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jerryking : pmo   15

After the SNC-Lavalin affair, we must strip the influence of political staffers - The Globe and Mail
Omer Aziz was a policy adviser to the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

From the outside, our government is a democracy with duly elected parliamentarians. From the inside, it can feel like an autocracy, with power concentrated in very few hands. There is a single node of power and all the channels run through it. That’s why the Prime Minister’s Office is colloquially referred to as “the Centre.”....At Global Affairs Canada, political staffers meet regularly with stakeholders, including human-rights groups, corporate representatives and anyone else who might be affected by our policies, and signals regularly came from above on how to manoeuvre on a certain file. If a message comes from “the Centre” to your office, you can bet that everyone will drop everything and make sure they are meeting expectations. Refuse, and well – these people hold your future in their hands.

It would be no stretch to say that most of the important decisions made by the Canadian government are made by only a handful of people. This has led to preventable errors and bad policy outcomes such as Justin Trudeau’s India trip or the SNC-Lavalin affair. As with too much accumulated wealth, too much accumulated power is ultimately bad for democracy.

There are more than 600 political staffers in Ottawa. These jobs are not publicly advertised and are notoriously difficult to come by if you’re not already well-connected. It’s no wonder that diversity is such a problem in government – and this includes viewpoint diversity as much as ethnic and racial diversity.

Pull back the curtain and it turns out the people in the backrooms mostly resemble one another. Within the political staff itself, there exists a hierarchy, with senior staffers in the Prime Minister’s Office at the top. This is where the real decisions are made.

We need to seriously scale back the influence of political staffers and legislate what the parameters of their jobs really are......The biggest problem with concentrating political power is that it leads to hubris and arrogance, and eventually to critical errors. It leads people to believe that they can overstep boundaries in the name of the Boss.

Absolute power not only corrupts, it is fundamentally corrupting to the entire operation. This is not how a parliamentary system of government is supposed to work. These people are not the mafia. The government does not belong to them.

We could cut the number of staffers in half and Ottawa would run better than it does now. There should also be a formal, publicly acknowledged policy process so Canadians can trust that the system of democracy is working from within and decisions that might shape the future of the country for decades are not being made by a cloistered elite.
centralization  Ottawa  PMO  political_power  SNC-Lavalin  politicians  political_staffers  Canada  Canadian  government  institutions  partisanship  GoC 
february 2019 by jerryking
Ottawa is on the wrong side of Chinese power
January 15, 2019 | The Globe and Mail | JOHN IBBITSON.

Is there a way Canada could have avoided acting on an extradition request of the United States – employing the “creative incompetence” that former Liberal foreign minister John Manley said might have prevented the detention of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou? She is the daughter of Huawei’s founder, and Chinese anger at her detention is fierce and real.

“I’m with John Manley that we could have creatively avoided our responsibilities,” said Lynette Ong, a political scientist at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Toronto. Canada could manage American anger at letting Ms. Meng slip away more easily than it is managing China’s anger over her detention, Prof. Ong believes.

Did Canadian officials in Ottawa miss an opportunity to de-escalate the conflict through quiet diplomacy, rather than ratcheting up the rhetoric over what appeared to be the retaliatory detention of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor? Should they have foreseen that the Chinese might further retaliate by increasing the punishment of convicted drug trafficker Robert Schellenberg from 15 years to a sentence of death? How much of this is Donald Trump’s fault?

Or was none of this preventable?....So, what next?....The government obviously cannot interfere with the judicial process that will determine whether Ms. Meng is extradited to the United States. Nor can Mr. Trudeau attempt to resolve the situation by direct talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping, ....A successful conclusion to Sino-American trade talks might calm things down......Ong urges Mr. Trudeau to put down his public megaphone, and to focus on “quiet diplomacy behind the scenes.”.......There is another, deeper, concern. For at least two decades, Liberal and Conservative governments have concentrated more and more decision-making in foreign affairs in the Office of the Prime Minister. Global Affairs Canada may no longer have the capacity it once had to manage critical files, and political advisers to Ms. Freeland and Mr. Trudeau may be out of their depth, missing subtle signals and opportunities to reduce tensions between Ottawa and Beijing.
5G  Canada  China  China_rising  Canada-China_relations  Chrystia_Freeland  crossborder  foreign_policy  Huawei  John_Ibbitson  John_Manley  Liberals  Meng_Wanzhou  political_staffers  Xi_Jinping  Justin_Trudeau  diplomacy  PMO  reprisals 
january 2019 by jerryking
Dear MPs not picked for cabinet: Get over it - The Globe and Mail
Nov. 04, 2015 | The Globe and Mail | BARRY CAMPBELL.

The political arena is not for the meek. There is much to learn and some of that is hard: how to create distance between brain and mouth so you are not the subject of an unfortunate headline and a nasty call from the Prime Minister’s Office; how to make everyone still like you even when you couldn’t do much to help; and how to be patient knowing that you can’t fix everything. Victories may be few and small, but still worth it.

You will learn from your caucus colleagues (each of whom thinks he or she is as smart and deserving as you) and learn how to give credit when it is due and when to keep your own counsel. Learn how to live to fight another day, how to speak at caucus meetings and be noticed (humour helps) and how to be a partisan loyalist and a relentless self-promoter without losing your soul and the still be the person who came to Ottawa to serve their country.

My advice is this: Your power will come through how well you develop and manage relationships – with the cabinet, your colleagues, Hill staff, civil servants and even the opposition. Your lack of an official portfolio means that you can be more objective and provide cabinet ministers with an unvarnished perspective they’ll appreciate (mostly).

