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Political Science Canadian

First among Unequals

The Premier, Politics, and Policy in Newfoundland and Labrador

edited by Alex Marland & Matthew Kerby

McGill-Queen's University Press
Initial publish date
Apr 2014
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Apr 2014
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  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    May 2014
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  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    May 2014
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Canadians are told that provincial premiers wield considerable sway. Critics decry premiers as autocrats and dictators, while supporters label them as altruists and great leaders. In Newfoundland and Labrador the premier is expected to be the province's overlord, a patriotic defender of provincial interests, and the decision-maker who brokers competing policy priorities. But does a premier have as much power over government policy decisions as is popularly believed?

First among Unequals, a detailed enquiry into the administration of Premier Danny Williams and the first year of his successor Kathy Dunderdale, suggests that the power of the premier is exaggerated by the media, critics, political parties, the public service, and the leaders themselves. With perspectives from economics, education, geography, health policy, history, and political science, contributors explore how dominant Williams was and test theories to show how power operates in provincial governments. They examine politics and government through case studies of the healthcare sectors, education, the fisheries, rural and regional development, hydroelectric projects, and the labour market.

Focusing on an era of political populism and rapid economic growth, First among Unequals reasons that there is not enough evidence to suggest that the Premier's Office - even with someone like Danny Williams at the helm - independently shapes public policy.

Contributors include Karlo Basta (Memorial), Sean Cadigan (Memorial), Angela Carter (Waterloo), Christopher Dunn (Memorial), Jim Feehan (Memorial), Gerald Galway (Memorial), Ryan Gibson (Memorial), James Kelly (Concordia), Royce Koop (Manitoba), Mario Levesque (Mount Allison), Maria Mathews (Memorial), John Peters (Laurentian), Michelle Porter (Memorial), Kate Puddister (McGill), Valérie Vézina (UQAM), and Kelly Vodden (Memorial, Grenfell).

About the authors

Alex Marland (Political Science, Memorial University of Newfoundland) was a public servant in the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador from 2003 to 2006. He coedited First Among Unequals: The Premier, Politics, and Policy in Newfoundland and Labrador and coauthored the textbook Inside Canadian Politics. His book Brand Command: Canadian Politics and Democracy in the Age of Message Control won the Donner Prize for best public policy book by a Canadian and the Atlantic Book Award for scholarly writing.

Alex Marland's profile page

Matthew Kerby is assistant professor of political science at the University of Ottawa.

Matthew Kerby's profile page

Other titles by Alex Marland