Privy Council Office (Canada)

The Office's present location in the Langevin Block.
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The Canadian Privy Council Office (French: Bureau du Conseil privé) is the secretariat of the federal cabinet, which is a committee of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada, and provides non-partisan advice and support to the Canadian ministry, as well as leadership, coordination, and support to the departments and agencies of government. It is located in the Langevin Block of the Parliament buildings.


Although the PCO has grown in size and complexity over the years, its main pillars remain the operations and plans secretariats. The former is primarily concerned with coordinating the day-to-day issues of government while the latter takes a medium-term view to the evolution of the Canadian federation. Each incoming Prime Minister will re-organize the PCO to suit the policy agenda of his government. Today, the PCO also includes a department of intergovernmental affairs, secretariats for communications, foreign and defence policy, security and intelligence, social affairs, economic affairs, legislation and house planning and machinery of government.

Traditionally, the PCO has served as a "finishing school" for civil servants destined for executive positions within government. Officials who spend several years gaining experience at the PCO, and working on policy matters from the perspective of the Prime Minister, return to their home departments with a greater appreciation of government operations at the corporate level. Aside from senior positions within the civil service, PCO alumni have gone on to pursue successful careers in business and politics, including Paul Tellier, former CEO of Bombardier; Michael Sabia, CEO of Bell Canada; Robert Rabinovitch, CEO of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation; former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau; and former Minister of Foreign Affairs Pierre Pettigrew.

The head of the civil service has the title of Clerk of the Privy Council, and also serves as the Secretary to the Cabinet and Deputy Minister to the Prime Minister.

The Privy Council Office's role is different from that of the Prime Minister's Office, which is a personal and partisan office. It is understood that the Prime Minister should not receive advice from only one institutionalized source. To that end, the PCO serves as the policy-oriented but politically-sensitive advisory unit to the Prime Minister, while the PMO is politically-oriented but policy-sensitive.

Current structure of the Privy Council Office

See also


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