Defining Boundaries: The Constitutional Argument for Bureaucratic Independence and its Implication for the Accountability of the Public Service
Sponsorship Affair (Gomery Inquiry), 2006
48 Pages Posted: 21 Aug 2011
Date Written: February 1, 2006
This paper explores the constitutional boundaries which establish the basis for relations between the political and bureaucratic spheres of government. Some suggest the boundaries between Ministers and political staff on the one hand (who I will refer to together as “the political executive”), and public service managers, public officials and line employees of government on the other hand (who I refer to collectively as the “public service”), are matters of political expediency rather than constitutional principle. I believe the primacy of political expediency has created a climate with insufficient safeguards against political interference in public service decision-making. In my view, recognizing the primacy of constitutional principle would be a salutary and constructive response to the Sponsorship Affair and ought to underpin any recommendations aimed at preventing incursions against the nonpartisan character of the public service in the future.
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