Agents of Parliament

… a core concept in Governance and Institutions and Atlas100

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Concept description

Jeffrey Bell (reference below) notes the ambiguity in the term “Officer of Parliament” and suggests the following criteria for defining an Agent of Parliament:

  • Is there reference in the enabling statute to a commission under the Great Seal affixed to the executive agent?
  • Is it required to have the confidence of the chambers i.e. either the House or Senate or both to approve (or nominate and approve) the agency’s executive candidate?
  • Does the executive candidate have a statutory guarantee of a term at least five years in length?
  • Is Cabinet required to have a resolution of the House and/or the Senate to remove a sitting executive agent?
  • Is a report submitted, at least annually, to Parliament via the Speakers of one or both Chambers?
  • Are the agency’s estimates submitted to Parliament by the agency (via the Speaker) – or determined independently in some other fashion – rather than by a government department?
  • Are staff, apart from officers named in the legislation, appointed by the agency’s executive agent rather than by the government? Is the executive agent’s salary fixed or pegged to a reference point in statute rather than being left to Cabinet discretion?

The list of agencies that Bell concludes satisfy these criteria in Canada correspond to the list provided by the Parliament of Canada (reference below) under “Officers of Parliament” (with dates of creation and links to the institutional websites):

Atlas topic, subject, and course

Machinery of Government (core topic) in Governance and Institutions and Atlas100 Governance and Institutions.

Source

Jeffrey Graham Bell (2006), Agents of Parliament – A New Branch of Government? Canadian Parliamentary Review, Spring 2006, 13-21, at http://www.revparl.ca/29/1/29n1_06e_Bell.pdf, accessed 24 October 2016.

Parliament of Canada (2014), Officers and Officials of Parliament, Officers of Parliament, at http://www.lop.parl.gc.ca/ParlInfo/compilations/officersandofficials/officersofparliament.aspx, accessed 24 October 2016.

Page created by: Ian Clark, last modified on 24 October 2016.

Image: Jeffrey Graham Bell (2006), Agents of Parliament – A New Branch of Government? Canadian Parliamentary Review, Spring 2006, 13-21, at http://www.revparl.ca/29/1/29n1_06e_Bell.pdf, accessed 24 October 2016.