ANDREW COYNE: Why Conservatives have more at stake than Liberals in Canada’s class war

Coyne, as often happens, nails it. A plague on both houses, but more so for Conservatives:

Liberals, it is true, need to find a way to reach out to less educated voters, but not as badly as Conservatives need to make their peace with the eggheads

Democracy, in G. K. Chesterton’s careful definition, means government by the uneducated, “while aristocracy means government by the badly educated.”

The enduring value of this distinction was suggested by the ruckus stirred up over the weekend by Amir Attaran, professor of law at University of Ottawa. Responding to a recent Abacus Data poll finding the Tories leading the Liberals by a wide margin among Canadians with a high school diploma or less, with the Liberals ahead among those with bachelor degrees or higher, the professor tweeted: “The party of the uneducated. Every poll says this.”

In the ensuing furor, Attaran tried to protest that he was just stating a fact, but the disdain in the tweet was clear enough to most. For their part, while some Tories quibbled with the data (just one poll, within the margin of error, misplaced correlation etc), most seemed less offended by the sentiment — every poll does show the less formal education a voter has, the more likely they are to support the Conservatives — than by the suggestion there was something shameful about it.

It was, in short, another skirmish in the continuing class war: class, now defined not by occupation or birth, as in Chesterton’s time, but by education. Conservatives, true to form, professed outrage at this arrogant display of Liberal elitism, while Liberal partisans protested that they were not snobs, it’s just that Conservatives are such ignorant boobs (I paraphrase).

The professor compounded matters by objecting, not only that he is not a Liberal, but that he is not an elite, since his parents were immigrants. And everyone did their best to be as exquisitely sensitive (“let us respect the inherent dignity of labour”) as they could while still being viciously hurtful (“not uneducated, just unintelligent”).

There is, of course, much to object to in Attaran’s remark. Not all or even most wisdom is to be found in higher education. Lots of people who go to university don’t learn a thing, while much of what they do learn is tendentious rubbish. A society that sneers at tradespeople is a society on its way to the poorhouse.

Today’s populist conservative is prone to dismiss the analysis of experts, on everything from sex education to climate change, not in spite of their expertise but because of it.

But Conservative rhetoric too often seems to go beyond attacking snobbery to attacking education itself: expertise, knowledge, the whole notion that people who know more about a subject than the rest of us ought to be listened to with respect.

There is a rich tradition, to be sure, of conservative skepticism of intellectuals — recall William F. Buckley’s crack about preferring to be governed by “the first two thousand names in the Boston telephone directory” than the faculty of Harvard. But the target then was the hubris of intellectuals, convinced they could plan an entire economy or overturn the accumulated wisdom of centuries of tradition, not intellectualism itself: scientism, not science.

Today’s populist conservative, by contrast, is prone to dismiss the analysis of experts, on everything from sex education to climate change, not in spite of their expertise but because of it. A society that sneers at “so-called experts” is a society on its way to the madhouse.

As in most wars, there is fault on both sides. If Trump and Ford voters brim with resentment at “liberal elites” looking down their noses at them, it is not entirely without cause.

And yet we should beware of drawing the class lines too starkly. Graduates of apprenticeships and community colleges are themselves relative elites — 46 per cent of adult Canadians have no post-secondary education — and earn more accordingly: a premium of 12 and 18 per cent, respectively, over those with only a high school diploma.

At the same time, universities are for the most part glorified trade schools. Only 12 per cent of today’s university students graduate in the humanities, the object of so much (deserved) conservative ridicule. The rest are there to learn a trade — only trades of a tonier kind, like doctoring and lawyering.

It isn’t so much about the level of education, then, as the kind of education. (Trump, as he likes to boast, is a graduate of Wharton.) There is a high degree of overlap between “liberal elites” and “symbolic analysts” (in Robert Reich’s term) — people who make their living manipulating words, numbers, images, code.

It is Conservatives who have played the class card more heavily, and with more destructive results.

What is common to all those doctors and lawyers, academics and bureaucrats, designers, artists, and, yes, media people is that they deal in ideas — with the abstract versus the physical, representation versus reality — and are typically good at communicating these to others. Not for nothing are they sometimes called the “chattering classes.”

The ability to do so earns not only income, but social and cultural “capital,” at least among their fellow class members, clustered in the centres of our major cities. That there should be some degree of estrangement between them and those outside is not surprising, but one wishes political leaders would seek to bridge these divides rather than exacerbate them.

There is fault, as I say, on either side for this; but there is not equal fault. Liberal “virtue-signalling” may flatter the moral vanity of the educated classes, but it is Conservatives who have played the class card more heavily, and with more destructive results. Class wars are always toxic, but class wars organized around “is education a good thing” are suicidal.

And not only for society. Here’s the thing: the numbers of the higher educated are growing. The 2016 census was the first to show more than half the adult population — 54 per cent — with some kind of postsecondary degree, college or university, up from 48 per cent a decade before. And it is only going to continue: younger Canadians are more likely to have a degree than their parents, and their children will be more likely still.

Liberals, it is true, need to find a way to reach out to less educated voters, but not as badly as Conservatives need to make their peace with the eggheads.

Source: ANDREW COYNE: Why Conservatives have more at stake than Liberals in Canada’s class war

Ridings with Liberal MPs have the most Canada Summer Jobs approvals on average

Good analysis and revealing findings.

Would be curious to know what the numbers were in 2015, whether there was a similar tendency with respect to Conservative-held ridings (many of which, of course flipped to Liberal ridings in that election):

More Canada Summer Jobs program projects were approved this year in ridings held by Liberal MPs than in Conservative- or NDP-represented ridings on average, according to an iPolitics analysis of government data.

As of April 18, five days before the earliest start date of jobs funded through the program, there were 24 per cent more projects approved for the summer in ridings represented by Liberal MPs than Conservative MPs, and 16 per cent more approvals in Liberal-represented ridings than ridings with NDP MPs.

The Canada Summer Jobs program is an initiative of Employment and Social Development Canada providing wage subsidies to employers from not-for-profit organizations, and businesses with less than 50 employees. It helps the organizations hire young people between the ages of 15 and 30 during the summer.

The program provides up to $263 million in subsidies.

Ridings with Liberal MPs had an average of 110 approved programs, while ridings with NDP MPs averaged 95 approved projects, and Conservative-represented ridings had an average of 89 programs receiving the federal cash.

All four ridings where there were approvals for more than 300 programs are held by Liberal MPs. There are 18 ridings where more than 200 programs qualified for the subsidies. Seventeen of those ridings have Liberal MPs, while one is represented by an NDP MP.

Canada Summer Jobs funding is allocated by riding based on government data on how many youth are unemployed in the summer in each region.

MPs play a direct role in the review of projects in their constituencies. According to the department, MPs are invited to review the list of programs that are up to receive funding in their constituency and can recommend changes. Service Canada has the final say after MPs’ suggestions.

Data about the program from the department was tabled in the House of Commons last month. Employment and Social Development Canada said it received 39,933 applications for funding and approved 33,375, as of April 18. The department said that not all funding decisions had been finalized at that time.

Veronique Simard, a spokesperson for Labour Minister Patty Hajdu, said the number of approved projects doesn’t directly reflect how many jobs are subsidized through the program.

