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Deputy Prime Minister of Canada

Deputy Prime Minister of Canada
Vice-première ministre du Canada
Incumbent
Chrystia Freeland
since November 20, 2019
Government of Canada
Privy Council Office
StyleThe Honourable
Member of
Reports to
AppointerMonarch (represented by the governor general)
on the advice of the prime minister
Term lengthAt His Majesty's pleasure
Inaugural holderAllan MacEachen
FormationSeptember 16, 1977
SalaryCA$299,900 (2024)[NB 1][4]
Websitedeputypm.canada.ca

The deputy prime minister of Canada (French: vice-première ministre du Canada)[NB 2] is a minister of the Crown and a member of the Canadian Cabinet. The office is conferred at the discretion of the prime minister and does not have an associated departmental portfolio. Canadian deputy prime ministers are appointed to the Privy Council and styled as the Honourable (French: l'honorable), a privilege maintained for life.

Chrystia Freeland is the tenth and current deputy prime minister of Canada, having assumed the role on November 20, 2019. She serves concurrently as the minister of finance, and was the minister of foreign affairs before Prime Minister Justin Trudeau elevated her to the position of deputy prime minister following the 2019 federal election.[5] The post was vacant from 2006 to 2019.

The deputy prime minister should not be confused with the position of the clerk of the Privy Council, who is effectively the deputy minister (the senior civil servant in a department) of the prime minister's department (which is the Privy Council Office).

History

The position of deputy prime minister was created by Pierre Trudeau in 1977, largely to recognize the long years of service of Allan MacEachen.[6] Before then, Trudeau had given the title of senior minister to a member of his cabinet.[6] The last to occupy that position was Paul Hellyer.[6]

Joe Clark's government did not have a deputy prime minister. Similarly, Prime Minister Stephen Harper did not designate a deputy prime minister,[7] nor did Prime Minister Justin Trudeau until the appointment of Chrystia Freeland in his second mandate.[8] Prior to Freeland's appointment, Canada's most recent deputy prime minister was Anne McLellan, who in 2006, was also the first deputy prime minister to lose her seat in the House of Commons.

Harper gave special status in the line of authority to members of his cabinet: under an Order in Council issued on February 6, 2006—the day Harper was appointed prime minister—when "the prime minister is unable to perform the functions of his office", Lawrence Cannon, then Jim Prentice, then the balance of the Cabinet by order of precedence, were "authorized to act for the prime minister".[9] This order was followed by a number of others updating the list; in each case, the status as the top person on that list was accorded to the vice-chair of the cabinet's Priorities and Planning Committee.[10] Previous prime ministers have had similar orders-in-council, under which the deputy prime minister and then the balance of the Cabinet, in order of precedence, have been authorized to act for the prime minister. Media analysts generally credited the top person on these lists as being the de facto deputy prime minister,[10] although the title was never conferred. These "order of precedence" lists have no status as a formal line of succession, however, and would carry no special weight in determining who would take over as the new prime minister if an incumbent died in office or was forced to suddenly resign in advance of a leadership convention.

Cannon seconded the pro forma bill to start the first session of the 39th Canadian Parliament; the bill is introduced before the House takes the Speech from the Throne under consideration to maintain the right of the House to consider matters other than those directed to it by the crown. Traditionally, either the deputy prime minister or government house leader seconds this bill.[11]

Similarly, no deputy prime minister was named in the first cabinet of incumbent prime minister Justin Trudeau. Ralph Goodale was deputy leader of the Liberal Party and had been ranked first in the "order of precedence" in the cabinet, and an order in council designated him as first in line to assume the prime minister's duties in the event Trudeau ever became incapacitated.[12] However, media analysts focused on Dominic Leblanc, who despite having been lower in the official order of precedence served on numerous cabinet committees and as the government's liaison with the Senate, as being the "de facto deputy prime minister".[13]

Following the 2019 federal election, which saw the Liberals returned to power in a minority government but being shut out of the western provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan, Goodale was defeated in the Saskatchewan riding of Regina—Wascana,[14] while Leblanc was reelected in his New Brunswick riding of Beauséjour[15] but on medical leave due to recovery from cancer treatment.[16] The Liberals were pressed to respond to concerns about lack of representation in cabinet from the prairie provinces potentially driving sentiments of western alienation.[8][17] On November 20, 2019, Trudeau appointed Chrystia Freeland, who represents the Toronto riding of University—Rosedale in Parliament but was born in Peace River, Alberta and grew up in Alberta, as the deputy prime minister.[8]

