Policy Analysis in Canada: The State of the Art

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 And yet there really is no professional association for policy analysts’ equivalent to that for lawyers, doctors and other professional groups—one that sets out a code of professional ethics and standards, and specifies duties and rights.

20 See Miriam Reiner 1998.

21 For discussion on licensing see Conclusions in this chapter.

22 See Arnold Melsner’s four types of policy analysts and their characteristics.

23 published in the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 1996.

24 See a full account in Michael Luger, 2005.

25 EAPAA Accreditation Criteria, June 2003, p.2. http://www.eapaa.org/eapaa/

26 Our main database on developments and trends in Europe is based on the various programs’ websites and interviews with leading scholars. There is no literature per se in this regard. Hence that the comparative study decision is an important step towards a more scholastically oriented discourse.

27 See Howlett and Lindquist (2004) for insightful definitions distinguishing between public management, public administration and public policy.

28 This tradition was defined by John Dewey and presented belief in scientific study of social problems and in objectivity.

29 See Beryl Radin’s outstanding account in her Presidential address, 1996.

30 See, for instance NISPAcee and EPAN websites. See also websites of various schools and programs in the EU. For more details see section on the EU below. I thank Monika Steffen, Jann Werner, Colin Talbot, Frans vanNispen, Geert Bouckaert, Salvador Parrado Diez, Stephen Osborne, Christine Rothmayr, Bruno Dente and others for their invaluable comments and explanations.

31 While we focus on the policy schools, we also recognize that policy analysts are also trained elsewhere in universities, often with a focus on a particular sector or policy area. Thus, policy analysis training occurs, for example, in units such as economics, social work, environmental studies, international studies and so forth.

32 Brooks’ chapter in this volume provides a historical overview of the policy analysis profession in Canada, which he dates from the early years of the previous century. Brooks also notes the beginning of the Trudeau years as one of the watersheds in this history. Similarly, McArthur’s contribution in this volume draws attention to the Trudeau period.

33 James I. Gow and Sharon L. Sutherland, 2004. ‘Comparison of Canadian Master’s Programs in Public Administration, Public Management, and Public Policy,’ Canadian Public Administration. 47 (3), 379-405.

34 See also Van Gunstreren, 1998; Beck, 1992; Hoppe and Grin 1999, 2000.

35 See EAPAA at www.eapaa.org

36 As defined for instance by the EAPAA

37 See NISPAcee at www. nispa.sk

38 Including Leiden University, Erasmus University Rotterdam, the Netherlands, Hochscule fur Verwaltungswis Senschaften (Speyer, Germany) and the University of Economic Sciences, Budapest, Hungary.

39 Masters Program in European Social Policy Analysis

40 See Jeff Straussman guest special issue JCPA 7:1 on policy analysis in Eastern and Central Europe.

41 EAPAA is viewed as the new European consortium for public administration accreditation and is presently based at the university of Leuven, Belgium. Its aim is to contribute to quality improvement and assurance of academic level in public administration programs throughout the Council of Europe states.

42 To offer another common denominator, the language of the accreditation is English. The institutions already accredited include the School of Public Administration (NSOB) in The Hague, Erasmus University, Rotterdam; Goteborg University, Goteborg, and the Kyiv National Academy of Public Administration, the Business School at Aston, the School of public Administration Erasmus, Rotterdam, Warwick, and Copenhagen.

43 See www.nispacee.org, (10).

44 The following are only some of the many think-tanks and research centers in the EU countries and they were chosen to reflect on intra-EU interests and concerns. Country specific centers can be found in almost every European country and seem to be part of a long established tradition. Center for the Study of Public Policy, at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland; Center for Economic Policy Research based at the University of Essex; The European Policy Center, (EPC) is an example of such an independent not-for-profit think tank. Its Journal of European Public Affairs promotes debates on European integration; the Institute for European Studies based in Brussels takes part in many research programs funded by the European Union, international organizations, and regional Belgian authorities. They publish the journal of European Integration and a series Etude Europeans; The Franco-Austrian Center for Economic Convergence (CFA) is another example of an intergovernmental organization created in 1978 by Jacque Chirac and Chancellor Bruno Kreisky and financed by the European Commission. The Center for International Studies and Research - CERI has developed policy partnerships The European Research Center on Migration and Ethnic Relation, University of Utrecht; the Geneva Center for Security Policy (GCSP) - an international foundation under the framework of Swiss participation in the Partnership for Peace (1995); the Stockholm International and Research Institute, established in 1996, financed by the Swedish government and providing support for studies on arms control, disarmament, conflict management, arms control policies, security building, etc

