Edited by Andrew Massey and Karen Johnston
Chapter 8: The Canadian public service: in search of a new equilibrium
The Canadian public service has been buffeted about in recent years by a variety of forces. Globalization, the desire of politicians to grab hold of the policy-making levers and to become less dependent on career public servants for policy advice, and the push to have public sector managers emulate their private sector counterparts have knocked the public service off its traditional moorings. Politicians in Canada, like those in other Anglo-American democracies, have and continue to run against the status quo, entrenched government and whatever else stands in the way of change. Bureaucracy has often been the target. It is against this backdrop that this chapter takes stock of the state of the Canadian public service. In Canada, the public service has been asked to keep pace with the private sector, as it struggles to compete in an increasingly competitive environment. At the same time, the government has introduced one measure after another and one oversight body after another to ensure greater transparency in government operations. As mentioned above, the Canadian public service has been knocked off its traditional moorings in recent years. Canadian politicians, like their other Anglo-American counterparts, decided some 30 years ago to grab hold of the policy-making levers and to push public servants to become better managers and to look to the private sector for guidance. The rise of the global economy and the politics of fiscal squeeze have had a profound impact on the work of Canadian public servants.
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