Yes, minister, no more: Today’s bureaucrats have a different attitude: Yakabuski quoting Paquet

Yakabuski presents one side of the debate on the political-bureaucratic relationship, that of Gilles Paquet and his followers, which emphasize ‘loyal implementation’ at the expense of  ‘fearless advice.’

Many others take the contrary view, flagging the rise of ideology and the decline of ‘fearless advice’ (e.g., among the former public servants fingered by Paquet and his acolytes, Mel Cappe on ideology over evidenceRalph Heintzman: Creeping politicization in the public serviceKevin Page delivers a warning to the public service, among academics, Boundary between politics, public service is ‘no man’s land’: Donald Savoie, David Zussman quoted in Ideology, minority rule, distrust shaped Harper government’s relationship with public service).

As I argued in my book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias: Resetting Citizenship and Multiculturalism, written from my perspective working to implement change by then Secretary of State for Multiculturalism and CIC Minister Kenney, the public service failed to provide impartial ‘fearless advice’ and recognize its own ideologies and biases, and was not quick enough to shift to ‘loyal implementation’ once the advice had been given. (Disclosure: I had worked with Paquet and his press on Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias but our divergence of views was too great).

Canadians need to understand better how the balance between the bureaucratic and political roles plays out in the related debates over evidence-based policy (and which evidence), the decline of government policy expertise and data and other issues.

While academics and some journalists can and do raise these issues, former public servants should also contribute to discussions on the role of the public service and the political-bureaucratic relationship given their on-the-ground experience.

While such contributions run the risk of having a partisan element in their critique of Conservative government actions (and certainly being perceived this way), it is also non-partisan in that such contributions also form advice to any future government on both framework and specific policy issues (which of course, it would be free to accept or refuse).

And of course, the sharper ideological edge of the Conservative government compared to the more centrist public servant perspective accentuates distrust on both sides:

This view is echoed in a March article in Optimum Online, a public-sector management journal that Prof. Paquet edits. The article, by a senior Ottawa-based policy analyst using a pseudonym, asserts that “many senior federal public servants [develop] a conviction that they are better guardians of basic values of our democracy than elected officials. While this attitude had to be somewhat tamed while they were on active duty, it has become fully unleashed in retirement.”

The author goes on: “This has naturally generated a flow of self-righteous condemnation of current government policies by many newly unencumbered retired senior officials, and has thereby provided immense moral support for those senior public servants still in active duty – former colleagues and friends – to heighten their own passive (or semi-active) opposition to the elected government from within. As a result, the corridor of what has come to be regarded as tolerable disloyalty from within would appear to have widened considerably.”

This trend is nearly certain to outlive the Harper government. Future governments will become even more suspicious of the bureaucracy they inherit. To some extent, such suspicion has always existed. But Canada has always resisted the American practice of administrations stuffing the top layers of the bureaucracy with political appointees. Prof. Paquet worries that will change unless the principles of bureaucratic loyalty and discretion are restored.

“Loyalty breeds loyalty,” he says. “It’s 50-50.”

For my take on the same article, see The Demonization of Stephen Harper.

A review I did on an earlier Paquet article, Super-Bureaucrats as Enfants du siècle, provides further material for this ongoing debate (‘Mental Prisons,’ the Public Service and Gilles Paquet).

Source: Yes, minister, no more: Today’s bureaucrats have a different attitude – The Globe and Mail

And my letter to the editor on this can be found here.

‘Mental Prisons,’ the Public Service and Gilles Paquet

In the spirit of Paquet's call for the "highest and best use of irony and irreverence" and "methodological and intellectual cruelty."

In the spirit of Paquet’s call for the “highest and best use of irony and irreverence” and “methodological and intellectual cruelty.”

My review of Gilles Paquet’s Super-Bureaucrats as Enfants du siècle in the Hill Times:

Ralph Heintzman provoked considerable debate in his Canada 2020: Renewal of the Federal Public Service arguing for an independent, arms-length public service. Ruth Hubbard countered it with The real problem with the public service, arguing that the real problem is competency, not the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels. Maryantonett Flumian reminds us that politicians are elected, officials are not, and they have to implement government priorities as long as they do not break the law in How public servants support democracy: a response to latest Canada 2020 study.

Gilles Paquet adds his voice in Super-Bureaucrats as Enfants du siècle, which, while focused on officers of Parliament, casts his critique more broadly.

Paquet’s language, as always, pulls no punches. The “tribe” of super-bureaucrats form an “oligarchy.” They have a “sense of superior expertise and total infallibility.” They are agents of “counter-democracy” and impose their “technocratic and ideological views … usurping the role of elected officials.”

Officials practise “active or passive disloyalty” and are guilty of “sabotage.” The “fairy tale” of political reliance on anecdotes versus official reliance on anecdotes led to a “destructive … misuse of power,” which “translated in subterranean efforts to block, derail, or deflect the efforts of fairly able politicians.”

But apart from the tone, what is Paquet’s argument?

That super-bureaucrats, starting with officers of Parliament, but including adjudicatory bodies and the courts, have largely usurped the authority of the government and Parliament through “mandate creep with gusto.”

Their ideology or “diktats of indiscriminate compassion” allow them to portray themselves on the “side of the angels” while pursuing an “unlimited increase of the resources dedicated to the bureaucracy.”

“Super-bureaucrats and higher courts judges have often made unwarranted claims based much more on hubris than on superior competence, and couched in drama-queenesque rhetoric …”

Media and academics have been “defending tooth and nail the sacredness of the super-bureaucrats.”

Other critiques of officers of Parliament have been expressed more in terms of the diminished role of Parliament than of deference to the government (Donald Savoie).

But let’s take Paquet’s argument at face value that the super-bureaucrats and others, including “low-level bureaucrats” like he mentioned, have been actively undermining the government.

I wrote Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias: Resetting Citizenship and Multiculturalism as more critical of the public service than the government because I felt that we had failed in our role to provide neutral and impartial advice.

We did not acknowledge our ideological and value biases, our evidence base was too slanted towards these biases, and we clung to a narrow interpretation of risk.

But the government also shares some responsibility. It arrived to government with a stronger ideological focus, one that often coloured its perception of evidence and preference for anecdotes (e.g., labour market shortages), and its willingness to discount risk (e.g., recent number of Supreme Court defeats).

But more fundamentally, Paquet is arguing for little or no constraints upon the government of the day.

He devalues the balance that officers of Parliament, adjudicatory bodies, and the courts provide in a context where Parliament no longer plays that role, given increased partisanship, expanded use of time allocation, and omnibus legislation. These trends predate the Conservative government, but have expanded under it.

