Governing from the Centre: The Concentration of Power in Canadian Politics
Published: June 1999© 1999
Imprint: University of Toronto Press
Page Count: 480 Pages
Dimensions: 6.02 x 8.99
480 Pages, 6.02 x 8.99 x 1.22 in
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.
'Donald Savoie has achieved the impossible: He has written an interesting book on Canada's bureaucrats. Most studies of public administration are about as fascinating as the digestive system of a snail, but Savoie ... has made the world of our Mandarin masters come to life. Governing from the Centre describes an important and dangerous turn in Canadian politics.'Barry Cooper, National Post
'Governing from the Centre ... is a remarkably lucid description of "inside" federal Ottawa as being far more a prime ministerial affair than most people realize. It details what a lot of us have sensed but have not been able to define and thoroughly explain.'Douglas Fisher, Toronto Sun
'Few people can write a page-turner on public administration, but Savoie has pulled it off... This book will be of great use both for undergraduate and graduate students of public administration, political science, and governance - and for a popular audience, including Ottawa-watchers.'Evert Lindquist, Director, School of Public Administration, University of Victoria
'Donald Savoie has fundamentally challenged our understanding of the operations of central agencies and their impact on the exercise of power in Ottawa. He brings an original and disturbing new insight to our understanding of the balance of power in Ottawa. The author, one of Canada's preeminent scholars of public administration, has offered a new and original interpretation of how central agencies have accumulated power.'Ken Rasmussen, Faculty of Administration, University of Regina