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Saturday, September 30, 2023

He’s the Largest Energy Dealer in Canada Whom You’ve By no means Heard Of

All through the historical past of the Canadian authorities, few jobs have been as little publicized because the clerk of the Privy Council, quickly to be stuffed by the just lately appointed John Hannaford, a senior public servant and former diplomat. Whereas most Canadians could be laborious pressed to outline his new job, Mr. Hannaford is to not be underestimated.

“Other than the prime minister, the clerk of the Privy Council is essentially the most highly effective individual in Ottawa,” Donald J. Savoie, a professor at College of Moncton who research public administration, instructed me. “So when a brand new clerk is appointed, it issues.”

When Mr. Hannaford formally takes over on June 24, he’ll turn into, together with the deputy ministers below every cupboard minister, the gatekeeper chargeable for turning the politicians’ coverage concepts into motion.

The clerk manages the deputy ministers and has three duties that typically overlap. He’s the top of the general public service, which is made up of nonpartisan bureaucrats who keep of their jobs as politicians and political events come and go.

The clerk can be manages and coordinates the cupboard as its secretary, and maybe most vital of all, he’s the prime minister’s prime adviser.

Professor Savoie mentioned that the clerk and the prime minister meet a number of instances every week and that every brings a separate agenda.

“Loads of key choices are made at these conferences,” he mentioned, including that these classes are sometimes extra vital than cupboard conferences. A cupboard minister, Professor Savoie mentioned, as soon as instructed him that the cupboard had way back turn into a “focus group for the prime minister.”

The pattern towards concentrating energy within the prime minister’s fingers, and by extension the clerk’s, has been occurring for many years below each Liberal and Conservative governments. And Professor Savoie mentioned that it’s not essentially an influence seize.

More and more, the federal authorities finds itself grappling with points, like local weather change, that contain a number of ministers, departments and businesses, and the position of the clerk is to coordinate that work.

A part of this association is that the clerk and the general public servants he instructions maintain out of public view. The federal government was unable to supply me with a high-resolution {photograph} of Mr. Hannaford, and the Privy Council Workplace mentioned that he was not out there for an interview.

The pondering behind that intentional obscurity is predicated on the concept that the general public service is there to help to the federal government of the day, no matter its political taste, and so it leaves politicians to be the federal government’s public face.

However a number of legal guidelines really take away decision-making powers from cupboard ministers and place them with public servants. The end result, Professor Savoie mentioned, is commonly conditions just like the current backlogs in passport places of work, as politicians needed to take the blame for choices during which they have been neither concerned nor even consulted.

Luc Juillet, a professor of public administration on the College of Ottawa, mentioned there was a bent amongst politicians to give attention to new insurance policies and packages fairly than the much less glamorous process of constructing certain that the equipment of presidency runs easily.

“It’s not essentially the form of factor that drives most politicians,” he mentioned.

Mr. Hannaford has a distinguished résumé as a coverage maker. A lawyer and diplomat who started his profession at what was then known as International Affairs, he has been an vital participant in commerce talks together with the current renegotiation of NAFTA; has handled local weather points, most just lately at Pure Sources Canada; and was as soon as a international and protection coverage adviser to Mr. Trudeau.

However absent from all that, Professor Juillet famous, is any intensive expertise in authorities operations.

To Professor Savoie, the appointment of somebody with Mr. Hannaford’s background in worldwide relations and protection is a sign from Mr. Trudeau of what he now views as the best challenges dealing with his authorities, that are largely worldwide. They embody allegations of Chinese language meddling in Canadian elections, commerce coverage in america, international local weather change and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“The brand new worldwide order is stuffed with pitfalls, and the prime minister wants a serving to hand,” he mentioned.

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A local of Windsor, Ontario, Ian Austen was educated in Toronto, lives in Ottawa and has reported about Canada for The New York Occasions for the previous 16 years. Observe him on Twitter at @ianrausten.

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