Accountability is the essence of our democratic form of government. It is the liability assumed by all those who exercise authority to account for the manner in which they have fulfilled responsibilities entrusted to them, a liability ultimately to the Canadian people owed by Parliament, by the government and thus, every government department and agency.
One of the fundamental principals of a democratic society is the government must be accountable to the people. Such accountability in Canada is exercised through Parliament. Every Minister is ultimately accountable for their portfolio to Parliament and therefore in turn responsible to the Canadian electorate. The realization of this responsibility is undertaken upon the assumption of office. Accountability within government is a measure that is used to control the abuse of power by those elected as government representatives. 'The government must be able to control and protect its own membership to be able meaningfully to accept responsibility for its direction and impact as a government.'
Without accountability we are left with a powerful political structure that has the ability to act without conscience or redress and this does not represent a modern democracy. With any discussion which focuses on responsibility within parliament, one can see the varying levels of accountability and the difficulties which arise when attempting to describe power, within the Canadian political system. Accountability in the public service can be studied from two different perspectives. The civil servant who represents the bureaucratic sector and the minister indicating the political sphere. The issue of accountability raises several key questions and queries for social scientists. Is the power of the civil servant increasing while ministerial responsibility is decreasing? What effects if any does this have on the bureaucratic system? How does Parliament excise legislative control over the bureaucracy? In essence, who is accountable...