White Paper

White Paper, a government document which outlines both government policy on an issue and possible future action, including legislation. It is sometimes a reaction to the report of a royal commission or task force. The Trudeau government, after its experience with the White Paper on Tax Reform, discovered that White Papers provided elites, rather than the public, with access to decision making and publicity. There has often been confusion about whether a White Paper has expressed government intentions or whether its purpose has simply been to raise an issue for discussion, like a green paper. White Papers can be withdrawn with less embarrassment than legislation can.