Leadership challenges for public servants - Canadian Government Executive
Change ManagementEditor's WordGovernmentPublic Sector
November 15, 2018

Leadership challenges for public servants

Welcome to the fall edition of CGE. Since our last issue, there have been lots of developments in the political landscape across the country.

In Ontario, after 15 years of Liberal rule, the Ford government has recently completed its first 100 days in office marked by an active and contentious legislative and fiscal agenda which has been accompanied by a new approach to governing and communicating with citizens. Of note in Ontario is the government’s use of external consultants to reset its deficit projections and its use of the extraordinary powers of legislative committees to compel senior bureaucrats to divulge information about advice they had provided to a previous administration. This all makes for a wonderful political theatre, but the tactics are questionable. This approach has severe longer-term implications for governing through a transition where conventions relating to Cabinet secrecy and the discretion of public servants could always be relied upon.

In New Brunswick, a near dead-heat election result has once again brought our constitutional processes into the spotlight. Besides, this fall saw province-wide municipal elections in Ontario, where over 50 communities used electronic voting systems for the first time with interesting results. British Columbians are participating in a referendum on a potential switch to proportional representation. In Alberta, preparations are underway for a much anticipated 2019 provincial election.

What do all these things have in common? Well, they all put public servants to the test. Supporting transitions of governments, providing advice on conventions and legal practices during minority governments, developing fiscal strategy and safeguarding democratic processes – while not well understood by a majority of citizens – is all in a day’s work for readers of CGE.

A backdrop to many of the national developments affecting public servants is mounting concern over privacy and the safeguarding of personal information. Canada is, of course, being swept up in genuine issues surrounding the social media “giants” involvement in real and perceived misuse of these platforms to shift public opinion and for illegal activities. All of this is affecting Canadian perceptions as well. Even highly credible organizations such as Statistics Canada are under the gun for plans to use digital financial information as a tool.

Another example is Waterfront Toronto’s partnership with Alphabet’s Sidewalk labs. This grand plan to “digitize” the urban landscape in a part of the city has come under sharp criticism from those concerned about privacy including from some of its board members. Based on this, we are in for interesting several years where the push for more effective, digital government runs headlong into issues of citizen trust, calls for transparency and general dissatisfaction with democratic institutions.

All of this creates interesting leadership challenges for public servants across our country, and at CGE we will continue to explore these times of unprecedented change, people who will inspire these reforms and the best practices in governance, policy and program leadership.

We hope you enjoy this issue of CGE and as always, your comments and suggestions are welcome. You can reach me at george@promotivemedia.ca.

Canadian Government Executive – Volume 24 – Issue 05

About this author

George Ross

George Ross was the Deputy Minister of Energy and Mines Resources, Deputy Minister of Northern Development and Mines, Deputy Minister of Consumer Services, Deputy Minister of Research and Innovation, and also held a number of ADM positions within the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and the Ministry of Research and Innovation. He also served in the role of National President of the Institute of Public Administration of Canada (IPAC) and currently as the CEO and principal consultant of George Arthur Ross and Associates Inc. George is also an active volunteer who serves on several boards. George is the editor-in-chief of Canadian Government Executive.

0 comments

There are no comments for this post yet.

Be the first to comment. Click here.

Change Management
 
Welcome to the fall edition of CGE. Since our last issue,...
 
We risk missing out on the potential “Artificial Intelligence” has to...
 
In the 5th century BC, Nehemiah rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem....
 
From research to policy implementation, Canadian public servants possess the knowledge...
 
We all ask why governments fail, often spectacularly, to carry out...
 
Citizens are embracing technology as it rapidly changes. The experience that...
 
Federal efforts to increase the use of data to inform and...
 
Emerging technologies are getting faster and smarter. Cognitive capabilities, robotics and...
 
Canadian Government Executive is honoured to have Michael Wernick, Clerk of...
 
On a recent visit to Ottawa, I had the opportunity to...
 
Does your organization have a very narrow view of what digital...
 
With businesses and government agencies increasingly operating in a highly information-based...
 
Canadian Government Executive media through its upcoming TechGov event is providing the...
 
The answer my friends is blowin’ in the wind … BOB...
 
There’s no shortage of organizations claiming to have a digital transformation...
 
Laskey Hart guest hosts CGE Radio this week with a summary...
 
Rules and accountability are helpful in developing and standardizing processes but...
 
Canada’s top soldier said the Armed Forces continue to be locked...
 
It’s a common notion that young workers born in the mid-1990s...
 
In order to find out which strategies and priorities CFOs are...
 
A small but rapidly growing number of businesses have started hiring...
 
As populations grow and age, the demand for services increases. As...
 
Computer software company Adobe, has migrated more than 11 million pages...
 
Here’s some bad news for organizations contemplating projects that have something...
 
