Public Service: What have you done?

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REGENT ST — My dad used to tell us that in Canada there was no obligatory military service, so everyone should work for the government for at least two years.

All of my siblings did. My brother and I in federal politics and my sister in universities, for local government and running architecture associations in western Canada. My brother was chief of staff to a Prime Minister. I was less successful, but had an office in the Canadian Parliament Buildings that had been the entire Ministry of Finance at the time of Confederation.

If nothing else it gives you a better understanding of what public service is all about. Why people do it and what difficulties there are in making it work.

I came to the conclusion that politicians need a rare and equal balance of:

  1. optimistic desire that the world can be changed, and
  2. egotism to believe that they can do it.

However, there are a myriad of ways that people can work in the public sector these days. And I am not sure we are taking advantage of that enough. There are not enough people who really know what it is about. And there are fewer still who think they will find pride and power in the public sector.

That’s wrong.

There ought to be more people fighting for the fewer public sector jobs in our countries.

We need more, better bureaucrats.

Think about how well ‘less regulation’ has worked? And the clear fact that governments will have to be smaller in the future, but better regulation is required.

Clearly good brains are needed.


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One Response

  1. Mike Ferrabee

    I agree. Fortunately, there are many very smart ones now – we just seem to have created sport out of denegrating what they do – and made it more and more difficult for them to do their jobs because of the huge number of accountabilities and web of rules we impose.

    For the record – I was a senior advisor to the PM, and her Chief of Staff before she became PM.

    Always thoughtful posts from a smart guy.

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