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Distributed for University of British Columbia Press

Prime Ministerial Power in Canada

Its Origins under Macdonald, Laurier, and Borden

Many Canadians lament that prime ministerial power has become too concentrated since the 1970s. This book contradicts this view by demonstrating how prime ministerial power was centralized from the very beginning of Confederation and that the first three important prime ministers – Macdonald, Laurier, and Borden – channelled that centralizing impulse to adapt to the circumstances they faced. Using a variety of innovative approaches, Patrice Dutil focuses on the managerial philosophies of each of the prime ministers. He shows that by securing a firm grip on the instruments of governance these early first ministers inevitably shaped the administrations they headed, as well as those that followed.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Robert Bothwell and John English


1 How the Prime Ministership Was “Made”: Readings, Theories, Models

Part 1: Structure

2 Macdonald’s First Mandate: Consolidating Prime Ministerial Power

3 Macdonald Returns: Strengthening the Executive Machinery

4 Wilfrid Laurier: The Quick Apprentice

5 Robert Borden: The Inept Reformer

Part 2: Substance

6 The Public Service and the Slow Death of Patronage

7 Priority Setting and the Budget

8 The Management of Crisis

Part 3: Style

9 The Order-in-Council: A Tool of Administrative Control

10 Managing Routine: Everyday Prime Ministerial Style


Appendices; Notes; Index

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