The buck stops where?


Donald Savoie considers the new process that oversaw the latest round of shipbuilding procurement.

The process is not without implications. The anonymous public servant central to the doctrine of ministerial responsibility took a back seat. François Guimont, deputy minister of public works, was front and centre before the cameras not only explaining the process but also declaring who the winners were. Politicians were nowhere to be seen in the $33-billion announcement. Indeed, the first politician to appear on camera was an opposition MP applauding the process and declaring victory. Prime ministers and cabinet ministers of eras past must have given their heads a shake at the sight.

The process also raises a number of fundamental questions. What if we discover down the road that the process or the decision was flawed? Who will be responsible and answerable before Parliament? The minister or the deputy minister?


The buck stops where?

  1. “Who will be responsible and answerable before Parliament? The minister or the deputy minister?”

    Ha ha! No one! John Baird, minister of everything will stand up, take the question and accuse the opposition of treason with, “Why do you hate the economy?”

    • Yeah, it was one of those trick questions, erroneously concluding anyone is responsible for anything now.

  2. Knowing how policy is decided upon and painstakingly recorded, in both government and corporations, I have to assume that any flawed decision would eventually lead to the ritual burning of thousands upon thousands of innocent, largely unread, 3-ringed binders.

  3. My counterintuitive take on the decision after the chorus of hosannahs of the past week is that it is an absolute abdication of governmental responsability.

    I am all for an open decision-making process with input from senior members of the bureaucracy (including a “Fairness Monitor” formed by outside contracter private firms) but the ultimate decision rests with the government.

    This government has shown so often in the past that it has absolutely no regard for “outside” or “expert” opinon and that it is loathe to heed advice given by the civil service (e.g. – the long form census, the gun registry, the crime omnibus bill etc.).  And now because it has left the entire process up to a group of bureaucrats it is being given a thumbs up from everybody.

    If they had taken the advice from the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy Secretariat and then still gone ahead and either divied up the contracts between the three applicants or awarded Davie at the expense of one of the other two then this government would have born the political responsability for that decision.  Just as the Mulroney PCs did after the CF-18 contract decision.

    Obvioulsy Parliament has the authority not to fund this project but with a majority governement under complete control of the Prime Minister that becomes irrelevant.

    This government rode in on a white horse of “accountability” and “transparency” and then set up a flawed Accountability Act.  Subsequently it has muddled and imposed its ideology on almost every decision it has made (unless forced into something as a minority) and now it has abdicated its responsibility completely.

    I will remain one of the few voices raised against the way this was done.

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