Governing from the Centre: The Concentration of Power in Canadian Politics

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University of Toronto Press, 1999 M01 1 - 440 pages

Redefined during the past thirty years, the centre of government currently extends itself further than ever before. Central governmental agencies are 'where the rubber meets the road', where public service meets politics, and policy becomes reality. So who's driving this car? Agencies such as the Privy Council Office, the Finance Department, and the Treasury Board exert their influence horizontally, deciding how policy is made and how money gets spent According to Donald Savoie, these organizations, instituted to streamline Ottawa's planning processes, instead telescope power to the Prime Minister and weaken the influence of ministers, the traditional line departments, and even parliament, without contributing to more rational and coherent policy-making.

This is scholarship at its best: rigorous and riveting. The government operates as a combination of known procedures and the more elusive subtleties of human relationships and unspoken codes of behaviour. Donald Savoie's long-time involvement in government affairs allows him to read through the surface of the results of his extensive research-which included several interviews with elites-in order to expose all the levels of power at play. Indispensable reading for students of politics, public policy, and public administration, Ottawa watchers, journalists, lobbyists, and civil servants who want to know what is really going on.


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About the author (1999)

Donald J. Savoie holds the Clment-Cormier Chair in Economic Development at Universit de Moncton.

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