Canada: government & governance March 2021 –

Written by  //  April 13, 2021  //  Canada  //  No comments

Post Pandemic: How COVID-19 is Reshaping Canada

Who’s really got Ottawa’s ear?
Paid consultants are everywhere in Ottawa. This so-called ‘shadow public service’ offers expert analysis at a pretty penny—and never has to worry about pesky accountability
By Shannon Proudfoot
(Maclean’s) In dollar amounts, PSE [professional services expenditure] has risen from $4.2 billion annually in 1995 to $13.3 billion last year. In 2020, the largest proportion was engineering and architectural services (27 per cent), followed by business services such as accounting and human resources (18 per cent), informatics including IT and computer services (12 per cent) and management consulting (five per cent). The rest was comprised of undisclosed services (12 per cent) and a smorgasbord of other categories (26 per cent).
A 2020 report from the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC) found that between 2011 and 2018, the federal government “outsourced” $11.9 billion in work to IT consultants, management consultants and temporary contractors, and over that time, the annual bill doubled from $1 billion to $2.2 billion. IT consultants account for the majority by far—71 per cent—while management consultants eat up 24 per cent and temporary staffing five per cent.
PIPSC—the largest public service union in Canada, representing 60,000 civil servants—also found that the final bill for IT consultants comes in at double the cost of the original contract on average, while management consultants and temporary help carry an average “markup” of 65 per cent over the original estimates.

9 April
Gary Mason: Naheed Nenshi leaves behind a historic legacy as Calgary mayor
Mr. Nenshi is non-committal about what lays(sic) ahead for him. He could go back to academia, from whence he came. He hasn’t ruled out more politics in his future, although he says he has no plans to run for the federal Liberals in the next election. I wouldn’t count on that.
Mr. Nenshi, and his counterpart in Edmonton, Don Iveson, who earlier announced that he’s not seeking re-election, would be star catches for the Liberals. If they were successful in winning seats, both would likely find themselves in a Justin Trudeau cabinet, which would change the dynamic of federal politics in the West. The arm-twisting is likely well under way.
Mark Carney tells Liberal convention he will ‘do whatever I can’ to support the party
Carney, the former governor of the Bank of England and the Bank of Canada, is a rumoured Liberal candidate, but has so far not confirmed if he will actually run on the party’s ticket in the election, which could come as early as this spring.
Carney gave a 20-minute speech before doing a question and answer session with MP and former broadcaster Marci Ien on the second night of the party’s convention. Carney, who was born in the Northwest Territories and grew up in Edmonton, opened his speech talking about witnessing the birth of the oilsands industry.
Mark Carney Walks Back Brookfield Net-Zero Claim After Criticism
By describing Brookfield’s $600 billion portfolio as carbon neutral, a key climate-finance leader provoked a backlash by questioning what ‘net zero’ really means

2 April
Air Canada, Transat call off $190M deal after European approval denied
Transat AT is considering its options after a deal that would have seen Canada’s largest airline acquire its smaller travel rival officially died on Friday with word that Air Canada had come to a mutual agreement with Transat to terminate their planned merger.
Both companies released statements announcing the termination of the $190-million deal initiated more than two years ago and amended due to the weight of the COVID-19 pandemic on the transportation sector.
The end of the deal comes after Air Canada and the tour company that operates Air Transat were advised by the European Commission (EC) that it would not approve the transaction.
Air Canada said it offered an enhanced package of remedies beyond what has traditionally been accepted by the commission in previous airline mergers.

31 March
iPolitics AM: WE Charity probe continues at House ethics committee
Two days after a senior Liberal staffer failed to show up at the House-appointed hour to be cross-examined over the WE Charity controversy, the House ETHICS committee will make a second attempt to continue its ongoing probe into the now-nixed deal to put the embattled organization in charge of divvying up more than half a billion dollars in pandemic-related student volunteer funding this afternoon.
Under the binding order adopted by the House of Commons last week, the star witness for today’s session is supposed to be Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s policy director, Ben Chin, who, according to evidence unearthed from the thousands of pages of internal documents turned over to the committee last year, received a LinkedIn message from WE Charity co-founder Craig Kielburger thanking him for his assistance in “setting up” the program.
As per the latest committee notice, however, the witness list is still “to be determined,” which would seem to suggest that the government hasn’t backed away from its decision to instruct the staffers named in the order to ignore the demand, which, they contend, is at odds with the basic principle of ministerial responsibility.

21-22 March
WE CFO Risks Contempt With Unanswered Questions
Victor Li admits to “inaccurate” credentials on WE websites
(Canadaland) In response to a list of 100 questions from parliamentarians, Li sent a document that failed to answer many of their pointed queries about the complicated finances and transactions of WE and its many related entities. (We have posted it at bottom.)
Charlie Angus, MP for Timmins—James Bay, says that Li has five days to respond to all of the questions the committee posed or he risks facing contempt.
“The committee has unanimously expressed their frustration that Mr. Li has failed to provide answers to key questions about WE Charity’s financial structure. This was a perfect opportunity for Mr. Li to clear the air regarding questions about how many projects WE has undertaken, how they handle donor funds, and the relationship between the for-profit companies and the charity. The committee is giving him five days to respond to these questions, or it will be referred to the House as a potential case of contempt,” Angus tells Canadaland.
The search for a new governor general is tough in a disparate nation like Canada
(The Conversation) The long delay in appointing Payette’s replacement illustrates how difficult it is to fill the job. Whoever is ultimately selected by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau must represent Canada’s past, especially its linkage to a monarchy that’s currently in a state of crisis following recent allegations by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. But the new governor general must also exemplify its future.
Even more importantly, the individual must grasp Canada’s difficult and in some ways accidental road to nationhood.

12 March
Liberals revive governor general advisory panel to help find replacement for Julie Payette
The approach is much like one used by the previous Conservative government but dropped by the Liberals when it was their turn to pick a governor general
(National Post)  Six people are on the panel, which was announced Friday by Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc.He’ll co-chair the group with Janice Charette, a former high commissioner to the United Kingdom now filling in as clerk of the Privy Council

WE Charity’s Kielburgers to appear in House committee meeting Monday, lawyer says
Capping an extraordinary exchange of demands and counter-demands, a lawyer for WE Charity’s co-founders agreed late Thursday that Craig and Marc Kielburger will appear Monday before the House of Commons ethics committee.
WE Charity scandal: MPs vote to summon Kielburger brothers to testify

2 March
Opinion: Here’s the simple way Canada could work without a governor general
by J.J. McCullough
(WaPo) Canada has been functioning for more than a month now without a governor general — the longest vacancy in more than 80 years, by my count — and this has been of meaningful consequence to virtually no one.
Canada currently operates under a “constitutional monarchy” system, which means at least some theoretical power is held by the monarch (or monarchical stand-in, as it were). The governor general has to sign off on the prime minister’s decision to call an election, and he or she must also identify Parliament’s leader to inaugurate as prime minister.
These rote duties are often dressed up in language framing the governor general as a heroic figure who must single-handedly determine the will of Parliament’s majority, as if it was some cryptic riddle. Yet Parliament could easily just state its preference through a vote, and this is the obvious answer for what should replace the governor general.

1 March
MP joins former donor in calling for RCMP investigation into WE Charity following testimony
NDP MP Charlie Angus has also sent letters to the RCMP and the Canada Revenue Agency, asking both organizations to investigate WE Charity’s finances following what he describes as “explosive” allegations from Cowan at the parliamentary ethics committee on Friday.

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