The Open Policy Aptitude Test

The following policy aptitude test is administered on occasion to policy classes I attend at various levels. Many classes have scored 0 out of 20 and then missed all the tiebreakers. I don’t get asked to address many classes.


  1. Spell Westminster (question issued orally)


Common reply puts in an extra ‘i’


  1. What is the symbol on a government member’s business card?


A coat of arms (if they can get that, I award a point) – ‘some type of crown’ gets no points


  1. What is the symbol on a public servant’s business card?


– Ontario – Trillium (or)

– Canada – stylized flag of Canada in red


  1. Do cities have a distinction between political folk and public servants in terms of the symbols on their business cards?


– No (e.g. Toronto – stylized city hall symbol for all)


  1. Is Cabinet secrecy/confidentiality the law or just a convention?


– Convention – expected to resign if breeched


  1. Is Cabinet solidarity legislated or just a practice?


– Convention – expected to resign if breeched


  1. Open book question (Yes! Open book) – list (in hand writing) the prime ministers of Canada in order


(Students routinely miss Kim Campbell and John Turner and get Abbott Bowell, Tupper and Thomson out of order as I just did. All they have to do is copy from the page but they routinely fail to do so (or don’t realize some lists ARE out of sequence).


  1. To whom does a Deputy Minister report?


Secretary of Cabinet/Clerk/PM’s Deputy Minister – I will accept any of the three (One student who adamantly thought a Deputy reported to the Minister stayed after class to warn me that I could get into trouble for misleading  students)


  1.  Does the Premier or PM have a Deputy Minister? Can a deputy minister and a deputy prime minister hold both jobs at the same time? 


Yes and no


  1. Name any two Clerks at any level over the last few years in Ontario or federally


I accept Mel Cappe, Shelley Jamieson, Tony Dean, Peter Wallace, Wayne Wouters, Steve Orsini, Kevin Lynch, Janice Charrette, Alec Himmelfarb and any others correctly named (one student who read Alec’s recent bio with the CCPA thought he had done well to have risen from a clerk’s position later in life.)


  1. Nortel falls by 50% from $100 to $50. By what percent must it climb to get back to 100$




  1. I go to the US and just before coming back, I need gas. The US gas price is $2.00 a gallon and the Canadian price is 92 cents a liter. On which side of the border do I fill up if I wish to save $$ – again – open book with 15 minute time limit with internet access. 


– Answer must discuss exchange rate, # of liters to the American gallon and also be correct

– Liter = .264172 US gallon so 3.7854 liters to American gallon … 92 cent a liter = $3.48 Canadian divided by US dollar of 1.41 exchange = $2.46 US an American gallon in Canada priced in US —– so you’d buy gas on the US side.


  1. Name the Prime Ministers of Canada who are still living:

(No one gets this one)


Trudeau, Harper, Martin, Chretien, Mulroney, Turner, Campbell, and Joe Clark


  1. In the US, what is the GOP?


– Grand Ol’ or Old Party – I will also accept “Republican” – no one ever gets either…..


  1. What were Premiers called before they were called Premiers?


– Prime Ministers


  1. Within 10 cents, and since Confederation, what is the highest and lowest the Canadian Dollar has been vis. the US dollar? 


Low 61 cents – High $1.08. I will accept for one point any range between 71 cents and $1.04 – every so often someone gets this so I need to toughen up! In 1864, a Canadian dollar was worth more than $2.50 American but that was when the Confederate army was marching on Washington with many thinking they would topple the union.


  1. In the US, is an undersecretary usually a member of a political party?




  1. Obama was directly elected in the US. Are Prime Ministers, premiers and mayors directly elected?


PM – No; Premier – No; Mayor – Yes (all 3 correct for one point)


  1.  If an MP crosses the floor, what does this mean?

– joins and sits with another party – I will accept sit as an independent just because I am tolerant


  1. What does a whip do?

– I’ll accept anything remotely related to getting party members to votes in the House.




Was a Constitutional amendment required to allow the fixed link to the mainland (bridge from PEI to New Brunswick) to be built? 


Yes! (Some guess right, thinking the answer would have to be yes to such an outlandish question)

S.43 in 1993


What is an OIC and is a deputy minister an OIC appointment?


Order in Council and yes


Does the United States have a parliament? 




Name the punchline to the 1993 joke: What does the Conservative party say when it goes into a restaurant and is greeted by a hostess?


Answer: Party of Two please!


Who were the two MP’s? 


Jean Charest and Elsie Wayne


Has a clerk ever had a twitter account from which he or she tweeted while in the job of the clerk? 


Yes – Wayne Wouters.