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ARCHIVED - Review of the Responsibilities and Accountabilities of Ministers and Senior Officials - Meeting the Expectations of Canadians


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[1]
. "Strengthening Transparency, Accountability and Management Across the Public Sector," Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, Press Release, February 10, 2004.

[2]. Matters of Special Importance—2003. Report of the Auditor General of Canada. Ottawa: Queen's Printer, November 2003. See Chapter 2, "Accountability and Ethics in Government." The report was tabled on February10, 2004.

[3]. Tabled in Parliament on February 17, 2005.

[4]. See the list of those consulted in Section 6. Their valued insight and input helped shape the review's major findings, though participants were not asked to endorse how the government has set out the issues in the review.

[5]. The primary guarantor of legal accountability is the judiciary.

[6]. John Williams, M.P., Public Accounts Committee testimony, May6, 2004. That said, parliamentary committees can obviously contribute significantly to policy development through debate and discussion. This more modest role is reflected in the documents describing aspirations for reform of the House: "Reform must lead to more meaningful contributions to policy debates." See The Parliament We Want: Parliamentarians' Views on Parliamentary Reform. Ottawa: Library of Parliament, December 2003, pp. 6, 10, and 15.

[7]. Canada. Responsibility in the Constitution, 1993, p. 55.

[8]. Lord Fulton. The Civil Service. Vol. 1, Report of the Committee 1966–68. London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, p.108.

[9]. This section deals with deputy ministers of ministerial departments and not with deputy heads of agencies, who have slightly different authorities under legislation.

[10]. Responsibility in the Constitution, p. 73.

[11]. See Norman Ward. The Public Purse. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1951, pp. 3–4, for a statement of the core principles and practices of parliamentary control of finances. Part IV of the Financial Administration Act sets out the manner in which the Public Accounts are to be kept, subject to the regulations of the Treasury Board.

[12]. Based on Peter Aucoin and Mark D. Jarvis. Modernizing Government Accountability: A Framework for Reform. Canada School of Public Service, 2005, pp. 20–21.

[13]. For further details on these matters, see Robert Marleau and Camille Montpetit. House of Commons Procedure and Practice. Ottawa: House of Commons, 2000.

[14]. Ministers have a duty to attend Question Period daily. See Canada. Governing Responsibly, 2004, p. 16. Any proposed absences must be cleared with the Prime Minister's Office before other commitments are made. When a minister is absent, a designated minister or parliamentary secretary answers for him or her.

[15]. See a brief history of the evolution of the House of Commons in the McGrath Committee Report, Report of the Special Committee on Reform of the House of Commons. Ottawa: Queen's Printer, 1985. See also C.E.S.Franks. The Parliament of Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1987, especially
pp.238–256.

[16]. See details in subsection 7(2) of the Auditor General Act. The auditor general must also report to the president of the Treasury Board any cases where it appears that any person has improperly retained public money and, at his or her discretion, advise the appropriate officers in the Public Service, particularly those engaged in the business of the Treasury Board, of matters discovered during examinations.

[17]. For details, see Robert Marleau and Camille Montpetit. House of Commons Procedure and Practice. Ottawa: House of Commons, 2000, Chapter 18, pp. 697–768.

[18]. For a more detailed treatment of this issue, see Gordon Osbaldeston. Keeping Deputy Ministers Accountable. Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 1989, especially pp. 6–8.

[19]. Gordon Osbaldeston. Keeping Deputy Ministers Accountable. Toronto: McGraw Hill,1989, p. 13.

[20]. Exempt staff are outside the official Public Service and are exempt from Public Service Commission of Canada staffing and other controls. A minister's office may also include a number of departmental assistants who are public servants assigned to the minister's office to liaise with the department and provide administrative support to the minister. Departmental assistants are expected to carry out their duties in a non-partisan manner.

[21]. Gordon Robertson. The Changing Role of the Privy Council Office. Ottawa: Information Canada, 1971, p.506.

[22]. Governing Responsibly, p. 33.

[23]. Responsibility in the Constitution, p. 64.

[24]. Governing Responsibly, p. 11.

[25]. Responsibility in the Constitution, p. 59.

[26]. Canada. Privy Council Office. Guidance for Deputy Ministers, 2003, Section III, p. 27.

[27]. Canada. Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat. Values and Ethics Code for the Public Service, 2003. "All public servants are responsible for ensuring that they comply with this Code and that they exemplify, in all their actions and behaviours, the values of public service" (p. 13). "Deputy heads and senior managers have a particular responsibility to exemplify, in their actions and behaviours, the values of public service. They have a duty to infuse these values into all aspects of the work of their organizations. It is expected that they will take special care to ensure that they comply at all times with both the spirit and the specific requirements of this Code" (p.14).

[28]. J. E. Hodgetts has stressed the importance of this point in commentary provided to the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, October 2004. He speaks of the inward dimension of accountability: "To thine own self be true."

[29]. Governing Responsibly, p. 11.

[30]. Responsibility in the Constitution, p. 87 Guidance for Deputy Ministers, p. 23.

[31]. See David Good. The Politics of Public Management. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2003, p.40 and Thomas Axworthy. "Addressing the Accountability Deficit: Why Paul Martin's Minority Government Must Pay More Attention to the Three A's." IRPP Working Paper, October 2004, p. 10.

[32]. The Committee of Senior Officials, made up of deputy ministers, advises the clerk on senior appointments and other human resources management priorities and issues.

[33]. Over 20 other statutes also establish the legislative authorities of the Treasury Board.

[34]. Spending authorities are approved by Parliament.

[35]. For details, see Guidance for Deputy Ministers, Section II, Responsibilities of the Deputy Minister, pp. 6–8.