“For example, in (Canada Summer Jobs) 2018, approximately 35,500 projects were approved for funding, resulting in 70,083 jobs created. We are delighted that so many good quality summer jobs were provided to young Canadians last summer and hope that this season garners the same results,” Simard told iPolitics in a statement.

The Canada Summer Jobs program has been the subject of controversy before. Earlier this summer, The Canadian Press reported that the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms was taking the government to court because it had rejected a pair of Bible camps’ proposals for funding after restructuring the program to require applicants to show they don’t work against reproductive rights.

It was also reported last month, including by Global News, that a charity that had its licence revoked over concerns it may have funded militants in Pakistan had received a grant through the jobs program.

Asked about the differences between how many programs get cash in Liberal and NDP ridings compared to Conservative ridings, Conservative employment critic John Barlow said it’s “just another instance of Liberals helping themselves.”

“Justin Trudeau’s government has botched the Canada Summer Jobs program since Day 1. They put in place a ‘Liberal values’ attestation, gave funding to an organization linked to terrorism, bankrolled groups that are actively protesting Canada’s critical energy infrastructure, and are now prioritizing their own Liberal ridings,” Barlow said.

Barlow promised that, if elected, a Conservative government would “fix” the Canada Summer Jobs program. He didn’t say how Conservatives would change the program.

Source: Ridings with Liberal MPs have the most Canada Summer Jobs approvals on average

Public servants handcuffed by unreasonable expectations of political neutrality

Or are they unreasonable?

Certainly from my time in government, serving both Liberal and Conservative governments, I believe neutrality essential to government trust in public servants.

Certainly, Amy Kishek expresses valid observations regarding neutrality and how difficult neutrality is. But labelling it completely as a hoax is equally extreme.

Readers may know how I explored the issue in Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias: Resetting Citizenship and Multiculturalism, recounting the challenge of being confronted my biases and preconceptions faced with the challenge of different beliefs and ideology under the Conservatives.

At senior levels (EX and above), really hard to see how providing advice to a Minister while having public positions or learnings cannot harm government trust in the public service.

Price to pay if one wants to rise in the ranks. Post-retirement, of course, one has greater latitude (but I would argue not without limitation).

At lower levels, less of an issue:

On June 25, Blacklock’s Reporter broke a story that a prominent quasi-partisan Twitter personality, Neil Waytowich (a.k.a. “Neil Before Zod” on Twitter), was actually a former public service worker by day and anonymous Twitter political commentator and podcaster by night. Hot on the trail were MPs who quoted the public service code of conduct on political activities, paying no mind to the state of the law and workers’ rights to freedom of expression.

As we near the federal election many public service workers are surely already wondering whether they can play any part in our democratic system, beyond simply casting a hidden ballot.

According to the Public Service Employment Act, an employee can “engage in any political activity so long as it does not impair, or is not perceived as impairing, the employee’s ability to perform his or her duties in a politically impartial manner.” For its part, the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that a public service workers’ right to freedom of expression under section 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms must be balanced against their duty of loyalty to their employer, the government of Canada. There was a time when, indeed, all public service workers were banned from political activity, a law that was found to be unconstitutional. The court ruled that the government must take into account that the need for impartiality, or its appearance, varies depending on the type of work being performed and the employee’s relative role, level, or importance in the public service.

That balancing act is the crux of this issue. Unfortunately, despite numerous decisions on the question, the Public Service Commission (PSC) continues to actively dissuade public service workers from expressing their political views and exercising their political rights outside of work, via information spread through its online tools, and education materials, as well as in their application of the legislation. Not only has this infringed on the rights of workers, it has had a chilling effect on all employees who self-police to avoid attracting the ire of the PSC. 

“Politics” is a dirty word in the federal public service, and yet it is everywhere.

We need to unpack the notion of what it means to be politically engaged, and ensure that loyalty to the employer, although an integral aspect of any employment relationship, does not override an individual’s right to express themselves, and in particular where to do so is a necessary part of expressing and protecting one’s identity.

Politics is everywhere, and everything is political. Neutrality itself is a hoax. Our experiences, our beliefs, and how we live in the world are political, and they are also politicized without our say. Dammit, even believing in climate change is political, and considered highly partisan by some.

The politics of existing are especially obvious to young people, women, Black, Indigenous, and racialized people, persons with disabilities, religious minorities, and members of LBGTQ2+ communities whose identities and existence are under constant attack in partisan and nonpartisan political spheres alike.

Even those for whom the status quo is peachy keen are engaged in a political act or belief when they uphold existing practices, or even in going about their daily life—say, by unapologetically benefiting from property rights on unceded Indigenous land. Infringements on freedom of expression may then have a disproportionate effect on members of equity-seeking groups.

Yet somehow public service workers are expected to suddenly become apolitical once those golden handcuffs are on.

Showing up at the Women’s March, attended by partisan political leaders, holding a sign with a political slogan, shouldn’t be cause for investigation or discipline. Neither should door-knocking with a political candidate as a volunteer on one’s down time. Nor writing a letter to the editor about a policy issue where one signs the letter without mention of their job in the public service. These are all legitimate and protected forms of expression. In fact, most public service workers, whose work is “completely divorced from the exercise of any discretion that could be in any manner affected by political considerations,” to use the language of the Supreme Court of Canada, would be permitted to engage in these activities based on the legal test set out by the court.

Sadly, most public service workers don’t know this.

The code of conduct and false notions of the “political” are weaponized to silence public service workers, and chill freedom of expression. This has never been easier to do than with social media, where a comment or an Instagram photo can turn into a complaint very quickly.

Why then all the fear-mongering from the PSC to NDP and Conservative MPs alike?

To completely disregard workers’ fundamental right to freedom of expression in favour of a model of subservience to their employer is an injury to the dignity of workers who keep our society running everyday—from the guarding our coasts, inspecting our food, issuing our employment insurance, preserving our parks, the list goes on—and all in the face of their own pay issues and workplace struggles.

Source: Public servants handcuffed by unreasonable expectations of political neutrality

The case for having a federal evaluator general

While I respect the opinions of Steve Montague and Frank Graves, my experience has been that the OAG does go beyond financial accountability and departmental evaluations generally provided insights on outcomes.

Whether another agent of parliament would improve the situation is unclear to me, although I understand the need for longer-term analysis of program effectiveness and outcomes as well as cross-departmental analysis of program effectiveness:

A decade ago, a group of policy wonks obsessed with gathering hard evidence for decision-making began meeting regularly over beers in Ottawa. They put together a campaign for the creation of an independent evaluation watchdog to make sure taxpayers’ money is spent on federal programs that work.

The idea hasn’t quite gotten off the ground, but the group is more convinced than ever that Canada needs an evaluator general reporting to Parliament, making sure data, evidence and evaluation drive policy and funding decisions.

“We need someone to do the deeper dives and wade into and understand at a level of some depth what policies and programs work for whom, in what conditions and why,” said Steve Montague, a member of the advocacy group and an Ottawa-based management consultant.

“An evaluator-general could act as a check in an era when government doesn’t have enough independent analysis.”