45 For instance, the Center for Policy Studies founded by Margaret Thatcher and Keith Joseph in 1974; IPPR – Institute for Public Policy Research described as ‘left to center society, an independent charity based on donations;

46I wish to thank several colleagues and friends for helpful comments and constructive suggestions on the original version of this chapter: John Chenier, Bruce Doern, David Good, M. Ramesh, and Donald Savoie.

 It is ironic that the ‘golden age’ in Canadian government, when officials were said to speak truth to power, coincides with a time when we had no cabinet committees, no formally defined policy roles or units, ministers had no independent sources of advice and little or no political staff to speak of. This time also corresponded to a period when the power of mandarins (and departments) in Ottawa was said to be at their peak. At least one reviewer for this paper, former public servant and long-time observer of Ottawa politics and administration, John Chenier, suggests there is too much of a tendency for the decision making process to bask in the glory of those days. In a similar fashion, John Porter (1965: 3) warned that so-called ‘golden ages’ are held-up as models long after the historical period ‘has been transformed into something else.’

2 The search nowadays for ‘responsive competence’ in policy advice rather than ‘neutral competence’ (Rourke 1992; Ponder 2000) opens the door to groupthink. Groupthink can happen when policy advisors face pressures of conformity and loyalty to current political leaders and their ideas, under circumstances of tight time constraints, partisanship and high personal stress. In these conditions, the research and analysis phase may be hurried and shortened, doubts and other viewpoints suppressed, and perhaps most crucially, a critical analysis is not done or published on the costs and benefits of the leader’s desired policy option. The fact that governments in Ottawa seem increasingly to seek out broad policy experience rather than sectoral expertise to lead both departments and policy units further opens the door to groupthink.

3 Of course, a focus by Canadian governments on horizontal policy issues, and how best to address these issues, is not new, as evident by the innovations in the 1970s with ministries of state and priority exercises and, in the 1980s and early 1990s, with super departments such as Human Resources Development Canada and the Department of Foreign Affairs, Industry and Trade.

4 I wish to thank John Chenier for this point and other on horizontal versus vertical policy development.





 Marcus J. Hollander and Michael J. Prince, 1993, ‘Analytical units in federal and provincial governments: origins, functions and suggestions for effectiveness,’ Canadian Public Administration, 36(2),190-224.

51 John Halligan, ‘Policy Advice and the Public Service’ in B. Guy Peters and Donald J. Savoie (eds.), Governance in a Changing Environment (Ottawa and Montreal: Canadian Centre for Management Development and McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1996), 138-172.

52 Jonathan Boston, ‘Purchasing Policy Advice: The Limits to Contracting Out,’ Governance, vol.7, no.1 (January 1994), 1-30.

53 Jon Pierre, ‘The Marketization of the State: Citizens, Consumers, and the Emergence of the Public Market’ in B. Guy Peters and Donald J. Savoie eds., Governance in a Changing Environment (Ottawa and Montreal: Canadian Centre for Management Development and McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1996), 55-81.

54 See Canada, Task Force on Strengthening the Policy Capacity of the Federal Government, Strengthening Our Policy Capacity (April 3, 1995).

55 Consider two examples from the Canadian public service. The Management Trainee Program (MTP) takes in as many as one hundred people each year. Each trainee embarks upon a five-year program which consists of a series of six-month assignments with operating departments and central agencies, and courses at the Canadian Centre for Management Development. The Accelerated Economist Training Program (ATEP) is a similar, but smaller and more narrowly focused. Its aim is to hire and groom policy economists.

