- Thank you Jocelyne and thanks to the whole team at
APEX for organizing another great symposium.
- Since I became Clerk a year and a half ago, I have used
my speeches to outline my agenda.
- Let me recap the sequence and themes running through
these speeches. They represent an agenda for policy and management in the Public Service
- In my speech at this very Symposium last year, I first
set out my framework for public service renewal the next step in La Relève
recruitment, retention and learning, or R²L. (This was reinforced in the October
Speech from the Throne.)
- At the Policy Research Initiatives national
conference last November, I turned to policy and focused on building a stronger
policy capacity in the Public Service of Canada.
- This spring, I built on these two speeches and the Speech
from the Throne, in my Annual Report to the Prime Minister (which you should have received
courtesy of APEX). In it, I spoke about strengthening policy capacity and R²L, but I also
built in a new element modernizing service delivery and said I wanted to do it
- At last months Assistant Deputy Ministers' (ADM)
Forum, I expanded on the EGovernment theme.
- So, this brings me to this Symposium on "Canada in
- Now I hate the term "globalization". It has
been cheapened by overuse until it means everything and nothing. What is a "global
world" if not a redundant statement.
- Our policy challenge is: How can Canada maintain a unique
presence in the northern half of North America in the face of the forces of
globalization and continental integration?
- Basically, what I want to convey to you today is:
- Globalization is neither a dream nor a nightmare.
- And, it should affect the way each of us in this room
does our job.
- We all have a personal responsibility, as leaders in the
Public Service of Canada, to figure out what globalization means for you and how to act on
it. And time is not a luxury.
- I propose to do three things today:
- First, let me describe the challenge of cultivating
- Next, I would like to discuss some of the tensions and
incongruities that are caused by globalization, and how these tensions might manifest
themselves in your day-to-day work.
- Finally, I would like to discuss what globalization means
for public sector leadership what I will call "fonctionnaires sans
The Task At Hand: Cultivating Canadian Uniqueness in a Global
WorldEvery strategic planning document in
government these days starts out by identifying 3 main trends demographics,
technology and globalization.
- After that hopeful start, they almost immediately move to
- Globalization is to us what the depression,
industrialization, the national policy and building the welfare state were for our public
service predecessors. Quite simply, it is the dominant public service challenge of our
- There are two things worth noting: first, it applies to
us all, and second, it was ever thus.
- As I alluded to at the beginning, the dominance of
globalization for us might seem obvious for foreign service officers, commerce officers
and immigration officials, but it is equally true for regional managers at Human Resources
Canada Centres in Chibougamau, Kelowna or Sydney.
- All of us must cope with the increased pace, the
explosion of information, the diffusion of power and the greater interdependence caused by
globalization. It affects everyone.
- And, in some way, it is not different in this generation
than it was over the past 130 years. Some might say that the integrating forces of
the Elephant and the dominance of the parent colonial powers, was always determinative.
- Lets refine this problématique further. When I
think about advancing the Canadian public interest in a global world, its impossible
not to dwell on the North American context.
- The challenge is to maintain our unique presence in
North America and the world. As never before, that uniqueness must be founded on
- Excellence can be an unforgiving term. What do I mean
when I juxtapose Canadian uniqueness with excellence? Excellence in this context is both a
"race to the top" and an appeal to those unique Canadian values. It is a
positive affirmation of our Canadian way:
- Drawing strength from diversity and community.
- It means being demanding of ourselves and responding to
the challenges and opportunities ahead in a dynamic fashion. Its restless and not
easily contented. Excellence must be the standard because no other standard will hold in a
global world. Uniqueness must be the goal because no other goal draws out and reflects the
best of our society and ourselves.
- And to be frank, were not simply trying to be
different from our neighbors to the South; difference for differences sake is a
shallow, empty gesture. Our goal is to be better than them by reflecting who we are by
being true to our values.
- Our relationship with the U.S. is deeply synergistic. The
U.S. holds us to a higher standard by some of the things we admire and emulate, and also
by some of the things we choose not to do.
