Archive for 2015

Analysis in UBC Press & Samara Election Series - We’ve Got Some Catching Up to Do: The Public Service and the 2015 Federal Election

Twenty days after the 2015 Federal Election, UBC Press and Samara Canada have released 57 expert election analyses, written by 66 academics. This was an impressive feat that involved great leadership from the editors (Alex Marland and Thierry Giasson), the Press and Samara.

I contributed an analysis of the treatment - or rather lack of treatment - of the issue of public service renewal in the election. You can find my analysis on page 92 of the pdf, available here.

The gist: in this election, the public service was largely ignored, except where the parties fought for votes in Ottawa ridings and where public servants stepped into murky partisan territory. Oh right, and during that time when former PM Stephen Harper talked about banning niqabs in the public service. Not much of a robust conversation, a problem, I argue, given the reduced policy capacity in our federal public service and the essential role the public service plays in our democracy.


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Forced to tweet in both languages, ministers lose their impact

Fellow OII-er Elizabeth Dubois and I published an op-ed in the Globe today analyzing the Official Languages Commissioner's decision that all Ministers should tweet equally in French and English. We argue that in their official capacity as Minister, that is, speaking for their department, bilingualism is both sensible and required under Canada's Official Languages Act. But as an individual MP, there may be good reasons to tweet unilingually (if say, your constituents are predominantly French, tweets in English may be odd and pointless), and there are no legal restrictions demanding the MP does otherwise. The issue: Minister's accounts are often a mix of "ministerial tweets" and "individual MP tweets". The neat and tidy categories of communication that were at play when the Official Languages Act was created have collapsed in the digital age. The Commissioner's ruling doesn't account for this, but rather attempts to apply old rules to a new context. This op-ed outlines why this approach is a problem, and suggests that a hybrid approach to regulating a Minister's tweets would better account for the new, digital media environment.

Check it out here.

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