Thursday, November 12, 2015

Team Trudeau A and B ..... will the latter be the leakers?

Good Day Readers:

It's far, far too early to assess the Trudeau administration because all you've seen of any substance to date are "taxpayer double dick overs" (when a new government reverses policies of a former government for which you've already been expensed).

The mandate letter of which the Toronto Star's Susan Delacourt writes, how did it "magically" fall into the hands of the media? Was it a planned pre-release leak or did it come via a disgruntled Liberal MP who didn't make the cabinet cut? Even Ms Delacourt has used the line, "What do you call an anonymous source? A disgruntled Liberal."

Next, will Canadians at some point see a list of everyone in the Prime Minister's Office, how they got there and exactly what it is they do? Better yet put it online for all to see. Now that's transparency and accountability!

But why stop there? Under existing Canadian law cabinet documents do not become public domain until after 30-years. How do you then hold a government accountable? A 2010 international study by the University Collage London compared Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and the United Kingdom in public access to government information. Well guess what? Canada ranked last.

And while you're at it Mr. "Kinder-Gentler-Touchy-Feely-Selfie-Transparent-Accountable" Prime Minister, when you going to do something about Canada's Access to Information Act which hasn't been upgraded since its inception more than 30-years ago making it woefully inadequate and one of the worst in the world.

Clare L. Pieuk
You'll be judged by how you treat others, Trudeau cabinet warned

Mandate letter tells ministers that it's "essential" for them to engage with reporters

By Susan Delacourt
Thursday, November 12, 2015
"Members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery, indeed all journalists in Canada and abroad are professionals who, by asking necessary questions contribute in an important way to the democratic process," say "mandate letters to members in Justin Trudeau's cabinet. "Your professionalism and engagement with them is essential." (Chris Wattie/Reuters File Photo)

Working well with others — including people in the media — is now officially part of the job description for Canadian cabinet ministers.
The “mandate letters” given to every minister are setting a new bar for co-operation in Justin Trudeau’s government, according to one letter obtained in advance of the expected public release.
In fact, if the sheer word volume in these letters is any indication, co-operation seems to be the top item on the to-do list of Trudeau’s team.
Ministers are being warned that they will be judged by how well they treat a whole raft of people — everyone from business to labour, stakeholders and citizens, and yes, the opposition and the media too.
“Members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery, indeed all journalists in Canada and abroad, are professionals who, by asking necessary questions, contribute in an important way to the democratic process. Your professionalism and engagement with them is essential,” the letter states.
This is, we’ll remember, a slightly more formal way of saying what Trudeau told a crowd of people booing reporters during the last week of the election campaign. “Hey! We have respect for journalists in this country,” Trudeau chided unruly Liberals at a campaign stop in Montreal. “They ask tough questions and they're supposed to. OK?”
One group of people is singled out as well in the mandate letters for special treatment from government. “No relationship is more important to me and to Canada than the one with Indigenous Peoples,” the letter states.
The notable feature of these mandate letters, as mentioned, is the amount of words devoted to culture change of the kinder, gentler sort. “Open by default” is an operating principle.
One senior Liberal said this week that the Trudeau team needs to hammer home the instructions about co-operation because they represent a massive shakeup to the status quo, or at least the operating culture of the past decade or so in Ottawa. “A lot of people just aren’t used to this; it’s totally new,” the senior Liberal said.
Former prime minister Stephen Harper gave mandate letters to his ministers too and asked for yearly updates on their priorities. But the letters were never made public, and it’s probably safe to bet that they didn’t give all these warnings on co-operation, especially not with the media.
The letters also indicate that Trudeau is setting down in writing some new rules about partisan activity in government advertising and in the conduct of political staffers. Ministers are being supplied with a copy of something called “Open and Accountable Government” and urged to read carefully the bits about politicization of their offices.
It will be interesting to see whether the other 153 members of the Liberal caucus get similar marching orders in the days ahead.
More than a week after that heady swearing-in ceremony of the new 31-member cabinet, little has been heard about what’s in store for the dozens and dozens of MPs who didn’t make it to the passenger list on the bus to Rideau Hall on November 4.
Many had expected Trudeau and his team to announce more quickly their plans for the non-ministers in this new government after that big, showy party at Rideau Hall. All this initial focus on the cabinet risks sending a signal that there’s an A team and a B team among the Liberals. And as those of us with long memories recall, that’s always been a recipe for instability and discontent in Liberal circles.
Harper kept restive backbenchers in check with a culture of heavy-handed discipline and control. Those options are not available to Trudeau, who has promised to exercise less control at the centre and — as the mandate letters say in some detail — a climate of trust and respect.
Judging from conversations around Ottawa this week, a general air of optimism still exists about the new government. But it’s also punctuated with some mild impatience about when things will be entirely up and running, as well as pointed questions about whether non-cabinet members will have status equal to the newly minted ministers.
The impatience will be resolved over time — by Christmas, many estimate. Senior Liberals freely confess that it’s proving to be a massive task, hiring staff and moving from third-party status to majority government. At the huge Langevin Block, home to the PMO, the lights are only on at night on the second floor — first-floor offices are still empty.
As for concerns about two-tier status in the Liberal caucus, why not mandate letters for the 150-plus MPs who didn’t get sworn into cabinet too? The Samara organization, devoted to democratic renewal, has been urging for years that MPs need better job descriptions.
Trudeau’s marching orders to cabinet leave no doubt about the style of government he wants to lead. For that to work, the MPs not in the cabinet will need to have their jobs defined that way too.


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