- And we hold them to a higher standard through the choices
we make and the example we set. Its a virtuous circle and one that benefits both our
The Eternal Balancing Act of the Public Interest
- Ironically, globalization cant be addressed
with global solutions. It is the aggregation of small decisions that will make the
- There is a Chinese fable that contends "a community
who wishes to move a mountain starts by carrying small stones". Well, the mountain is
going to take the work of the entire public service and, indirectly, all Canadians.
- Its going to require leadership. It requires you.
It means all of us doing what we can within our areas, carrying stones both large and
- What I would like to do now is share with you my sense of
how we should act in the public interest in the context of globalization and
North American integration.
- Since these forces are going to manifest themselves in a
myriad number of subtle and not so subtle ways, I dont think its appropriate
to set out hard and fast rules. Instead, I would like to talk about global forces in
terms of seven tensions they may create within your organizations.
- One tension sparked by globalization and central
to my main policy question is between uniformity and uniqueness. Is a global world
a homogeneous one?
- Certainly, there are good practices that deserve to be
copied the world over. Im all for ruthlessly copying good practices where
- But, I dont for a moment think that all policies
and programs should be the same everywhere; such thinking implies that in our advice to
Ministers there is no scope for recommendations that tailor policies and programs to
Canadians needs. It also suggests that there are no choices to be made.
- Government is still about choice and, therefore, the
tension continues to exist. I think we should be pragmatic in considering the dilemma
between uniqueness and uniformity.
- When does it make sense to harmonize practices in a
global world? Should it be done at the North American or international level?
- When does it make sense to adopt different and uniquely
- On this subject, I would like to offer you a caution
against bandwagons. Periodically in public policy and administrative circles, a cry goes
out that the road to "Public Service Perfection" can be found by following
- The trick is that "them" always changes. For my
part, I encourage you to think about what all other countries are doing, and to reflect on
provincial good practices as well. Above all, I encourage you to think in terms of the
- I should also point out that for many of "them"
its the "Canadian way" that is the model. In fact, the Prime Minister is
on his way to Berlin for a conference and the discussion among Western Leaders is about
the "Third Way". In Canada, we have always striven to find a way between the
Europeans and the Americans. We are the Third Way.
- This applies to public service as well as to policy.
Through the Canadian Centre for Management Development (CCMD)led Partnership for
International Co-operation, we are exporting our public service know-how to foreign
countries. This is exporting Canadian excellence and Canadian public sector values to the
world by linking departments, agencies, tribunals and parliamentary institutions with
counterparts abroad. I will return to this theme a little later.
- Another dichotomy that arises in trying to maintain a
unique presence in North America in the face of globalization is between
decision-making based on rules and decision-making based on flexibility.
- There are a number of ways of considering this issue in a
global world but, in every case, we need to keep in mind the principles of
modern comptrollership and accountability.
- The public service is good at making and implementing
rules. The current challenge we face is to ensure that these rules keep up with a changing
- Globalization and continuous rapid change can directly
threaten the viability of rules and regulations by creating a churning regulatory
- Faced with this situation, we need to think about how we
advise Ministers on such issues as:
- When is it appropriate to regulate? How should we balance
rules and predictability with flexibility?
- Are there other instruments and approaches that would
create better outcomes? and
- If regulation is required, how might performance-based
regulation be crafted to adapt to continuously changing circumstances?
- New integrated approaches to address chronic societal
problems, like impaired driving and pollution prevention, are emerging that involve
participation from all levels of government and civil society. These efforts strike at the
root of problems, rather than their symptoms.
- Our instinct to regulate needs to be constrained. Often
other approaches, such as information provision and alternative dispute resolution, are
not only less coercive; they are more effective. They are more effective because public
engagement and ownership creates bigger winwins. We need to investigate questions of
instrument choice as a matter of course in policy development.
- Regardless of what you do, in the public or private
sector, everyone has an anecdote on the acceleration of time in a globalized world of the
tension between fast and slow.
- Mine is in the form of a trivia question. The War of 1812
lasted until 1814 with the signing of the Treaty of Ghent. Where and when was the last
battle fought? The answer is 1815 in New Orleans (albeit only a few weeks later).
- The combatants had not heard the war was over. It cost
the British over 700 dead and a 1,000 wounded. Contrast this with CNN and the
Gulf War or Kosovo. Or the Internet and the Mars Lander.