Moreover, Paquet is also silent on the government’s silencing of those whose statutory role requires them to be a watchdog (e.g., starting with Linda Keen) or kills bodies that provide independent advice (e.g., National Round Table on the Environment on the Economy).

And does he really believe that the original version of Bill C-23, the Fair Elections Act, should not have been challenged?

Reading this paper alongside his companion article, On Critical Thinking, one is struck by just how much Paquet, so critical of others being trapped by their “mental prison,” falls into the same trap.

Is he as mindful of his own biases, ideology, and assumptions as he accuses others of “disingenuity, sophistry, and bullshit?”After all, all three can be found in the left, centre, and right-wing versions of conventional wisdom.

Heintzman’s Canada 2020 report continues to provoke debate (pay wall)

 

 

Federal executives lack training, flexibility, Hubbard and Paquet

Ruth Hubbard and Gilles Paquet on the public service:

Hubbard draws her conclusions from a series of confidential discussions she and University of Ottawa Prof. Gilles Paquet held with more than 100 executives between 2006 and 2009 about thorny topics the public service doesn’t like to publicly air or even acknowledge – from disloyalty, security and ethics to in-house operational and institutional challenges.

“In our view, the state of mind of senior executives has come to be tainted by a multitude of bad habits: creeping cognitive dissonance and political correctness, erosion of critical thinking. These bad habits of the mind have unwittingly led to reprehensible behavior; rewarding failure, punishing success; failure to confront, disloyalty,” the pair wrote in a recently released book.

They argue this state of mind, coupled with the lack of capabilities, could, if left unchecked, lead to the further “deterioration” or “fading away” of the public service.

Federal executives lack training, flexibility, expert says | Ottawa Citizen.

Her direct reply to Ralph Heintzman (Public service needs ‘moral contract’ to keep it neutral, study says | Ottawa Citizen):

Only a very bizarre and unfit public servant would suggest

(1) that the technocracy should always oppose the political, and would conclude that, when there is accord, there must have been promiscuity; and

(2) that a senior bureaucrat should not work collaboratively with his minister unless the minister has a notion of the public interest aligned completely with his own.

Such would appear to be Heintzman’s views, and they are unreasonable.

While Hubbard and Paquet are correct to point out some of the failings of the public service, they largely ignore or dismiss the failings on the Government side.

Of course, the public service must adapt to the government of the day, but the Conservative government came from a very different space in terms of values and ideologies, combined with a high level of distrust that made this more challenging. Its dismissal of evidence and expertise, rather than merely challenging public service advice,  its unwillingness to listen to alternate views and its systematic attempt to weaken independent bodies are also part of the picture.

Just as Heintzman goes to far in his view of the independence of the public service, Hubbard and Paquet go too far in the other direction (readers may recall that in the end, the divergence between Paquet’s and my views was too great to publish with his private press – see my earlier post Gilles Paquet’s Critique of Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias).

Ruth Hubbard: The real problem with the public service

‘Check your Privilege’ Debate

A fairly typical rant by Rex Murphy on ‘check your privilege’:

It is a direct effort to impose guilt where gratification should reign. It is to make those who work hard, try to conduct themselves responsibly, who apply themselves to study, feel that none of these attributes, none of their honest effort, has earned them success. Why should all a young person’s effort and sweat, holding on to a moral code, and determined application to make something of their life be turned against them, be denied its efficacy, and everything praiseworthy about a person be dismissed as merely a gift of their ethnicity?

What’s most obnoxious about this trend is its blatant attempt to chase effort, merit, industry and determination off the field entirely. The privilege movement seeks to sully and taint  the commonplace eternal virtues, so that when one of us sees another happy in marriage, perhaps, or successful in business, and maybe temperate and easy in private life , we should all shout in envy and hate. It is bitterly ironic that the anti-racist message has been reduced to this: You have all that you have only because you have white skin.

It is the cheapest form of racism, no subtlety at all … and it finds fullest expression in those academic institutions most attuned to any whiff of prejudice. Only in the very best universities would you ever be able to find so stupid a thought being given such frantic attention. And Orwell’s famous taunt about some ideas being so stupid only an intellectual would support them is sadly truer now, by far, than when he wrote them.

Rex Murphy: Check your bigotry

Which in turn, provoked a good debate, starting with Dawn Black in iPolitics (pay wall):

Asking people to check their privilege isn’t a matter of keeping certain voices out of the conversation – it’s about ensuring that all voices, especially those that have historically been kept silent, have the chance to be heard. It’s not about blaming white people for their achievements – it’s about knowing that we can’t end racism until we understand how and why it continues to exist. It’s not about humiliation – ultimately, it’s about empathy.

Social inequality is, unfortunately, a fact of life. Recognizing that inequality exists – and trying to find ways to eliminate it – is a fundamental part of responsible citizenship. Trying to shut down discussions of privilege won’t make that privilege disappear; it will only make inequality harder to fight.

Check your privilege, Canada:

And echoed by Deborah Douglass in the National Post:

Let’s be clear: To acknowledge the role of privilege does not negate the role of self-determination and personal responsibility. They are understood. Even I cringe at new speech-policing concepts such as trigger warnings, which are used to control speech on university campuses. And those on the losing end of privilege could stand to watch how they couch their argument when calling it out. Often, they, too, possess some form of privilege. I know I do. Sometimes people elevate their victimhood to suggest that’s the extent of their value and comes across as a form of emotional blackmail others cannot access.

The beautiful thing about being part of a democracy is the notion of perfecting it. The least we can do is to open our minds and hearts. That’s a nice way of saying that if you’re white or male or upper-middle class or athletic or skinny or good-looking or privileged in any way, you cannot go on assuming everything that comes to you belongs only to you, and that there’s something wrong with those who aren’t as privileged.

It is said that to whom much is given, much is required. That same famous source also cautions against suffering fools, which means challenging foolish notions and weeding out racism or sexism in all its nuanced and structural forms.

Weeding out racism

One of the issues Minister Kenney and his staff had with multiculturalism policy and G&C proposals was reference to “white power,” an essentially similar concept.

One can view ‘check your privilege’ as another way to slow down one’s thinking and assumptions, to shift from System 1 automatic to System 2 deliberative thinking, to use Kahneman’s phrase, to allow for more open-ended discussion. I think Douglass’ comments have it about right; Rex has remained within his System 1 “mental prison” to use a Gilles Paquet term.

Gilles Paquet’s Critique of Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias

As noted in my acknowledgements, Gilles Paquet and I had a number of discussions which were helpful to me in framing the book. At one time, we had discussed the possibility of Gilles’ private press publishing the book, but as our discussions went on, it became clear that our views were too divergent, and the book had to be in my voice and capture my perspective.

