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Deputy Ministers in Canada

Deputy Ministers in Canada: Comparative and Jurisdicational Perspectives

Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 480
  • Book Info
    Deputy Ministers in Canada
    Book Description:

    This unique volume, which deals with a uniquely significant topic, reviews the role of deputy ministers within government, providing a major new understanding of their responsibilities and interactions at both the federal and provincial levels.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-6517-0
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-x)

    This much anticipated book contributes to two areas in public administration that have been positively starved of scholarly attention. The first one is the role and functions of the individuals who hold the position of deputy minister (DM), the highest peak in the administrative hierarchy of the state. The second urgency is in understanding provincial bureaucratic structure. By its breadth and focus, this volume will surely sate the hungriest appetites while simultaneously, hopefully, build a desire to go further.

    Given the craze for “leadership” studies over the past thirty years, it is surprising to note that this is the first...

  4. List of Figures
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. List of Tables
    (pp. xv-2)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 3-11)

    Collectively, provincial deputy ministers sit astride the largest assembly of government budgets, employees, and influence in Canada, but they have remained largely unstudied and hence largely unsung. This book is an attempt to peel away some of the veneer of mystery from this collectivity. It will review their numbers, stability, mobility, and other matters. It will look at the models of DM responsibilities and their interactions with the world of politics. It suggests that more has to be done to systematize our studies of the breed. It will also update the state of knowledge about federal deputy ministers. Their recruitment,...

  7. 1 Deputy Ministers in Newfoundland and Labrador: From Guardians to Managers
    (pp. 12-50)

    Deputy ministers in Newfoundland and Labrador are probably the best indicator of the nature of its political system at any particular time. They are hard to decipher, for they have taken on the nature of an elite brotherhood that does not share its secrets readily. One must read into the history of the position, DM backgrounds, hiring patterns, duration in office, turnover, and methods of creation some of the mysteries of the post. Even then, the picture is incomplete.

    As indicators of the political system, deputies – sometimes, as in the 1930s, called secretaries – were flawless. When the system was patronage-ridden,...

  8. 2 Deputy Ministers in Nova Scotia: The Influence of New Public Governance on Nova Scotia’s First NDP Government
    (pp. 51-71)

    Deputy ministers have multiple loyalties, attachments, and priorities. For example, they must account to their ministers regularly on departmental matters; on an increasingly frequent basis, they are called to give accounts to legislative and Cabinet committees on matters internal to their departments; they are stewards of their departments within the government at large; they are trustees of the public interest; and they are loyal to each other. In Nova Scotia, deputies are caught in this web of multiple relationships of accountability, but their connection to the Premier’s Office is perhaps the strongest of them all. There are several factors that...

  9. 3 Deputy Ministers in Prince Edward Island: Professionalism, Policymaking, and Patronage
    (pp. 72-99)

    As you may well expect from the author of this quote, John Eldon Green spent ten years of his life as a deputy minister (DM) of the Social Services Department in the PEI government – and, as you can also probably detect, not all of them were pleasant or fruitful. He once revealed in a 1979 speech to the Canadian Cancer Society’s annual meeting in Charlottetown that “the job security of a deputy minister is one week long, in that we could be dismissed at any meeting of cabinet.” He would later add in his personal memoir, “I said that if...

  10. 4 New Brunswick’s Deputy Ministers: Out of the Ordinary and Close to the Premier
    (pp. 100-122)

    Like all provinces, New Brunswick has unique characteristics that explain certain traits observed among its deputy ministers. It is one of the smallest Canadian provinces in both its population and its territory. It has barely 750,000 residents. Most are descendants of two founding groups: the Acadians, who sought refuge in New Brunswick following the Great Upheaval, and the Loyalists, who also sought refuge following the American Revolution, another great upheaval of a different nature. Apart from a large influx of Irish immigrants in the nineteenth century, there has been little subsequent immigration. The Acadian presence (close to a third of...

  11. 5 Quebec Deputy Ministers: Accent on Program and Service Delivery in Times of Scarcity
    (pp. 123-147)

    At the top of the executive branch of government, power is wielded by two categories of actors: the political leadership and the top echelons of the administrative apparatus. They must cooperate within a system in which the former hold legal authority and democratic legitimacy, and the latter possess organizational capabilities and expertise in their field (Bernier, Brownsey, and Howlett 2005). The role of deputy ministers (DMs) is not confined to subordination to the political authorities whose policies they carry out. Their job transcends daily politics, since the administration incarnates the continuity of the state through changing governments and ministers. The...

  12. 6 From “Gurus” to Chief Executives? The Contestable Transformation of Ontario’s Deputy Ministers, 1971 to 2007
    (pp. 148-200)

    Based on a blend of primary and secondary research, this chapter arrives at several observations on Ontario’s deputy minister cadre between 1971 and 2007 – a specific historical frame chosen for two basic reasons. First, it covers an interesting period that begins to see the gradual unravelling of Ontario’s post-war order, characterized by economic prosperity and forty-two years of a one-party political dynasty. Second, extending the historical time frame back further would have presented serious methodological limitations in conducting the research.

    The Canadian literature on public service executives is concerned largely with the federal dimension, and we note that the paucity...

