Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

First among Unequals: The Premier, Politics, and Policy in Newfoundland and Labrador

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

First among Unequals: The Premier, Politics, and Policy in Newfoundland and Labrador

Article excerpt

Alex Marland and Matthew Kerby (eds), First Among Unequals: The Premier, Politics, and Policy in Newfoundland and Labrador (Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2014), 366 pp. 24 figures. 21 tables. Cased. $110. ISBN 978-0-7735-4344-7. Paper. $29.95. ISBN 978-0-7735-4345-4.

The central puzzle of this book is one that currently reverberates through most Westminster political systems: to what extent does the head of government control the course of politics and policy output? Against the backdrop of the surmised presidentialisation of parliamentar y politics, an empirical investigation of this phenomenon is most welcome. Canadian provincial politics is a good arena in which to test this question. As this book makes clear, there is not yet sufficient literature on the extent to which a premier as primus inter pares (first among equals) controls internal politics and policy. From an empirical standpoint, Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) is chosen because of its slow political development and the perception of its political leaders as 'policy saviours or dictators' (p. xvi). Following its entry into Confederation in 1949, NL has been characterised by populist leaders who seemingly dominate the nature and pace of politics in the province. The prevalence of legislative supermajorities adds to the perception of executive domination. The choice of the editors to focus on the premiership of Danny Williams (2003-10) is as obvious as it is appropriate given Williams's strong visible leadership, supermajorities, and tendency for populist politics during his seven-year tenure. …

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