Once my book was published, I asked Gilles to provide a commentary on the book, to provide the counterpoint that had emerged in our discussions, and to encourage debate on issues of the relationship between the government and the public service. The following in-depth review is the result.

Like all of Gilles’ writing, he is forceful in expressing his views. He is highly critical of what he views the weaknesses of my perspective and arguments.

I leave it to readers – of  my book Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, Gilles’ review and other commentary  (see Media Quotes) – to judge and to join the discussion.

So let the debate begin!

THE POLITICAL-BUREAUCRATIC INTERFACE: A COMMENT ON ANDREW GRIFFITH’S EXPEDITION (requires free registration, text below)

THE POLITICAL-BUREAUCRATIC INTERFACE: A COMMENT ON ANDREW GRIFFITH’S EXPEDITION

Gilles Paquet

Vol. 43, Issue 4, Dec 2013

“The human understanding when it has once adopted an opinion, either as being the received opinion or as being agreeable to itself, draws all things else to support and agree with it.”

Francis Bacon

Introduction

Very few issues are as important, in deciphering what is defensible and what is not in the practice of public administration, as a fair understanding of the interface between politicians and bureaucrats. Textbookish representations of this interface suggest that it is a locus of the complete subordination of bureaucrats to the will of politicians. This is fundamentally misleading. Politicians interact with bureaucrats both in managing the public household and in developing and implementing policies. In this dialogue between elected officials and officials hired for their expertise, both parties bring to the table different types of knowledge. In the best of all worlds, from such a dialogue emerges a blend of perspectives in which these different types of knowledge are taken into account and appropriate trade-offs among them have been wisely negotiated.

However, such a happy ending is never a sure thing. We live in a pluralist society. In such a society, there are many different and legitimate notions of the good, and there is no such thing as the one right perspective, or the one right problem description, or the one right technical answer to most policy issues. Nor is there any assurance that the cacophony of perspectives will not degenerate into chaos or destructive antagonistic conflicts, or that a fair and fruitful reconciliation of the broad variety of types of knowledge, intelligences, and points of view will emerge. The same may be said about the interface between elected officials and bureaucrats.

Very few citizens have the opportunity to experience such a process of haggling between politicians and bureaucrats, live and in real time. Most citizens are too far from the forum where such interactions occur, or too ill-informed to make sense of them. This is the key reason why the testimony of those who have had the opportunity to experience such a process first hand is so important and valuable. Yet the production of such testimonies is rare in Canada, and it is even rarer when it comes to reporting about critical moments of transition, i.e., when both parties have to come to terms with new agonistic situations. This is the reason why I have taken such personal interest in the Griffith project.

The deed and the written word

Andrew Griffith has had a distinguished career as a public servant and as a diplomat with postings in a number of countries. He was in the trenches as Director General at Citizenship and Immigration Canada in the 2000s, and experienced first-hand the transition from the Martin government to the Harper government. This was a period when the traditional Liberal government policies on citizenship, immigration and multiculturalism (that had been in place more or less since the Trudeau era, but had taken a much sharper turn to laxity since the mid-1990s) were challenged by the new government and its key minister on these files – Jason Kenney – in the latter part of the 2000s decade.

Andrew Griffith worked for four years with Jason Kenney, with a mandate from the minister to reset the policies with emphasis on “more meaningful citizenship and more integrative multiculturalism.”1 He lived through a fascinating process of the reframing of the policies of citizenship, immigration, and multiculturalism – one that pitched the views of Minister Jason Kenney against those of a significant portion of the bureaucracy inherited from the Liberal era, and schooled in another philosophy of less-meaningful citizenship and less-integrative multiculturalism. This bureaucracy did not take kindly to the policy change, and, as Griffith suggests, went through “the Kübler-Ross stages of grief and loss – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.”2

But there is nothing automatic or deterministic about the evolving Kübler-Ross stages as proposed by Griffith: it need not end with acceptance. It may also easily drift into radical resistance, semi-permanent obstructionism and even sabotage. Indeed, the citizenship, immigration and multiculturalism files were the scene of this sort of resistance – so much so that such resistance was most certainly in part responsible for the Minister’s decision to relocate the site of certain policies within the overall governmental structure, so as to escape from bureaucratic obstructionism, and to ensure that his policy directions would be implemented.

We are indebted to Andrew Griffith for testifying about this transition period.

From conversations with Griffith, at an early stage of the writing project, I developed a strong conviction that he had worked hard, most honourably, and often painfully, at finding ways to synthesize the contradictory perspectives of elected officials and bureaucrats on these files, and that he had, in so doing, lived up to the highest standards of the burden of office of a senior bureaucrat.3 But it is quite a different thing to act honestly, creatively and loyally at the political-bureaucratic interface à chaud, and to report clinically on such episodes à froid.

It is extraordinarily difficult to report, in writing, in a manner that is totally dispassionate, clinical, and untainted by one’s professional culture on contentious events in which one has been personally involved.

Such efforts often lead to memoirs and souvenirs that are grossly embellished, not so much to aggrandize the role of the memoirist, but to confirm the view of the world in good currency shared by colleagues. In other cases, as in the book under review, it may even come to be seen as impossible to report on these experiences clinically, without betraying the sort of loyalty to the tribe expected from a life-long public servant. Consequently, self-censorship kicks in, and the overall story may suffer from a certain bias.

This is not surprising. Any specialization or profession generates a reductive manière de voir. Popular wisdom has invented the maxim – if you have only a hammer, everything looks like a nail – to capture this form of reductiveness. Francis Bacon referred to it as idola tribus – the idol of the tribe that distorts representations as a result of preconceived ideas about things, often as a result of organizational culture.

Griffith was, from the start of his writing project about the events of the late 2000s, quite concerned about those who had fallen prey to the Stockholm syndrome – uncritically internalizing the new orientation perhaps too easily [p. 15] – perhaps without realizing that he might have fallen prey to the obverse syndrome in writing his report: carrying as such an empathy with the old orientation ingrained in the bureaucracy or their artisans that he was unable to report in an unbiased way on what he saw at the political-bureaucratic interface.

In conversations with Griffith, early in the project, I detected his reluctance to indict the bureaucracy. We talked openly about it. I had not been in the trenches, so it was difficult to be persuasive ex ante about the extent to which this possible bias might generate self-censorship, willful blindness, or an overly generous interpretation of certain actions. But when the book materialized, its pro-bureaucracy bias was obvious despite the sprinkling of innocuous sentences here and there that recognized the ideology, exactions and disloyalties of the bureaucracy. These flats and sharps on the general theme, always in the nature of add-ons, did not have any real impact on the general course of the narrative.

