Monday, April 19, 2021

History of Cabinet

Here and there in the coverage of the Ontario government's flailing attempts to avoid blame for the province's new wave of Covid infections come mentions of the Ford government holding cabinet sessions that go long into the night, or cause scheduled press conferences to be delayed for hours while they wrangle.  

We tend to assume that the modern government cabinet is mostly a political irrelevance. Serious political stratagizing and decision-makers involves a leader and his or her strategists and spin-doctors, with the cabinet and caucus gettng their instructions later. 

But somehow one can imagine Doug Ford being strengthened and reassured by his cabinet, who doubtless tell him that the doctors and scientists on the pandemic advisory panels are pointy-headed theorists who don't really understand things, whereas they themselves just talked to a businessman or a town councillor back home who said blah blah blah. Ford alone with knowledgeable people might be swayed, but in cabinet it's collective ignorance that gets reinforced.

I'm generally an advocate of real parliaments, where cabinets are accountable to legislatures and caucuses and leaders are accountable to all three.  But sometimes even in our debased parliaments, I guess sometimes the worst are full of passionate conviction.  And it show.

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