56 For further discussion of these points, see ‘Expertise and Structure,’ Chapter 1 in James A. Desveaux, Designing Bureaucracies: Institutional Capacity and Large-Scale Problem Solving (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1995), 19-35; James A. Desveaux, Evert A. Lindquist, and Glen Toner, ‘Organizing for Policy Innovation in Public Bureaucracy: AIDS, Energy, and Environmental Policy in Canada,’ Canadian Journal of Political Science, vol.27, no.3 (September 1994), 493-538; and Evert A. Lindquist, 1988, ‘What Do Decision Models Tell Us about Information Use,’ Knowledge in Society, 1(2), 86-111.

57 See Michael Howlett and Evert Lindquist, ‘Policy Analytical Styles: The Canadian Experience,’ this volume, and I.S Mayer, C.E. Van Daalen, and P.W.G. Bots, ‘Perspectives on Policy Analysis: A Framework for Understanding and Design.’ presented at the Annual Research Meetings of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management, Washington D.C., 2001.

58 Rare talent can also be understood through the language of transaction cost economics which has, as one of its concerns, the importance of ‘asset specific’ human capital, in this case, policy expertise. On this see James A. Desveaux, Designing Bureaucracies, op.cit. 155-56; Oliver E. Williamson, The Economic Institutions of Capitalism (New York: Free Press, 1995); and Boston, ‘Purchasing Policy Advice,’ op.cit., 14-19. Boston notes there can be variation in the amount of asset specificity or the distribution of generalist, specialist and rare talent across policy domains. Here, we focus more on the implications of uncertainties in workflow, but neither approach is inconsistent with the other.

59 There may be considerable variation in what constitutes the farm system. Those entering the farm system may be: (1) junior analysts may be selected from internal ‘public service drafts’ of the ‘graduates’ from the management trainee program, the accelerated economist training program, or even a surplus pool; (2) junior analysts may be selected by means of ‘external drafts’ from university academic and professional programs, and must demonstrate their capabilities over several years to receive promotions and larger responsibilities; and (3) analysts, whether junior or senior, may come from operational, corporate, and evaluation and audit units elsewhere in the department, and there may be internal ‘departmental drafts’ to select the best candidates. The concept of free agents is borrowed from the world of sports. For more detail on recruitment systems in professional supports and the similarities and difference with public service recruitment strategies, see Evert A. Lindquist and James A. Desveaux, Recruitment and Policy Capacity in Government (Ottawa: Public Policy Forum, June 1998).

60 A very useful description and analysis of these possibilities was presented by Jim Mitchell to Evert Lindquist’s course on ‘Rethinking Government in Canada’ at the University of Toronto on January 30, 1997. See ‘Soliticiting Advice: Inside or Outside,’ speaking notes, mimeo.

61 John Hannan and Michael Freeman model how organizations deal with changing environments, although they ask very different questions that we do. For example, they were more concerned about the match between organizational competencies and those required to exploit particular niches. See John Freeman and Michael T. Hannan, ‘The Population Ecology of Organizations,’ American Journal of Sociology vol.82 (1977), 929-964; and Organizational Ecology (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1989).

62 Hannan and Freeman, op.cit., make a useful distinction between fine-grained and coarse-grained environments.

63 On environmental turbulence, see Fred E. Emery and E.L. Trist. 1965. ‘The Causal Texture of Organizational Environments,’ Human Relations, 18, 21-32.

64 Our analysis is made difficult by awareness that deputy ministers, at any given time, can liberate resources in order to enable a policy unit to anticipate new challenges or cope with ministerial demands. However, there are limits to the number of times that deputy ministers can ‘go to the well’ for special requests, since all units must be treated fairly. Accordingly, it seems reasonable to presume that departments and policy units do have constrained resources. This suggests that, unless an abundance of slack resources are at the disposal policy managers, they must make crucial choices and trade-offs when recruiting new expertise from different sources.

65 On the need for trust in the conduct of policy analysis, see Boston, ‘Purchasing Policy Advice,’ op.cit., 17-19.

66 Ibid., 24-25.

67 James G. March and Guje Sevon, ‘Gossip, Information and Decision-Making,’Chapter 19 in James G. March, Decisions and Organizations (New York: Basil Blackwell, 1988), 429-442. A smoothly functioning formal organization requires a healthy informal organization. See Chester Barnard, The Functions of the Executive (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1938).

