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Monday, April 15 2024 @ 07:22 MDT

Scientist Re-hired

Canadian PoliticsThe Tories are doing so much backpedaling this week, you think it'd be easier for them to just turn the bike around. I discussed the firing of a scientist for refusing to use the new Tory catchphrase "Canada's New Government" here. Well apparently the heat from that was too much and as of yesterday he was reinstated. Now listening to As It Happens last night, I was able to hear the minister of Natural Resources Gary Lunn's side of the story.

According to Lunn, the phrase was only to be used at the ministerial level. I have difficulty believing this for several reasons. First, the email telling people to use the phrase came from an assistant deputy minister, basically someone who only has one person between them and the minister on the 'ol org chart. So it wasn't some low or mid level manager passing this along. The memo came from the highest level of the ministry, so the minister is likely to have told his deputies that the phrase was now policy.

Second, the Tories have been busily re-branding Canada as Toryland. Changes to all government websites make them look more and more like the Conservative Party website. It's not a stretch to think that this re-branding stretches to the civil service. The Tories are desperate to show their different from the previous party in office so I wouldn't put it past them to try a stunt like this to further this re-branding.

Third, the Tories distrust the civil service, thinking the lot a Liberal plant. By forcing them to refer to the Government of Canada as "Canada's New Government" it allows the ministers to check on the loyalty of their minions. If they choke on something as simple (and ridiculous) as a new catchphrase, then there may be problems if more odious things come down the pipe.

Finally, given the rash of patronage appointments by the federal Conservatives, it's also in character for them to want make the civil service an arm of the party. After all, if the party owns the civil service, it can use the public purse to advertise it's political agenda and to fight the next federal election free of the funding restraints set in the Elections Act.

Frankly, I think they just didn't think people would care about the re-branding or the firing of a civil servant. It caught them off guard and they had to backpedal really fast to save face. The minister's statement that it wasn't intended to be used by day to day workers in the department rings hollow for me for the reasons outlined above. All in all it's just another sign of the arrogance the Tories would show if they did have a majority. Makes for a good argument for minority governments.

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