[36]. Guidance for Deputy Ministers, Section III, p. 15.

[37]. See Guidance for Deputy Ministers, Section III, p. 15.

[38]. For further information on the Management Accountability Framework, please visit http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/maf-crg/index-eng.asp.

[39]. Peter Aucoin and Mark D. Jarvis. Modernizing Government Accountability: A Framework for Reform. Canada School of Public Service, 2005, p. 61.

[40]. Canada. Royal Commission on Financial Management and Accountability. Final Report. 1979, pp.52–53.

[41]. Report of the Special Committee on Reform of the House of Commons. Ottawa: Queens Printer, 1985, p. 15.

[42]. Meaningful Scrutiny: Practical Improvements to the Estimates Process, Report of the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates, September 2003 and Recommendation 12. See also the report of the McGrath Committee, 1985. See also the recent British report by the Hansard Society Commission on Parliamentary Scrutiny, The Challenge for Parliament: Making Government Accountable, chaired by the Right Honourable Lord Newton of Braintree, Vacher Dod Publishing Limited, 2000.

[43]. The Parliament We Want: Parliamentarians' Views on Parliamentary Reform, pp. 6 and 10.

[44]. Matters of Special Importance—2004, November 2004, p.1.

[45]. Excluding members of Parliament who are part of the executive or who hold special responsibilities (for example, the leader of the opposition or the party whip), there are only about 210members available to hold the government accountable in the committee process. Members sit on at least oneparliamentary committee and are often members of several (as there are about 20parliamentary standing committees). They must attend to many responsibilities in their constituencies and on Parliament Hill. See the House of Commons' Departmental Performance Report, 2003–04.

[46]. Commentary provided by C.E.S.Franks to the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, April 2005.

[47]. The List of Reports and Returns runs over 100 pages and names approximately 1,000reports from over 250organizations, the majority of which are set out in statutes.

[48]. Canada. Privy Council Office. Ethics, Responsibility and Accountability: An Action Plan for Democratic Reform, 2004.

[49]. The review tabled in Parliament on February 17, 2005, included 31measures to clarify the relationship between ministers and Crown corporations, clarify the accountability regimes of Crown corporations, make the appointment process more transparent, bring the governance of Crown corporations into line with reforms in the private sector, strengthen the audit regimes in Crown corporations, and make the activities and operations of Crown corporations more transparent.

[50] Governance in the Public Service of Canada: Ministerial and Deputy Ministerial Accountability: Report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts. May 2005.

[51] The current responsibilities of deputy ministers, as stated in Guidance for Deputy Ministers, Section II, are, in summary form, the following: powers, duties, and functions of deputy ministers and other deputy heads at common law that result from deputy ministers' managerial functions (for example, the power to define qualifications requirements for any position in their department); preparing a division of an appropriation or item included in the Estimates, at the commencement of each fiscal year, or at such times as the Treasury Board may direct (subsection 31(1)); ensuring by an adequate system of internal control and audit that the allotments provided in a division of allotments approved by the Treasury Board are not exceeded (subsection 31(3)); establishing procedures and maintaining records respecting the control of financial commitments chargeable to each appropriation or item (subsection 32(2)); providing the required certification to authorize any payment to be made (section 34); maintaining adequate records in relation to public property for which the department is responsible and complying with regulations of the Treasury Board governing the custody and control of public property (section 62); personnel management responsibilities delegated under the Public Service Employment Act (staffing, including appointment, promotion, transfer, demotion, and release) and its Regulations, and under the FAA (organization and classification); responsibilities related to the Official Languages Act; specific obligations imposed on deputy ministers by policy or directive of the Treasury Board under the FAA (for example, occupational health and safety obligations under the Canada Labour Code); and powers flowing from orders in council based on royal prerogative (for example, the power to make ex gratia payments on behalf of the Crown).

[52]. The duties of the Office of the Comptroller General are to set financial, accounting, and auditing standards and policies for the Government of Canada; oversee all government spending, including review and sign-off of new spending initiatives; provide advice and guidance to departmental comptrollers (senior financial officers) on sound financial management and administrative practices and procedures; manage and conduct internal audit operations for small agencies that do not have their own internal audit capacity; modernize the government's suite of financial management policies; provide leadership to the Public Service, through the financial and internal audit communities, focussing on the need to ensure and enforce appropriate financial controls and cultivate sound resource stewardship at all levels of the federal Public Service; nurture and manage the professional development of the financial and internal audit communities, including establishing accreditation and certification standards and advising on appropriate training modules for the Public Service learning curriculum; approve, jointly with deputy ministers, the appointment of all departmental comptrollers; reorganize and bolster the internal audit function across government to ensure comprehensive audit programs, based on sound risk analyses of all departmental activities, with the authority to delve into every corner of every portfolio; oversee the introduction of modern, timely, enterprise-wide financial information systems to track all spending and provide appropriate tools for effective scrutiny and decision making; ensure that all annual financial statements of departments and agencies are audited within fiveyears; and strengthen internal audit capacity across the public sector.

[53]. Canada has a strong tradition of promoting transparency as a means of fostering public accountability. Canada's access to information legislation broke new ground when it was introduced in 1985, providing a right of access for Canadians to information under the control of almost all government institutions.

[54]. The Financial Administration Act and the Treasury Board Guidelines on Discipline also contain some key sections on these issues.

[55]. A Strong Foundation: Report of the Task Force on Public Service Values and Ethics. Ottawa: Queen's Printer, 1996.

[56]. Gordon Osbaldeston. Keeping Deputy Ministers Accountable. Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 1989, pp. 67–68.