A Guide to the Tradecraft of Politics
How does Canadian government work in practice? In this first ever handbook of its kind, Michael Wernick, a career public servant with decades of experience "in the room" with Canada’s top politicians, shares candid advice and information that is usually only provided behind closed doors. You’ll learn about what goes into picking a Cabinet, how to get the most out of the team, and the ways in which a government works to stay on track. You’ll also discover how ministers build up their influence and political power, and how easily that career can be derailed.
But this handbook isn’t just of use to the neophyte Canadian politician. It’s also essential reading for anyone who has ever wondered what happens behind the scenes in government. You’ll learn why using a government aircraft is a no-no even if a politician’s constituency is five time zones away, how the end of a political career probably won’t be a politician’s decision, and other hard truths only a long-time observer of government from the inside would know. Wernick’s extensive experience as clerk of the privy council (the top public servant in Canada) and as a deputy minister informs a lively, entertaining handbook studded with behind-the-scenes information.
A primer on how to be a successful Canadian politician by a former top civil servant, Governing Canada explains, in practical terms, the essentials of everyday governance for anyone who works or would like to work in government, or who is generally interested in politics and government.
Governing Canada is…an account of the real world of government. Wernick believes, insider par excellence that he was, that all governments blend policy and politics. Their leaders must be bifocal, or they will fail…this is a book that accepts the political dimensions of government as indispensable.
Insider accounts about Canadian government are so rare that what goes on in the halls of power can be opaque and confusing. Governing Canada is filled with interesting anecdotes and insights about how government operates.
This is an accessible, insightful, and nonpartisan account of how Canadian government works in practice and will be a valuable resource for anyone studying Canadian politics or wanting to know how ministers, political staff, and public servants work together to fulfil the elected government’s agenda.
Michael Wernick was Canada’s twenty-third Clerk of the Privy Council – the top public servant in the federal government. His appointment capped a distinguished public service career in which he worked closely with three prime ministers and their Cabinets, as well as with four ministers as their deputy. Wernick has worked as a deputy minister in the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, as well as in the Privy Council Office. He lives in Ottawa.
1 A View from the Desk in the Corner
2 Power in the Capital
3 Advice to a Prime Minister
4 Advice to a Minister
5 Advice to a Deputy Minister
6 Looking to the Future
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