Intergovernmental Relations in a Federation and the Role of Civil Service – A Canadian Perspective


Past Event

Mar 6, 2024 - 5:00 pm |

Mar 6, 2024 - 7:00 pm

Dr. Saifullah Sumbul


Upcoming Event

On Wednesday March 6, 2023, CPPG organized a seminar on “Intergovernmental Relations in a Federation and the Role of Civil Service – A Canadian Perspective”. Dr. Saifullah Sumbul, Director, Southwest Region of the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks, the Government of Ontario, Canada, was invited as a guest speaker. Sumbul had been a part of Pakistan Civil Services before moving to Canada. The session was moderated by Dr. Saeed
Shafqat, Founding Director and Professor at CPPG.

Sumbul initiated his talk by discussing the multi-level governmental system in Canada. He shared that Canada is a confederation with a national government and ten provincial governments where power is quite devolved among its three-tiered governmental structure comprising federal, provincial, and municipal levels according to the Constitution Act of 1867 which delineates the division of powers between federal and provincial governments. The
federal government comprising the House of Commons and the Senate, headquartered in Ottawa, takes responsibility for matters of national and international significance affecting all Canadians. Its radar includes defense, foreign affairs, criminal law, immigration, and postal services. The provincial governments have governmental authority over areas such as education, healthcare, justice system and transportation. Thus, family law, property law, and certain aspects of criminal law can vary from province to province.

The main thrust of Sumbul’s talk was to highlight the importance enjoyed by municipal governments created through provincial legislation, which are responsible for local governance, overseeing of cities, towns, and communities. They are endowed with authority over local planning, infrastructure, and services like garbage collection and parks. These municipalities operate under the leadership of elected mayors and city councils who collaborate with other levels of government to address local concerns effectively.

Sumbul emphasized the role of civil bureaucracy in Canada’s political management. An important feature of civil service in Canada is that it is non-partisan, upholds public service anonymity and guards public trust as inspired by the Westminster model of democracy. While discussing the many differences in governance between Pakistan and Canada, he highlighted that the municipal civil servants were much highly paid as compared to provincial or federal
civil servants, suggesting the importance of local governments.

Sumbul concluded his talk by suggesting several key take ways for Pakistan from the intergovernmental structure and workings in Canada while adding that Canada has been able to evolve a democratic form of government over the course of more than a century, and still has its own challenges.