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Institutionalized Cabinet

Institutionalized Cabinet: Governing the Western Provinces

Copyright Date: 1995
Pages: 352
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  • Book Info
    Institutionalized Cabinet
    Book Description:

    Dunn investigates factors leading to the initiation and persistence of institutionalized cabinets in the governments of T.C. Douglas in Saskatchewan, Duff Roblin and Walter Weir in Manitoba, and W.R. Bennett in British Columbia. He describes the transition from unaided, or relatively uncoordinated, central executive structures to those that are more structured, collegial, and prone to emphasize planning and coordination. He also examines how the premier's role has expanded from simply choosing cabinets to reorganizing their structure and decision-making processes as well.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6527-2
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Tables
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xiii-2)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 3-6)

    The subject of this investigation is cabinet decision making in the provincial governments of Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and British Columbia. Specifically, this study attempts to examine the forces that underlie the initiation and persistence of cabinet institutionalization in the postwar period.

    The rationale for studying decision making in the provincial executives is clear. Generally speaking, broad and systematic investigations of provincial central executives have been rare. If they do exist, they tend to be premier or function specific.¹ Reviews of western Canadian cabinet government are particularly few. As well, the number and complexity of cabinet-level decision-making structures has grown, and the...


    • Chapter One Provincial Premiers and Cabinets
      (pp. 9-20)

      The subject of this investigation is cabinet decision making in the provincial governments of Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and British Columbia. Specifically, this study attempts to examine the forces that underlie the initiation and persistence of cabinet institutionalization in the postwar period.

      The machinery of government is of special concern to premiers. Like the prime minister, each premier has special duties to perform in the division of responsibilities and the general running of government. The duties of the first minister arise from needs identified in modern organization theory as well as from existing constitutional practice, as the report of the Macdonald Royal...


    • [Part Two Introduction]
      (pp. 23-25)

      Saskatchewan has a definite tradition as far as the central executive is concerned; it is, in fact, a tradition of institutionalized cabinets. Structured cabinets have persisted, in greater or lesser degree, through the regimes of five premiers. Cabinets have been institutionalized to the extent that they have featured multiple functional cabinet committees, highly developed analytic support from both central agencies and central departments, collective budgeting and planning along with attempts to interrelate the two, and some attempt at achieving balance between departments and the central executive. The initiation of institutionalization derived from ideological factors, but the factors leading to its...

    • Chapter Two The Douglas-Lloyd Era
      (pp. 26-40)

      The CCF tradition of institutionalized cabinets was initiated as a result of social-democratic ideology. Premiers Thomas (Tommy) C. Douglas and Woodrow S. Lloyd (1944–61 and 196–64, respectively) elaborated a decision-making system which suited the needs of a ground-breaking, interventionist government. Their version of institutionalization included specialized cabinet committees, the use of both central agencies and central departments, detailed theories of collective budgeting, attempts to relate planning and budgeting, an early emphasis on organization and management studies, a growing reliance on policy analysis, and a faith in the educative function of central agents.

      One offshoot of this educative function...

    • Chapter Three The Thatcher Interlude
      (pp. 41-56)

      One of the hardest things to achieve in a political history is a sense of nuance. The general impression that most academics foster regarding the Thatcher years (1964–71) is that Thatcher was both a break from the pattern of the previous twenty years and a practitioner of the traditional or unaided cabinet style. Yet such a view tends to downplay the persistence of institutionalized cabinet characteristics in the Thatcher years. The signs of such persistence were: the continuation of cabinet structures such as the Treasury Board and the Government Finance Office, albeit in weakened form; the return of a...

    • Chapter Four The Blakeney Years
      (pp. 57-83)

      When the New Democrats assumed power in 1971, they bore with them the inheritance of the earlier CCF experiment in institutionalization. The key aspects of the CCF tradition were: multiple cabinet committees, staff aid to cabinet from both central agencies and central departments, a dedication to collective planning and budgeting, an emphasis on their interconnectedness, and some attempt at balancing central and departmental influence. While it is clear that Blakeney's government (1971–82) was very attentive to the need to modify central structures and processes, it was less so with regard to the decentralized initiatives of which Brownstone wrote. Even...

    • Chapter Five The Devine Government
      (pp. 84-104)

      On assuming power in the April 26, 1982 provincial general election, Progressive Conservative Premier Grant Devine would persist in the Saskatchewan tradition of the structured cabinet. Devine’s government slashed the Blakeney-era policies related to nationalized industries, social affairs, and public employment. Nevertheless, the premier maintained much of the characteristic cabinet institutionalization of the past decades. Understandably, some differences emerged.

      The elements of such persistence were wide-ranging. The same basic trio of cabinet committees for planning, budgeting, and corporate affairs were retained. The staff aid component was substantial: compared to Blakeney, Devine provided even more assistance to the full cabinet. There...


    • [Part Three Introduction]
      (pp. 107-108)

      Manitoba stands as a contrast to its neighbour, Saskatchewan, as far as development of the central executive is concerned. The two provinces differed in regard to both the initiation and pace of cabinet institutionalization. Yet similar forces aided its persistence in both cases.

      The pace of institutionalization in Manitoba lagged far behind that of Saskatchewan. The Saskatchewan CCF pioneered the use of cabinet committees for special purposes; until the late 1950s Manitoba preferred full cabinet as the decision-making focus. Whereas Saskatchewan surrounded its cabinet in the post-1944 period with advisors to give planning and budgeting advice, Manitoba subscribed to the...

