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.
Graham White is a professor of political science at the University of Toronto.