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Combining the Hazards of Ministerial Appointment AND Ministerial Exit in the Canadian Federal Cabinet

  • Matthew Kerby (a1)

Abstract. The Canadian federal cabinet stands out among Westminster parliamentary democracies because of the large number of first-time ministers who are appointed to cabinet without any previous parliamentary or political experience. Several explanations have been put forward to account for this peculiarity but no attempt has been made to examine how Canadian prime ministers overcome the information deficit associated with appointing ministers with no experience. How can prime ministers be confident that they are making the right choice? This paper explores the subject by estimating the survival functions of ministerial turnover for potential, but not yet appointed, cabinet ministers were they to survive to a defined political benchmark; these survival rates are included in a logit model of Canadian ministerial appointment following four general elections (1957, 1979, 1984 and 2006) in which the prime minister was tasked with appointing a cabinet with ministerial neophytes.

Résumé. Le Conseil des ministres fédéral du Canada se démarque dans l'ensemble des démocraties parlementaires britanniques en raison du grand nombre de ministres novices qui sont nommés au Conseil alors qu'ils ne possèdent aucune expérience parlementaire ou politique antérieure. Plusieurs explications de cette anomalie ont été proposées, mais aucune démarche d'analyse ne s'est encore penchée sur la manière dont les premiers ministres du Canada arrivent à surmonter le manque d'information associé à la nomination de ministres sans expérience. Comment les premiers ministres peuvent-ils être certains d'avoir fait le bon choix? Cette étude scrute le sujet en évaluant le coefficient de survie, en cas de remaniement ministériel, pour les ministres du Conseil potentiels, mais pas encore mandatés, advenant que ces derniers survivent à certains jalons politiques précis. Ces taux de survie font partie intégrante d'un modèle de répartition des nominations ministérielles qui sont survenues à la suite de quatre élections générales (1957, 1979, 1984 et 2006) où le premier ministre a dû constituer un Conseil des ministres composé de néophytes.

Corresponding author
Matthew Kerby, Department of Political Science, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, A1C 5S7, Canada,
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Canadian Journal of Political Science/Revue canadienne de science politique
  • ISSN: 0008-4239
  • EISSN: 1744-9324
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