Tuesday: NDP Motion on Energy, Top Civil Servant Responds to AG Report

Tuesday: NDP Motion on Energy, Top Civil Servant Responds to AG Report

June 12, 2018 6amET


In the House

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is slated to be at question period for the first time since the G7 summit ended in acrimony with a barrage of angry tweets from U.S. President Donald Trump about Trudeau and cross-border trade.

The NDP has an opposition day in the House of Commons, with this motion expected on energy — and whether tax dollars should be spent on oil pipelines such as Trans Mountain:

That in the opinion of the House, being a global climate change leader and building a clean energy economy means:

(a) investing in clean, renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind, and geothermal as well as investing in energy efficient technologies that create good quality, long-lasting jobs for today’s workers and future generations;

(b) putting workers and skills training at the heart of the transition to a clean energy economy so workers don’t have to choose between a good job and a healthy environment for themselves and their families; and

(c) not spending billions of public dollars on increasingly obsolete fossil fuel infrastructure and subsidies that increase greenhouse gas emissions and pollution and put Canadians’ health and Canada’s environment, coastlines, waterways, and wildlife, as well as Canada’s marine and tourism jobs at risk.

MPs are also scheduled to again sit this evening.


Privy Council Clerk Responds to Auditor General Criticism

Canada’s top civil servant responds to the auditor general’s scathing language about Ottawa’s “broken government culture” amidst problems with the Phoenix pay system, Indigenous services, and the Champlain bridge project.

Michael Wernick (Clerk of the Privy Council) will answer questions at the Commons public accounts committee. LIVE ONLINE at 3:30pm ET / 12:30pm PT

Michael Ferguson’s spring reports came with a message about “incomprehensible failures” by the federal government — especially with Phoenix.

Read some key excerpts:

Most of the people who created the problem have already moved on. The names and faces have changed and will change, and governments have changed and will change, but incomprehensible failures will continue.

A standard lessons-learned exercise won’t prevent future incomprehensible failures. Phoenix is a defining moment—a wake-up call—that goes well beyond lessons learned. It needs to lead to a deeper understanding and correction of the pervasive cultural problems at play.

In this culture, for a public servant, it is often better to do nothing than to do something that doesn’t work out. If, however, action can’t be avoided, people search for plausible deniability—a way to deny responsibility for a mistake.

Policies are applied as cover to avoid blame. There is a reverence for checking boxes: If all the policies and procedures were followed—if all the boxes were checked—then the flaw must be in the system.

And of course, every public problem leads to more rules and boxes to check. Compliance with all government rules has become impossible because of their sheer volume.

The culture has created an obedient public service that fears mistakes and risk. Its ability to convey hard truths has eroded, as has the willingness of senior levels—including ministers—to hear hard truths. This culture causes the incomprehensible failures it is trying to avoid.

Meanwhile, Ferguson discusses the Phoenix report this morning at the Senate finance committee. LIVE ONLINE at 9:30am ET / 6:30am PT


AIQ Executives Return to Committee

AggregateIQ executives return to the Commons ethics committee to answer questions on the company’s role in the Facebook personal data scandal that made global headlines this past spring. LIVE ONLINE at 8:45am ET / 5:45am PT

CEO Zackary Massingham and COO Jeff Silvester testified on April 24, but their statements have since been called into question at the committee by an IT expert — and by Christopher Wylie, who let the world know that British-based firm Cambridge Analytica collected data from millions of Facebook profiles using a computer program he developed.

The Victoria, B.C.-based AggregateIQ has been connected to Cambridge Analytica, the “Vote Leave” Brexit campaign in the United Kingdom, and recent U.S. elections.

MPs already grilled Facebook executives over the data mining scandal that saw more than 600,000 Canadian Facebook users told their personal information was compromised through third party applications without their consent.

They also heard from the federal privacy commissioner, who is investigating AggregateIQ in cooperation with British Columbia officials, and called for stricter regulation of how political parties gather and use the personal information of voters.


Also on the committee agenda:

-Andrew Thomson