Fifty years ago federal public servants were very influential, arguably too much so. With the growing scope and complexity of activities, governments became increasingly dependent on their expertise. There were concerns that Cabinets essentially rubber-stamped decisions made by public servants and that the experts were “on top rather than on tap.” Over the past decade, under Stephen Harper, public servants were barely on tap! They found themselves largely excluded from the decision-making process and increasingly told what they could and couldn’t say by the political staff in the PMO (Prime Minister’s Office).
C. Richard Tindal, Ph.D is a retired Professor of Government. He taught for 30 years at St. Lawrence College, Kingston and was an occasional Visiting Professor at Queen's University. He has also written and consulted extensively about government.