The Politics of Public Spending in Canada

By Donald J. Savoie

© 1990

Ten people meet for the first time over lunch. They must decide whether they will share one check or ask for ten separate ones. In theory, if they decide on one shared check they will all choose the most expensive items. But if each were paying individually they would probably have chosen differently: nobody would want to miss the best food while paying for someone else to have it.
With this analogy, Donald Savoie tackles government's increased spending and our inability to cut back existing programs. He argues that they are rooted in the regional nature of Canada and in the fear that unless we eat the best at the public banquet we will lose our shares of public largesse. Savoie identifies the forces fuelling new government spending and also those that inhibit efforts to reduce it.
The regional factor is of first importance, but Savoie also looks at forces such as the role of the private sector and the pressures of special interest groups. Supporters of a new day-care program, for example, are likely to compare the cost of their proposal with other government measures in order to justify it. A regional minister in Newfoundland seeking support for construction of new wharfs is less likely to do a cost-benefit analysis of the project than to compare it with expenditures on an expansion of an airport in central Ontario.
Savoie has carried out extensive interviews with policy makers to find out how priorities are established within the federal government, how the planning process works, and how conflict develops between two groups in the budget process: the guardians and the spenders. Both increased spending and the inability to cut programs, Savoie argues, are the result of Canada's regional nature and the perception in various ministries that large budgets are a means for maintaining power and enhancing prestige. He concludes with suggestions for controlling spending, and makes a plea for important changes in the future.
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Product Details

  • Series: Heritage
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 448 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.0in x 9.0in
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SKU# SP001555

  • PUBLISHED DEC 1990

    From: $36.71

    Regular Price: $48.95

Quick Overview

Donald Savoie tackles government's increased spending and our inability to cut back existing programs. He argues that they are rooted in the regional nature of Canada and in the fear that unless we eat the best at the public banquet we will lose our shares of public largesse.

The Politics of Public Spending in Canada

By Donald J. Savoie

© 1990

Ten people meet for the first time over lunch. They must decide whether they will share one check or ask for ten separate ones. In theory, if they decide on one shared check they will all choose the most expensive items. But if each were paying individually they would probably have chosen differently: nobody would want to miss the best food while paying for someone else to have it.
With this analogy, Donald Savoie tackles government's increased spending and our inability to cut back existing programs. He argues that they are rooted in the regional nature of Canada and in the fear that unless we eat the best at the public banquet we will lose our shares of public largesse. Savoie identifies the forces fuelling new government spending and also those that inhibit efforts to reduce it.
The regional factor is of first importance, but Savoie also looks at forces such as the role of the private sector and the pressures of special interest groups. Supporters of a new day-care program, for example, are likely to compare the cost of their proposal with other government measures in order to justify it. A regional minister in Newfoundland seeking support for construction of new wharfs is less likely to do a cost-benefit analysis of the project than to compare it with expenditures on an expansion of an airport in central Ontario.
Savoie has carried out extensive interviews with policy makers to find out how priorities are established within the federal government, how the planning process works, and how conflict develops between two groups in the budget process: the guardians and the spenders. Both increased spending and the inability to cut programs, Savoie argues, are the result of Canada's regional nature and the perception in various ministries that large budgets are a means for maintaining power and enhancing prestige. He concludes with suggestions for controlling spending, and makes a plea for important changes in the future.
Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • Series: Heritage
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 448 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.0in x 9.0in
  • Author Information

    Donald J. Savoie holds a Canada Research Chair in Public Administration and Governance at l'Université de Moncton.

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