Government evaluators do a systematic examination of a program’s design, its implementation and ultimate results to understand why it worked or not. They examine the context or events that triggered the program, such as a terrorist attack, opioid crisis, economic downturn or, at a local level, an increasing number of cyclists killed on a particular route. They look at the relevance or need for the program. Was it effective? Are recipients of program assistance and/or the broader community better off?

The Ottawa group proposing the creation of an evaluator general say this new agent of Parliament would be positioned between the auditor general and the parliamentary budget officer with the three of them providing independent “advice on the propriety of government spending, the credibility of government budgets and the likelihood that programs and policies will achieve desired objectives.”

The auditor general investigates whether programs are run in compliance with accounting rules. The evaluator-general would investigate whether programs are achieving the expected results.

Management consultant Michael Obrecht, considered an architect of the proposal, said the evaluator general would collect and synthesize evaluations, gathering studies from around the world to help improve decision-making and the determine the likelihood that programs and policies will achieve desired objectives.

The proposal calls for an office with a $2-million start-up budget and a team of experts in program evaluation that could do its own evaluations as well as assess the reliability and validity of data it gathers globally.

Four decades of evaluations

The government has had an evaluation function in departments for 40 years, but the scope of evaluations is typically narrow – often focused on a specific program rather than on the big policy issues that straddle various departments and other levels of government. Treasury Board has an online database of more than 1,600 evaluations conducted by various departments and agencies over the years.

The advocacy group, however, has long argued the evaluation function is not a priority for departments and has been underutilized for years. For parliamentarians, the reports are too narrow to help them wrestle with complex national and international issues that transcend a single department.

The evaluations have also been criticized as poor and questionable in their quality because departments are evaluating their own work and deputy ministers don’t want to receive bad news that they’ll have to share with the ministers.

“It would be a naive MP who took a departmental performance report or evaluation at face value,” the evaluator general group concluded in one of its papers.

Frank Graves, president of Ekos Research Associates, is a strong supporter of the group’s proposal and argues it’s more needed today than a decade ago, when he wrote a paper calling for an evaluator general “to champion and raise public consciousness about the importance of knowing what works and what doesn’t.”

“The capacity to assemble and interpret rigorous empirical evidence to test causal hypotheses about program effectiveness atrophied badly from the mid-’90s on,” Graves said.

“Despite a [Liberal] commitment to restoring evidence-based policy and decision-making there appears to be little progress to recovering that capacity in the federal public service.”

Are evaluations being marginalized?

New digital technologies that are changing the world at an unprecedented pace are ramping up the pressure on a risk-averse public service.

The Impact and Innovation Unit within the Privy Council Office has been examining new ways to improve the delivery of government programs and to ensure their efficacy. This new focus is partly in response to the unprecedented pace of technological change, which is putting pressure on normally risk-averse federal policy-makers to keep up with Canadians’ expectations. Public servants can no longer create and map out a new policy or program over five to 10 years and assess how well they work after that.

The unit recently released a “Guide to Impact Measurement, while its sister organization within PCO, the Results and Delivery Unit, was behind the controversial “deliverology” approach to achieving results on political promises and priorities.

The Impact and Innovation Unit is also overseeing a pilot project called the “Impact Genome,” which is using meta-analysis of research studies and predictive analytics to help develop the government’s Youth Employment Strategy.

But some in the evaluation field are worried that the government is marginalizing the traditional theory-based evaluations for which Canada is still seen as a world leader.

At the centre of these concerns is that a focus on results tends to prioritize short-term targets and on what can be measured simply and easily while missing out on the bigger picture. A similar concern was flagged in a recent report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on results-based management.

But Privy Council Office officials insists that high-quality evaluations are as important as ever, and are central to its guide to impact measurement. New measurement tools, however, enable policy-makers to gauge the likely success of a program before it is rolled out and to make tweaks and adjustments to it once implemented.

International interest in evaluations

Governments around the world are wrestling with how to determine what policies are achieving outcomes based on evidence rather than politics, ideology or gut feelings.

In fact, Obrecht said the advocacy group’s campaign for an evaluator general got new life when other countries recently called for creation of similar posts.

In Australia, the Labour Party supports the creation of an evaluator general office. The evaluator would be housed inside the Australian treasury to help assess what policy programs are working.

Last year, a parliamentary working group in France urged the creation of an autonomous Parliamentary Evaluation Agency in a bid to boost Parliament’s oversight and role in evaluating policies.

Still, it’s unclear how much appetite there is for another agent of Parliament in Canada. A recent report by Public Policy Forum on the nine existing parliamentary watchdogs concluded “fewer, stronger agents” would better serve Parliament. The report recommended a high bar for creating new agents and to consider consolidating the work of agents with similar mandates.

The group advocating for an evaluator-general agrees on the need for the job but the structure of the office has generated much debate.

Some argue that a full agent of Parliament position isn’t necessary, and the work could be done by a chief evaluation officer, similar to the chief science officer appointed by the Liberals. Others say the work could be handled by expanding the role of the auditor general or the comptroller general.

Obrecht argued an independent evaluator general is even more critical with so much more information and misinformation floating around.

“Decision-making seems to be contracted into sound bites, and the capacity to collect extensive information and digest it seem to have been weakened by instant access to easy answers.”

Source: The case for having a federal evaluator general

Lessons from the Doug Ford School of Public Administration

I could not resist posting this pointed, and unfortunately all too accurate, rant by Les Whittington. Hopefully, year two will show a more measured and mature governing style (but not hopeful):

School is out at Queen’s Park, but here are the lessons for the next semester based on the first year of Premier Doug Ford’s government in Ontario:

Talk about helping “the people” while you slash programs that many need: Roll back promised funding increases for rape crisis centres, cut legal aid by 30 per cent, cancel a $1 increase in minimum wage, remove rent control for new units, get rid of the basic income pilot program, scrap legislation to help part-time workers, cancel free prescription medication for young Ontarians, kill off free university tuition for low-income students, and slice $84-million in funding for children and at-risk youth.

The public doesn’t pay attention so there’s no problem promising one thing and doing something else: Tell voters “not one single” public service job will be lost under a Ford government, then once elected change that to no “frontline” jobs. Then put thousands of teachers’ jobs at risk by raising school class sizes. Watch other jobs disappear at agencies that are being axed or downsized. Put thousands of beer store employees’ jobs in jeopardy.

Don’t worry about honouring your promise to continue with the planned increase in municipalities’ share of gas tax funding… they can do without that extra $300-million.

Treat the public like a bunch of dazzled rubes: Bread and circuses, supplemented with divisive anger, can be a winner, as U.S. President Trump has shown. Above all, in Ontario this means prioritizing beer and booze. Commenting on the Ford government’s budget, Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner noted the emphasis: “If you look through this budget, it mentions booze and gambling 63 times, it mentions climate change 15 times, and it mentions poverty zero times.”

Avoid annoying demands for consultation and advance information:Better to release details of your unexpected decisions in phone calls to the officials involved rather than publicly, as was done with the planned amalgamation of regional health organizations. Another example: Without warning, the Ford government trashed years of urban planning designed to keep Toronto liveable when it took over the city’s planning in a move to allow developers to build higher buildings—and more of them—in the city’s downtown and midtown. After all, developers need a freer hand.