Duties

The official duties of the deputy prime minister are to answer questions pertaining to overall government policy during Question Period and to chair the Cabinet in the absence of the prime minister. The office has no standing in law and does not carry any formal duties or tasks—that is, it is without a portfolio—though, the prime minister may negotiate or assign specific tasks in conjunction with the title. With the exception of Herb Gray, all deputy prime ministers have held another ministerial portfolio alongside this title.

According to journalist Joseph Brean of the Postmedia Network, the role can sometimes be "a poisoned chalice, or a leash to keep a rival under close control" rather than an indication that the Prime Minister trusts the authority of the deputy.[18] For the political analysis magazine Policy Options Eugene Lang and Greg Schmidt describe the role as one of "soft power", in which a deputy prime minister only carries as much or as little power within a government as the prime minister chooses to permit them; the level of power is usually communicated less by the deputy prime minister's title itself, and more by what other roles they do or don't hold alongside it.[19]

One deputy prime minister, Sheila Copps, attracted controversy in 1993 after asserting that she was "in charge" of government business while the then prime minister, Jean Chrétien, was on a brief holiday.[20] After she left politics, she wrote that although the position of deputy prime minister is only ceremonial, "very often, the DPM's job was to protect the prime minister from the political damage that Question Period can inflict on a leader", further citing the experience of Erik Nielsen during the Sinclair Stevens scandal.[citation needed]

Succession

Unlike the role of vice president in some presidential systems, the deputy prime minister does not automatically assume the office of prime minister if the incumbent of the latter office dies or resigns.[19] Although they may serve in an acting capacity on a temporary caretaker basis to ensure continuity of government function during the immediate period of transition, the deputy prime minister does not automatically become the new permanent prime minister; rather, constitutional convention requires the governor general to consult the governing party regarding the leadership, and to call on a member of that party's caucus to assume the prime ministership.[19] No policy or convention precludes the deputy prime minister from being chosen as the new prime minister in such a scenario, but none assures it, either—the party caucus would be free to recommend any new leader of its choice to the governor general. Barring extraordinary circumstances, the governor general is expected to follow the wishes of the party, although officially they retain the authority to make the final decision. That being the case, no prime minister has died in office or resigned suddenly (except following his or her party's electoral defeat) since the 1890s, many decades before the office of deputy prime minister was created.

Extended notice is usually given when a sitting prime minister does not plan to lead his/her party into another election. Leadership contests to determine the successor to a prime minister are usually held during the final days of the incumbent's term, and are traditionally a lengthy and competitive process. In almost all cases, the outgoing prime minister hands over power directly to their designated successor, without any interim prime minister. By contrast, during leadership contests for the official opposition party, the leader of the opposition has often (though not always) been occupied by an interim parliamentary leader. The opposition party's deputy leader (assuming that post is occupied) is often chosen for this role unless they plan to run in the leadership election, in which case someone else would be chosen since it would be considered harmful to the election process if the interim leader was to be one of the candidates.

Legally speaking, any interim prime minister appointed by the governor general would not merely be acting on behalf of the prime minister, but would have the full powers and prerogatives of any other prime minister.

List of deputy prime ministers

Key:

No. Portrait Name
Electoral district
(Birth–Death)
Term of office Other portfolios Party Prime minister
Party
(Ministry)
Term start Term end
1 Allan MacEachen
MP for Cape Breton Highlands—Canso
(1921–2017)
September 16,
1977
June 4,
1979
Liberal Pierre Trudeau
Liberal
(20th)
Vacant
June 4, 1979 – March 3, 1980
Joe Clark
Progressive Conservative
(21st)
(1) Allan MacEachen
MP for Cape Breton Highlands—Canso
(1921–2017)
March 3,
1980
June 30,
1984
Liberal Pierre Trudeau
Liberal
(22nd)
2 Jean Chrétien
MP for Saint-Maurice
(born 1934)
June 30,
1984
September 17,
1984
Liberal John Turner
Liberal
(23rd)
3 Erik Nielsen
MP for Yukon
(1924–2008)
September 17,
1984
June 30,
1986
Progressive
Conservative
Brian Mulroney
Progressive Conservative
(24th)
4 Don Mazankowski
MP for Vegreville
(1935–2020)
June 30,
1986
June 25,
1993
Progressive
Conservative
5 Jean Charest
MP for Sherbrooke
(born 1958)
June 25,
1993
November 4,
1993
Progressive
Conservative
Kim Campbell
Progressive Conservative
(25th)
6 Sheila Copps
MP for Hamilton East
(born 1952)
November 4,
1993
April 30,
1996
Liberal Jean Chrétien
Liberal
(26th)
Vacant[NB 3]
April 30, 1996 – June 19, 1996
(6) Sheila Copps
MP for Hamilton East
(born 1952)
June 19,
1996
June 11,
1997
Liberal
7 Herb Gray
MP for Windsor West
(1931–2014)
June 11,
1997
January 15,
2002
Liberal
8 John Manley
MP for Ottawa South
(born 1950)
January 15,
2002
December 12,
2003
Liberal
9 Anne McLellan
MP for Edmonton West (until 2004)
MP for Edmonton Centre (from 2004)

(born 1950)
December 12,
2003
February 6,
2006
Liberal Paul Martin
Liberal
(27th)
Vacant[NB 4][NB 5]
February 6, 2006 – November 20, 2019
Stephen Harper
Conservative
(28th)
Justin Trudeau
Liberal
(29th)
10 Chrystia Freeland
MP for University—Rosedale
(born 1968)
November 20,
2019
Incumbent Liberal

Acting prime minister

Ellen Fairclough served as acting prime minister from February 19 to 20, 1958, in the absence of John Diefenbaker.
This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources in this section. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (September 2020) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)

Prior to the creation of the position of deputy prime minister, a prime minister would routinely name a member of the cabinet to temporarily act on the prime minister's behalf while the prime minister was away from the regular duties of his job for a period of time, such as being out of the country on a working visit or a vacation. The delegate was thus a caretaker, whose role was to oversee the routine day-to-day functioning of the government and cabinet during the prime minister's absence; for example, in his capacity as acting prime minister, Mitchell Sharp ordered a precautionary one-day shutdown of government offices in Ottawa on August 20, 1970, as the storm that had spawned the Sudbury tornado headed toward Ottawa.[21] An acting prime minister did not otherwise have the authority to act independently of the sitting prime minister in a legislative or political capacity, nor would an acting prime minister be considered to have actually served as prime minister. As well the acting prime minister was not given the title The Right Honourable, even during the acting period, although some people who served as acting prime ministers may have independently earned that distinction for other reasons.

Due to the routine and relatively minor nature of the role, few to no research sources exist to provide a complete list of everyone who was ever named as acting prime minister. However, John Diefenbaker's selection of Ellen Fairclough as acting prime minister on February 19 and 20, 1958, is historically noteworthy as Fairclough was the first woman ever designated.[22]

Senior Minister

Prior to the creation of this position, the position of "Senior Minister" was a ceremonial position used in a similar manner, heading the order of precedence.[6] Upon the absence of the prime minister, the senior minister would act on behalf of the prime minister.[23]

Portrait Name
Electoral district
(Birth–Death)
Term of office Other portfolios Party Prime minister
Party
(Ministry)
Term start Term end
Paul Hellyer[23][24]
MP for Trinity
(1923–2021)
April 30,
1968
April 23,
1969
Liberal Pierre Trudeau
Liberal
(20th)

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Including a basic sessional indemnity of CA$203,100 as Member of Parliament.
  2. ^ When the position is held by a male, the French title is vice-premier ministre du Canada"
  3. ^ The office of deputy prime minister was briefly vacant in 1996 when Copps, after being challenged on her 1993 campaign promise to resign if the government did not repeal the Goods and Services Tax, resigned from Parliament and recontested her seat in a byelection. Chrétien did not name a replacement during Copps' absence from Parliament. After winning the byelection and returning to Parliament, Copps was reappointed to the position.
  4. ^ Harper did not name a deputy prime minister, although in practice Lawrence Cannon (Member of Parliament for Pontiac, Quebec) was named second below Harper in the order of precedence. Following Cannon's defeat in the 2011 election, Leader of the Government in the Senate Marjory LeBreton was named the first minister to act for Harper in his absence. After LeBreton resigned, the Minister of Finance at the time, Jim Flaherty and then Joe Oliver were named next in line.
  5. ^ Justin Trudeau also did not name a deputy prime minister during his first mandate, although Ralph Goodale had been designated to act for Trudeau in the event he became incapacitated. Chrystia Freeland was appointed Deputy Prime Minister following the 2019 election, in which Goodale was defeated.