- As anyone with a cell phone, a computer, a palm pilot or
a fax machine can attest, there is less time after the introduction of these supposedly
time saving devices than there was before.
- In a global world, there is a marked contrast between
fast and slow. The sense of "stalled hurry" and of time crunch impacts all of us
as individuals and public sector leaders. At the personal level, it can drive us crazy. At
the institutional level it generates intense pressures to move things along.
- To a point, this is very healthy. Im a big
supporter in most things that combat institutional inertia. Im sure there are things
we should be doing faster than we do currently. To the extent that globalization helps
deliver this message, Im all for it. But there are also times for deliberation.
There are some processes and deliberations that we must not curtail.
- In a recent book, "Business at the Speed of
Thought", Bill Gates outlines the evolving private sector environment. There
have been revolutionary changes in business strategies. Business time frames, product
development cycles and planning cycles have declined dramatically with the development of
more nimble decision-making processes.
- And, I have to say that sometimes the private
sectors agility makes me jealous. Part of me wants to see decision-making structures
in government that are hyper-responsive and nimble.
- But, theres another part of me that recognizes that
business and government bottom-lines are very different. Government needs to build in time
for analysis and deliberations within government and consultations with the public; it has
to wait for the emergence of buy-in and consensus, as well as proper risk assessment (my
theme to the ADM Forum a year ago). Much of our work takes place in uncertain
circumstances and with highly imperfect information. Theres no reason to apologize
for deliberation when it leads to better outcomes.
- The conclusion Ive reached is that business may be
at the "speed of thought" but government must be at "the speed of the
public interest". Understanding that "speed" is the art of public sector
management in the 21st Century, whether you work in policy or operations.
So, I ask you:
- How do you determine when your organizations should be
quick and when they should be deliberative?
- We know that citizen expectations of acceptable
email and regular mail response times are vastly different. A recent survey
conducted by Erin Research for CCMD found that 87% of those surveyed thought that
2 weeks was a respectable turnaround time for regular mail; 90% expected email
responses within 4 hours.
- Now, for some information requests 4 hours may make a lot
of sense; but, I dont think that policy should be made by email. We cant
make policy on the fly like that. So grappling with this collapse of time frames to
improve service, while maintaining the time needed to deliberate and consult and develop
policy responsibly is a challenge.
- One final point on time we dont have too
much of it if we are to take advantage of the opportunities for cultivating Canadian
excellence in a global world.
- A fourth tension is that todays global world is one
where we seem to suffer from simultaneous powerlessness and empowerment.
- Theres a story that Arthur Kroeger tells of an
External Affairs official, Hector MacKinnon, in the Forties who left from
Quebec City on a steamer with a trunk full of briefing binders. He made his way to
Geneva with the mandate to negotiate Canadas accession to the GATT.
- In one sense, this person was operating in a perfectly
flat organizational structure because his instructions were very clear:
- "call us when theres an agreement".
- I would submit to you that this External Affairs official
probably suffered from an "excess of freedom" and an absence of hierarchy. He
was cut off from corporate resources that would have allowed him to perform his job
better. As public sector leaders, we need to ensure that we provide our staff with access
to corporate resources that will help them do their jobs better. This is particularly the
case for regional offices.
- What are you doing to ensure that your staff have the
knowledge resources and corporate support they need?
- Many global phenomena can seem inevitable. There is a
sense that we are on the receiving end of things happening "out there". In fact,
there are times when the winds of globalism blow and theres nothing we can do to
stop it. The cold wind from the South can cause quite a chill from time to time. On this,
I understand that Ambassador Chrétien will be providing us with a weather report
over lunch and I encourage you to pay close attention.
- But the processes of globalization also provide us with
incredible resources as a people to combat feelings of powerlessness, including:
- better access to knowledge;
- more empowered citizens, who are rightfully demanding a
louder say; and
- a more developed civil society.
- Many questions arise from this feeling of powerlessness,
- How should the public service organize itself to
influence what happens "out there"?
- What are the levers of influence?
- And I believe that the early part of this century will be
seen as a time of profound citizen empowerment.
- What are you doing to promote citizen empowerment?
