All posts tagged Gilles Paquet

Just One More Reason for a Commission of Inquiry into Veterans’ Issues

The article below was first published in Ottawa’s Hill Times on January 23, 2012

For Canada’s injured military, veterans and their families, there are few government agencies so singularly reviled as the Veterans Review and Appeal Board. The federal quasi-judicial body which hears reviews and appeals from injured soldiers and veterans applying for disability benefits has stolidly played a leading role in cultivating such scorn.

For almost a century, Canada’s injured soldiers have been awarded benefits for disability and living assistance. From their inception, awards and benefits have not always been justly granted to those who have sacrificed in our nation’s name.  This is where the VRAB or the “Board” comes in. Serving members, veterans, RCMP and their survivors (collectively called “applicants”) seek recourse through VRAB when the Department of Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) has failed these applicants in need.

The board has existed in various incarnations over the past century with its latest version morphing in 1995. In all of its incarnations, it has attracted much vitriol from the military, veteran and family community. In fact, Canada’s most prominent veterans’ organization, the Royal Canadian Legion, grew rapidly and came together largely as a result of leading the public outcry widely condemning VRAB’s predecessor in the 1920s.… Read the rest

It’s time Ottawa fix its broken trust with Canadians

The article below was first published in Ottawa’s Hill Times on December 5, 2011

It has become a sad truism that Canadians’ faith and trust in our federal government has been consistently declining.

This is hardly news. Over the past decade, federal government studies from the likes of Public Works and Government Services in 2001 and independent studies from the World Economic Forum in 2005, Conference Board of Canada in 2009 as well as the Nanos and the Manning Institute reports both in 2011 show how prevalent and persistent is Canadians’ declining trust and faith in government.

What to do about it is of greater importance. Ottawa’s own Gilles Paquet (University of Ottawa) offers a hope-fired torch to lead Canadians from our growing “malaise” and disaffection with Ottawa into a new era of “collaborative” government. His often colourful diagnoses of the problems are matched by his inspiring call to duty of all levels of society including citizens, bureaucrats, and intellectuals.

Should we care that we have lost substantial faith and much trust in Ottawa and its institutions? Not only should we care, the foundations of a modern democratic society depend upon such trust. Declining trust in government not only results in adverse economic impacts (witness the growing economic crisis in Europe) but trust is fundamental to creating a peaceful and productive society.

Read the rest

Here’s the real skinny on how power works in Ottawa

Published in the Hill Times on September 19, 2011

We should be forgiven if we believe that ministers, or in the case of this government, the Prime Minister’s Office is in complete control of Ottawa. This dogma of the Westminster model of government stands in the way of reality. Given the need to restore Canadians’ faith in our federal government while managing the inevitable cutbacks requires we fully
understand Ottawa if we are to make its powerbrokers truly accountable.

The reality is that the senior mandarins are the ultimate arbiters of power in Ottawa. They exercise control through departmental agendas and complex Treasury Board processes that often have little to do with the public their
namesake institution claims to serve.

It has become a near truism that the Prime Minister’s Office under the Harper government has carried out unprecedented centralization of our federal government. This does not mean he is in control. Even with 130-plus
staffers, the PMO is vastly outnumbered by 1,000 or so public servants in the Privy Council Office.

Beyond that, there are less than 500 mostly inadequately experienced political staffers to direct, control and oversee almost 400,000 public servants. These are odds more akin to the Fellowship of the Ring fighting the armies of Sauron.… Read the rest