References

  1. ^ Marleau, Robert; Montpetit, Camille, eds. (2000). "Parliamentary Institutions". House of Commons Procedure and Practice. Ottawa: Queen's Printer for Canada. ISBN 2-89461-378-4.
  2. ^ "The Canadian Parliamentary system - Our Procedure - House of Commons". www.ourcommons.ca. Retrieved 2020-04-20.
  3. ^ "Review of the Responsibilities and Accountabilities of Ministers and Senior Officials" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on December 5, 2019.
  4. ^ "Indemnities, Salaries and Allowances". Parliament of Canada. Retrieved April 2, 2024.
  5. ^ Tonda MacCharles and Bruce Campion-Smith (20 November 2019). "Chrystia Freeland named deputy prime minister in cabinet shuffle". The Star. Retrieved 20 November 2019.
  6. ^ a b c d Ottawa Citizen, "A Heartbeat From The Top", Charles Lynch, 10 November 1982, pp.3
  7. ^ "What powers do deputy PMs hold? And where is Harper's?". CTV News, July 4, 2010.
  8. ^ a b c LeBlanc, Daniel, and Robert Fife (19 November 2019). "Trudeau appointing Freeland as deputy prime minister in cabinet shuffle, officials say". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 20 November 2019.((cite news)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  9. ^ PC 2006-1422, available at http://www.pco-bcp.gc.ca/oic-ddc.asp?viewattach=15421 [full citation needed]
  10. ^ a b "Your new de facto deputy prime minister: Senator Marjory LeBreton" Archived 2015-09-03 at the Wayback Machine. canoe.ca, May 22, 2011.
  11. ^ "Journals (No. 002)". .parl.gc.ca. Retrieved 2010-07-05.
  12. ^ List of Ministers to act for the Prime Minister in the event of his unable to perform functions of his office
  13. ^ "Political Notebook: An old family friend becomes Trudeau's right-hand man". The Globe and Mail, November 6, 2015.
  14. ^ Martin, Ashley (22 October 2019). "Election 2019: Goodale loses seat in Regina-Wascana". Regina Leader-Post. Retrieved 20 November 2019.
  15. ^ Canadian Press, The (21 October 2019). "Dominic LeBlanc thanks supporters for election win from hospital bed in Montreal". Toronto Star. Retrieved 20 November 2019.
  16. ^ Canadian Press, The (26 April 2019). "Liberal MP Dominic LeBlanc stepping away from cabinet after cancer diagnosis". Global News. Retrieved 20 November 2019.
  17. ^ Platt, Brian (23 October 2019). "With Liberals wiped out in Alberta and Sask., Trudeau promises to do 'a lot more' to rebuild Western support". Canada.com. Retrieved 20 November 2019.
  18. ^ Joseph Brean, "What does a deputy prime minister do?". National Post, November 20, 2019.
  19. ^ a b c Eugene Lang and Greg Schmidt, "The role of deputy prime minister is not as powerful as most think". Policy Options, August 6, 2020.
  20. ^ Joan Bryden, "`I'm in charge,' Copps says: Alexander Haig echo pointed out by critics". Vancouver Sun, December 10, 1993.
  21. ^ "Ottawa concerned". The Globe and Mail, August 21, 1970. p. 8.
  22. ^ "As Acting Prime Minister Ellen Fairclough First Again". The Globe and Mail, February 21, 1958.
  23. ^ a b The Gazette (Montreal), "Hellyer Appointed No.2 Man To Rule In Trudeau's Absence", 1 May 1968, p.3
  24. ^ Reading Eagle, "Hellyer Quits Cabinet Job", P, 24 April 1969, pg.47
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Deputy Prime Minister of Canada
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