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Executive Creep in Canadian Provincial Legislatures

  • Paul E.J. Thomas (a1) and J.P. Lewis (a2)

Abstract

Studies of parliamentary systems contend that backbench legislators are increasingly marginalized, with power being centralized in the executive. However, such research typically focuses on national legislatures, ignoring subnational jurisdictions. We extend this literature by exploring the process of “executive creep” in Canada's provinces; namely the tendency of executives to erode legislative independence by appointing backbenchers to quasi-executive positions or cabinet committees. We examine executive creep in all provinces since 1968, finding a clear trend towards the increased incorporation of backbenchers into the work of the executive. Moreover, these changes serve to strengthen the power of first ministers relative to their cabinets.

Les études sur les systèmes parlementaires soutiennent que les législateurs d'arrière-ban sont de plus en plus marginalisés, le pouvoir étant centralisé au sein de l'exécutif. Cependant, ces recherches se concentrent généralement sur les législatures nationales, sans tenir compte des ordres de gouvernement infranationaux. Nous élargissons l’étude de la question en explorant le processus de « dérive de l'exécutif » dans les provinces canadiennes, c'est-à-dire la tendance des autorités exécutives à éroder l'indépendance législative en nommant des députés d'arrière-ban à des postes quasi exécutifs ou à des comités du Cabinet. Nous examinons la dérive de l'exécutif dans toutes les provinces depuis 1968, et nous constatons une nette tendance vers l'intégration accrue des députés d'arrière-ban dans le travail de l'exécutif. De plus, ces évolutions servent à renforcer le pouvoir des premiers ministres par rapport à leur cabinet.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

*Corresponding author. Email: paul.thomas@carleton.ca

References

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