Cabinet Solidarity and Secrecy

… a core term in Governance and Institutions and Atlas100

Definition

Cabinet solidarity and secrecy support the collective decision-making role of Cabinet.

Jay Makarenko, writing in Mapleleafweb in 2007, says:

“The Cabinet has traditionally been regarded as a collective decision-making body, although it is often the case that the Prime Minister, Cabinet committees, or individual Ministers, will make decisions alone. Regardless of which Ministers (or how many) are involved in making a decision, the Cabinet operates on the principle of Cabinet solidarity. According to this principle, all Members of the Cabinet must publicly defend all Cabinet policies or resign. A classic example of this practice occurred in 2005 when Joe Comuzzi, a Minister of State in the Martin Liberal government, resigned his post on the grounds that he did not support government legislation legalizing same-sex marriages.

“In addition to the practice of solidarity, the Cabinet also operates under the principle of Cabinet secrecy or confidentiality. In this regard, Cabinet Ministers are not to disclose information about Cabinet deliberations. Such confidentiality is meant to protect state secrets, to prevent personal gain based on the privileged information available to Ministers, and to protect Cabinet deliberations (and possible discord) from being exploited by Opposition parties and the media. Accordingly, Cabinet documents are not normally made public for a period of 20 years.”

Atlas topic, subject, and course

Institutional Dynamics within Government (core topic) in Governance and Institutions and Atlas100 Governance and Institutions.

Sources

Jay Makarenko (2007), The Prime Minister & Cabinet in Canada, Mapleleafweb, 1 June 2007, at http://mapleleafweb.com/features/prime-minister-cabinet-canada, accessed 26 August 2016.

Page created by: Ian Clark, last modified on 26 August 2016.