The Executive

Click on each question to check your answer.

1. Compare the role of a cabinet minister to the role of a backbencher in the legislature.

*Answer: Backbenchers are responsible for holding cabinet ministers accountable (collectively and individually) through the concepts of responsible government and ministerial responsibility.

2. What is presidentialization? Is there evidence of it in Canada?

*Answer: Explain the concentration of power in office of the prime minister of premier. Cite examples such as increased party discipline and diminished input from cabinet ministers.

3. How are cabinets formed and composed in Canada?

*Answer:Cabinet ministers are appointed by the monarch’s representative on the advice of the first minister. Typically, cabinet members have a seat in the legislature as part of the governing party. They are selected to achieve balance according to a host of political and demographic factors. Most members of cabinet become ministers of the Crown and are assigned portfolios. Ministers may be reassigned or moved out of cabinet through cabinet shuffles.

4. Who are some of the key players in the political executive that assist first ministers with their responsibilities?

*Answer: A select few ministers are named regional ministers or are assigned roles in the inner cabinet (e.g. Justice, Finance, Treasury Board). Junior assignments also exist outside the formal cabinet (ministers of state and parliamentary secretaries). The Prime Minister’s Office/Premier’s Office and the Privy Council Office/Executive Council Office also support first ministers.

5. Who is a deputy minister, and how do they differ from a minister?

*Answer: Non-political, highest-ranking public servant in each government department (or provincial ministry). Provide policy advice and ensure minister’s directives are implemented. Difference is that deputy ministers are public servants and not politicians; they do not need to run for office and are not up for re-election.

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