The book that emerged appears baroque and somewhat disjointed in structure. In addition, it is also not sufficiently informative to help the reader to arbitrate the different points of view.

Whatever the flaws of this report from the trenches, we should be grateful that Andrew Griffith has provided, in extraordinarily difficult personal circumstances, his best appreciation of what went on. Understanding the flaws of this report (and their sources) may make future attempts at such difficult ethnographic work more likely to succeed.

It is my goal, in the next sections, to present first a very stylized version of what one might expect from a workable political-bureaucratic interface in a pluralist representative democracy, followed by an examination of the Griffith report, describing its contents and some of its revealing features. In the following section, I indicate why Griffith’s treatment of the political-bureaucratic interface is flawed, and what sort of mental prisons seemed to have prevented him from dealing with the issue more satisfactorily. In conclusion, I reflect on what lessons might be learned from this experience that might help attenuate some of the unfortunate biases in the future.

The political-bureaucratic interface

In a liberal democracy like ours, officials elected by the citizens are expected to represent those citizens in the decision process of the public household. Their legitimacy in this role comes from having been elected. In the process of conducting the affairs of the public household, they enlist the help of civil servants who are selected for their expertise. The role of the bureaucrats is to provide the best possible information and advice to the elected officials, to help them to arrive at an informed decision, and then to assist the elected officials to implement in the most effective, efficient and economical ways, and with minimal negative effects, whatever legal decision is arrived at.

Both politicians and bureaucrats have networks of stakeholders that they keep in touch with in order to help them with their work of stewardship. When the dialogue between politicians and bureaucrats is effective and successful, the ensuing decisions and policy designs are the result of a fuller appreciation of the different dimensions of the issues of interest that both groups focus on, and the outcome (even though in a pluralist society it may not please all) may be said to be legitimate and informed.

In the interface between politicians and bureaucrats, there is a clear asymmetry between the two parties. Elected officials, because of the legitimacy of their election and its echoing of the plurality of voices and values in society, have the authority to insist that their views prevail en dernière instance. Thus bureaucrats are expected to provide their best advice and arguments (in full recognition of the limited nature of their contribution)4 to the elected officials, and, whether their view prevails or not, are expected to loyally and most effectively implement the policies chosen by the politicians. If bureaucrats feel unable to implement the decision arrived at, then they should resign, and seek either an alternative assignment in areas where they can loyally serve the elected officials, or leave the public sector altogether.

But this is not what necessarily happens. Both parties to these potential conversations may have dramatically different views of reality, and may be deaf to what the other party has to suggest. Politicians may be inspired in their action by dogmas. Bureaucrats may be equally ideologically driven. And bureaucrats may effectively sabotage (actively or passively) both the design and implementation of the policies put forward by elected officials.5

If politicians act ignorantly in refusing wise counsel from bureaucrats, they may generate havoc and be thrown out of office by the citizens. This usually keeps politicians alert to the many important dimensions of public issues. There is, however, no such brutal mechanism to discipline bureaucrats (except senior bureaucrats who serve at pleasure), who fail in fulfilling their burden of office, and do not feel compelled to follow the orders of elected politicians. Some have been known to indulge in obstructionism if what they are required to implement does not correspond to their own notion of public interest.6

The Griffith book: an overview

The only way to put to a test an hypothesis about the real-life dynamics of the political-bureaucratic interface is to indulge in administrative ethnography, to study real-life issues where the interface has been strained by significant differences in viewpoint (and even the possibilities of stalemate or sabotage), due to the conflicts not being resolved in a manner consistent with our theory of liberal representative democracy.

In order to provide useful ethnographic evidence about this complex interface, one must be able to count on a good grasp of ethnographic methods, to accumulate much detailed and precise evidence, to report on it as fairly and fully as possible, and to avoid allowing an attachment to one group or the other to toxically taint the observations and to impair the analysis.

It is very difficult to do good ethnographic work of that sort. An ethnographer is usually an outsider to the tribe to be studied, is carefully trained, and proceeds with immense care to avoid taking sides. The ethnographer must find a way to be allowed into the community, and learn to observe and ask questions about why things are done the way they are.

In public administration, it is not easy for an outsider to gain access to the decision process. Consequently, it is often only an insider who may have access to the trenches, and be able to report on what happened there. But it is very naïve to presume that such an internal observer can be entirely free of bias. Efforts have to be made to identify such potential biases, and to factor them into the analysis in order to ensure that the report does not fall prey to stewed reporting.7

The cover

Griffith’s book is not the work of an ethnographer, but that of a former public servant and diplomat. It is a report from the trenches, prepared by an internal participant observer. His work is introduced with a cocktail of words on the cover of the book, words not picked up whimsically, but chosen carefully (as Griffith clearly states in the acknowledgements) to capture the key messages of the book. Four sizes of fonts are used in presenting these words on the cover: from very large to very small:

anecdote

evidence, expertise, risk, loyal implementation, bias

ideology, research, disloyalty, arrogance

knowledge, fearless advice, fearless advice

It is not surprising to see the word ‘anecdote’ as the dominant word on the cover, for it is the dominant theme of the book: the word is repeated more than a dozen times along the way, and is always associated with what Griffith regards as the foundation on which politicians base their actions. Griffith builds all his arguments about the political-bureaucratic interface on this sort of Manichean foundation: “politicians act on the basis of anecdotes, and bureaucrats make suggestions on the basis of expert evidence.” It is fair to say that Griffith introduces sentences here and there that might suggest that flats and sharps may be required about the general validity of this simplification, but this general proposition remains the dominant theme throughout the book.8

The only saving grace of a politician’s knowledge, in Griffith’s view, would appear to be its “granularity” – and this is never really regarded as anything worth much more than adding a bit of couleur locale,like anecdotes. In the book, there is no effort to probe in any meaningful way the foundations of the appreciative system, and the practical knowledge of politicians which is often broadly based in interactions with issues and citizens. It is simply assumed to be incommensurable with the serious positivistic knowledge base of the bureaucrats.9

On the basis of this postulate, Griffith proceeds in eight steps: a statement about the context, and seven chapters.

The context chapter

In the context chapter, Griffith provides a bird’s-eye view of the evolution of the immigration and multiculturalism policies over the last decades. He emphasizes the continuity of the period between the 1970s and the 2000s, and underlines the discontinuity that occurred with the new Conservative government in 2006. His general presentation fails to acknowledge an earlier discontinuity in immigration policy in the 1990s (away from the prudent absorptive capacity philosophy in place until then), nor does he acknowledge any change in the intensity of the pursuit of diversity for diversity’s sake in the 1990s (although there was clearly a shift toward that position in the post-Charter era).