Personal grudges are as good a basis for public policy as anything else:Given the province’s power over Toronto’s affairs, why not unexpectedly cut the size of Toronto’s city council in half? Didn’t the council give brother Rob Ford a hard time when he was mayor? Rob Ford always favoured a subway line to Scarborough. By taking over subway planning, a Progressive Conservative government can make it happen. As for the provincial Liberals, only old-fashioned notions of fairness could have stopped the PC majority from changing the rules to keep the Ontario Liberals from having a chance to achieve official party status.

Provincial taxpayers are so apathetic they won’t mind if their tax dollars are spent on federal political ads: If your government opposes carbon pricing imposed by the Trudeau government, why not spend millions from the Ontario treasury advertising against it? Also, there’s no need in today’s post-truth environment to mention the fact that Ottawa will be rebating the carbon tax revenues to individual Ontario taxpayers.

Don’t bother the public with difficult issues like climate change or the need to prepare for the green economy: Voters will buy things like park clean-ups as a substitute for action on global warming. So, you can cancel Ontario’s cap and trade program and cut 700 green energy programs, undermine the province’s independent environmental watchdog, and earmark $30-million to challenge the carbon tax in court.

Policies based on illusions of past greatness are always more popular than forward-looking plans designed to try to address the complex issues of modern life: Reduce financial support of post-secondary institutions and kill off new satellite university campuses while cutting funding for innovative research and work on improving Canada’s economic prowess. The future will look after itself.

Don’t bother with nuisances like avoiding favouritism in major government appointments or not interfering in politics outside your sphere: Just because Toronto Police Supt. Ron Taverner was a Ford family friend didn’t mean he wouldn’t have been a good choice for OPP commissioner.

On the federal-provincial scene, a premier should stake out the most provocative position possible, as in this Ford quote from October 2018:“We’ve taken Kathleen Wynne’s hand out of your pocket … and we’re going to take Justin Trudeau’s hand out of your pocket.”

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer needs all the election help he can get, so pitch in. How could that not work out well for him?

Source: Lessons from the Doug Ford School of Public Administration

Public Services and Administration: What does the Census Say?

To what extent do public services and administration reflect and represent the population they serve? 

To start with, representation matters. The degree to which visible minority populations see themselves in public institutions both fosters and reflects integration, and facilitates how these institutions serve their citizens. This article uses census 2016 data to review how effectively education, healthcare, social services, police services and public administration at the national and provincial levels reflect diversity. Police services and public administration are also reviewed at the municipal level.

Overall, the analysis presents a mixed picture of visible minority representation, whether by area or government:

  • Significant under-representation at the elementary and secondary levels of education in contrast to comparable representation at the university level. Given that visible minorities are less likely to have degrees in education (only 7 percent of all 25-34 year olds are Canadian-born visible minority education graduates), this trend is unlikely to change quickly.
  • Healthcare and social services are broadly representative of the populations they serve. While median income data indicates most groups are reasonable well-represented at the professional level, with the exception of Filipinos, Blacks and Latin Americans, Canadian-born 25-34 year old visible minorities form 16.6 percent of those having healthcare degrees in this age cohort.
  • There is serious under-representation in the police of visible minorities among junior and senior officers, particularly of note in our largest cities. Of particular concern is the low level of “except commissioned” officers in Montreal, Edmonton, Calgary and Ottawa-Gatineau, indicating that under-representation is unlikely to be addressed soon. This under-representation likely contributes to some of the tensions between communities (i.e., Black Canadians) and police. The lack of effective employment equity reporting by most police forces is symptomatic of a lack of attention to this issue.
  • The federal public service is reasonably representative of the number of visible minorities who are also citizens, while the provinces and municipalities are less so in most provinces. Median income data shows considerable variation by level of government and visible minority group, particularly for Blacks, Filipinos and Arabs.

Charts and analysis 

Chart 1

Chart 1 provides the gender breakdown in education, healthcare and social services using the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). The percentage of women declines as the level of education increases; the percentage of women is similar in ambulatory services (doctors and dentist offices) and hospitals, and somewhat greater in nursing homes. For social services (individual and family services), the percentage of women is similar to healthcare but childcare is 92 percent women.

Chart 2

Chart 2 illustrates the median employment incomes for all generations of visible minorities  working in these sectors. Given standard public sector pay scales, the variation reflects a combination of whether visible minorities are professionals or in support positions along with seniority (ambulatory excepted). The relatively low median inco mes of visible minorities compared to not visible minority (NVM) in all levels of education is striking, as is the higher median incomes in hospitals and nursing homes in healthcare. Median income of visible minorities in social services is largely comparable to NVM, likely reflecting relatively low salary bands and classification levels.

Chart 3

Chart 3 takes a closer look at visible minority representation in the education sector, contrasted  with the overall diversity of the population. 792,000 persons work in elementary and high schools, by far the largest area (11.7 percent visible minority), 92,000 in community colleges and CEGEPS (13.7 percent visible minority), and 224,000 in universities (23.7 percent visible minority). Women comprise the majority at all three levels: elementary and secondary schools (73.6%), community colleges and CEGEPs (57.9%) and universities (54.1%).

 In essence, students at the elementary and college levels are less likely to be taught by visible minority educators. In all provinces, the higher the level of education, the greater the number of visible minorities, with Canada-wide university representation (professors and support staff) reflecting the overall population levels.

Median income data provides insights on the extent to which visible minority groups are in professional or support positions. For elementary and secondary schools, all groups, save Chinese (8% lower) and Japanese Canadians (8 percent higher), have a disproportionate share of support positions and/or lower seniority (10 percent difference) compared to not visible minority (NVM). For community colleges and CEGEPs, all groups have significantly lower median incomes than NVM with Japanese Canadians having the least difference (6 percent). For universities, despite the overall greater diversity, median income data suggest that visible minorities are concentrated in more junior positions and support staff.

Chart 4

Chart 4 provides the provincial breakdown, once again contrasting provincial populations with representation in the education sector where the overall pattern of greater university level representation and relative under-representation at the elementary and secondary levels can be  seen. In the largest provinces, university representation is broadly reflective of the population; in smaller provinces, university representation is significantly greater than the population.

Chart 5

Chart 5 compares the overall visible minority population with those working in healthcare and  social services. 

Approximately 1.5 million persons work in healthcare: 564,000 in ambulatory services, 632,000 in hospitals and 328,000 in nursing homes. About 344,000 work in social services, of which 149,000 in individual and family services and 194,000 in childcare.

Starting with healthcare, group representation varies by sector. The major visible minority groups are represented in all sectors shown with some relative over-representation of Chinese in ambulatory services, Blacks in hospitals, nursing homes, and social services, Filipinos in all sectors and Arabs dramatically so in childcare.

Median income data indicate that South Asians, Chinese, Arabs and Southeast Asians are more likely to be in professional positions in doctor offices; Chinese, Southeast Asians, Korean and Japanese in dental offices. Hospital median income data highlight that South Asians, Chinese, West Asians, Korean and Japanese are more likely to be in professional positions. Groups that tend to be more in support positions are Filipino, Black and Latin American.

Chinese, Arab, West Asian and Korean are over-represented by men compared to not visible minority (10 percent difference), with the relative gender gap particularly high for Arabs (23 percent).

