Edward Greenspon -- who edited the Globe and Mail before it became a cheerleader for the Harper government -- occasionally writes a column for his new employer, The Toronto Star. On Monday he wrote:
I've been giving some thought in recent days to the term public servant. It contains within it an elegant and necessary tension. For the “public” half or the “servant” half to be accorded undue weight skews the proper functioning of the kind of permanent, non-partisan public service that characterizes Westminster-style systems like Canada's.
The problem is that the Harperites have put the emphasis on "servant" and erased the notion of "public." Consider the case of Kevin Page:
Whatever its nature, the government's attack on an office it created for the simple reason of it having become an inconvenient check speaks to the propensity of the executive to want to tilt the balance toward servants. Efforts to defang the PBO are especially disturbing when others in the traditional ranks of government appear increasingly constrained (economists, scientists, diplomats) in the information they are allowed to provide the public. The legislature is a representative extension of the people; it requires the tools to meet its institutional responsibilities.
In recent days, we have also seen the odd attempt to shift the balance from public to servant of government librarians and archivists. Who would have thought this particular class of quiet professionals could pose a danger, but some of their activities have been described in a new Code of Conduct as high risk. What are these activities, you may wonder? Teaching, attending conferences, speaking in public - even in personal time. Though it's hard to imagine them being privy to any governmental secrets, they must seek permission up the ladder before engaging in any of these high risk activities. They are, after all, servants.
The Harperites came to power knowing they are a minority. They now possess a majority of seats in the House of Commons. But they are painfully aware that those seats were won -- while skirting Canada's election laws -- with a minority of votes.
The greater Canadian public is still against them. They live in fear that the public is waiting to take its revenge. Therefore, they cannot afford to have "public" servants. That is why Linda Keen, Pat Strogan, Munir Sheikh, and now Kevin Page are no longer around.