The evolution of these policies in the 1990s is presented as reflecting sheer continuity in accord with a so-called “previous bipartisan consensus.”10 [p. 15]  Only the post-2006 shift is perceived as a significant change in kind in these policies.

In this first chapter, Griffith laments the fact that “the Conservative Party” (the author does not speak of the legitimately elected Conservative government of Canada) has narrowed the role of public servants in broad policy direction, and would appear to have refocused their role to issues of implementation. This gave rise to a period of tension after 2006 between the bureaucracy at Canadian Heritage which supported the previous policy stance, and the newly elected government, which wished to develop an alternative one – an “agenda of citizenship that was more meaningful and exacting, and multiculturalism that focuses on integration over accommodation.” [p. 14]

The presentation of this zone of tension is quite revealing. Griffith admits that “public servants had “internalized the previous policy of continuity and consensus,”11 and that the Minister’s (Jason Kenney) direction “posed an almost existentialist (sic) challenge to the role and expertise of the public service,” asthe Minister and his officials “constantly – and fundamentally – challenged prevailing policies, programs, and perspectives. The emphasis was more on pushing than positive leadership, necessary given the entrenched ‘conventional wisdom’ and inertia of the bureaucracy.”12 [p. 14]

This introductory chapter is a collage of complaints about the less important role of public servants in defining policy directions under the Conservative Party, the attack by the Harper government on “the previous bipartisan consensus on citizenship and multiculturalism,” [p. 15] the risk of bureaucrats being sycophants of the government, the celebration of Munir Sheikh as an heroic public servant figure who supposedly resigned rather than follow orders,13 [p. 15] and the denunciation of the unwarranted suspicion of the government about the loyalty of public servants [p. 16] – followed by a meek throw-away line seeming to recognize that all that suspicion may not have been entirely unwarranted: “public service expertise was challenged (sometimes correctly) as not addressing some issues.”

This introduction goes a bit further in suggesting approvingly a slightly more radical version of the foundational hypothesis that the Harper government and its elected officials not only based their actions and decisions on anecdotes, but that they had an overall distrust of formal research-based approaches in favour of a “principled approach” to policy priorities [p. 17]. Neither the softer version of the guiding hypothesis (elected officials guided by anecdotes) nor the harder version (elected officials distrusting research-based approaches) is rooted in any evidence. It is presented as self-evident and not documented in any way. Yet this is the basis on which much of the argument of the rest of the book is constructed.

Griffith may concede later that bureaucrats “relied excessively on large-scale surveys and other evidence that did not take into account, and effectively ignored, any input from the Minister’s extensive outreach to the various ethnic communities” and that “the bureaucracy’s existing stakeholders were favoured, rather than including new ones identified at the political level.” [p. 16] But all this would not appear to be noteworthy in comparison to the dominant foundational hypothesis about the lens of evidence versus anecdotes. There are statements in the text about the biases of the bureaucrats, but Griffith does not ever go further than conceding that the bureaucrats have been “perceived” as arrogant and even disloyal. [p. 16]

The rest of the book maintains this relatively slanted perspective. The following chapters are a mix of some useful information about some aspects of the changes in the approaches to citizenship, immigration and multiculturalism, but they provide only minimal, oblique, and not always enlightening or useful insights, into the poignancy of the political-bureaucratic interface, beyond the complaints of the bureaucrats.

Chapters 2-4

The following three chapters review particular changes in both citizenship and multiculturalism policies:

Chapter 2:  Which ideology will that be?

  • Citizenship: The new brochure Discover Canada
  • Multiculturalism: From accommodation to integration

Chapter 3: Would that be evidence or anecdote?

  • Citizenship: Limits to evidence
  • Multiculturalism: Discrimination or racism?

Chapter 4: What is at risk? And for whom?

  •  Citizenship: Improving program integrity
  •  Multiculturalism: The case of historical recognition

In chapter 2, two issues are handled: a redrafting of the citizenship guide that proceeded relatively smoothly: it led to robust discussions but did not appear to create immense political-bureaucratic tension; and the refocusing on the program of grants and contributions in multiculturalism that pitched the activist orientation of the staff against the new focus on social integration defended by the elected government. On this latter front, “so large was the gap between the policy changes and the inertia of the program staff, that, in the end, … a machinery solution was applied: take the program staff completely out of the project development loop.” [p. 32] Even Griffith has to concede that “this reflected a failure of the bureaucracy, and appeared (my emphasis) as disloyalty to the government.” [p. 32]

Chapter 3 deals with issues where data problems prevented helpful discussions. It also documents the painful process of shifting the attention of the bureaucracy from an anti-racism and discrimination focus to an approach focused on building a more integrated and socially cohesive society. Again, it exposed the same battle line: the resistance of the bureaucracy to the policies of the new government.

Chapter 4 is an hybrid, somewhat bizarrely drawing attention to risk, but largely dealing with the difficulty in finding effective ways of dealing with citizenship tests, or ascertaining what should or should not be done in recognizing past wrongs. These matters would appear to be genuinely complex, but not pertaining acutely or especially to the interface between bureaucrats and politicians.

Chapters 5-7

The second batch of chapters deal with an assortment of issues not always clearly related to the major theme of the book.

Chapter 5: Some gaps and omissions

  •  Quebec debates and interculturalisme
  •  Radicalization and social cohesion

Chapter 6: Machinery change: 2008

  •  From Canadian Heritage to CIC

Chapter 7: So what kind of “Yes Minister” will that be? as Conclusion

The first part of chapter 5 is an excursus on interculturalisme as professed in Québec that has nothing to do with the thrust of the book. The second part deals with the problem of the radicalization of immigrants in Canada, but only provides another occasion for complaints about the reluctance of the bureaucracy to accept the priority given by the Minister to projects aimed at reducing the radicalization of immigrants in Canada and improving social cohesion. Even though the matter was widely acknowledged and discussed in Canada, the bureaucracy would not seem to have been willing to accept it as a priority.

Chapter 6 reviews the shift of multiculturalism policy from Canadian Heritage to Citizenship and Immigration. This chapter floods the reader with discussions of the administrative difficulties generated by such a shift, and some continuing lament about the lesser valence of the former multiculturalism philosophy. It studiously avoids linking this move in any way to the fact that it might have been precipitated by the Minister being unable to get his way on the policy front because of the unwillingness of the bureaucracy in the old ministry to collaborate. This issue is never raised explicitly in this chapter, although Griffith has hinted at the cause-effect link earlier in the book.

