By Jerry MacDonald
As we observe the farce of a defeated former MLA & Agriculture Minister, Evan Berger, being hired by the Deputy Minister of his former department, we must take a long and serious look at the politicization of the Alberta public service caused by over 40 years of one-party rule, and how it poisons the well for any other party that might get elected in future.
It is a tradition of Westminster-style parliamentary government, which is the model in Canada both at the federal and the provincial level, that the professional public service can and does support policy developed by an government of any political stripe, from right-wing to centrist to left-wing, with equanimity and professionalism. The result of this is that a change of government in this country does not trigger the kind of wholesale purging of senior government posts that we see in Washington every time a new Administration takes office. There is a reason a new President needs two full months of “transition” before taking office, whereas in Canada a new Prime Minister or provincial Premier is usually in place a week or two after an election.
However, in Alberta, the Progressive Conservative Party and the public service are so intertwined, like mating octopi, that if the current government is ever defeated at the polls, we will need a US-style purge of the entire upper levels of the public services. Every Deputy Minister, Assistant Deputy Minister (ADM) and direct report to ADMs will need to be fired & replaced, or the new government will inevitably be undermined by the public service’s senior management.
Jerry MacDonald has been a Registered Nurse for 25 years and was educated in Halifax. Moved to Fort Vermilion, Alberta in 1985, and to Grande Prairie in 1988. Former UNA activist and local president at QEII Hospital (2003-2006).NDP candidate in 2004 provincial election (Grande Prairie-Wapiti); also worked on several other campaigns at both provincial and federal levels. Married to Nancy; three adult children. BSc in Nursing, post-RN (U of A 2010).