The mere mention of the term “royal commission” is enough to trigger eye-rolling cynicism in many Canadians, even the public-spirited. It conjures an image of paper gathering dust in archives across the country.
Maybe it’s the word “royal” in the phrase that connotes irrelevance or a certain lack of rigour. Perhaps it’s because commissions take so long to do their work and produce so few concrete results. Royal commissions have an image problem.
They are usually set up because some public problem has flummoxed the sitting government. Not know what else to do, governments often use them to park unsettling issues out of the glare of day-to-day politics.
When commissions do report, prime ministers have the option of ignoring inconvenient conclusions. In fact, many such panels are established precisely so they can be ignored by the government of the day.
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