Chapter 7 is a rather odd composite of afterthoughts in the guise of a conclusion. It reiterates the basic hypothesis about the evidence-based work of bureaucrats and the anecdotes of politicians, but with incidental sentences that can only be interpreted as recognizing in extremis that it might not really be as one-sided or as bad as the author has made it sound all along.

This final chapter reflects Griffith’s Buridanesque state of mind: a dangling man torn between a loyalty to his colleagues in the bureaucratic tribe and a loyalty to the elected government. Griffith could note in passing the inertia, obstructionism, and ideological bias of his co-tribesmen, but explicitly recognizing their disloyalty and their deserving blame proved beyond his powers.

Praising the project, criticizing the outcome, trying to understand why it happened14

There is no doubt that Andrew Griffith has experienced firsthand the tensions at the political-bureaucratic interface, and was intent on trying to tell the story as fully as it needed to be told, very clearly and without pulling punches, in order to launch a fruitful learning process. Yet the outcome is disappointingly weak in fundamental ways.

Some weaknesses are ascribable to the poor structure of the book – as discussed in the first sub-section below – because all sorts of irrelevant material distract the reader from the main argument, and also because of the level of generality at which the discussion is carried out – not providing the reader with much evidence about the specifics of the conflicts between the two groups so that readers could have the information to form their own judgments about these matters.

Some other weaknesses are ascribable to some epistemic blockages: a subtle but omnipresent reluctance to recognize the accumulating evidence quasi-unwittingly being brought forth as the book unfolds, and consequently to draw conclusions about the sources of the difficulties at the political-bureaucratic interface. This is discussed in the second sub-section below.

Flaws of the book

The objective flaws of the book as a book are many.

First, conceptually, the book fails in providing any significant insight into the political-bureaucratic interface. It does not do anything to identify the relevant dimensions of interest at this interface, or to clarify the motivations at play on both sides. It is satisfied with presenting highly stylized cartoon-like characters (evidence versus anecdotes) without feeling the need to provide more than a scintilla of appreciation of the limitations of the science of governance as a basis for action, on the one side, nor more than a scintilla of appreciation of the dynamics of politics and what it might provide that cannot come from bureaucrats, on the other.

Even though this is meant to be a case study, a minimal conceptual apparatus is required to set the stage and to delve into the workings of the political mind and of the bureaucratic mind. Griffith’s book was doomed by the superficiality of the approach used: evidence versus anecdote are introduced as in a Punch and Judy show.

The hypothesis that bureaucracy trumps politics is simply presented as an assumption – take it or leave it. It would have required (1) some appreciation of the mechanisms underlying both types of action and, at the very least, cursory documentation the ways in which the political mind and the bureaucratic mind work; (2) a modicum of documentation to show how those characters operate in the issue domains under examination, and (3) some sufficient details about their conflicts to help the reader make sense of whose position is defensible.

Second, structurally and empirically, the book does not provide anything close to a rationale that anyone could understand for the sequence of chapters and the choice of sub-issues presented. Nowhere is there an analysis about any of the issues discussed that compares and contrasts or even probes in any way the arguments used by both parties, or the validity or invalidity of these arguments. The reader is simply informed that there was a disagreement; that the bureaucracy was not in support of the views of the government; that the bureaucracy was obstructionist; and that tensions were important. But in no single case is sufficient information provided about the arguments by either side to allow the reader to arbitrate this debate themselves. The reader is told about the fight, and provided with none of the basic information needed to understand who should be indicted. Indeed, the deliberately under-informed reader is subtly nudged to search for a determination of who is right or wrong by a constant return to the basic hypothesis that, since the bureaucrats are the better informed, maybe the Minister should not have “pushed” them. This sort of circular reasoning is hardly satisfactory.

Thirdly, discourse-wise, the argument stumbles along in a manner that conveys to the reader nothing more than generalized obfuscation – a reluctance of the author to formulate clear propositions about the nature of the failures of the political-bureaucratic interface in the citizenship-immigration-multiculturalism land, and to indict anyone for failing to meet the requirements of their burden of office.

Why did this happen?

First, it may be that the manuscript was prepared with insufficient care having been taken to develop a fuller understanding of the problems emerging at the political-bureaucratic interface. It is not sufficient to have lived through a difficult experience to be able to present a meaningful analysis of it – in the same manner that knowing a language is not sufficient to be able to explain and teach its intricacies. Griffith as a would-be ethnographer might have required much deeper reflections about the political-bureaucratic interface ex ante in order to be able to make sense of the experiences he went through, and to be able to report effectively on this.

A review of the literature might also have helped the author to design better methodology and better organization of the inquiry: mindfulness about documenting the detailed interactions between politicians and bureaucrats, about the collection and presentation of the basic documentation, about the practical logics underpinning the course of action of both groups, and about an effective way to collate all such information in a manner leading to some formal and informal propositions being credibly put forward about the dynamics of such interfaces.

Second, a book is not just an assemblage of disparate chapters. It is supposed to develop an argument. The loose format adopted by Griffith for his book has invited the creation of a very Baroque work where the author drifts along without having to develop a tight satisfactory argument. As a result, he shies away from any effort to articulate some basic propositions about the dynamics of the political-bureaucratic interface that he observed through the files he worked on. He simply allows himself to indulge in some disquisitions on a variety of topics only remotely connected at times with the political-bureaucratic interface problematique.

Third, and most important, are the dual mental prisons that appear to cast their shadows on the whole book, and to be the source of failures of critical thinking that have underpinned both (1) an incapacity to marshal meaningfully the evidence about the disloyalty of the bureaucracy that managed to find its way into the book – a sort of blindness I would ascribe to the weight of organizational culture and the ‘idol of the tribe’; and (2) an unwillingness to follow through on what was an insouciant acknowledgement of disloyalty (even when it was flagrant) by indicting the members of the bureaucratic tribe – something I would ascribe to an extensive experience in diplomacy – a profession that generates a propensity to viscerally shy away from ever casting any situation in sharp and stark ways, as a result of some dominant professional commitment to keeping all options open always, and to get to a compromise at all costs in order to not create an incident.

The ‘idol of the tribe’ denounced by Francis Bacon is a form of reductive vision of the world and of corporatist defense of the members of the tribe that explains a lot of willful blindness and self-censorship in many quarters, but its omerta-like character in the Canadian public service is well-known: retribution for exposing the misdeeds of the bureaucracy being lethal.15 Retribution does not always or only mean legal or financial rebuke. It often means social exclusion that, for some career public servants, is a penalty worse than death. It is, therefore, understandable that the ‘idol of the tribe’ still remains quite powerful, and has engendered some misguided loyalty, often for seemingly noble motives.