  13. 7 More Than Nobodies, but Not the Powers behind the Throne: The Role of Deputy Ministers in Manitoba
    (pp. 201-238)

    Manitoba is a relatively small society of approximately 1.2 million people, with over 60 per cent of the population located in the capital city of Winnipeg, where the provincial government is headquartered. Compared to that of larger provinces, Manitoba’s governmental system operates on a smaller scale, with fifty-seven members of the Legislative Assembly, nineteen Cabinet ministers, nineteen deputy ministers, and a civil service of approximately fifteen thousand. In a relatively small open economy, the provincial government is the largest employer, and its spending ($13 billion in 2010–11 in a provincial economy with a GDP of approximately $50 billion) is...

  14. 8 Saskatchewan’s Deputy Ministers: Political Executives or Public Servants?
    (pp. 239-261)

    The most widely accepted definition of the role of deputy ministers in Canada is that they are career public administrators who are permanent, neutral, and independent from the governing party (Osbaldeston 1989). Like all public servants, deputy ministers are to be appointed on the basis of merit and they are not to be fired following the election of a new government. While they are normally Order in Council appointments and thus, strictly speaking, outside the classified career public service, in the ideal model they are permanent career officials who provide continuity and institutional memory for the non-permanent ministers who come...

  15. 9 Alberta Deputy Ministers: The Management of Change
    (pp. 262-282)

    This chapter analyses Alberta’s modern deputy ministers, paying particular attention to the turbulent first decade of the new century, especially the years between 2004 and 2009. That period is instructive for two reasons. First, it yields major political dynamics, including two provincial general elections and a leadership change in the Progressive Conservative party that has governed Alberta without interruption since 1971. Second, during this period the Alberta economy, stimulated by demand for its oil sands products and related capital construction, grew substantially. The provincial treasury received large resource royalties and related revenues but also faced heavy pressures for infrastructure, education,...

  16. 10 Government Transitions, Leadership Succession, and Executive Turnover in British Columbia, 1996–2006
    (pp. 283-308)

    British Columbia has a reputation for polarized, colourful, and sometimes a “take-no-prisoner” approach to politics. The last three decades have seen many decisive shifts in the philosophy and policy mix of provincial governments, often leading to significant impact on program delivery models and the structure of the public service. This governing dynamic comes in addition to the mounting demands on Westminster parliamentary systems and public service institutions everywhere to increase responsiveness to elected governments, to improve performance, and to increase transparency. We would expect that, with the coming and going of governments and premiers in BC, there should be higher...

  17. 11 Comparative Analysis of Stability and Mobility of the Canadian Provincial Bureaucratic Elite, 1987–2007
    (pp. 309-323)

    This chapter is about mobility patterns among provincial deputy and assistant ministers in Canada from 1987 to 2007, with particular reference to the past decade. Among others things, the study seeks to understand and explain the factors that shape or influence mobility of deputy and assistant ministers in all the Canadian provinces. It is based upon original work done by Bierling, Carroll, and Rosenblatt and updated for this volume (Bierling, Carroll, and Rosenblatt 2000).¹ It explores how the neutrality and professionalism upon which the Westminster-styled public service was based is threatened by political appointments (Rasmussen 2008; Weller 1989). For example,...

  18. 12 A Canada-Wide Survey of Deputy and Assistant Deputy Ministers: A Descriptive Analysis
    (pp. 324-363)

    This chapter offers a statistical report of a 2006 survey of deputy ministers (DMs) and assistant deputy ministers (ADMs) at the federal, provincial, and territorial levels of government in Canada. The value of this survey is that it provides us with a rich source of information on the changing demographic make-up and career profiles of the most senior civil servants in Canada, as well as their assessments of key public administration and policy issues facing their jurisdictions.

    A broad survey of this kind conducted across jurisdictional boundaries has not been done before in Canada and its results enable us to...

  19. 13 Federal Deputy Ministers: Serial Servers Looking for Influence
    (pp. 364-400)

    Deputy ministers are at the top of the administrative hierarchy in Canada’s apparatus of state. They have a well-established tradition for well supporting ministers and the government in all aspects of the exercise of executive power (Granatstein 1982). A series of institutional and contextual factors affect the way deputy ministers do their job of supporting ministers, who are responsible to Parliament.

    Ministerial responsibility encompasses both individual and collective responsibility: the minister of a given department has individual responsibility for that department and for specific files (e.g., the status of women or state-owned corporations connected to the particular portfolio) and at...

  20. 14 Public Sector Executive Compensation in a Time of Restraint
    (pp. 401-428)

    Over the past twenty years, in response to the growing awareness of the importance of the public sector in well-performing economies, there have been a burgeoning number of studies published about ways to improve public sector management at all levels of government. Much of the recent literature, especially in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia, has concentrated on examining whether the New Public Management (NPM) movement – the introduction of private-sector management techniques in such areas as leadership, change management, organizational design, and human resources management into government – has been successful. Given the unique characteristics of the public sector,...

  21. Conclusion: Deputy Ministers in Canada – Evolution of Deputy Ministers as Archetypal Figures
    (pp. 429-450)

    This book’s authors have described the evolution of deputy ministers’ roles, their conditions of employment, and their relationship with their political masters in jurisdictions across Canada. In doing so, authors have revisited the archetypal models of their contemporary roles. It was not our purpose to compare jurisdictions in order to find the “best one.” Each province and the federal level has its own history, characteristics, and sensitivities, so rigorous comparison or ranking would have been difficult, even unfair, since much depends on the lens of the observer. This study was not a competition to discover a Canadian paragon of virtue....

  22. Contributors
    (pp. 451-456)
  23. Back Matter
    (pp. 457-458)