Chart 6

Chart 6 provides the healthcare visible minority representation by province, reflecting the overall pattern of representation comparable to the visible minority population, with noticeable over-representation of visible minorities in nursing homes.

Visible minorities are over-represented in Manitoba and Saskatchewan (hospitals and nursing homes only), and the under-representation in Quebec ambulatory services likely reflects the low visible minority population outside of Montreal and environs. 

Chart 7

Chart 7 contrasts the visible minority workers in social services and childcare, again reflecting the overall  national pattern, with the striking over-representation of visible minorities in childcare in most provinces.

Chart 8

Chart 8 provides the national breakdown of visible minority police officers, separated out by commissioned (senior) and “except commissioned” (junior) officers, again contrasted with the overall visible minority population. There are 2,015 commissioned officers and 75,670 non-commissioned officers. Given mixed to limited reporting by police forces, this provides the best measure of police force diversity.

As one would expect, not commissioned officer diversity is greater than the senior ranks, providing a feeder group to increase commissioned officer diversity over time.

Chart 9

Chart 9 looks at the diversity of police forces in six of Canada’s largest cities. It is a mixed picture: while the overall pattern of under-representation remains, in some cities the percentage of visible minority commissioned officers is greater than not commissioned, suggesting a conscious decision to ensure greater representation at senior levels (e.g., Toronto, Edmonton).

Equally striking is the relative lack of visible minority police in Montreal (both commissioned and except commissioned), Calgary (no visible minority commissioned officers) and Edmonton (except commissioned). 

The integrated numbers for Ottawa Gatineau disguise significant differences: whereas in Ottawa visible minority commissioned officers form 8.7 percent, except commissioned 8.5 percent, in Gatineau there are no visible minority commissioned officers and only 2.9 percent of except commissioned officers are visible minorities

Chart 10

Census data provide a useful counterpoint to the annual Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) employment equity reports. TBS reports have a richer dataset than the Census (regional, occupational group, salary, age and other breakdowns) but they only cover Schedule 1 bodies and do not include Schedule 2 bodies (e.g., CRA, CFIA, CSIS, NRCE, Parks Canada) or Schedule 3 (Crown corporations) and do not provide a breakdown by visible minority groups. Census data also provide consistent data at the provincial and municipal levels. The population benchmark used is that of visible minorities who are also Canadian citizens, given the preference in hiring citizens.

Chart 10 not only provides the overall visible minority representation, but breaks this down by the different visible minority groups. About 317,000 persons work in federal public administration (all except defence), 269,000 in provincial public administration and 340,000 in municipal. Significantly more women than men work in federal and provincial public administration (55.6 and 58.9 percent respectively) whereas municipal public administration is majority male (60.6 percent), reflecting the nature of municipal services (e.g., garbage collection, road maintenance).

At the federal level, only Chinese, Arabs and Japanese public servants reflect or are greater than the overall visible minority citizen population. All other groups are under-represented by 10 percent or more. 

Chart 11

Chart 11 contrasts provincial and municipal public administrations with the overall number of visible minority citizens. Provincial visible minority public servants largely mirror the overall number of visible minorities with the notable under-representation in British Columbia and slight overrepresentation in Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan. Municipal pu blic administration visible minority public servants are under represented in all provinces save Saskatchewan and Atlantic Canada, and in some cases, significantly as is the case in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia.

All groups, save Black, are underrepresented at the provincial level and all groups save Japanese are under-represented at the municipal level.

Chart 12

Chart 12 compares the median income of visible minority groups compared to not visible minority for each level of government, providing an indication of whether groups are in more senior or junior positions.

Only Chinese and Japanese public servants have higher median incomes for all three levels of government. South Asian provincial public servants, Black and West Asian municipal public servants and Korean provincial public servants also have higher median incomes. The greatest gaps in median incomes are for Black (save municipal), Filipino, Latin American and Arab (save federal). 

Is unleashing Jason Kenney on Ontario a good idea for the Tories?

More commentary on Alberta Premier Kenney’s plans to campaign in the 905 and other immigrant and visible minority rich ridings:

A premier spending days campaigning in a different province for an election of a different order of government: in most cases, it would be political catnip for the opposition back in his province. Alberta in 2019, I cannot say enough, is not most cases. Premier Jason Kenney could gain popularity at home if he ditches Edmonton this fall to hold fundraisers in Markham, Brampton and Mississauga, in service of flipping the federal election away from Justin Trudeau’s Liberals. A typical opposition argument would condemn the premier for wooing Ontarians while a litany of Alberta issues demand attention. But in the minds of many frustrated Albertans, ousting Trudeau is one of the province’s most pressing issues.

This clears Kenney to decamp to Toronto’s populous suburbs for a few brief stretches this fall to stump for Andrew Scheer and Conservative candidates, as the Globe and Mail reports he will. It’s a reprise of the campaign outreach Stephen Harper’s former minister did in immigrant communities in the 905 area and elsewhere in past federal elections. While Albertans will likely stomach their premier’s extra-curricular activities, it’s more of an open question what the net benefit of this would be to Scheer’s Conservatives, whose electoral fortunes could be determined in the roughly two dozen seats that ring Toronto. Will the positives outweigh the negatives?

There’s no clear successor in Scheer’s current caucus to Kenney, the longtime immigration minister and tireless ethnic outreach king who in one weekend would hopscotch from a Chinese banquet hall to a Sikh gurdwara to a Philippine picnic to a Coptic temple, collecting fistfuls of donations, volunteer signups and vote pledges along the way. Plainly, it’s not normal for the Conservatives to have a Jason Kenney, capable of politicking effectively in nearly every shard of Canada’s cultural mosaic and shake loose the Liberals’ traditional grip on new Canadians’ votes; it would likely take a team of outreach workers to accomplish what he did. Kenney has maintained and tended to his contact lists since shifting to Alberta, and retains at least some of his support base out there: members of Toronto’s Chinese community hosted a reception in his honour in March 2018, when Kenney came east to speak at the Ontario Progressive Conservative leadership convention.

It took Kenney several years to hone his outreach methods and to persuade communities to abandon the Liberals in favour of Stephen Harper’s Conservatives. Now both of the leaders who wooed minorities in the 905, Harper and Kenney, are off the federal ballot, having alienated those communities in the last election with policies like the barbaric cultural practices” snitch line and bans on face-coverings at citizenship ceremonies. Scheer is an unknown commodity to many; a visiting Kenney would have to reassure voters that the new leader brings the sort of political chops and immigration system improvements they liked in 2008 and 2011, without the warts of 2015—and that Scheer is certainly not the kingpin of a motley band of racists and xenophobes that Trudeau’s Liberals contend they are. It’s no stretch to assume that if Kenney campaigns federally in Ontario, he’ll also hold fundraisers in Lower Mainland B.C. and the Montreal area—both parts of his old familiar ethnic campaign trail.

Kenney seems intent to make time-zone-hopping almost as regular an activity as premier as it was in his federal career, with his lecture and lobbying circuit in favour of Alberta oil and pipelines. On Friday, he was in Toronto to meet Mayor John Tory and speak to the C.D. Howe institute. The scoresheet, four weeks into Kenney’s premiership: two speeches in Hogtown, zero in his native Cowtown.

