Improving Administrative Justice in Manitoba: Starting with the Appointments Process
Manitoba has about 160 administrative agencies, boards and commissions (often referred to as “ABCs”) that operate outside the line departments of government. The government relies on administrative boards to regulate and adjudicate, to give advice, to administer substantial financial and other assets and to provide goods and services. Other administrative boards are appointed to take on roles that emerge as governments assume regulatory functions. In the last decade most Canadian provinces and the federal government have reviewed their board appointments processes and most have implemented changes to ensure that the processes are more open, transparent and accountable and less partisan and more merit-based. Manitoba is one of the few provinces not to have made some change to its appointments process. The first step towards ensuring quality performance of administrative boards in Manitoba is to examine the quality of the appointments process.
Manitoba Law Reform Comission
This report discusses the difficult issue of what role, if any, partisanship (in the sense of appointees’ known sympathies with the government’s political leanings) should play in the appointments process. This report outlines the formal mechanisms for making board appointments in Canadian common law jurisdictions and outlines the issues that arise with the less formal mechanisms. It examines how concerns with appointments have emerged in Canadian jurisdictions and how governments have changed their appointments processes in response to those concerns. This report describes publicly available information on the current appointments process in Manitoba, and reviews developments and reforms in appointments policies in Canada and other jurisdictions. The final part of this report examines more closely the elements of appointments policies and makes recommendations on a new appointments policy for Manitoba.
The Commission observes that most Canadian appointment regimes contain weak accountability mechanisms for individual appointments and, more generally, on the workings of appointments processes. The Commission recommends that to ensure that progress on the implementation and maintenance of a new appointments policy be monitored, the Government of Manitoba should publish the names of successful candidates, along with a short biographical sketch on the websites of the central appointments secretariat and the individual administrative board. The Commission also recommends that administrative boards and the central appointment secretariat report annually on the progress of appointment reform, such as appointments process improvements and diversification of board membership.