Cabinet, also known as "government-of-the-day," has been described as the "hyphen which joins [or] the buckle which fastens the legislative part of the state to the executive part of the state. Hockin, Government in Canada 1976. Another important feature of our parliamentary system is responsible government. W hen you think of Canada's Parliament, you might think of the Parliament Buildings — one of Canada's best known symbols and the place where Parliament's work is done.
In this way the party leader and Prime Minister seeks to maintain power by sharing it, and by seeking consensus rather than confrontation with his internal party rivals. At the end of the Table lies the Mace, the symbol of the authority of the House of Commons. The Cabinet members, who are also known as ministers, are responsible for the administration of government and the establishment of government policy in Canada. Almost all of Cabinet is selected from the House of Commons.
As a result, some of that accountability is now passed on to powerful, nonelected public servants, who do not sit in the Commons and can therefore not be held responsible by its members.
The Cabinet members introduce legislation and serve on committees within the Cabinet. They advise the Speaker and Members on the rules to be followed in the Commons.
Cabinet-making has also traditionally been an exercise in power politics, whereby influential figures with important followings within the governing party are awarded prominent roles in the Cabinet. From time to time, a Senator may be included to ensure all parts of the country are represented.
The personal responsibility of each member of Cabinet is referred to as individual ministerial responsibility.
This person leads opposition debates and suggests changes to government legislation or alternative proposals. The Treasury Board is the only Cabinet committee created by Parliament.
There are also Ministers of State who are assigned to assist a Cabinet Minister in a specific area within his or her portfolio. If a Minister cannot support a decision, he or she must resign from Cabinet.
This means that the government must have the support of the majority of Members in the House of Commons to stay in power. For a body of such obvious power and potency, it has no specific constitutional or statutory basis. Accessed 27 February 2019. From the Parliament of Canada website.
Any reforms designed to hold the Cabinet accountable will also have to address this related problem. In August, 2007 Harper responded to criticism that too much power is concentrated in his hands, at the expense of Cabinet.