Date of Graduation
This dissertation conducted a comparative examination of executive-appointed national study (advisory) commissions utilized by Canada and the United States. Such commissions of inquiry are ad hoc bodies which are established by executive authority, assigned a specific issue, crisis or incident to investigate, conduct their affairs openly, and conclude with a publicly issued final report. In the Canadian context there has been very little study of the more than 350 Royal Commissions of Inquiry created since Confederation. American presidential study commissions from Truman to the first Nixon administration were the subject of a 1974 study. This study expanded on that earlier work. In both political systems their usefulness has often been the subject of criticism. This study sought to assess their usefulness in terms of whether the final reports of national study commissions were publicly and positively accepted by the president or prime minister which had authorized their creations. In order to conduct an examination of Canadian Royal Commissions each inquiry had to be identified, each commission's final report had to be assessed and each Order in Council which authorizes an inquiry had to be surveyed. In order to determine their acceptance by the sitting prime minister the Debates for the House of Commons were studied for evidence of public and positive reaction. This procedure was followed for all Royal Commissions since 1867. American presidential study commissions for the period starting with the second Nixon administration and ending with the Bush administration (1993). The Public Papers of the President series was surveyed for instances of public and positive reaction on the part of the authorizing president. Classifications systemsâ€”in terms of commission typeâ€”were created for both Canadian and American national study commissions. This classification typology was utilized to compare commissions creation rates in both nations in terms of individual prime minister or president and by their party affiliation. Canadian commission members were identified in order to examine any appointment patterns in terms of each commissioner's occupation, province, and gender. In spite of the consistent criticism which national study commissions, this dissertation found that nearly 2/3 of the commissions in both political systems received a public and positive response on the part of the sitting prime minister or president. This study argues that executive acceptance of commission findings is a significant step by which problems and issues find their way onto the formal agenda. The agenda setting implications of such a high acceptance rate are substantial.
Harrison, Barry S., "A comparative examination and assessment of national study commissions." (2002). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 8998.