Will he be viewed now differently within communities he cultivated in years past? And perhaps more importantly, by voters who aren’t the target of his private fundraisers and events, and might be rankled by his fly-in work?

When he was a federal minister, it was much easier for Kenney to tell Ontarians and British Columbians that he was striving for the best results for all parts of Canada. Now, he’s premier of just one part, an Alberta-firster by design. He professes interest in bringing all Canadians the spin-off jobs and redistributed wealth from Alberta oil development, yet campaigned on a jarring proposal to rejig federal health and social transfers in a way that would substantially favour his province to the detriment of others.

Ontarians will reasonably be suspicious as to whether he has their best interests at heart. The extent to which climate change becomes a major issue in this election may influence how warmly the petro-province leader’s insertion into Ontario riding contests is received. If concerns about a warming planet and extreme weather are chief in voters’ minds, the amount of money and support Kenney raises in Brampton may be outweighed by the scorn his policies and carbon-tax opposition attracts in the rest of the province.

Some developments back in Alberta also make Kenney’s travels more of a dubious proposition. The RCMP continues to investigate alleged voter fraud perpetrated by Kenney’s 2017 campaign for the United Conservative Party leadership, and much of the scrutiny concerns Indo-Canadians in Calgary and Edmonton whose information may have been fraudulently used to obtain online voter identities. Should the investigation bear fruit—no charges have yet been laid—it would reveal the most cynical and craven version of ethnic politics in Canada, and a willingness by Kenney to embrace such dark moves. Why would a Sikh business group or a Polish Catholic Church welcome a politician who abuses his entrée into their community?

To be sure, Kenney and the federal Tories have left themselves an escape hatch: his camp says he won’t stump if it’s seen as a political liability, and the Conservatives are currently leading in the polls. But a party that can use help in a part of the country that tends to swing elections—and has no obvious candidate to provide it—Kenney’s walk down Memory Lane (that’s in Richmond Hill, right?) no doubt seems a gamble worth taking.

Source: Is unleashing Jason Kenney on Ontario a good idea for the Tories?

What ever happened to deliverology?

Good article by Kathryn May. May reflect in part an excessive number of commitments in the 2015 election platform as the critical voices cited have suggested. Agree that the release of Ministerial mandate letters may be the most significant achievement but paring down of the number of priorities would have liked improved implementation:

Mention “deliverology” to a public servant working on the policy frontlines, and you’ll get either a shrug or a grumble. The trendy management theory that took the federal bureaucracy by storm three years ago has struggled to live up to the initial hype.

Still, the person responsible for the public management approach believes it is changing the way policy is implemented in Canada.

Justin Trudeau’s Liberals came to power in 2015 hailing the governing theories of British political adviser Sir Michael Barber. Barber’s principles on how to achieve results on promised actions had been pioneered in Prime Minister Tony Blair’s government 15 years earlier, with the establishment of the important “delivery unit” in the prime minister’s office. The approach became known as deliverology; its goal was to get ministers and public servants to keep a laser-like focus on the government’s priorities and deliver what was promised to voters.

Trudeau invited Barber to three cabinet retreats. He also visited Ottawa, where copies of his presentation to cabinet circulated around departments and were devoured by bureaucrats wanting to see what deliverology was all about. They bought Barber’s book, How to Run a Government: So that Citizens Benefit and Taxpayers Don’t Go Crazy, and signed up for courses on the essentials that popped up around town.

In Canada, the Results and Delivery Unit was created, to be housed in Canada’s Privy Council Office (PCO).  Matthew Mendelsohn, a former Ontario deputy minister and think tank founder, became the new deputy minister who would head the office. Departments appointed “delivery officers,” and a cabinet committee was created — headed by Trudeau himself — to monitor the results.

The buzz fades

Fast forward to 2019, and the buzz has faded out to a murmur. In conversations with senior bureaucrats, management consultants, politicians, and other public administration watchers – none of whom would go on the record criticizing the government’s efforts – the word is they barely hear about deliverology anymore.

“It was such a big deal at the beginning, but it drifted. It’s just not top-of-mind now; no one talks about it anymore. They laugh about it,” said one long-time senior bureaucrat.

“There was all this anxiety and disruption over what it meant. Departments were busy setting up delivery officers and delivery units,” said public management consultant Mark Schacter.

“New performance measures had to be developed and approved. Everyone was trying to figure out what it meant. Then the wave of activity passed and things seemed to be back to business as usual.”

Another senior bureaucrat shrugged. “Is deliverology still a thing? I know the office is still there, but no one talks about it.”

The new approach imposed another layer of administration on some public servants. Their departments had been abiding by evaluation and performance policies for more than 40 years. They were already obliged to report findings to the Treasury Board Secretariat. With deliverology, the public service still did all that work, and now they also had to report the progress on all the government’s goals to a “delivery unit,” which, along with ministers and the prime minister, monitored and tracked these priorities.

Other public servants grumbled that all the resources and attention had gone to bureaucrats working on priorities, at the expense of other day-to-day operations.

Deliverology’s chief steward in Ottawa

Was the approach a total failure?

In a recent interview, Mendelsohn insisted the version adapted in this country works, and much of the criticism is misguided because Canada “never intended to do deliverology from A to Z as articulated in Barber’s book.”

He said the federal government borrowed four core principles from the UK model: to focus on policy implementation, establish routines around all aspects of the delivery process, identify obstacles to progress and remove them, and report publicly on progress in reaching the promised results.

When measured against those standards, Mendelsohn said, the system is working. He argued that the big “unappreciated” shift has been a culture change in the public service. Public servants are now trained to think about results and how to measure them at the front end of policy development, before proposals are ever brought to cabinet.

He said that shift is now baked into all reporting ─ including memoranda ─ to cabinet. The expected outcomes of a new policy or program, how they will be measured and tracked, must be incorporated.

“What we have done is we have brought greater focus on implementation into the initial policy-making choices, so cabinet and ministers are thinking about implementation, project management and delivery at the very beginning,” he said.

The idea behind deliverology was to bring a discipline into management and bridge a longstanding gap between policy-making and implementation, said Independent Senator Tony Dean, a former cabinet secretary in Ontario who helped create a delivery unit for Dalton McGuinty’s government.

For years, governments made big policy and project announcements, turned them over to the public service for implementation, and failed to deliver what was promised. Months could go by between an announcement and implementation, and ministers were not involved unless something went wrong.

The failure of the Phoenix pay system represented a cautionary tale for ministers of what happens when the senior echelons aren’t closely involved in the implementation of their policies and projects.

The ministerial mandate letters

Mendelsohn emphasizes the importance of the mandate letters Trudeau sent to all his ministers when they were appointed to cabinet. These letters laid out each minister’s marching orders and what they were expected to deliver over the government’s four-year mandate.

Up until then, mandate letters had been secret. Trudeau made them public, and he also introduced an online tracker to monitor the ministers’ progress in achieving the commitments outlined in the letters.

The argument was that when the letters are public, Canadians know exactly what the government is doing and which ministers are responsible for the policy — whether it was health care agreements, the Child Tax Benefit, or infrastructure.  Mendelsohn said the letters also created a daily pressure on departments to implement those commitments, because they were on the hook for reporting to ministers and the prime minister on the “progress being made and if not, why.”

