Ministers, Minders and Mandarins
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Ministers, Minders and Mandarins

An International Study of Relationships at the Executive Summit of Parliamentary Democracies

Edited by Richard Shaw and Chris Eichbaum

Ministers, Minders and Mandarins collects the leading academics in the field to rigorously assess the impact and consequences of political advisers in parliamentary democracies. The 10 contemporary and original case studies focus on issues of tension, trust and tradition, and are written in an accessible and engaging style.
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Chapter 3: Canada: flexing the political arm of government

Jonathan Craft


Today’s large, well-resourced and specialized minister’s office is a major departure from the initial workings of Canada’s system of government. This chapter outlines the pertinent Canadian institutional context as well as the catalysts for the evolving nature of its political arm of government. A functional approach to understanding advisers’ policy work is presented with a focus on its advisory and non-advisory dimensions. Updated empirics are provided covering the prime minister’s office and ministers’ office advisers which underscore the contingent and relational nature of advisers’ influence. Advisers’ capabilities, ministerial expectations regarding their roles, and the ability of advisers to access and lever the resources held by others are all crucial to their impact within the core executive. Taking up the call for a second wave of advisers’ research, the unique opportunities advisers’ work creates for policy learning and failure avoidance is identified, as is the need for greater attention to the instruments with which advisers do their work.

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