Dalhousie Law Journal


commission of inquiry, Canada, commission research, royal commission, economic commission


This paper explores the role of research in royal commissions. It is based primarily on my experience as one of three research directors for the Royal Commission on the Economic Union and Development Prospects for Canada, popularly known as the Macdonald Commission. Since royal commissions appear in many guises, much of what I say may not apply to other commissions. In general, my remarks are more applicable to those commissions that give advice on significant public policy matters than to more narrowly investigative commissions set up in response to allegations of corruption or scandal in government or to determine the causes of serious accidents. In these latter, essentially judicial, commissions, there is little need for the extensive social science research used in such policy inquiries as the Royal Commission on Dominion-Provincial Relations (Rowell-Sirois), the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism (Laurendeau-Dunton) and the Macdonald Commission.