Mendelsohn said the public release of the mandate letters, along with the online tracker, are crucial for transparency; they are driving accountability, culture change and “helping to get things done.”

One high-ranking bureaucrat acknowledged the letters became key to managing the government’s agenda in the face of a constantly changing political landscape. Without them, he said, the government would have lost traction on advancing its priorities in the second and third years of its mandate, given the unexpected threats such as the NAFTA 2.0 negotiations.

Many of the people interviewed argued that the mandate tracker backfired and distorted the principles underpinning deliverology.

Instead of focusing on a few top priorities, the government made all its election promises and the commitments in ministers’ mandate letters priorities, so that ─ as one official put it ─ “when everything is a priority, nothing is a priority.”

The original 2015 mandate letters gave ministers 289 tasks, but that to-do list has since swelled to 432, with new promises around the opioid crisis, irregular border crossings and other emerging issues. The mandate tracker suggests the government met 47 percent of its original promises, which would be 37 percent if the initiatives introduced in Budget 2019 are included.

“They never got it [deliverology] right, right off the bat,” said a former senior PCO official. “To my mind, it was an enormous failure in spirit not to identify just four or five priorities. The way it was handled, everything was a priority, and deliverology was another word for results-based management, which has been talked about since Moses was in short pants.”

Tony Dean said making the mandate letters public is a significant breakthrough, but the government should have picked a “handful of key priorities, elevated them, and shown tangible progress,” which they could be touting as they head into the fall election.

“It’s a method we know works,” said Dean. “If such goals had been set three years ago, the government would be readying to talk about progress made…”

The main question is whether Canadians are better off because of deliverology. Mark Schacter, who is the author of Does “Deliverology” Matter?, said there is no conclusive evidence it makes any “difference to the quality of public management” or to peoples’ lives.

Said Schacter, “A single-minded focus on targets sets public servants focused on targets, but being focused on targets is not necessarily the same as being focused on what’s good for Canadians.”

Source: What ever happened to deliverology?

The changing face of Canada’s judiciary: more women, more diversity

CBC catches up (see my earlier Taking stock of Ottawa’s diversity promises). McGill Professor Salzman makes the  assumption that previous processes were colour, gender, and race blind, as blind cv and other examples indicate is highly questionable if not downright false:

Canada’s judiciary is becoming more diverse, with more women, visible minorities, LBGT and Indigenous people on the bench.

The broader mix of judges — and especially the rising number of women hearing cases — is being hailed as historic progress by many in the legal profession. Some worry, however, that targeting “gross demographic categories” could erode a merit-based appointments system.

The number of Indigenous judges also remains low compared to other demographic groups.

The Liberal government overhauled the judicial appointments system in October 2016 in a bid to recruit a more diverse array of candidates and make the selection process more transparent. It made it mandatory to publicly report the number of applicants and appointees from demographics historically under-represented on the bench.

Statistics for the period Oct. 27. 2016 to Oct. 28, 2018, posted online by the Office of the Commissioner for Judicial Affairs, break down the 153 judicial appointments during that period:

  • 83 women
  • 70 men
  • 26 from “ethnic/cultural” groups
  • 16 visible minorities
  • 10 LGBT
  • 6 Indigenous
  • 3 with disabilities

Ray Adlington, president of the Canadian Bar Association, praised what he called the “significant progress” in boosting diversity in federal judicial appointments — which cover superior courts for provinces and territories, courts of appeal, the Federal Court, the Federal Court of Appeal and the Tax Court of Canada. He said he believes it’s crucial for the justice system to better reflect the population.

“If the judiciary visibly represents the society it serves, then it will give that society more confidence that the judiciary is serving the interests of that society,” he said.

“It will promote access to justice, it will promote confidence in judicial administration if the judges actually represent the society. Historically that has not been the case, but we’re certainly moving toward that objective.”

The most dramatic change in the judiciary has been in terms of gender balance, with 2016 marking the first year more women than men were appointed to the bench.

As of April 1, 2019, there were 1,193 federally-appointed judges, 492 of them women.

Andrea Gunraj of the Canadian Women’s Foundation called that progress, but said more needs to be done to achieve gender equity on the bench.

“There are other intersectional forms of equity to consider as well,” she said. “For instance, how many of the judges are Indigenous women? Racialized women? Women with disabilities? A judiciary that reflects all communities, in all their diversities, is so critical.”

More women in law schools

Acadia University law professor Erin Crandall said the key to transforming a judiciary that, historically, has tended to be made up of white men is to get students from more under-represented demographics into law schools.

“It’s a really slow process, because you don’t have somebody going from being in law school to being a judge in Canada. Typically they have 15 to 20 years’ experience,” she said. “Women started to enter law schools in greater numbers in the 1970s, so we’ve had this growth now over several decades.

“In some cases, we’re still building those larger potential applicant pools.”

The number of Indigenous appointees also remains relatively low. According to the Office of the Commissioner for Judicial Affairs, 46 individuals who identified as Indigenous applied for judicial appointments between 2016 and 2018. Twenty-one of them were ‘recommended’ or ‘highly recommended’ by the appointments process. Just six ended up being appointed.

Crandall said more law schools are beginning to launch special streams for Indigenous or black students to encourage more of them to join the legal profession.

The government’s last report on the appointments showed that, as of December 2018, eight of the country’s new justices were Indigenous, 20 identified as visible minorities, 13 identified as LGBTQ2 and three identified as people with disabilities.

The CBC has asked the federal government for more recent data but it has not supplied the information to date.

Justice Minister David Lametti has been fending off criticism about judicial appointments since the Globe and Mail reported that the government consults the Liberal Party’s database of supporters in the course of the appointment process.

Defending the vetting regime, Lametti insisted this week the government has worked to improve transparency and diversity in a merit-based process. The government has appointed or elevated 296 judges since it was elected in 2015, he said.

“The diversity of these candidates is unquestioned,” Lametti told the House of Commons in question period Thursday. “Fifty-five per cent of them are women and we’re going to continue to ensure that our appointments process is merit-based, continues to be fair, continues to be open and continues to attract the very best candidates.”

LGBT community playing ‘catch-up’

LGBT advocate and Toronto lawyer Richard Elliott said the representation of gay, lesbian and transgender Canadians on the bench is lagging behind other demographics. He pointed out that there has never been an openly gay or lesbian justice on the Supreme Court of Canada.

Part of the problem, he said, has been the small pool of LGBT candidates graduating from law schools and serving in the legal community.

“For many years, we were considered criminals. The law was used to oppress us and we were excluded from civil life in Canada, including the legal profession. So we’ve been playing catch-up for many years,” Elliott said.

Elliott said judges gain valuable insight into the lives of LGBT Canadians when they have colleagues on the bench who are openly gay or lesbian.

Call for a ‘blind’ appointment process

Some question the pursuit of judicial diversity, however. Philip Carl Salzman, professor emeritus of anthropology at McGill University, said he believes the diversity objective is “highly questionable” because it runs counter to recruitment based on merit.

“Diversity is gender, racial, sexual preference, ethnic, etc. Those seem to me to be a very poor basis for picking people who are supposed to make important decisions,” he said.

