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By Patrick M Quinn

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The first is to work on ways to change the parliamentary committee system. After all, these committees are the venue of the private member (since Ministers are not members of such committees). doc 1/29/2004 8:56 enhance the legislative role of private members. The second strategy is to pursue changes that loosen the grip of party discipline on private members and allow MPs more independence. The most common proposals in this strategy are to institute more free votes, to establish fixed terms and to relax the confidence convention.

Although this prospect reduces the uncertainties described above, public servants would still need to be prepared to deal with the complex politics of coalition government (including the politics required to keep the coalition partners together). Diminishing the Powers of the Prime Minister Concern about the concentration of power in the Prime Minister and his or her close advisors — that the Prime Minister may be too powerful in relation to the system of government as a whole — is long-standing.

Some changes could affect the application of the confidence convention of responsible government, which says that the government must maintain the confidence of a majority of seats in the House of Commons. Some changes could make it harder for the government to maintain this confidence. Public servants would be directly and indirectly affected by reforms to Canada’s institutional arrangements and political practices. The key impacts could include the need to: • plan for and support more frequent and complex government transitions; • support Ministers within an environment of greater legislative uncertainty; • be more attuned to the legislative agenda of the full range of political parties and actors; • protect public service neutrality through the formalization of protocols for relationships with Ministers and MPs during elections and periods of coalition government formation; and • account personally for departmental administration to parliamentary committees.

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