Regional Minister

… a core term in Governance and Institutions and Atlas100


A minister within a Cabinet who has explicit responsibilities pertaining to a geographic region, such as a province in Canada.

Although the current Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, has not, as of August 2016, named regional ministers, the institution of regional ministers has a long history in Canada, and has been studied by scholars such as Herman Bakvis (reference below):

“… in the last cabinet of Pierre Trudeau (1980-1984) the regional minister system was to a degree revived and formalized within the context of cabinet decision-making. The impact of this system is examined with respect to regional development and employment creation programmes. To account for the renewed influence of regional ministers, attention is focussed on changes in the machinery of government and on the political and economic climate of the time. The case of one minister in particular, Lloyd Axworthy, suggests that a contemporary regional minister’s success is dependent primarily on the ability to mobilize the resources of the administrative state.”

In his reporting on the Justin Trudeau Cabinet, Steve Merti (reference below) quotes Nelson Wiseman, director of Canadian Studies Program at the University of Toronto:

“Regional ministers used to be very, very powerful, especially in the thirties and forties, and into the fifties … Once upon a time regional ministers ended up determining more or less who was running in their regions for the party… That’s long gone.”

Merti says that “the centralization of power in the Prime Minister’s Office, which grew under Pierre Elliott Trudeau in the 1970s and saw its most extreme expression under Harper, reduced the influence of regional ministers, though they’re still the prime minister’s chief lieutenants in their home provinces” and he quotes Wiseman again:

“Where regional ministers count the most is in Atlantic Canada, where they’re seen still as cash cows bringing money from the centre. They’re the most dependent.”

Atlas topic, subject, and course

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


Herman Bakvis (1988), Regional Ministers, National Policies and the Administrative State in Canada: The Regional Dimension in Cabinet Decision-Making, 1980-1984, Canadian Journal of Political Science Vol. 21, No. 3 (Sep., 1988), pp. 539-567.

Steve Merti (2015), The Trudeau cabinet: how will it manage the regions? Yahoo News, 6 November 2015, at, accessed 26 August 2016.

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