Political Neutrality

… a core term in Governance and Institutions and Atlas100


Lorne Sossin (reference below, p. 6) quotes Kernaghan and Langford (reference below, p. 56):

“Political neutrality is a constitutional convention which provides that public servants should avoid activities likely to impair, or seem to impair, their political impartiality or the political impartiality of the public service.”

Sossin writes (p. 8), citing Geoffrey Marshall (reference below, p. 210):

“The constitutional convention of a politically neutral civil service is part of what is sometimes referred to in the public administration literature as the ‘iron triangle’ of conventions consisting of political neutrality, ministerial responsibility, and public service anonymity.’ The fact that these duties are not part of the written constitution does not detract from their centrality to Canada’s constitutional system.”

See also Ministerial Responsibility, Public Service Anonymity, and Constitutional Convention of a Politically Neutral Civil Service.

Atlas topic, subject, and course

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


Lorne Sossin (2005), “Speaking Truth to Power? The Search for Bureaucratic Independence in Canada.” University of Toronto Law Journal 55(1): 1-59. Sossin’s reference for the Kernaghan is:

Kenneth Kernaghan and John Langford (1990), The Responsible Public Servant (Halifax & Toronto: IRPP/IPAC, 1990).

Geoffrey Marshall (1984), Constitutional Conventions: The Rules and Forms of Political Accountability (Oxford: Oxford University Press).

Page created by: Ian Clark, last modified on 28 August 2016.