68 We would expect proponents for increased use of outside contractors to be sanguine about the severity of this problem. Advocates would be willing to substitute the relative stability and certainty of an integrated hierarchy, where most of the work is designed and administered in-house, with the flexibility provided by the market system for analysis. They would maintain that technology and competition would encourage a surfeit of competent outside contractors, and that the costs of inevitable adjustment problems are manageable.

69 See Evert A. Lindquist, ‘Public managers and policy communities: Learning to meet new challenges,’ Canadian Public Administration, vol.35, no.2 (Summer 1992), 127-159; and Evert A. Lindquist, ‘New Agendas for Research on Policy Communities: Policy Analysis, Management, and Governance’ in Laurent Dobuzinskis, Michael Howlett, and David Laycock eds., Policy Studies in Canada: The State of the Art (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1996), 219-241.

70 For an interesting discussion of optimal turnover, particularly with respect to maintaining fidelity to the ‘organizational code’ while encouraging experimentation and adaptation, see James G. March, ‘Exploration and Exploitation as Organizational Learning,’ Organization Science, vol.2 (1991), 71-87.

71 For a promising study, but one that focuses on outsourcing, see Anthony Perl and Donald J. White, ‘The Changing Role of Consultants in Canadian Policy Analysis,’ Policy, Organization & Society, v.21, no.1 (June 2002), 49-73.

72 I would like to thank Robert Judge, from the Policy Research Initiative, for his contribution and assistance in writing this paper.

73 As part of its commitment to improved horizontal and strategic policy development, in 1998 the UK government established the Performance and Innovation Unit (PIU) in the Cabinet Office, reporting directly to the Prime Minister through the Cabinet Secretary. The PIU was designed to report on select issues crossing departmental boundaries and to propose policy innovations to improve the delivery of government objectives. In 2001, a second unit, the Prime Ministers Forward Strategy Unit, was established to provide the Prime Minister and other Cabinet Ministers with strategic, private thinking. A year later the two units were merged to form the Prime Ministers Strategy Unit. The Strategy Unit is located in the Cabinet Office and reports directly to the prime minister.

74 Under the Trend Project, the PRI, in cooperation with the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, developed six books where team of academics examined different forces that are driving change in Canada and identified the potential implications for policy.

75 The proceedings of these conferences were published under the following titles: Transition to the Knowledge of Society: Policies and Strategies for Individual Participation and Learning. ed. Kjell Rubenson and Hans G. Schuetze. Vancouver, BC: UBC Institute for European Studies, 2000; Doing Business in the Knowledge-Based Economy: Facts and Policy Challenges. ed. Louis A. Lefebvre, Elisabeth Lefebvre, Pierre Mohnen. Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2001, and Citizenship and Participation in the Information Age. ed. Manjunath Pendakur and Roma Harris. Aurora, ON: Garamond Press, 2002.

76 The authors presented an earlier version of this work – ‘Unaided Politicians in Unaided City Councils? Explaining Policy Advice In Canadian Cities’ - at the British Columbia Political Studies Association, Richmond, BC, May, 2004 and are grateful for the comments of Don Alexander, Doug MacArthur and the research assistance of Matthew Bourke, SFU/MPP program.

77 On such, see, for example, Riordan, William. 1963. Plunkett of Tammany Hall, New York: E.P. Dutton.

78 For some of that ‘perpetuation’ see also Goodenow, Frank. 1893, 1905, 1914; White, Leonard.D.. 1926; and, Willoughby William .F. 1927.

79 See, for example, Gawthorp, Louis. 1971. Administrative Politics and Social Change, New York: St.Martin’s and Dvorin Eugene & Simmons, Robert. 1972. >From Amoral to Humane Bureaucracy, San Francisco: Canfield Press.

80 In City Politics, Banfield Edward, & Wilson, James Q. (1963. New York: Random House, 20.) argue that ‘politics, like sex, cannot be abolished, no matter how much we deny it.’