    • Chapter Six The Roblin-Weir Governments
      (pp. 109-132)

      The Manitoba Liberal-Progressive cabinets of premiers Bracken, Garson, and Campbell (1922-58) were, by and large, unaided cabinets. There were occasional deviations, like short-term planning exercises and policy advice to cabinet in the Garson era, but these did not change the essentially traditional, unaided nature of cabinet's operations.¹ The contrast between them and the more institutionalized cabinets of Roblin and Weir was to be quite dramatic. In fact, it would be more accurate to call the latter “transitional cabinets”. Initially they displayed a combination of unaided and institutionalized cabinet characteristics, but they shifted unmistakably to the institutionalized camp at the end...

    • Chapter Seven The Schreyer Era
      (pp. 133-162)

      If the Roblin era constituted the transitional phase on the way to establishing an institutionalized cabinet, the Schreyer era culminated its development. The Schreyer cabinet was heavily institutionalized. It demonstrated a tendency for collective decision making with its use of cabinet committees and its later creation of a Planning Committee of the whole cabinet. The premier became the unabashed architect of cabinet form, experimenting broadly during his tenure. The Schreyer gouvernment had central agencies as well as central departments, and extensive use was made of cabinet-level staff, central agency analysis, planning and coordination, and intensified cabinet record-keeping. Budgeting had multiple...

    • Chapter Eight The Lyon Interlude
      (pp. 163-178)

      Sterling Lyon, the only one-term premier in the history of Manitoba (1977–81), was genuinely nostalgic for the days of the unaided cabinet. He abolished most of the Schreyer-era cabinet committees as well as the central agencies for planning and management. He made do with the minimum number possible, two statutory committees. The authority structure of cabinet, which favoured the premier, and the relative autonomy that Lyon accorded to ministers both indicated Lyon's fondness for traditional unaided decision making modes. He even disregarded the rationalist recommendations for reform of the central executive, made by a task force which he himself had...

    • Chapter Nine The Pawley Years
      (pp. 179-200)

      In November 1981 the New Democrats were re-elected to office and began the slow process of reinstitutionalizing cabinet. Surprising, at least to some, was the discontinuity in central government structures and processes between the old (Schreyer-era) and new (first-term Pawley) NDP governments. Unlike the Saskatchewan NDP, which had basically kept the old CCF model intact, the Manitoba NDP of the early eighties did not totally re-adopt the pattern that had marked earlier NDP governance. In fact, much of the system they originally installed seemed quite similar to that of the previous Conservative government. However, during his second government (1986–88)...


    • [Part Four Introduction]
      (pp. 203-204)

      British Columbia followed a separate road in cabinet decision making for much of its history, only precipitously joining the mainstream in the last decade-and-a-half. The development of B.C.’s central executive has been as insular as its political culture. Indeed, the unaided style of cabinet continued in B.C. long after other provinces had abandoned it. Cabinet organization in other jurisdictions had long been subject to the principle of division of labour, but working cabinet committees became widespread in B.C. only in the W. R. Bennett era. Unlike in Ottawa and many provinces, cabinet was not provided with much staff aid, and...

    • Chapter Ten The W. A. C. Bennett Era
      (pp. 205-221)

      The government of Premier William Andrew Cecil Bennett (1952–72) has often been described in extravagant phrases. Observers have viewed him as a brilliant but authoritarian leader who firmly resisted new innovations in cabinet structure, planning, and financial management–in other words, as the quintessential unaided premier. Nonetheless, one should introduce some subtleties into the accounts. It is important to demonstrate the incipient institutionalization of such Bennett practices as process assistance from the provincial secretary ministry, fiscal aid to the premier, and broad planning approaches.

      One of the standard descriptions of Bennett, that of Paul Tennant, sees him as the...

    • Chapter Eleven The Barrett Interlude
      (pp. 222-235)

      David Barrett, like his predecessor, has been characterized in simplistic terms. Few redeeming factors appear in the portrayal of his central executive operation. He is portrayed as the genial but ineffectual leader who allowed his dozen-and-a-half ministers to have free rein in a system devoid of priority setting or planning for most of his time in office (1972–75). This comes closer to a caricature than to a characterization.

      The critiques of Barrett have substance, but they are incomplete. They downplay the degree of institutional learning the NDP was assimilating. Barrett was actually drawn in opposite directions: one involved emulation...

    • Chapter Twelve The W. R. Bennett Years
      (pp. 236-272)

      With his surprise resignation in 1986, William R. Bennett brought to an end a full decade of experimentation in central public administration. For a premier with a reputation as a conservative in social and economic policies, Bennett had a remarkable tendency to experiment in matters of public finance and with the machinery of government. Writers still concentrate on his social and economic policies, so his administrative changes have received little attention. This is ironic, since it was Bill Bennett who initiated true cabinet institutionalization in British Columbia.

      Bennett initiated the new cabinet structure for an essentially ideological reason, but one...


    • Chapter Thirteen Evolution of the Institutionalized Cabinet
      (pp. 275-294)

      At the provincial no less than the federal level in Canada, the unaided cabinet has given way. It has been replaced by the institutionalized cabinet, which features a more complex cabinet structure and important new roles for central agencies. The institutionalized cabinet also heralds the advent of a new prime ministerial role as organizational architect. Both the initiation and the persistence of the structured cabinet in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and British Columbia in the postwar period were due to a complex web of factors other than the growth of cabinet size. The effects of the institutionalized cabinet in these provinces were...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 295-320)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 321-330)
  13. Index
    (pp. 331-333)