November 4, 2010 | 5 Comments
It’s not very often that a federal minister resigns without controversy. Either they’re angry with the prime minister, or the prime minister is angry with them — or both, much to the delight of political scribes.
That trend makes Jim Prentice’s resignation as environment minister all the more remarkable. He’s off to the private sector after his time in public life reached its self-appointed expiry date. After Prentice stepped down, he promptly received several choruses of applause and numerous standing ovations.
It doesn’t happen all that often.There have been some 164 ministerial resignations since Confederation, more than once a year since 1867.
The Parliamentary website lists the reason for resignation in as much detail as possible. A cursory examination of the resignations reveals some interesting trends. Ministerial resignations since the Pearson administration have been overwhelmingly due to disagreements about policy or a particular decision taken by the government, and that trend has only strengthened in more recent years. To wit, such disagreements comprise:
- 30 of the 64 resignations since 1963
- 20 of the 34 resignations since 1984
- 8 of the last 11 resignations.
Ministers resign for a number of other reasons, too:
- 65 have resigned thanks to appointments (only five since 1972)
- 18 have resigned for health reasons (last happened in 1972)
- 18 have resigned for personal reasons or to spend more time with family
Also of note: Prentice is not the only minister to leave public life for the banking world. John Rose, Canada’s second minister of finance, left office on Sept. 30, 1869 for a job at “the well-known banking firm of Morton, Rose, and Co.” It’s worth mentioning that Rose had taken over for Alexander Galt, who resigned four months into his term after his cabinet colleagues blamed him for the failure of a bank.