Ideas from 2015-11-05 news

[NOTE: I am restarting a tradition I have. Namely, sharing news articles that I find insightful. Partly, for you, my readers. May be more importantly, for myself as I do use my own blog posting as a public “knowledge base“. Like some of my visitors, I sometimes Google this site to refresh my memory on things.]

CBC News, “A very public swearing-in: Justin Trudeau’s biggest selfie day ever Of course the swearing-in of a new government should be a very public event, like in the U.S.

And of course there should be as many women as men in cabinet. Or more, for that matter.

And of course there should be a healthy percentage of ethnic ministers, too. Whites are a minority in two of the country’s largest cities, after all.

As Trudeau shrugged and said in the nicest moment of his news conference (another refreshing thing, these news conferences of his): “Because it’s 2015.”

What possible argument is there to the contrary?

The merit-and-experience thing? That argument was never grounded in reality.

First of all, as was noted in today’s coverage, and as has been demonstrated many times over the decades, merit is hardly the deciding factor in making it to cabinet. Sometimes it’s not a factor at all.

If you’re the only MP in the caucus from, say, Saskatchewan, you’re in. The whole country needs a seat at the big table.

Second, Canada has a permanent public service, composed of non-partisan experts, whose job it is to provide the minister with good policy options.

The minister’s job is to listen, and then reflect the will of the government. Just about any MP can do that, to one extent or another.

Expertise is not necessary. Remember the scene in Yes, Minister when the hapless minister, Jim Hacker, asks Bernard, his public-servant principal secretary, where his loyalty would lie “when the chips are down,” and Bernard answers: “Minister, it is my job to see that the chips stay up.”

Just so.

CBC News, “Mandatory long-form census restored by new Liberal government Conservatives scrapped formerly compulsory questionnaire in 2010

The Liberal government is reinstating the mandatory long-form census that was scrapped by the Conservatives five years ago.

“We need good, reliable data,” said Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Navdeep Bains, who made the announcement on Parliament Hill.

Bains could not say what the penalty would be for refusing to fill out the compulsory questionnaire, but said there will be a “robust” communication plan. The vast majority of Canadians understand the importance of this data and want to participate in the process, he said, noting that 93.5 per cent of the population filled out the forms last time.

The data is invaluable for everyone from city planners and provincial governments to businesses and non-government organizations, Bains said.

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