Paving the way for Tories – feedback (cont.)

Several readers argue there’s nothing wrong with the Harper Tories steering infrastructure money to their own ridings, or pushing out deputy ministers who object, because (1) the money will be spent anyway, (2) the Liberals did it too, and (3) most senior civil servants are Liberal appointees. After the jump, a spirited response from longtime gadfly and former Dartmouth City Councillor Colin May, but first, contrarian reader Wayne Fiander weighs in: 

Since you went to great trouble to note [ousted Deputy Transport Minister Louis] Ranger’s expertise, you should have also informed your readers that Mr. Ranger “in the mid 90’s, took a two year assignment with the Privy Council Office. He then returned to Transport Canada as Assistant Deputy Minister, Policy and was appointed Associate Deputy Minister of Transport in 2001”  and was appointed DM at Transport Canada in 2002.  His connection to the Chretien Liberals is quite deep and therefore sheds the full light on his obviously political comments.

Good point. I should have noted that. But the implication that a two-year stint in the PCO 15 years ago justifies Ranger’s firing is bogus. The Harper crowd used public money for partisan purposes. That’s corrupt. Full stop. Getting rid of qualified civil servants who raise objections to this corruption is of a piece with that. Continue reading Paving the way for Tories – feedback (cont.)

Paving the way for Tories – feedback (cont.)

Ousted DM Louis Ranger
Departing DM Louis Ranger

Our post on the skewing of paving projects under the federal Infrastructure Stimulus Plan elicited the following e-mail from someone who claims to be (and sounds very much like) a senior official inside Transport Canada:

I wondered how long it would take for the media to discover that the infrastructure stimulus spending has everything to with patronage, and nothing to do with what is good for the nation. [Deputy Minister Louis] Ranger [whose retirement was announced yesterday] was pushed out of the job and told, “We don’t want your advice” regarding the spending projects.  Indeed, the woman who is the ADM in charge of the file has been specifically told by the Minster’s office, “We don’t want your advice; we want you to do as you’re told.”

Projects are selected based on the needs of the Conservative Member of Parliament in that riding as the first criteria. As a long time bureaucrat, I am used to dealing with politicians who revel in self-interest. Baird however, is the nastiest, most partisan creature to have ever run a large department. What is best for Canada isn’t even remotely of interest to him – what is best for his party and his own political ambitions drives his agenda entirely.

The Conservative party does not understand the nature of a professional public service. Indeed, they seem to believe we are all minions for Iggy or Jack and none of us are to be trusted. As you can imagine, the morale of senior executives government-wide is depressingly low as we find our political masters to be blindly-partisan, self-interested and ignorant to what is in the best interest of Canada.

Contrarian can’t attest to the veracity of our anonymous correspondent’s comments, but it is worth nothing that Ranger, a 35-year veteran of the civil service, spent most of his career in transportation and public infrastructure. He holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Ottawa and a master’s degree in economics from the Transport Research Centre of the University of Montreal, where his thesis, apparently, dealt with infrastructure funding. Why would the Tories want his advice?

Anyone else in the civil service care to offer concurring or dissenting views?