- How are you helping to ensure that empowerment means
- There have been some pioneering efforts in the federal
government to empower Canadians through the Internet.
- The examples are everywhere of policy entrepreneurs who
have made a difference. For example, Industry Canada's "SchoolNet",
Environment's "The Green Lane", and Health Canada's "Health Promotion
On-line" are savvy and creative efforts to give citizens access to quality
information on-line. On the Internet, "content is king". It is urgent that we
build on these successes to consolidate the federal government and Canada's presence in
the electronic marketplace of ideas.
- Empowering citizens is not the same as empowering
society. Empowering society means making sure that everyone has a place at the table. It
also means developing processes that can lead to the development of consensus. As we all
know, building consensus is more than calling a meeting. Its more than calling
- It requires that we work to understand the views of
everyone, identify common interests, ensure weaker voices are heard, and work to broaden
the range of common understanding. This is the tension between collective and common
rights and individual rights.
- How do you work to promote informed consensus in your
areas of responsibility?
- We need to do more to promote public service buy-in on
citizen engagement. Its not optional and it can have big pay offs. There is
innovative work occurring across the government Agriculture Canadas Rural
Secretariat comes to mind, as well as innovative work outside government through the
Canadian Policy Research Networks The Society We Want project.
- And the terrain is changing. Who would have thought
10 years ago that Finance would be undertaking the range of budget consultations that
it does so successfully now. A sea change is taking place and as public sector leaders you
have to make sure that your organization is in step with it.
- And lets be clear. Working with citizens creates
better policy outcomes. For instance, in Cape Breton the Director of the Human
Resources Canada Centre in Sydney is using Human Development Strategic Partnership
Committees in areas like literacy, information technologies and child development to draw
on the latent strength of Cape Bretoners. This is a great example of new-style public
service in action. One that is able to bring people and groups together around a table,
and lead through partnership.
- Another tension we are experiencing in Canada is between
hierarchy and flattening.
- It is only temporarily satisfying to shake your fist at
those who create organizational structures. Im sure we are all familiar with work
structures that are inconsistent with the realities of the problem at hand. And, unless we
are willing to restructure organizations on an hourly basis to adjust to the problem of
the moment, thats always going to be the case.
- The challenge is to be able to work within existing
structures to address horizontal problems. It means being able to work in teams and
networks across organizational silos; to think and act corporately.
- The Policy Research Initiative is an interdepartmental
effort to advance a forward-looking Canadian policy research agenda. Perhaps their biggest
success to date is the creation of a common space for ideas exchange, research and ideas
development. Their efforts are integral to ensuring that we have the corporate knowledge
foundation necessary to anticipate and respond to a quickly changing world.
- Of course, structure still matters. But I would submit to
you that with globalization, particularly increased information flows, the public service
is in a post-structural era; where power is exercised through networks; where influence is
derived from cooperation. So, I ask you:
- Are you adapting to the post-structural era?
- In what ways are you developing your networks?
- Some of the best examples of being able to work within
existing organizations to address big problems occur in times of crisis probably because
we have little choice. Helping victims of the Saguenay and Red River floods, and more
recently dealing with the aftermath of the Swiss Air disaster are all examples of the
Canadian public service at its finest.
- Crisis management is fine, but one of the features of
globalization is its speed. We need this corporate spirit on a daily basis too!
- How can you as public service leaders create a culture
that is able to span organizational silos in the absence of an immediate crisis?
- Do you empower your employees to work corporately? Do you
- And by the way this applies not only to relations between
departments, but also between:
- headquarters and the regions;
- policy and operations; and
- information technologies, corporate services, human
resources, finance and administration and other parts of the organization.
- So, I ask again, what are you doing to remove barriers?
- Another tension we see as we try to maintain a unique
presence is that of integrating the economic with other considerations such as social,
culture or the environment. Of course, this trade-off between equity and efficiency is an
eternal one, but the debate has been sharpened by globalizations strength.
- Globalizations most eye-catching dimension has been
economic. Trade liberalization, rising trade, information and capital flows, and greater
world-wide competition and integration of production have caught the worlds
attention, leading many to equate globalization with market capitalism. And certainly no
one would deny that there are profound implications to global economic forces.