The second shadow has to do with the perils of a diplomatic career. When one has spent a significant portion of one’s life at the core of the tablier des pouvoirs16 – a world where actors are sorted out according to their degree of influence and of dependence, but always in an ambiguous situation, being neither very influential or independent, but having to serve as an intermediary – this shapes one’s demeanor.

The diplomat, as in the game of Djambi,is most often represented by the two-faced figure of Janus. His role is to be an intermediary between the Prince (or the pole of greater influence, whatever it may be) and those who might be less influential and more dependent, but are in a position of passing judgment on what is right and wrong – let us say, the Pope.17 The Janus-like character diplomat is going back and forth between the Prince and the Pope, always seeking to please both parties as much as possible, to ingratiate himself, and having to develop a dual personality in the process. This entails being able to perform the most impressive intellectual and moral acrobatics. Talleyrand, Chamberlain, and Kissinger come to mind.

The burden of a diplomatic experience most likely had a great impact on Griffith’s proclivity to compound failure to confront political correctness, and a visceral reluctance to publicly assign blame. Those valuable qualities in diplomacy amount to serious handicaps in analysis. These traits lead to extinguishing critical thinking, and become a liability in a context where critical thinking is of the utmost importance.

Some lessons learned

None of this need have been lethal.

Recognized early on, those proclivities can be neutralized by a greater insistence on a more rigorous process in the development of a book. The role of the publisher is indeed to ensure such accompaniment, and, when it is done well, all these sources of weaknesses can be successfully overcome. Such accompaniment failed in this case.

Anyone with any specialized experience suffers to a certain extent from mental prisons. Most people are, however, most of the time on day parole in their real life, and can neutralize those toxic effects. But when such prisons become part of the identity of persons or groups, it is then more difficult to deal with them. Professions have the capacity to so transform persons and groups into bearers of a particular manière de voir or ‘debilitating traits’ as identity badges. Such traits become so fully integrated into a person’s being that shedding them almost amounts to identity theft – something that is robustly resisted. It results naturally in cognitive dissonance, the suppression of countervailing evidence, etc.

To fight such deleterious propensities, a checklist of preliminary steps inspired by the precautionary principle is worth having on hand when either a career bureaucrat or a career politician envisages an expedition into the political-bureaucratic interface. This checklist might call for:

  • A basic review of the literature to start with;
  • The sketch of a not too simplistic conceptual framework as a guiding lamp;
  • An explicit examination of the blinders that one is likely to have developed as a result of past experience;
  • Recognizing the imperatives of the inquiry: evolving problem definition, and continuous social learning;
  • Mindfulness at all time as the ethnographic inquiry proceeds to avoid missing anything important.

Mechanisms like partnering with other parties with different backgrounds (and therefore with different blinders) may help to bring forth a sharper awareness of those mental prisons and may trigger a modicum of self-analysis – allowing one to better recognize whatever crippling epistemology is likely to be found lurking in the background, and to take more effective action to exorcize it before venturing into the field for ethnographic work.

Such procedures may appear immensely taxing and unduly tedious, for both honest politicians and honest bureaucrats who feel that they already know so much about this field of inquiry. They may find it difficult to persuade themselves that they should take all those precautions. Yet these precautions are well worth taking seriously, because of the opportunity cost of not doing so and producing unsatisfactory studies – i.e., abandoning such studies of the political-bureaucratic interface to uninformed academics, full of self-proclaimed neutrality, and armed with dogmatic disciplinarian methodology. This sort of second-best might promise misleading results, probably generating a step backward in our knowledge of public administration.

The opportunity cost of politicians and bureaucrats abandoning the study of the political-bureaucratic interface is too high. They should continue to guard this territory.

In this context, Griffith’s experience should be regarded as an invitation to politicians and bureaucrats to proceed, but more cautiously next time. Griffith’s travails have been a source of social learning on this front, and those taking the next stab at this difficult nexus of problems should be able to do a better job as a result of his pioneering work. For this we are most grateful.

Coda

The critical note presented above is based on a generous interpretation of Griffith’s book and on the assumption that any author should be granted the benefit of the doubt. It was assumed throughout this review, on the basis of a few conversations with the author, that he has been acting in good faith in his work for Minister Kenney, and has helped him loyally to reset the policy directions in the way Minister Kenney wanted. It was also assumed that he was intent on reporting fairly on the political-bureaucratic interface in the immigration, citizenship and multiculturalism files, but that he was prevented from doing so by unfortunate proclivities inherited from his excessive loyalty to the bureaucratic tribe and a certain lack of taste for critical thinking inherited from having spent too much time in diplomatic circles.

But should Griffith be given the benefit of the doubt?

Another possibility is that he has been all along – throughout the four years with Minister Kenney and in the writing of his book – committed in all these files to the tenets of the pre-2006 policy stances in good currency under the Liberal Chrétien-Martin regime. Such an intellectual commitment would appear to transpire in a comment Griffith put on the web on February 10, 2013 about my book, Moderato Cantabile – Toward principled governance for Canada’s immigration regime (a book supporting warmly the policy orientation of Minister Kenney and denouncing the underpinnings of the preceding Liberal policy directions in the immigration, citizenship and multiculturalism files).

Here is the Griffith comment as posted:

“Unfortunately, the polemical and ideological language distracts from the valid policy discussion on immigration levels, absorptive capacity, the balance between facilitating citizenship and making it meaningful, and equally the balance between integration and accommodation in multiculturalism (or ‘rules of hospitality’ and ‘fair play’ in his terms).

I am always surprised when sophisticated thinkers like Paquet resort to polemic language, as it tends to ‘preach to the converted’ rather than making more dispassionate – and likely more effective – arguments. And attacking other views as ‘ideological’ can only invite similar charges.

A more interesting approach would be a more open discussion of what citizenship means in today’s more globalized world, where travel is cheap, communications free, ethnic programming universal, and whether ’moral contract’ approaches can be meaningful, implementable, and apply to all groups, established and newcomer, historic and new faith communities, Canadians living in Canada or living abroad, and Canadian expatriates, whether born in Canada or not. We can’t turn the clock back on globalization and how it is easier for people to cross time and space and thus all governments struggle to find balance between making citizenship more meaningful in such a world, while accommodating the realities of a more mobile citizenry, and more complex and layered identities.”

