Dalhousie Law Journal


commission of inquiry, policy analysis, social science, limitations


Commissions of inquiry appointed to analyze major matters of public policy constitute an important organizational instrument in governance for essentially three reasons. First, their establishment enables decision-makers in government to delay or postpone decisions without being criticized for doing nothing at all. Policy analysis in this circumstance may be an excuse for a "non-decision", but at the least it ensures that the issue at hand stays on the policy agenda in a certain fashion. Second, such commissions provide for a process whereby the views of special interest groups and the interested public can be presented in a forum that is not subject to direct government control. This can include the capacity to actively solicit views from various quarters and direct support for the participation of particular interests. Third, and perhaps most relevant, commissions of inquiry of this sort represent the most effective option available to government for policy analysis undertaken by an independent and objective, and yet official, organization. Commissions are the most effective option in this regard because they have a greater capacity to be, and to be seen to be, independent and objective than other governmental instruments of public policy analysis.'