the political persuasion or the inclination of the incoming prime minister. This chapter also highlights the importance of the leadership qualities and style of the prime minister and the way in which style interacts with the changing role of political advisors,¹ the clerk of the Privy Council, and the media.

    Transitions occur within three unique scenarios. The most...

  8. 3 Pre-Election Phase: Kick-Starting the Transition
    (pp. 39-73)

    The pre-election planning phase begins with the politicians and the public service building two parallel processes to support the transition. Ultimately, the politicians or party officials of the transition team lead, but the secondary role of the public service is pivotal to ensuring a smooth and effective transition following an electoral victory.

    As previously discussed, there are four phases to a transition: pre-election, election period, post-election, and consolidation. In the pre-election period, there is limited contact between the transition exercise being undertaken by politicians and that being developed by the public service. But as time progresses, the two sets of...

  9. 4 The Transition Plan
    (pp. 74-104)

    This chapter unpacks the parameters that define a transition exercise. While the core of the transition revolves around matching the right people to key positions of government, it ensures that the machinery of government reflects the needs of the incoming government. This chapter therefore provides insights into the key elements, including the structure of the Prime Minister’s Office, the considerations that go into governor-in-council appointments, the structure of Cabinet, the appointment of Cabinet ministers, and the decision-making process. The chapter concludes with the first of a number of references to the role of the secretary to the Cabinet and the...

  10. 5 Election Phase: Putting the Building Blocks in Place
    (pp. 105-125)

    The political side and the public service continue their activities in parallel without much interaction over the course of the thirty-five-day election period. At this point, the transition work has entered Phase Two of transition planning, with both sides accelerating the pace of their work. As well, as depicted in the figure 5.1 , both sets of players are adding additional resources to the transition “funnel” as the scope of work expands and more detailed information is added to the transition mix.

    On the political side, the level of effort is determined by the probability of winning the election and...

  11. 6 Post-Election Phase: Electioneering to Governing
    (pp. 126-153)

    This phase is what everyone has been waiting for, and the experience is worth the wait. The post-election phase plays out in a blur of activity and excitement as all the finishing touches are put to the plan. It is also the time when a transition team first learns if all of its work is going to roll out as expected or will come apart when an unexpected event derails the exercise. During the early days of the post-election phase there are a series of first meetings with people who will play a significant role in the move from electioneering...

  12. 7 Post-Election Phase: Getting the Fundamentals Right
    (pp. 154-175)

    This chapter discusses the three most critical activities to take place during the third phase of the transition exercise. These are the Cabinet selection, the staffing of the Prime Minister’s Office and ministers’ offices, and the appointment of key positions in the government that are made by the governor general on the recommendation of the prime minister. There should be no doubt that the prime minister makes the key decisions; however, each important decision is supported by the transition team, and by the clerk of the Privy Council who, in turn, is advised by the secretariats in the Privy Council...

  13. 8 Consolidation Phase: Making the Transition a Reality
    (pp. 176-203)

    This chapter describes the last of four phases in the transition process: the consolidation of the work of the transition team so that all decisions taken in the previous three phases are firmly in place and the work of the new ministry is on the right trajectory. In the end, a successful transition will be judged by the degree to which the prime minister was able to assume the reins of power as seamlessly as possible and if, even if there was an initial period of trial and error, the decision-making system operated to the satisfaction of the prime minister....

  14. 9 Conclusion
    (pp. 204-218)

    The central theme of the book is that government transitions represent the most fundamental element of activity in a democracy: the transfer of power from one political party to another, or in other cases the transfer of power from one leader to another in the same political party. Given the centrality of this event, it is imperative for the key players on both the political and public service sides of the exercise to organize themselves in ways that produce thoughtful plans that allow the agendas of the government and the public service to merge at the appropriate time.

    In 1984,...

  15. Appendix 1 Previous Research on Government Transitions
    (pp. 221-225)
  16. Appendix 2 Transitions in Canada since 1984
    (pp. 226-235)
  17. Appendix 3 Selected Bibliography on Government in Canada
    (pp. 236-237)
  18. Appendix 4 Transition Book Outlines
    (pp. 238-241)
    Derek Burney
  19. Appendix 5 Agenda for First Meeting of the Chrétien Transition Team
    (pp. 242-242)
  20. Appendix 6 Briefing Note 2000 Chrétien Government Transition
    (pp. 243-253)
  21. Appendix 7 First Things First
    (pp. 254-255)
    Stephen Hess
  22. Appendix 8 Orientation Agenda
    (pp. 256-257)
  23. Appendix 9 Political Advisors and Public Servants Interviewed for This Book
    (pp. 258-260)
  24. Notes
    (pp. 261-276)
  25. Select Bibliography
    (pp. 277-286)
  26. Index
    (pp. 287-300)
  27. Back Matter
    (pp. 301-302)