81 For a detailed account of the US experience see Grofman, Bernard & Davidson, Chandler (eds.). 1992. Controversies in Minority Voting: The Voting Rights Act in Perspective, Washington, D.C.: The Brookings Institute.

82 Provinces prohibiting councillor payments were Nova Scotia and New Brunswick (for town councillors), Quebec (for local municipalities) and British Columbia (for village councillors)

83 See, for example, Albrow, Martin. 1970. Bureaucracy. London: Macmillan; Blau, Peter & Meyer, Marshall. 1971. Bureaucracy in Modern Society, (2nd ed.). New York: Random Hose; or, Downs, Anthony. 1967. Inside Bureaucracy. Boston: Little, Brown

84 Elections legislation regulating voting in Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa, Toronto and Winnipeg allow only the names of candidates to be printed on ballots (Local Authorities Election Act, R.S.A. 2000, c. L-21; Municipal Elections Act, 1996; Manitoba The Local Authorities Election Act) where Section 77 of the Vancouver Charter allows the inclusion of ‘the abbreviation or acronym of the endorsing elector organization for a candidate, as shown on the nomination documents for the candidate.’


 In his 25 February 1992 budget speech, Finance Minister Don Mazankowski announced that twenty one public bodies were to be wound down; among these, the following advisory councils were included: the Canadian Institute for International Peace and Security, the Canadian Environmental Advisory Council, the Economic Council of Canada, the Law Reform Commission, and the Science Council of Canada. Since then other advisory agencies, notably the Advisory Council on the Status of Women, have been abolished by the Chrétien government.

86 For an analysis of these planning systems, see Thorburn (1984, chapter 4).

87 The Economic Council Act stated that, among other functions, the mandate of the

Council was ‘regularly to assess...the medium-term and long-term prospects of the

economy, and to compare such prospects with the potentialities for growth of the

economy’; and ‘to encourage maximum consultation and co-operation between labour

and management.’

88 This is an excerpt from a notice that can be found in many Council’s publications.

89 The Chair could devote his or her attention only to a few priority items. Much of the research was carried out by the staff under the two Directors’ supervision. The appointment in 1986 of a Corporate Secretary responsible for all support services freed the two Directors of practically all administrative duties.

90 Quoting here Dr. Sylvia Ostry’s recollection of John Deutsch’s term at the helm of the Council. Economic Council of Canada, Annual Report, 1991-92 (Ottawa: Supply and Services, 1992), 10.

91 After 1986, however, the Council contracted out econometric forecasts to the Conference Board.

92 Interview, 21 March 1994.

93 In an interview, Mrs. Maxwell also indicated that in her view the Council should have been named the ‘Social and Economic Council’ (21 March 1994).

94 Mrs. J. Maxwell puts her appointment down to her communication skills which she

demonstrated during her years on the staff of the C.D. Howe Institute, and later as an

economic consultant. She has put in place eighteen months deadlines on all research

projects, requested that researchers turn over their manuscripts to professional writers

who can ‘translate’ them into plain English (or French), and suggested that interim

reports be issued more frequently to keep the attentive public better informed of on-going


95 Deborah Dowling, ‘Closing Down the Economic Council,’ Ottawa Citizen 9 March 1992, B1-2.

96 Ross Howard, ‘PM Denies Critics Targets of Council Cuts,’ The Globe and Mail 27 February 1992, A2.

97 For example, both Tom d’Aquino, of the Business Council on National Issues, and Tim Reid, President of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce said that agencies like the ECC were serving a useful purpose. See Allan Thompson, ‘Business Reaction Mixed, Some Fear “Wrong Message”,’ Toronto Star 26 February 1992, B2, and David Pugliese, ‘Government Plans Further Cuts and Mergers,’ Ottawa Citizen 27 February 1992.

98 With only a few exceptions (e.g., Terence Corcoran of the Globe and Mail), most editorialists (including Jeffrey Simpson in the Globe and Mail) penned articles deploring the death of the Council.

99 D. Dowling, ‘Closing Down,’ B2.

100 Quoted in the Financial Post 27 February 1992.

101 Science Council of Canada, First Annual Report (Ottawa: Queen’s Printer, 1967), 26;

cited in Doern (1971, 247); and Annual Review, 1982 (Ottawa: Supply and Services,

1982), 17.

