This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Neutral Agencies Guiding the Canadian Electorate

"It is for Canadian citizens to decide if they think that the limitations to their freedom of expression are acceptable or not. And if they think, and I hope that they think, that they are unacceptable, then they will act [in consequence]."
"[PEN is concerned with] the erosion of the right to express oneself freely [in Canada, in respect to] sprawling surveillance programs [and the sharing of intelligence with the U.S. National Security Agency."
John Ralston Saul, president, PEN International: 20-page report on Canadian freedom of speech

"I think we share worries in this area [public service neutrality in federal election]. I think we can work with the Privy Council Office to repair damage and I intend to fully work with the government."
"For me, this is not a problem with the bureaucracy, this is a problem caused by [Stephen] Harper. I don't want Band-Aids on small cuts. I want to work with the head of the public service to fix the systemic issues."
People at all levels are suffering from this government's decisions and there has been no outlet to correct them. That is why I reached out to PCO, I want to create that outlet."
"We never told our members who [to vote for], so we remained non-partisan. Political activism wouldn't make our relationship with the Conservatives any better, but we really felt we couldn't be much worse off as a workforce."
"People say we aren't neutral, but I believe it's the complete opposite. We are trying to create a non-partisan public service. It's because of this government's hyper-partisan actions that we are trying to get back to the position where we can deliver services to Canadians in a neutral way."
Debi Daviau, president, Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada

"The decision of unions to campaign against Harper ... was unfortunate and harmful because it legitimizes the Conservative view that the public service is a partisan institution. I don't think it is, but the actions of unions certainly make ti appear to be."
"No party can rejoice in public servants becoming actively involved in electoral politics against the government."
Ralph Heintzman, University of Ottawa

"They hurt the institution they service. What is the opposition supposed to think if they do this to the government of the day: 'What will stop them from leaking when we're the government?'"
Donald Savoie, Canada Research Chair, Public Administration and Governance, Universite de Moncton

Quebec Liberal governments have attempted in the past to reign in the militant advocacy and demands of provincial public service unions. To try to manage the state of the province's economy, hampered by the too-generous surrender to public service unions' demands for perquisites to enhance the existing top-offs that public servants enjoy beyond job security and top salaries as compared to the private sector. One government after another has relented under the barrage of blame and coercion.

And the Province of Ontario under successive Liberal governments has similarly acceded to union demands from public service workers, giving them rich benefits and salaries beyond what the balance of the tax-paying public can begin to imagine for themselves in the workforce. The Conservative-led government of Stephen Harper, now defeated in yesterday's general election, thanks in good part by lobbying of the electorate by a sanctimoniously 'neutral' public service, made an effort to reimagine benefits to an already-pampered civil service.

It is a workforce that is so widely entitled that it professes, under that government initiative, to have been placed under huge psychological stress, leaving them impaired and demoralized, unable to adequately perform their duties, when in fact far too many civil servants have never made an effort to earn their generous salaries. The perception that this is reality and that a swollen workforce with a too-generous benefits package needs to be trimmed, was not original to the government just defeated.

The two previous government administrations, Liberal and Conservatives, underwent a similar series of cut-backs. But this would have to qualify as the first general election where so many segments of Canadian society bought into the widely shared perception that this was an evil administration, even though it succeeded in governing wisely and well for the most part, albeit not achieving perfection in all its decision-making.

The civil service engaged in the kind of treachery that negates the fiction of neutrality. On two occasions confidential government material was released for public scrutiny for the purpose of betraying civil service discretion during an election, and to cause harm to the sitting government prospects for a return to power. In both instances the RCMP was called in to investigate, since it constituted a criminal offence.

So much for protestations of neutrality on the part of craven neutralists.

Debi Daviau
Debi Daviau, President, Professional Institute of the Public Service
"If I’ve learned anything in the past year as your President, it is that no one should underestimate the willingness of the current federal government to resort to deception and bullying to achieve its ends, or the ingenuity and resolve of public service professionals to defend their own and the public’s interests. Take, for example, the government’s rewriting of the rules of collective bargaining in favour of the employer (under an omnibus budget bill) and its assaults on unions and democracy through labour bills C-525 and C-377. While PIPSC can’t rewrite labour laws, we still have the right to make proposals at the bargaining table and the right to speak out when we believe our members’ interests and those of the public are in danger – rights that our science members recently exercised when they proposed the federal government negotiate fundamental standards of public science integrity."

"Dear Mr. Trudeau, On behalf of the 55,000 members of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC), please accept my sincere congratulations on your and your party’s historic success in yesterday’s federal election, and our commitment to work with Canada’s new government to deliver real change."

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