This comment would appear to reveal much skepticism vis-à-vis the sort of mandate set by Minister Kenney emphasizing “more meaningful citizenship and more integrative multiculturalism,” and, as a matter of consequence, for the sort of program of implementation I was trying to build on it. Indeed, it would seem to display little sympathy for the right to cultural distinctiveness echoed by the notion of ‘meaningful citizenship’.18

This opens the door to a less generous interpretation of Griffith’s book – one in which it is not so much a matter of the author unwittingly falling prey to the ‘idol of the tribe’ but rather actively embracing the ideology of the Chrétien government. If it were determined that Griffith does not deserve the benefit of the doubt, a much more severe commentary on Griffith’s book would be in order.

Gilles Paquet is Professor Emeritus at the Telfer School of Management and a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre on Governance of the University of Ottawa. This critical comment on Andrew Griffith, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias – Resetting Citizenship and Multiculturalism, Ottawa, ON: Anar Press, 2013 – prepared at his own request, I must add – is an attempt to respond to Griffith’s plea for a serious conversation on the important topic of the political-bureaucratic interface, and to contribute to it. I am grateful for the comments of the two referees, and for the suggestions of Anne Burgess.

Endnotes:

1  Andrew Griffith. 2013. Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias – Resetting Citizenship and Multiculturalism. Ottawa, ON: Anar Press, p. 1.

2  Ibid.

3  Such senior bureaucrats face a double bind: expected to be both independent and subservient, responsible for their own actions and subject to ministerial responsibility (Kenneth Kernaghan and David Siegel. 1999. Public Administration in Canada. Scarborough, ON: ITP Nelson, p. 36.

4  On the limitations of the technocratic perspective, see Michael W. Spicer. 2010. In Defense of Politics – A Value Pluralist Perspective. Tuscaloosa, AL: The University of Alabama Press, chapter 4; Stanislav Andreski. 1974. Social Sciences as Sorcery. Markham, ON: Penguin Books.

5  Gilles Paquet. 2010. “Disloyalty,” www.optimumonline.ca,40(1): 23-47.

6  Ralph Heinzman. 2010. “Loyal to a Fault.” www.optimumonline.ca.  40(1): 48-59.

7  Academics who claim to be independent ethnographers and to have had access to anonymous informers from within the citadel are not immune to biases any more than internal observers. Many public administration specialists in Canada have made a career of producing volumes based on such sources. One should be very suspicious of such work unless elaborate precautions have been put in place to ensure that it is not a gross subterfuge to support a priori viewpoints. In the absence of such precautions, such work should be regarded as nothing more or less than creative writing or fiction.

8  Nowhere does Griffith attempt in any way to develop a more sophisticated view of the knowledge base of the politicians. The anecdote label is applied mercilessly, and the knowledge base of politicians is therefore systematically disqualified vis-à-vis the knowledge base of bureaucrats.

9  Griffith never explains why he discounts so readily “extensive outreach with a wide range of communities” (p.16), nor why he would appear to recognize only one sort of knowledge as meaningful – the one generated by positivistic and scientistic methodologies. This, in itself, is a form of crippling epistemology.

10  This is not an innocent blindness. The changes in the 1990s were dramatic in exalting and boldly pushing forward policies that had been applied in the Trudeau era only mindfully and carefully. They are not dramatic for Griffith, it would appear, to the extent that the bureaucracy remained the main driver behind such changes. As for the bipartisan consensus mentioned by Griffith, it is debatable whether it was organic or manufactured (Gilles Paquet. 2012. Moderato Cantabile – Toward Principled Governance for Canada’s Immigration Regime. Ottawa, ON: Invenire, chapter 1).

11  This language is not only quite normative and wholeheartedly supportive of the so-called old policy consensus – a matter that is immensely contentious. Gilles Paquet. 2013. Tackling Wicked Policy Problems – Equality, Diversity, Sustainability. Ottawa, ON: Invenire, chapter 5) talks about a “manufactured Canadian consensus” largely through the actions of the bureaucracy.

12  The language again is quite revealing: the government is accused of being pushy instead of using “positive leadership” (whatever this might mean) in the face of a bureaucracy that explicitly resisted following the orders of the new government.

13  This interpretation would have many close observers of the scene raise their eyebrows (Gilles Paquet. 2010. “The Long Form Psychosis as Revelateur of Governance Failure,” www.optimumonline.ca, 40(3): 1-7).

14  This section is rather critical of Andrew Griffith’s book.  It should be clear that I intend neither to impugn the character of Andrew Griffith (a person for whom I have the greatest respect) nor his effort to try to tackle this difficult problem at a time when personal circumstances would have led a lesser man to not even try. The central point that deserves attention is twofold: (1) the book produced by Griffith failed in meeting the expected standards of a quality report in public administration and governance; (2) one has to try to understand to what factors one can ascribe the fact that the book is flawed, and why someone as knowledgeable and as intellectually honest as Andrew Griffith could not do a more creditable job. The reader may not necessarily agree with my conclusions or conjectures on these two fronts. For instance, it is easier to agree on my clinical assessment of the fundamental weaknesses of the manuscript (matters that one can objectively point to), without necessarily being ready to concur with me about the reasons for these flaws (self-censorship, undue deference to the idol of the tribe, excessive avoidance of calling a spade a spade that may have developed as a result of a career in diplomacy, etc. – that are matters of conjecture). If the reader is not ready to accept my explanations for the failures of the book, he will have to suggest alternative explanations.

15  I witnessed such retribution in the early 1960s when H. Scott Gordon wrote a pamphlet (The Economists versus the Bank of Canada. Toronto, ON: The Ryerson Press, 1961) to expose the deception concocted by the Governor of the Bank of Canada. This exposé led to the removal of James Coyne. But after this event, Gordon was marginalized and shunned by the federal bureaucracy. His part-time career as a mediator in public service affairs was brought to a halt; he was also explicitly ignored by a royal commission later struck on monetary affairs – even though he was one of the best known Canadian experts in this area at the time. This was not without some significant role in his departure from Canada to pursue a most successful career in the United States.

16  This is a framework designed to analyze power structures on a square matrix where the more influential one is, the higher in the matrix one stands, and the more dependent one is, the farther to the right one stands. For a presentation of the tablier des pouvoirs, see Pierre-Frédéric Tenière-Buchot. 1999. L’autre côté du miroir – Aperçus stratégiques. Paris, France: Transition.

17  One might put in this lower right hand corner (least influential and most dependent) a number of characters holding symbolic powers of all sorts like the intelligentsia, etc.

18  In this context, one may wish to read the paper by André Burelle (The right to cultural distinctiveness) – a paper originally published in 1996 and that echoes the philosophy used to prevail in intellectual circles in Canada in the Trudeau era – that is republished in this  December 2013 issue of www.optimumonline.ca.