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Distributed for University of British Columbia Press

Cabinets and First Ministers

What place do first ministers and their cabinets have in democratic life in Canada? Has cabinet become a prime ministerial focus group? Do political staff and central agency bureaucrats enhance or diminish democracy? Do private members have any say in the cabinet process?

Graham White renders a clear account of the development, structure, and operation of cabinet and the role of first ministers at the federal, provincial, and territorial levels. He discusses how the processes that support cabinet are affected by the considerable power of the first minister, and looks at the ways in which they permit the involvement of other elected members and the public.

Taking the view that characterizing our Westminster-style government is an oversimplification, White examines first ministers and cabinets in terms of accountability and transparency and proposes realistic improvements to this aspect of Canadian democracy.

Table of Contents





1 The Scope and Criteria for the Audit

2 Cabinet Government in Canada: An Executive Summary

3 The First Minister As Autocrat?

4 Public Participation in Cabinet Processes?

5 Democracy through Cabinet Structure and Process?

6 Democracy in the Elected Dictatorship?

Discussion Questions

Appendix: Sources of Audit Information

Additional Reading

Works Cited


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