Pick both your battles and causes carefully. Most important, pick an issue and be its voice. Make it yours. (or...use your political_capital wisely)
advice  appointments  Justin_Trudeau  politics  politicians  serving_others  political_capital  wisdom  humility  self-promotion  self-starters  House_of_Commons  influence  PMO  relationships  speaking_up  the_Cabinet 
november 2015 by jerryking
Kill the Messengers: Stephen Harper and how our elected leaders meddle with the media - The Globe and Mail
CHRIS HANNAY
The Globe and Mail
Published Friday, Jan. 30 2015

Title Kill the Messengers: Stephen Harper’s Assault on Your Right to Know
Author Mark Bourrie
Genre Non-Fiction
Publisher Patrick Crean Editions
Pages 386
Price $32.99
Year 2014
PMO  Stephen_Harper  centralization  government  propoganda  books 
february 2015 by jerryking
Five ways to renew the public service - The Globe and Mail
DAVID MCLAUGHLIN
Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Friday, Aug. 22 2014,

No mere bureaucratic mortal, the Clerk is also Secretary to the Cabinet, responsible for the management of the government’s highest decision-making processes. She – for the second time in our history “it” is now a “she,” Janice Charette – the Clerk is the Prime Minister’s principal public service adviser. All formal advice from the public service to the PM goes through the Clerk. And all formal directions from the PM to the public service go through the Clerk. That is a lot of “get,” as they say.

In short, the Clerk is the PM’s deputy minister while the Privy Council Office, housed in the same buildings with the Prime Minister’s Office, is really the department of the Prime Minister. It exists to assert the Prime Minister’s will across the vast apparatus of government. If the Prime Minister is in theory primus intra pares or “first among equals” in the cabinet, the Clerk has no such encumbrances and really exists as “with no equals,” theoretical or otherwise.
public_sector  public_service  PMO  PCO  bureaucrats 
august 2014 by jerryking
Mister Right ·
APRIL 2011 | thewalrus.ca | bY MICHAEL POSNER

In recent years, the PMO has grown dramatically in size and power. The chief of staff functions like a consigliere: as well as calling signals for every offensive and defensive manoeuvre and controlling information flows, he’s the PM’s sounding board and last line of defence on every significant matter. “The important detail about Nigel,” says David Frum, “is that he’s ultra fair minded. His role isn’t to put his own thumb on the scale in terms of what gets presented to the prime minister. In other words, I don’t think you get these jobs unless you do have strong views, but you can’t succeed unless you’re able to put those views to one side. Nigel can and will.”
In the best of political circumstances, the chief of staff has the second-toughest job in Ottawa. University of Toronto political scientist Nelson Wiseman says it requires “a massive skill set. You’re overseeing 120-odd people, liaising with the Privy Council Office, dealing with the party caucus and the regional desks, coordinating four or five policy people and half a dozen speechwriters. Essentially, you’re the eyes, ears, and nose of the prime minister, and you have to be a very quick study.” Under Harper, an obsessive-compulsive micromanager who has brooked no serious opposition to his thinking (he’s been known to rehearse the remarks of his own ministers at cabinet meetings, in preparation for question period in the House of Commons), the job will likely be even tougher.
chief_of_staff  consigliere  fair_minded  information_flows  micromanagement  Nigel_Wright  Onex  PCO  PMO  Stephen_Harper  truth-telling 
july 2014 by jerryking
Privy Council Office (Canada)
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.
wikipedia  Canada  Canadian  GoC  government  PCO  PMO 
may 2014 by jerryking
John Turner: a great defender of Parliament - The Globe and Mail
Jun. 06 2012,

But June 18 will be more than just an occasion to reminisce, as Mr. Turner is expected to expand on his brief remarks at a recent Public Policy Forum dinner where he was scathing about the state of Canada's Parliament.

He lamented the centralization of power in the Prime Minister's Office, and the erosion of the importance and independence of standing committees "that used to be a real element of democracy in the House of Commons." He condemned the Conservative's omnibus budget bill, reminding the audience that "the budget used to be related to taxation," and arguing the government's strategy is to hamper debate. He also cited the inheritance of Magna Carta, the charter of liberties, that a ruler's will is not arbitrary, and that the privileges of parliamentarians need to be protected.

"What we have in this country didn't happen by accident, democracy doesn't happen by accident," said Mr. Turner. "Let's fight for the restoration of the supremacy of Parliament in our democratic life."

It was more than partisanship, it was a heart-felt defence of Canada's parliamentary democracy by a great Canadian parliamentarian. June 18 promises to be interesting.
anniversaries  centralization  democracy  editorials  House_of_Commons  John_Turner  Magna_Carta  Parliament  parliamentary_democracy  partisanship  PMO  arbitrariness 
june 2012 by jerryking
The Wright stuff: the Onex guy and the PMO - The Globe and Mail
Oct. 7, 2010 | Globe & Mail | Jeffrey Simpson. "Mr.
Wright’s big internal challenge will be to rebuild some experience in
the PMO and to bring more gravitas to ministers’ offices. The PMO has
lost most of the steady hands who arrived with Mr. Harper. It’s got too
many short-term thinkers and jejune partisans, part of the reason being
that the Accountability Act scares off experienced people because of the
long period after government service during which they can have no
contact with government. In this, as in so many other aspects of that
overwrought act, the government has become its own worst enemy."
Nigel_Wright  Stephen_Harper  appointments  Onex  chief_of_staff  PMO 
october 2010 by jerryking

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