- The public service has responded by working with the
private sector through Team Canada and by launching farsighted projects, such as
"Connecting Canadians", to position Canada for success in the knowledge-based
- Globalizations economic implications should not
blind us to its equally large implications for social, cultural, and environmental
policies and programs.
- We have a duty to make sure that no one gets left behind.
- Just as globalization does not respect national
boundaries, it also does not respect policy and program areas. Globalization has an
infinite number of feedback loops. This tension requires us to work across departments and
to think hard about appropriate policy levers. For instance, economic measures, like
productivity, may be influenced through the use of traditional social levers such as
training. Similarly, there are times when environmental outcomes might best be approached
through economic instruments.
- Not only are the best levers not obvious, but they change
over time. For instance, with the growth of the global entertainment industry and the
growing excellence of Canadian cultural products, including books, music and film, there
has been a noticeable shift from protection to promotion.
- I challenge you to think more broadly about the most
appropriate levers for influencing your policy areas and client groups by wearing your
Government of Canada hat more and your departmental hat less. With this in mind:
- Can you name colleagues in other departments or levels of
government who worry about the same policy areas or client groups as you?
- Do you know their phone numbers? Their email
- Weaving policy across the international-domestic divide
is also a tricky proposition but an important and final tension we see as we strive
to cultivate Canadian excellence in the face of globalization.
- Globalization presents us with stark examples of our
growing interdependence. Later today, Im sure that Marcel Masse,
Bob Fowler, and Gordon Smith will provide you with many examples of the linkages
and blurring of the international and domestic agendas.
- Heres one I find particularly striking and vexing.
Due to prevailing winds, pesticides from India can make their way into the breast milk of
a mother living in the Northern Arctic within 5 days. Externalities make so much
international action had meaning for domestic policy and vice versa.
- Therefore, Canada must maintain a leadership role in the
development of international standards and be active in all forums where our interests are
- In fact, we need to do more than that. Canadian
leadership means bringing Canadian initiative, know-how and values to bear in solving
global problems from international peace to human security. I heard a saying recently that
goes "the path of progress at the U.N. is carpeted with maple leaves".
- So it's a good day for Canada when Bob Fowler gets
the feeling that people are walking all over him. We need to maintain that tradition of
constructive engagement and participation. We need to be there.
- To my mind, all departments work on international issues
and all departments work on domestic issues.
- How are you working to integrate the domestic and the
- This requires a nuanced understanding of Canadian
interests in a global world, including the fact that Canadians expect our actions on the
international stage to reflect domestic values.
- They also want us to share our knowledge with others.
There are many great examples of this:
- For instance, when South Africa was making its
historic change, it turned to Canadian know-how to build a legal system based on human
rights for all. We thus earned the thanks of one of the great leaders of our age,
- Other great Canadian public sector exports include of
course our peacekeepers and also the fine work of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police
(RCMP), who work diligently to create humane structures of law and order in parts of the
world, like Haiti, that have rarely, if ever, known it.
- And there is also the work of Elections Canada, who
continue to provide technical support to nations struggling to establish fair democratic
election procedures. Over the years they have furthered fundamental Canadian values in
every continent. In the last 10 years, Elections Canada has organized more than
300 international democratic development missions in some 80 countries around
Fonctionnaires sans frontières: Canadas World
Class Public Service
- Responding to globalization by cultivating
Canadian uniqueness and excellence is the challenge and opportunity of todays public
servants and those we hope to attract.
- I hope that the prospect of making a difference on such
an important issue for Canada is what motivated you to join the public service. And I hope
it continues to motivate you.
- We are building a great team of public servants, at every
level, in every organization, and in every type of work. I call this team our
"fonctionnaires sans frontières" a virtual team of public servants which
has the right stuff to make a real difference.
- To be part of this team, we need to:
- look outward and be aware;
- see issues in a broader, horizontal context that weaves
together the domestic and the international;
- understand that information has value when it is shared;
- understand that what you dont know can
hurt you and that it is necessary to crave new information sources, develop new contacts
and constantly draw out good practices wherever they exist;
- understand the Canadian ways of operating
teamwork, honourable compromise, compassion and openness, with a dash of unrelenting
- work to break down barriers of all kinds and are able to
tap the diverse strengths of colleagues, including the creativity and energy of junior
- make our workplaces sparkle with ideas, and give our
staff a chance to contribute and, in doing so, give them an opportunity to bring out the
best in themselves;
- embrace partnership and serve the public interest from
different places around the table, whether it is as facilitators, partners, regulators,
sponsors, or referees.