102 See Science Council of Canada, Genetics in Canadian Health Care Report no. 42

(Ottawa: Supply and Services, 1991).

103 Considering the nature of their respective mandates, these two organizations were bound to be rival, and indeed relationships between the Council and MOSST were often conflictive (interview with Dr. Stuart Smith, April 1986).

104 Dr. Kenney-Wallace left the SCC to become President of McMaster University.

105 Science Council of Canada, Annual Report, 1985-86 (Ottawa: Supply and Services,

1986), 3; see also ‘Layoffs, Projects Cuts Rile Head of Science Council,’ Vancouver Sun,

8 August 1985, A11, and ‘Science Council Slashed,’ Globe & Mail, 9 August 1985, front page.

106 Nobel laureate John Polanyi expressed strong criticisms of the government’s action. And Howard Tennant, the then president of the University of Lethbridge, requested a meeting with Mr Mazankowski to urge him to reconsider his decision to close the SCC (Lethbridge Herald 28 February 1992, A1).

107 Cited in Kelly Egan, ‘Science Council Was Far Ahead of its Time,’ The Ottawa Citizen 8 March 1992.

108 This assertion is based on the results of a survey conducted in the Spring of 1985. Five

hundred questionnaires were mailed to named individuals and/or to the Chairmen of

Political Science, Economics and Public Administration departments/schools, with a

request that these be communicated to those involved in policy research. One hundred

and five answers were received.

109 For example, Boothy (1986); Boulet and Lavallée (1981; 1984); Breton (1984);

Economic Council (1985); Cloutier (1986); Alexander (1984); Boyd and Humphreys,


110 In addition to this unpublished Review, the Council managed to publish The New Face of Poverty (1992) which received substantial press coverage when it was released.

111 See the 16th Annual Review (1979), and the 17th Annual Review (1980).

112 In the 26th Annual Review, Diane Bellemare and Marcel Pepin registered their dissent

concerning the suggested attack on the deficit, arguing instead that a radical change in the

direction of Canada’s monetary policy was needed.

113 Economic Council of Canada, A Joint Venture: The Economics of Constitutional Options-SUMMARY (Ottawa: Supply and Service, 1991), 22.

114 And the Council entered the 1980s with a report (1982b) that still attested to the persistence of an interventionist streak in the Economic Council’s thinking: it suggested that the federal government should offer direct cash wage subsidies to private employers for the purpose of job creation.

115 In this report, the Council advocated ending government monopolies in telephone services. It also recommended that urban transit systems be contracted out to private firms and that the privatization of railway, airline companies and Petro-Canada.

116 On the relevance of Foucault’s work to policy analysis, see Pal (1990).

117 Two political scientists, for example, contributed studies to the Government and Competitiveness project: G.B. Doern, and R.W. Phidd.

118 See for example Economic Council of Canada, Annual Report, 1991-92, 16-18.

119 Science Council of Canada, Placing Technology Up Front: Advising the Bilateral Trade, Council Statement (Ottawa: Supply and Services, 1986).

120 See for example Science Council of Canada, Annual Report, 1988-89 (Ottawa: Supply and Services, 1989), 12.

121 There is no space here to launch a critique of Richard Rorty’s efforts to revive pragmatism from a relativist standpoint, but suffices to say that I do not intend to follow him down that path.

122 Dewey (1927) dealt at length with the problem of determining the public interest in situations where the public itself knows little about issues that concerns it.

123 For a critique of Rawls’ maximally prudent approach to the defence of the interests of the least disadvantaged, see Harsanyi (1975).

124 A tension that reflects, more generally, the opposition between a deontological and a utilitarian approach; my preference for pragmatism owes much to the fact that I see no reason to consistently side with either one of these two dogmatic positions.

125 See, for example, L.-A. Gérard-Varet et al. (2000); and L. Dobuzinskis (2003).

126 This would not be the case with BST, admittedly.

127 On the subject of deliberative democracy in relation to policy analysis, see Liora Salter’s chapter in this volume.

128 On this subject, see A. Wildavsky ( 1995).
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