Skip to main content

Clerk of the Privy Council

Go Search
New Atlas
Atlas, A-Z
Atlas Maps
MPP/MPA Programs
Core Topics
Illustrative Courses
Topic Encyclopedia
Concept Dictionary
Career Tips
Best Practices Project

PPGPortal > Home > Concept Dictionary > B, C > Clerk of the Privy Council

Clerk of the Privy Council 

The most senior non-political official serving in the Canadian government.

(Sutherland 2006, 23)


The Clerk’s seniority arises from the importance of three titles in addition to “Clerk”: Secretary to Cabinet, Deputy Head to the Prime Minister in the latter's role as Minister for the Department of the Privy Council, and Head of the Public Service. The double identification as both Clerk and Secretary is owed to the accretion of public law in Canada, which has resulted in the presence of a small number of “different bodies involved in the process of governing” (Tardi, 1992, p. 83) – managing the core executive functions of the state. The more important of these two bodies in terms of decision-making is beyond doubt the Cabinet, but the Governor in Council is formally indispensable to sign off subordinate legislation.


Sutherland, Sharon L. 2006. “The Role of the Clerk of the Privy Council.” In Restoring Accountability: Research Studies, Volume 3, edited by John Howard Gomery, 21-41 and 92-102. Ottawa: Commission of Inquiry into the Sponsorship Program and Advertising Activities.


Important Notices
© University of Toronto 2008
School of Public Policy and Governance