Making it Real in the Public Service
- So what does globalization mean for public
servants - for executives as leaders in the Public Service of Canada?
- More specifically, what does globalization mean for how
we do our work in policy, service delivery and management.
- On policy: it means putting public
involvement at the centre of a policy development process that has a solid evidence basis.
It means undertaking forward-looking research to fill knowledge gaps. It means
aggressively seeking good practices from around the world as well as the expertise
resident in academia, think tanks, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and international
organizations. Both policy developers and researchers must be able to work
inter-departmentally and to take the time necessary to consider the big picture, so as to
craft policy that is integrated and attuned to a global environment.
- On service delivery: it means using
electronic technology to modernize service delivery, and bringing citizens closer to
- But looking at EGovernment for service delivery
alone is only the tip of the iceberg. As I said to the ADM community at last month's ADM
Forum, EGovernment is:
- beyond digitizing information and modernizing
service delivery. It is about consulting citizens, ensuring accessibility, and,
ultimately, moving toward EDemocracy, while maintaining security, privacy and
information management standards.
- urgent because the Speech from the
Throne set out ambitious goals for getting Government On-line with targets for 2000
- everyone's job, just like globalization is
part of your job.
- On management: in a very practical sense,
when you are recruiting, it means hiring people who can shape and adapt to
globalization who can bring a new global way of thinking to our workforce.
- It also means actively recruiting a more representative
and diverse workforce, and reaching out to young people.
- This is one of our biggest challenges because of growing
competition for knowledge workers in a knowledge-based economy and society.
- When you look at your workplaces, it also means making
sure they are attractive to the kind of globally-minded public servant we want to
- Also means dealing with workload.
Globalization isnt necessarily helping. It takes time to consult, collaborate, and
- When you think about learning and development,
for yourselves and for your employees, look at the world of opportunity globalization
- We value employees with diverse experiences, in policy
research and analysis, programs, service delivery, human resources, financial management,
and so on.
- And for the Public Service as an institution, we need to
embrace the philosophy of a "learning organization" this means accepting
that change will happen, planning accordingly and looking for lessons learned.
Values will guide us
- Not everything changes even in a changing world.
Throughout the challenges and opportunities of globalization, one thing stays the same
our values, as Canadians and public servants.
- Public service values must continue to be our North
Star, at home and abroad.
- Interdependencies and blurry borders may make lines of
accountability seem fuzzy. Our democratic values remind us it is our duty to
help ministers, under the law and the Constitution, to serve the common good. The public
interest must be paramount in all our decisions and actions.
- Providing advice to the Government and service to
Canadians in a global world demands professionalism we value
excellence, merit, objectivity and impartiality.
- Ethical values such as honesty and
integrity must guide our actions and decisions, especially in a changing environment. We
need to ensure we put the common good ahead of personal interest or advantage in a global
world. We need to resist pressure and be obstinate when the public good is at stake.
- Finally, people values mean we respect our
employees and colleagues needs and aspirations. This is particularly important
when we are trying to build a more representative workforce.
- With values like these, the Public Service of Canada is
not surprisingly a very Canadian public service.
- Teamwork, mediation, compromise, and openness are
well-suited to a global world.
- So too are Canadian federal structures with their
administrative flexibility and capacity for experimentation. And,
- Our bilingual, multi-cultural heritage continues to be a
major plus, allowing us to relate to the world in a way that few can.
- In conclusion, if we are to promote a unique
presence for Canada in the face of North American integration, then we need fonctionnaires
- With that in mind, I would like to issue six challenges
- I challenge you to break down barriers within and among
- I challenge you to ensure that your staff are top notch
and have the tools for the job.
- I challenge you find the balance between being quick and
- I challenge you to work to integrate policies and
programs to better serve the public interest.
- I challenge you to enable Egovernment.
- I challenge you to become a "fonctionnaire sans