The facility of a top-secret military communications group in Borden, Ontario...
 
As the adoption rate of big data technologies among Canadian companies...
 
By Craig Killough In March of this year, the Prime Minister’s Advisory...
 
Written by  Roxanne Descôteaux When I first became a manager over...
 
Every four years, on average, Canadians elect a government from among...
 
It’s no secret that LEAN has demonstrated great success in the...
 
There have been a great number of change initiatives in the...
 
If you ask any municipal Chief Administrative Office (CAO) across Canada...
 
Change is difficult. The psychology of loss aversion means we are...
 
After serving in the public service for 24 years, Norman shares...
 
The federal government, through Shared Services Canada, is focusing on integrating...
 
The Centre for Creative Leadership has published a paper called Public...
 
“Finding efficiencies” might be an overused cliché, but allied defence forces...
 
Are you overwhelmed by your to-do list? Does so much of...
 
The idea of a merger of DFAIT and CIDA is not...
 
If your internal planning and reporting systems seem “archaic,” how do...
 
Strange as it may seem, a majority of us would opt...
 
What characterizes successful change management? Six leaders and leadership teams will...
 
The British Columbia Public Service is vying for talent in an...
 
In times of change, middle managers make the difference. Sandwiched between...
 
Once again, Policy Horizons Canada has prepared exclusively for CGE a...
 
Like an athletic coach, an independent project reviewer understands what it...
 
In October, Wayne Wouters, Clerk of the Privy Council, received CAPAM’s...
 
As young public servants, members of the national Federal Youth Network...
 
Canada’s North is at the forefront of unprecedented change and the...
 
Public sector reform can be like falling down a rabbit hole...
 
Transforming Government for the Future...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.6 June 2007 Learning and development are best achieved...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.5 May 2007 Peter Harder retired recently. He served...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.5 May 2007 Karen Ellis est vice-présidente de la...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.3 March 2007 Many leaders view change as an...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.2 February 2007 The 2005 centennial celebration of the...
 
CGE Vol. 14 No.5 May 2008 Crown relations with First Nations...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.4 April 2007 How will Canada keep on top...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.2 February 2007 So you think you’ve got it...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.3 March 2007 Consider the following recent history: Ontario...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.4 April 2007 “On any journey, it is important...
 
« Toutes choses étant, par une puissance immortelle, de près ou de...
 
Half a millennium since first contact between Aboriginal peoples and European...
 
In terms of performance measurement, incentives for success and penalties for...
 
Changer la culture des employés un outil à la fois Le...
 
"All things by immortal power, Near and Far, Hiddenly To each...
 
The Internet is a key channel for public service delivery. Recent...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.10 December 2007 When new policy collides with entrenched...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.9 November 2007 Youth…still wasted on the young. It’s...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.8 October 2007 When Pat Collins left Ottawa in...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.7 September 2007 By: Guy D’Aloisio, Mchel Laurendeau, V....
 
Quote of the week “We manage our books really well and...
 
Quote of the week “What was clear when you visited some...
 
Quote of the week “(P)ublic service should be a career of...
 
Quote of the week “Government can’t simply step into the void...
 
Quote of the week “…civil servants may be intractable points of...
 
Quote of the week “…thinking government is necessarily the solution to...
 
Quote of the week “If there is gravy at city hall,...
 
Quote of the week “The IPAC DM/CAO survey…provides insight into your...
 
Le problème actuel n’est pas seulement le départ à la retraite...
 
It’s not just that executives are about to retire – it’s...
 
Au cours des derniers mois, de nombreux fonctionnaires fédéraux ont dépoussiéré...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.9 November 2007 Most observers will be acutely aware...
 
Don’t trust anyone over thirty, Jerry Rubin pronounced in 1967. Jerry,...
 
A strange paradox has emerged in the quest for Gov 2.0....
 
CGE Vol.13 No.7 September 2007 Julius Caesar left us with one...
 
While the focus in recent years has been on Web 2.0...
 
How can an organization work seven times faster when it knows...
 
The 2011 federal election has focused on policy and leadership. But...
 
Unless you have been working in a silo, it is obvious...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.8 October 2007 The biggest challenge facing government executives...
 
Wondering why it sometimes seems so blankety-blank hard to get anything...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.9 November 2007 Not long ago, an energetic web...
 
À titre d’employée de la fonction publique de l’Ontario (FPO), j’ai...
 
As an employee of the Ontario Public Service, I’ve been looking...
 
À l’instar de nombreux autres employeurs, la fonction publique de l’Ontario...
 
Like many employers, the Ontario Public Service (OPS) has a sizeable...
 
Some title Some author
Some excerpt
 
Some title Some author
Some excerpt
 
Some title Some author
Some excerpt
 
Some title Some author
Some excerpt
Welcome to the fall edition of CGE. Since our last issue,...