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Clerk of the Privy Council

The Clerk of the Privy Council is the most senior non-political official in the Government of Canada, and provides professional, non-partisan support to the Prime Minister on all policy and operational issues that may affect the government.



The Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet also has particular responsibilities with respect to:
  • ensuring the continuity of government between successive administrations;
  • keeping custody of the records of previous administrations; and
  • enabling the government of the day to understand and recognize the established conventions of Canadaís constitutional monarchy.
The first Clerk of the Privy Council was appointed in 1867. A second title, Secretary to the Cabinet, was added in 1940. Changes to the Public Service Employment Act in 1992 brought a third title, Head of the Public Service, and responsibility for setting the strategic directions for the Public Service of Canada.


Deputy Minister to the Prime Minister

As the Prime Ministerís Deputy Minister, the Clerk of the Privy Council provides advice and support to the Prime Minister in his or her role as head of government. This includes advice on appointing senior office holders in the public service and organizing the government, on the Cabinet decision-making system, overall policy directions, intergovernmental relations, and the management of specific issues.

Secretary to the Cabinet

As Secretary to the Cabinet, he or she assists the Prime Minister in maintaining the cohesion of the Ministry and giving direction to it. In this role, the Clerk of the Privy Council provides support and advice to the Ministry as a whole to ensure that the Cabinet decision-making system operates according to the Prime Ministerís design.

Head of the Public Service

As Head of the Public Service, he or she serves as the principal link between the Prime Minister and the Public Service of Canada, and is responsible for the quality of expert, professional and non-partisan advice and service provided by the public service to the Prime Minister, Cabinet and to all Canadians.

Michael Wernick

Michael Wernick
Michael Wernick
Michael Wernick became Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet on January 22, 2016. Mr. Wernick joined the federal public service in 1981. Since then he has worked in various departments and agencies, including the Department of Finance Canada, Consumer and Corporate Affairs Canada, and the Privy Council Office.

He has held several senior leadership roles, including:
  • Deputy Clerk of the Privy Council and Associate Secretary to the Cabinet (2014-2016)
  • Senior Advisor, Privy Council Office (2014)
  • Deputy Minister, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (2006-2014)
  • Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet, Plans and Consultations, Privy Council Office (2003-2006)
  • Assistant Deputy Minister and Associate Deputy Minister, Canadian Heritage (1996-2003)
Mr. Wernick holds bachelorís and masterís degrees in Economics from the University of Toronto. He served on the Board of Governors of Carleton University from 2010 to 2017.

In 2012, Mr. Wernick received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.

SOURCE: Privy Council Office.

See also
Federal Government
Privy Council
Former Clerks of the Privy Council

External Links
Clerk of the Privy Council Official Website

Copyright Craig I.W. Marlatt