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Political Research Exchange - PRX

Canadian Prime Ministerial Dominance in Comparative Perspective

Political Leadership
Jonathan Malloy
Carleton University
Jonathan Malloy
Carleton University

The Canadian prime ministership is generally held, especially within Canada, to be more dominant over cabinets and Parliament than its Westminster counterparts, and far more than in most other parliamentary systems. This paper documents the assumption of Canadian prime ministerial dominance and the extent to which it can be verified empirically. It suggests that any dominance may be less driven by prime ministers themselves and more by the failure of other institutions, most notably Parliament, to establish their own roles. The paper develops further the "infantilization of Parliament" thesis (Banfield and Sayers 2006) that suggests Canada is an outlier not because of executive dominance as much as legislative ambivalence.
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