Off and Running: The Prospects and Pitfalls of Government Transitions in Canada

Off and Running: The Prospects and Pitfalls of Government Transitions in Canada

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By David Zussman
IPAC Series in Public Management and Governance
University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division © 2013
World Rights
328 Pages
ISBN 9781442615274
Published Dec 2013
Online discount: 25%
 $30.95    $23.21
ISBN 9781442647091
Published Jan 2014
Online discount: 25%
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ebook (EPUB format)
ISBN 9781442667273
Published Dec 2013
Online discount: 26%
Full purchase $30.95

One of the most pivotal events in the electoral cycle is the transition of a newly elected political party from opposition to government. The incoming prime minister or premier must assemble a team of ministers, advisors, and staff that is competent and ready to govern, without disrupting the day-to-day functioning of their country or province.

Off and Running sets the stage for successful transitions by describing the best practices from Canadian federal government transitions from 1984 to the present day. It draws on a number of sources: the author’s own career in public affairs, including his significant role in the transitions of both Chrétien governments in 1993 and 1997; extensive interviews with more than forty key individuals in the last eleven federal government transitions; and the international literature on government transitions, public administration, and management.

Zussman goes step-by-step through the transition process from the pre-election stage to transition planning all the way to implementation and consolidation of the new government. This book is ideally suited to those seeking an understanding of how government works during one of the most crucial points in its life cycle.

David Zussman is Jarislowsky Chair in Public Sector Management in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa. He has served as Assistant Secretary for Program Review and Machinery of Government at the Privy Council Office, in addition to working at the Treasury Board Secretariat, the Secretary of State, Natural Resources Canada, and Statistics Canada.



Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: The Context of Transitions: Setting the Stage
Chapter 3: Pre-election Phase: Kick Starting the Transition
Chapter 4: The Transition Plan
Chapter 5: Election Phase: Putting the Building Blocks in Place
Chapter 6: Post-Election Phase: Electioneering to Governing
Chapter 7: Post-Election Phase: Getting the Fundamentals Right
Chapter 8: Consolidation Phase: Making the Transition a Reality
Chapter 9: Conclusion



Off and Running is destined to be an important work in the field of public administration because David Zussman has combined his ‘real world’ experience in the actual planning and implementation of transitions with his conceptual and analytical understanding of government. His extensive use of real-world materials – strategic memoranda and policy agendas – all prepared in real time for real clients – prime ministers, ministers, and senior officials – makes it an especially good read. The result is an insightful, informative, and engaging book that provides the reader with a front seat for the premiere viewing of a feature length story of government transition.”

David A. Good, Professor, School of Public Administration, University of Victoria

“If ever a book on public management can be called ‘definitive,’ this is it. Zussman brings a scholar’s eye and thirty-five years of practical experience in and around the centre of government to this comprehensive examination of government transitions. While the focus is on Canada, he draws on experience from other Westminster jurisdictions, as well as the United States, in drawing insights on how to install a government in office. The book is beautifully written and accessible to anyone interested in government, politics, public policy, and the inner workings of the bureaucracy. A must-have book for any student of government.”

James Mitchell, Partner, Sussex Circle and Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet, 1991-4

“The peaceful and smooth installation of a new Prime Minister and Cabinet represents a fundamental strength of Canadian democracy, yet one often taken for granted. Off and Running is an informed and insightful analysis of the process that makes use of David Zussman’s own experience and his interviews with key participants in government transitions going back to the 1980s. Clear and concise, this is a book with great depth and credibility.”

Paul G. Thomas, Department of Political Studies, University of Manitoba

‘An academic work that will be prized as a practical guide by both politicians and government executives.’

Harvey Schachter, Canadian Government Executive April 2014

‘The breadth of author’s knowledge enables him to offer wisdom on a wide range of subjects, including the length of briefing notes, the influence of spouses, appropriate media exposure, cabinet making and leadership dynamics. The practical advice proffered by Zussman is invaluable.’

David m. Brock, IPAC Magazine (NWT Group); January 2015

‘A definitive work on government transitions in Canada…. The breadth of the author’s knowledge enables him to offer wisdom on a wide range of subjects including appropriate media exposure, cabinet making and leadership dynamics. The practical advice offered by Zussman is invaluable.’

David M. Brock, Northern Public Affairs Magazine November 2015