Pointing The Finger

Posted on Tuesday, January 17 at 11:02 by Sebastian Anders
It is a long and tedious learning process. Some of it is learned from their parliamentary colleagues who have already been through the mill and served a term or more. A lot of it is learned from public service personnel assigned to this duty, the ones whose job it is to mould the elected representatives of the people to their way of doing things. They are the hired help, the permanent fixtures, the ones who know the ropes and all the rules and regulations and where all the skeletons are hidden on Parliament Hill. They know who to see or to talk to, to get things done or not done. They have all the connections in and out of government, on and off the Hill. MPs are not privy to all this information, which might just give the bureaucrats leverage over them. The process is referred to as “Ottawashed”. In some cases, the process is complete when the MPs have forgotten they represent their constituents in Parliament, and allowed themselves to be convinced they are there to represent their Party to the people who elected them, taking on an attitude of arrogance and entitlement; humility and service to the people having become foreign words. There are a lot of honest working people in the public service; the great majority of them would not even take a paper clip paid for by taxpayers. Unfortunately, not all of them are as honest as their public relations offices would have us believe. And the problem starts at the top, because that is where the power lies. The governing party appoints the top bureaucrats; the upper level mandarins whose job it is to make administrative recommendations to the government and then implement the rules and the laws derived there from. Some of these upper level mandarins, from deputy ministers on down, take it upon themselves to interpret these rules and laws according to their own biases and prejudices. The minions below them have to live by these, notwithstanding the Constitution or the Charter of Rights, while their elected bosses are generally kept in the dark about what is really going on in the administrative halls of power and government catacombs across the land. Years ago, in-depth studies were done to establish the cause of theft on the job. In the private sector the studies showed that employers tolerated a certain amount of theft; it was cheaper than paying higher wages. But they went after the abusers, those who went beyond the established acceptable level of pilfering. At the same time, employees felt empowered in their unorthodox attempts at balancing the books. It was also found that in general, those who partook in this method of “equalisation payments” liked the challenge, were the most efficient workers, were never late and never missed a day of work. Everything in the public sector is financed by taxpayers’ money. The psychology of it there is that taxpayers’ money doesn’t belong to anyone. So, for those who are so inclined, it is OK to take whatever they feel like taking because after all, as taxpayers, they are only steeling from themselves. Countless reports have been made about the free flow of goods going out the doors of government offices and buildings: computers (sometimes brand new ones still in the box), furniture, stationery, and all kinds of office materials and equipment. All this would be difficult to accomplish without the complicity of security personnel who probably hold the door open. Little of this is ever investigated. If it is, rarely is anyone caught or prosecuted, probably because it would be too costly and embarrassing to do so. However, the zealots spare no expense in pursuing a delinquent taxpayer for six dollars, or someone overpaid a few dollars in employment insurance benefits. In regards to disappearing government (taxpayers’) property, an occasional scapegoat is used to give a show of action against the rampant thievery and put the fear of God in those who abuse the “privilege”. But that is as far as it goes. At the mandarin level, however, it is different. It only takes a few less than honest “ministers” with the power to direct the flow of funds and work out some sort of complicity with less than honest “bureaucrats” to redirect those funds into the pockets of friends of the Governing Party. We have the numerous Liberal boondoggles of the past thirteen years as evidence of that, including the infamous Adscam. But there is another type of corruption within the ranks. Discrimination is the worse kind of corruption to be found in the workplace because it is insidious, very difficult to prove and easily denied, even when it is obvious. The policy of a united Canada is bound to the Trudeau ideology of bilingualism and biculturalism, declaring two official languages to be treated equally in a country where over eighty percent of the population is English speaking. The government’s official policy has been to artificially change this by creating a climate of favouritism for French speaking Canadians on the pretext that the minority language must not only be protected but also promoted wherever possible. The best place to start is within the federal public service. The premise is that once this is accomplished, the rest is easy. Regretfully, objectivity is not a natural trait of character. People are indeed subject to the influence of their cultural and/or linguistic origins, especially when pressed upon by others with political agendas based on historical revisionism. Too many senior bureaucrats charged with the responsibility of applying the policies of a misguided ideology have, over the years, taken it upon themselves to interpret the guidelines as meaning that the French Factor must be encouraged, promoted and spread throughout the country at the