Open partisanship is not only unprofessional, it undermines the bureaucracy’s credibility. It supports the notion that Conservative distrust of the establishment was reasonable.
There's some validity to what Jen Gerson says. Not everything Stephen Harper did was bad, nor is everything about Justin Trudeau lily-white. Some media and members of the public service have taken a shine to the new government. Of course, more than a few media sources have been unkind to Trudeau and opted to ignore some of Harper's faults.
Such is the nature of politics - you're going to have some people who like what you do and some who don't. There will be folk who look back at Harper's 2008 prorogation as a cynical manipulation of Canadian law to cling to power; some will take the position that the (non-illegal) coalition of socialists and separatists would have destroyed Canada. Or that omnibus bills were necessary to get stuff done on the one hand, or a cynical attempt to bury matters of importance where they might be missed.
By the same token, some will say that a "professional" service is supposed to do what the boss says; others will say that a leader should be respectful and that regardless, it's the role of the public service to provide evidence- and experience-based advice to policy makers.
At the end of the day, all this misses the point.
The Harper government came to power with a chip on its shoulder which was maintained rather intently throughout it's time in power. The Laurentian Elites were against them. The Media Party were against them. The Supreme Court, StatsCan, countless public servants and non-for-profit groups were out to get them from day one.
In post-mortem, what we're seeing is more of the same - we were good, unappreciated in our time, the people are hypocrites for picking on us but loving on Justin Trudeau. From unappreciated aggressor going over the heads of the institution to maligned victim with blinding speed.
Now, look at Justin Trudeau. Years of attacks didn't knock him from his optimism. Despite everything the Tories threw at him, Trudeau still views them as neighbours. Despite the contempt Stephen Harper has personally held for him, Trudeau has been gracious in the transfer of power and even let Harper take one last ride on a challenger.
Contrast his approach with Harper's approach, or Tim Hudak's approach. Look at where Mulcair fell and where Jack Layton succeeded before him.
It's kinda hard to miss the underlying trend.
Even Jason Kenney is exploring the potential of sunny ways, recognizing that cynicism and bitterness aren't traits that inspire loyalty or trust.
Pitting people against each other isn't leadership. Contempt isn't leadership. Leaders don't carry grudges or grind axes - they lead. They provide vision and opportunity and above all else, they are cheerleaders of the people. Leaders don't tell; they listen. They don't message; the communicate.
For leaders, it's never about them - it's always about the people. Everything - even failure - is an opportunity for growth.
Stephen Harper never understood leadership; he wanted to be the boss. Canada didn't want a boss and when they finally had an alternative, they took it.
People don't look to leaders for cynicism; they can be cynical on their own. People look to leaders for inspiration.
It is entirely Jen Gerson's right to be bitter, resentful and to dedicate her time to finding fault with the other guys instead of helping her side to grow.
That's not a particularly good frame of mind to take if you're going in for a job interview, though.
Harper's successors and the Conservative Party as a whole are doing just that. Everything they do between now and the next election should be viewed through the lens of putting their best face forward, of inhabiting the professionalism Gerson hints at in her article.
Their approach should be #howmight we more than it is #youcantdothat.
Instead of looking for enemies, the Tories need to be nurturing allies - especially among the public service. To do that, they are going to need to commit a bit of sociology.
Or they can focus on fault. It's worked for them this far, hasn't it?
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