Ottawa Citizen
Saturday 21 July 2001

Civil service has no business creating public policy

Roger Gallaway and Anne C. Cools
The Ottawa Citizen

Re: Justice won't hold women-only hearings, July 11.

Department of Justice employee Virginia McRae's letter is a political response that clearly shows the politicized nature of her department's consultations on divorce.

Ms. McRae simply does not get it. She is not the justice minister, neither is she a member of Parliament. Justice Minister Anne McLellan should instruct her staff to take a basic course in the proper role of the civil service, particularly the proper constitutional relationship between the civil service, the minister and Parliament.

These consultations are a pretender. They pretend to be ministerial consultations, but are not because there is not a minister to be seen. They pretend to be a public process, but are not because, unlike Parliament, they lack the necessary constitutional authority.

They have no formal record, no formal proceedings, no formal process to form conclusions, and are not even public. And the department staff's role in these consultations is not administrative, the proper role of the civil servant, but rather is political.

That Ms. McRae doesn't appreciate this difference shows the politicized state of the department's divorce law sections.

These consultations are mimics of Parliament. They are impersonations. Parliament has always frowned on pretenders and impersonators who would supersede it in hearing the public and in creating public policy. A politically active civil service is contrary to our system of governance, and is dangerous, too.

Anne C. Cools,

Senator,

Ottawa

Roger Gallaway,

MP, Sarnia-Lambton

Copyright 2001 Ottawa Citizen Group Inc.