Case in point

My column this morning talks about our need to have a government and public service that can get beyond vested interests and do what it thinks is right for the wider public in the long term.

The T&T has a story illustrating my point perfectly. The have the Chamber, the CFIB, the Retail Council of Canada all slamming the proposed tax changes in New Brunswick. And for added measure Al Hogan throws in that the paper has received a pile of letters against the changes.

That last part is just gratuitous. Everyone, even Al, knows that people write in to gripe about something 10 times more than they write in to say how happy they are about something.

Now I don’t claim to have the answer here and that really isn’t my point. The CFIB and RCC etc. may be right on this who knows? My point is that vested interests will always defend themselves – always and that is an important part of the democratic process. But the public good does rise above individual interests and wisdom comes from knowing when and good leadership is about getting it done despite the pressure.

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0 Responses to Case in point

  1. Anonymous says:

    I agree with you, but the problem is not young people who want to work in the public service (I am speaking mainly about the provincial public service). The problem is that the PS is not run as a way to retain the best and brightest, but as a political tool to get constituents (any one that will vote for you will do) a job. I once went to my MLA and told me I intended to apply for a job in government. He said that if I was able to get an interview to contact him. When I asked what difference that that would make, he said he would make sure I got the job. I got an interview, and did not get in touch with him, because I really do not believe in this system. I did not get the job and if i did not get it based on my interview and the others who applied, I am fine with that. The problem is I know someday I will apply for a job, I know I will be the most qualified candidate, but because another candidate contacted his MLA, he gets the job despite of the face that the people who will actually have to eventually work with this person may not be the best qualified. This must just breed dysfunction in the PS when people have to work with people who they didn’t in the first place. For me, it is a prisoners dilemma, do i leave it to chance that the other candidates will not get extra help from their MLA, or do I go against my morals and go to my MLA to give myself extra chance? What if everyone went to their MLA’s?
    This system does not promote the best and the brightest into the PS, no matter how many young bright people are eager to get their foot in the door.

  2. David Campbell says:

    I hope the leadership in the civil service (elected as well) will migrate away from that old thinking and focus on making government an attractive alternative for talented young people. I am not naive. I know of what you speak.

  3. Anonymous says:

    The people who have the power in the civil service are so afraid of taking risk; therefore the opportunities for creativity, leadership growths etc. are limited. Also, there is such a small amount of people in government who hold all of the power (perhaps five or six people). The other ones (most Deputy Ministers) are oblivious to the fact that there is no leadership and creativity in the public sector. None of them are preoccupied by the fact that many civil servants are retiring before the age of 60. The DMs also question why there’s so much turnover in the public sector, why they can’t keep their stronger employees, etc. But their queries end there. It’s time for the powerful people in government to dig a little deeper in their questions.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Unfortunately, you represent a minority.

    The majority of people are happy getting their road paved because they either gave up on higher expectations or our education system failed them and lobbying to have their road paved taxes just about all their mental horsepower.

    To break this log jam, we need leadership willing to sacrifice political capital for longer term good. Until we have it, expect more of the same.

  5. Anonymous says:

    David, I agree with the premise of your article. I have had the benefit of serving various roles within the Government of Canada over the past decade and have taken part in a number of high priority files of national importance. For the most part, government in its weird wacky way, does work and in many cases, it works from the ground up. However, the NB civil service is a different beast. For me, and believe me, as an expatriate who is absolutely desperate to make it back and am equally as committed to seeing NB grow, the opportunities within the NB civil service cannot be matched. First, the pay scales are laughable. Second, bilingualism seems to be a must-have, even despite the well-endowed translation function of government. Third, in most cases, the stock of MLAs leaves much to be desired in severa areas from leadership, policy capacity, etc. There is no doubt the public service needs to be revitalized, but to a large extent that depends on the political will of its masters.

  6. richard says:

    “For the most part, government in its weird wacky way, does work and in many cases, it works from the ground up.”

    And it works in spite of senior management (the DMs), a generally hapless bunch. I say that after 15 years of observing them at close range.

    The aversion to risk is another issue; this is common in both private and public corporate sectors. I am not sure how we can get around this, but I think its best to view government as being in service delivery and not expect too much innovative thinking beyond that.

    What is really needed in NB is political leadership; that is where the risk-taking has to come from.

  7. Anonymous says:

    In my opinion, given the size of New Brunswick, its conservative nature, and the huge amount of vested interests, the profile of a NB politician who would be a risk taker must include the open-mindedness (and the qualifications!) to develop a successful career out of the province if things don’t go as planned. Now, looking at the current group of MLAs, how many people like that we can find??? Does the current Premier fit this profile?

  8. Anonymous says:

    Anon 1141 you make a great point. Worse yet is when the politcians realize their limitations and develop landing spots for themselves while in office.

    For example , watch for plump appointments at the new UNB gym that taxpayers so generously supported under the current government.