“The longstanding tradition has been that a current government can’t bind a future government….You don’t make appointments that are two years ahead of time on the eve of an election.”
And yet the outgoing Harper government made dozens of appointments in the dying days of their administration, some of which won't even go into effect until the just elected government's mandate is over.
Some people are really upset by this.
True, it's a pretty cynical play by former Team Harper; the goal is to extend their reach beyond their electoral mandate and to hamstring the new Trudeau administration some. Perhaps they think that, by securing the positions of these appointees, they are owed something.
It doesn't really matter. Here's why.
Team Harper's policy made it abundantly clear how they view people - fixed-in-stone, responsive only to threatening sticks or periodically, enticing carrots. Tough on crime was all about locking up bad people, because bad is what they were and reform (ironically) isn't possible. Harper's steadily increasing refusal to work with anyone not answerable to him reinforced this - compromise, persuasive arguments and inspiration simply weren't in his playbook.
To him and his inner circle, these appointments are his people, and will be expected to play to his tune.
Man, they're in for a big disappointment.
Trudeau's mandate letters to his Ministers - which, consistent with the culture of open he promised, were made public - make it clear that respect for the civil service is integral to their role.
If we want Canadians to trust their government, we need a government that trusts Canadians. It is important that we acknowledge mistakes when we make them. Canadians do not expect us to be perfect – they expect us to be honest, open, and sincere in our efforts to serve the public interest.
Harper was top dog, the head of the fish - and as the saying goes, il pesce puzza dalla testa.
Trudeau so far isn't about being the head - he's about being the empower-er in chief. He doesn't want to control from the top down, he wants to grow from the grassroots up - including from within the civil service.
Harper had his strategy and is relying on his appointments to serve his interests.
Trudeau is creating a culture of respect, trusting the civil service and inspiring them with vision.
Culture eats strategy for breakfast; altruism is selfishness that plans ahead.
Too bad for Harper he never learned that lesson. His successor will have to.
Such is the nature of social evolution, isn't it?