LESLIE A. PAL AND R. KENT WEAVER
THE EIGHT CASE STUDY CHAPTERS IN THIS BOOK PROVIDE AN EXTENDED exploration of governmental capacity for loss imposition in public policy along two major dimensions. The first is a comparative analysis of two types of political institutions: Westminster parliamentary and presidential. While both Canada and the United States have distinct features that differentiate them from other countries with the same type of institutions, each represents the key characteristics of their institutional type. The essential difference, of course, revolves around the differentiation of the executive and the legislature. Since Canada is a parliamentary regime, Canada’s executive sits in the legislature and is in theory responsible to it. This carries with it a host of institutional consequences, among the most important of which are party discipline (because if major government legislation is defeated in the House, the government itself is likely to fall) and clear accountability for public policy and legislation (because of the control that the executive has over the legislative process). As a presidential regime, the United States divides the executive from the legislature (indeed, more than most regimes of this type). Thus, there is less party discipline than in a typical parliamentary regime, since the president’s political fortunes and those of congressional representatives typically are independent of each other. Accountability is also thereby diffused, since neither the executive branch nor the legislature controls the legislative agenda to the same extent that a cabinet does in a Westminster parliament.