The way we govern ourselves has changed fundamentally in the past 20 years, and we’ve barely noticed. The changes raise critical questions, which we have developed a habit of answering on a case-by-case basis, without considering the context and without being guided by principles. We need to do better than that.
In the 1980s, most government programs were run by government departments and agencies. They reported, directly or indirectly, to the government, and if citizens had a complaint about any of them, they went to their MPs, MLAs or City Councillors. It was a far from perfect world, but in general we knew who was in charge of government programs, what purposes they pursued, and who was paying the bills.