Salzman said he has seen a similar trend in academia, of people being hired on the basis of diversity goals over scholarly expertise. He said he believes candidates should not be selected as a result of “gross demographic categories” because it amounts to reverse discrimination.

“You’re going to get people who aren’t as good as you would if you had a colour-blind, sex-blind, gender-blind process,” he said.

Source: The changing face of Canada’s judiciary: more women, more diversity

PMO vets potential judges with Liberal database

Inappropriate in many ways. But it would be good to have some comparative data on the processes previous governments used, if any, in their review of possible partisan links to know if this is new or just a more sophisticated version of previous practice (e.g., running names by regional or other ministers).

As I have noted elsewhere, representation of women, visible minorities and Indigenous peoples increased dramatically under the current government (Taking stock of Ottawa’s diversity promises):

The Prime Minister’s Office is using a private party database called Liberalist in its background checks on candidates for judicial appointments, a tool that allows them to see whether would-be judges have supported the Liberal Party in recent years, records show.

The Liberal Party designed the database to be used for partisan purposes, such as helping Liberal candidates track and reach their supporters during election campaigns.

However, confidential documents obtained by The Globe and Mail show the PMO’s appointments branch is also using it to look into the partisan background of applicants for judicial positions. The documents, which were provided by a source, were produced by the PMO and show the results of database checks on judicial applicants. Liberalist is the only one of the databases that is not accessible to the public.

As justice minister, Jody Wilson-Raybould modified the process under which the federal government appoints judges to superior and federal courts in 2016, promising to increase the “openness, transparency, accountability and diversity of Canada’s judiciary.” In particular, the reforms gave greater independence to the seven-member judicial advisory committees (JAC) that evaluate the candidates for appointments.

However, sources said the process still includes a role for the PMO in vetting candidates further. The records show the PMO used Liberalist to evaluate candidates who had gone through the JAC process.

In the case of two lawyers who were vetted in 2018, for example, the documents indicate that Liberalist showed the years in which they were members of the Liberal Party of Canada, their history of donations to the party at the riding and national levels and the fact they voted in the 2013 leadership race. The database designated each of the two candidates (who were appointed to the bench) as a “supporter” of the party. It is not clear from the documents what “supporter” means.

A spokeswoman for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it is “normal and appropriate” for the government to be ready to answer questions on the “political activities and affiliations of government appointees.”

“All judicial appointments follow our new, open, independent, transparent and merit-based process,” PMO spokeswoman Chantal Gagnon said. “Political activity or donations have no impact on a person’s candidacy or selection for a judicial appointment. Our government has appointed people that have donated or been involved with parties of all political stripes.”

Using information from Elections Canada’s public database of political donations, The Globe has determined that about 25 per cent of the 289 judges appointed or promoted by Mr. Trudeau’s government since 2016 had donated to the Liberal Party of Canada. About 6 per cent donated to the Conservative, New Democratic or Green parties.

Of the donations made by these judges, $321,650.58, or 90.9 per cent of the total amount, was directed to the Liberal Party. By comparison, 4.2 per cent of the identified donations went to the Conservative Party, 4.7 per cent to the NDP and 0.1 per cent to the Green Party.

LOOKING FOR RED FLAGS

Judicial appointments have been a frequent source of controversy in Canadian history, given that no rules prevent government officials from favouring lawyers with ties to their party.

The Prime Minister is in charge of appointments to the Supreme Court of Canada, which will have a vacancy in September, when Clément Gascon officially retires.

Lower-ranking judges are appointed on the advice of the cabinet after a recommendation from the justice minister.

In the first stage of the process, applicants are evaluated by one of 17 seven-member JACs across the country. These committees are made up of members appointed by the government to represent the general public and members who are appointed by the provinces and the legal community.

The previous Conservative government appointed four representatives of the public, giving them the voting majority.

Under the process Ms. Wilson-Raybould created, the federal government appoints only three members to represent the public. The other four represent the provincial bar, the provincial chapter of the Canadian Bar Association and the provincial chief justice and attorney-general.

The government said when it announced the new process that it allows the committees to rank applicants as “highly” recommended in order to favour “truly outstanding candidates” for judicial appointments.

According to federal sources and records, the office of the minister of justice and the Prime Minister’s Office then conduct additional vetting.

Under the current government, all the ministers from a candidate’s province are consulted. In addition, some backbench MPs (especially those that are lawyers) and individuals outside government can be asked for their thoughts.

The PMO uses public databases to look into the candidates’ past, putting their names in Google News or the media monitoring service Infomart to see whether they have generated controversy. The PMO also looks in the database of names that appeared in the Panama Papers (a database of people linked to tax havens), the federal registry of lobbyists and a federal website that lists recipients of contracts and grants.

With these and other open sources of information, the PMO compiles the candidates’ history of donations to political parties and digs through their social media accounts (such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram) to look for red flags.

‘SENSITIVE INFORMATION’

Liberalist was put together by Liberal officials and volunteers who compile information from their contacts with members of the public in person, on the phone or online. The information is continually updated and added to the official list of registered voters for use during election campaigns, providing information on the partisan activities of Canadians.

The party has been using Liberalist for a decade. The software was modelled on a database the Democratic Party in the United States used under Barack Obama, who made it part of his campaign to win the presidency for the first time, in 2008.

The Privacy Commissioner and the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada recently expressed concerns that federal privacy laws do not apply to the large databases of information political parties amass on voters.

“Information about our political views is extremely sensitive and worthy of strong privacy protections,” Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien said on April 1. “We know that political parties collect vast amounts of data about voters. Canadians expect and deserve to have their privacy rights respected as they exercise their democratic rights.”

The Globe’s analysis of Elections Canada’s political contributions database looked at 4.95 million contributions, combining two Elections Canada donation data sets (one from 2000 to 2004, and another from 2004 to the present). Contributions before 2000 were not included due to differences in the structure and quality of the data.

The analysis compared the names in that database with those of the 289 judges who were appointed or promoted under the current Liberal government.

To prevent cases of mistaken identity, the judges’ donations were confirmed by cross-referencing their home cities and postal codes. The fact that many lawyers include their middle initials in their names added certainty to a number of matches.

Due to typos or other errors in donation information submitted to Elections Canada, some donations may not have appeared in The Globe’s search. Because the analysis looked for donors’ names, a small number of individuals who share a full name with a sitting judge and live in the same area may have been captured in the analysis.

Over all, 1,187 contributions were matched to 83 judges – nearly one in three of those appointed. Seventy-five judges, or 90.4 per cent of all judges who made donations, gave to the Liberal Party or its candidates. Nine (10.8 per cent) donated to the Conservatives, eight (9.6 per cent) to the New Democratic Party and one to the Green Party of Canada. Ten judges donated to more than one party.

The office of Justice Minister David Lametti said judges were named or promoted based on competence, without any considerations for their political leanings.

“All judicial appointments are made on the basis of merit,” said spokesman David Taylor, who added the minister considers factors such as “the needs of the court, each candidate’s expertise and the strength of their application” in recommending candidates for appointment.

“Citizens are free to make donations to whatever political party they choose. This includes members of the bar. Our judicial appointments process neither disqualifies nor privileges an applicant because of his or her legal donation to a political party,” Mr. Taylor said.

Source: PMO vets potential judges with Liberal database