Reading between the lines of the cabinet mandate letters

Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sent each of the 30 members of his cabinet a letter, with messages of congratulations, encouragement and exhortation. The letters also contained the ministers’ individual marching orders — the prime minister’s expectations of where they will focus and what they will accomplish, at least in the opening years of their mandate.

In this, Trudeau was following the practice of his predecessors dating back to his father’s days in the PMO. Justin Trudeau has departed significantly (and no doubt irreversibly) from past practice by making these letters — once the closely-guarded preserve of a handful of politicians and senior officials — entirely public. In so doing he both underscored and raised the stakes in his commitment to more open and accountable government.

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About the Authors

  • Maryantonett Flumian

    Maryantonett Flumian


    As the President of the Institute on Governance, Maryantonett Flumian is responsible for the development of the Institute’s vision and strategic direction, project and partnership development, and the fostering of programs to promote public discussion of governance issues.

    She is a seasoned senior executive at the Deputy Minister level in the Canadian federal Public Service with more than 20 years of large-scale operational experience in the economic, social and federal/provincial domains. She is internationally recognized for her work as a transformational leader across many complex areas of public policy and administration such as labour markets, firearms, fisheries, and environmental issues. She was the first Deputy Minister of Service Canada. Her current research focuses on leadership, collaboration, governance, and the transformational potential of technology primarily in the area of citizen-centered services. Maryantonett was at the University of Ottawa between 2006 and 2009 initiating programming for the development of senior public service leaders.

    Maryantonett holds a Master’s Degree in History and completed comprehensive exams towards a PhD in History at the University of Ottawa.

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