expense of the English-speaking majority of Canadians. In fact, there has been an incursion of French in many communities across Canada, due to the zealousness of a few well-placed individuals favourable to the French cause of controlling the seats of power. Guided by the wisdom of directives from on high and from the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages, these seats of power start at the lowest administrative levels, in human resources where decisions are made about who gets hired and who does not. In most cases, preference is given to those with the right pedigree, who meet the criteria designed to exclude those not favourable to the intended goal. Under the guise of “bilingual imperative” requirement for most positions, French has become the most important job requirement. English is not. English-speaking public servants must pass French tests that most French employees would be hard pressed to pass and many of whom would not pass an English test either, but they are not required to do so. They are French, after all. Throughout the federal public service, discrimination abounds because there are people in places of authority with decision-making power who systematically make sure that their goals are kept in sight until such a time as they have complete control of all seats of power in government. Without a doubt, the directives for the implementation of the French policies within the government structure and hierarchy are political, but the implementation is bureaucratic. Although the written guidelines may show objectivity and fairness towards both linguistic groups, in practice, the actual guiding factors are personal, cultural and linguistic. Based on these, prejudice and discrimination abound. It is simply human nature. However, if the imposition of French as a job requirement was eliminated and merit and ability were reinstated, it is doubtful that the pendulum would swing the other way and create an atmosphere of favouritism for the English-speaking candidates. The ability to communicate clearly would be more important than whether one can speak French in a predominantly English-speaking country, just to satisfy some misguided ideology or political agenda. Most people generally refer to or accuse “The Government” when expressing their frustrations about the workings of government. This is equally true about those who are concerned about systemic discrimination within the ranks of the public service. More precisely, the “Government” is the group of elected members of parliament who have been sent to Ottawa as representatives of the people to ensure that the administration of the affairs of government, which is in the hands of the mandarins running the administration, is done according to the wishes of the people. But the MPs are not kept informed about much of what goes on in government. The internal workings of the government, in matters of personnel and staffing, hiring and language policies and practices, are generally not matters of great interest or concern to most MPs, which is unfortunate because they should be. These matters are regretfully left in the hands of the minister responsible, the Treasury Board and the PCO who are most apt to put into place practices and policies stemming from their own personal biases and prejudices, as indeed they are. A great imbalance exists in the staffing of the federal public service. The country is more than 80% English speaking and yet, because of the biases of those setting the hiring policies or doing the hiring, nearly 70% of the public service personnel is of French origin. This is due to the bilingual requirements imposed by those with an agenda that is inconsistent with fair hiring practices. If fair hiring practices were in place, language would not even be an issue or a factor. Proper communication between all parties to insure safety, security and the efficient performance of duties should be the criteria, not one’s pedigree, culture or linguistic preference. If blame is to be attributed to anyone for the cultural chasms in the public service, it should be against the bureaucrats who allow or simply turn a blind eye to, possibly encourage and therefore are responsible for the implementation of discriminatory hiring and staffing practices and policies because of the personal agendas of very biased and prejudiced individuals. It is important to recognise where the fault lies and take action against those who are responsible, regardless of their lofty positions or the power they wield. Otherwise, they will stay hidden in their lofty ivory towers, not caring one iota what anyone thinks or does because they consider themselves untouchable. Regardless of who is elected to parliament, bureaucrats keep on doing what they do. They are very good at ingratiating themselves to their political bosses, in most cases, Ministers of the Crown. Although they are supposed to leave their political stripes at the door, bureaucrats can still make life difficult for the elected representatives of the people who are of a different political stripe than their own. Cleaning up government is not just a matter of going after those with their hands in the cashbox. More importantly, it is about going after the culture of entitlement within the bureaucracy. Much of that culture of entitlement stems from the misapplication of policies based on personal biases and prejudices resulting in granting preferential treatment to those of a particular culture or linguistic group as a result of historical revisionism, to the detriment and the exclusion of others, generally the majority of Canadians. L. Sebastian Anders [Proofreader's note: this article was edited for spelling and typos on January 17, 2006]

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