Won’t stand for this

For those of you scoring at home, Liberal MPs boycotted this morning’s vote to ratify the appointment of Michael Ferguson as auditor general. In a news release, the Liberal side deemed the vote “illegitimate.” In a blog post, Bob Rae explains.

How can an Auditor General — who’s job it is to protect Canadian tax payers — do his job effectively if he does not speak French? And how can this government — that initially stated bilingualism was a requirement for the job — change the rules on Canadians at the 11th hour just to get their way? Liberals agree: they cannot.

That’s why this morning, Liberal MPs boycotted the House of Commons vote on the appointment of Michael Ferguson, a unilingual anglophone, as Canada’s Auditor General.




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Won’t stand for this

  1. Why is a boycott more news worthy than voting against?

    • How else does one express one’s opposition during the reign of Our Glorious Leader?

    • How often does a boycott occur?

  2. Poor Michael Ferguson; I hope  he isn’t taking this personally!  My question is how on earth did he get to be AG for NB, since it is the nation’s ONLY officially bilingual province — and if he served in that job on a similar province, why did he never take French?

    I grew up with this guy in NB: seems to me it would be hard to NOT learn to speak French in that part of the country.  Our everyday teachers were often Francophones — French was everywhere!

  3. Finally the liberal party stands up on its hind legs like a man, even if it is symbolic. Thank god they didn’t abstain.

  4. Even if one doesn’t think the AG needs to be bilingual, is it really proper to make bilingualism a requirement of the job and then change your minds mid stream?  What if there were even more qualified unilingual candidates who didn’t apply for the job because the job was described as requiring bilingual skills?

  5. Yaaaaay Bob!  The right thing to do ….and loudly!

  6. The Liberal walkout was a silly publicity stunt. It’s too bad that the Liberals insist on putting official bilingualism before substance, because I don’t think tactics like these will help the party gain support in Quebec.

    • What if the Libs had appointed an AG who only spoke French?

      • As long as the AG was the most qualified person for the job, I wouldn’t mind if he or she was a unilingual French speaker. 

        I’m bilingual, but most Canadians aren’t.  I don’t think we should narrow the available talent pool by excluding a majority of Canadians from important positions like the AG role.

        • LOL the AG wouldn’t be qualified if he didn’t speak English

          Anymore than this one is qualified because he doesn’t speak French

          It’s like having a doctor who didn’t take anatomy.

        • Is it not at least possible that there’s a more qualified unilingual candidate out there who didn’t apply for the position because the Tories’ own written requirements stated that the successful candidate must be bilingual?  It’s one thing to hire a unilingual candidate, but isn’t it quite another to hire a unilingual candidate after publicly stating that you’d only consider bilingual candidates?

          I know that where I work I’d never get away with posting a job description that said “the successful candidate must be X” and then nevertheless hiring someone who wasn’t X.  At the very least HR would make me re-post the job and start over.

          • Sue!

          • Who’s Sue?

            Are you saying now there’s a problem with the AG not being a woman too???

            (LOL)

          • Ferguson didn’t apply for the position.  He was recruited, and never saw the job posting.  Prior to this role, Ferguson excelled as auditor general for New Brunswick, the only province in Canada that is constitutionally bilingual. One might note that Ferguson’s weak French didn’t prevent him from doing his job well in NB.

          • Still, even if Ferguson never saw the job posting, surely some people did. Also, isn’t recruiting someone who doesn’t meet the requirements of your written job description ALSO a problem? Again, I’d never get away with that where I work.

          • You didn’t answer LKO’s question.  What if someone unilingual and more qualified than Mr Ferguson saw the posting and didn’t apply since it stated must be bilingual?

          • @The_Original_Matlock:disqus 

            I can’t respond to that hypothetical scenario, since I don’t know what the selection process was.  

            I assume Ferguson was chosen in spite of his lack of French because he was head and shoulders above the other candidates.  If there was a bilingual candidate who was just as good as Ferguson, that candidate would have probably been selected.

          • Ferguson deserves the opportunity to talk about this, and I agree — why not talk about the challenges he overcame in NB, because there must have been political talk at the time — when was he AG there, under Lord or later?  He could dispel disparaging comments by addressing this positively.  Did he do a terrific job for NB?

          • You said “As long as the AG was the most qualified person for the job, I wouldn’t mind if he or she was a unilingual French speaker.”

            I myself would be completely fine with a unilingual candidate, English or French, if they were indeed the most qualified person for the job.

            But how have you reassured yourself that the most qualified person got the job, given the valid and plausible hypothetical LKO and myself raise?  My concern is there are unilingual candidates who were more qualified who did not apply given the bilingual requirement in the posting.

            As to Ferguson being recruited, the question then becomes, what were the critieria upon which Ferguson was recruited by the government?  And based on those criteria, what other candidates should the government have encouraged applications from?

        • He’s not the most qualified though, because the qualifications required bilingualism.

        • Je suis désolé CR.  Vous êtes bilingue (et moi aussi, d’ailleurs) mais moi je suis de l’avis qu’il ne faut pas abandonner le critère de la maîtrise des deux langues officielles pour des postes des Agents du Parlement (entre autres).

          Tant que ces critères sont respectés par le gouvernment du jour, il incombe aux personnes qui posent leur candidature être à la hauteur des attentes

          • il incombe aux personnes qui posent leur candidature être à la hauteur des attentes

            NON!  Il incombe au recruteur de mesurer la hauteur des candidats.  Dans ce cas, le recruteur a déterminé que le candidat gagnant possédait suffisament de qualités en son faveur que son unilinguisme (un défaut qui peut se corriger) ne lui privait pas de son premier rang.

    • Official bilingualism is substance, or at least it was.  Do you think hiring unilinguals will help the Cons win votes in Quebec?

      • Even Trudeau, the father of official bilingualism, appointed unilinguals to important federal jobs.

        • You mean we shouldn’t now have more bilinguals in Canada than we did 40 some years ago when he “fathered” official bilingualism? 

    • It’s too bad Conservatives writes rules their ignore.

      You seriously think it was Sheila Frazer who travelled around Quebec to visit ad agencies?  I don’t.  The Frazer report was actually prepared by a Mr. Minto who headed a team of auditors. Mrs. Frazer’s role was to manage and oversee the work of AG office and, very importantly, to communicate to the citizens of Canada the result of the audits conducted by her officers.  Mr. Ferguson will be unable to do the latter.

      Like your ancestors, you will never understand the laws and foundations of this country when it comes to official languages.  You will forever impose on your descendants that they pay for your ignorance, like your forebears of Manitoba, Ontario, etc.

      • Like your ancestors, you will never understand the laws and foundations of this country when it comes to official languages.  You will forever impose on your descendants that they pay for your ignorance, like your forebears of Manitoba, Ontario, etc.

        Excuse me?  

        •  
          Comme vos ancêtres vous ne comprendrez jamais les lois et les fondements de ce pays quant aux langues officielles.  Vous continuerez d’imposer à vos descendants qu’ils paient le prix de votre ignorance, comme le firent vos prédécesseurs manitobains et ontariens, etc.

          • Franchement, Loraine!  Je comprends très bien les lois et les fondements de ce pays quant aux langues officielles. Je comprends aussi l’importance de choisir les meilleurs candidats, malgré les considérations linguistiques.

      • La traduction est une industrie de forte ampleur à Ottawa, j’imagine.

        I said, The translation industry is, oh, never mind…

    • That is pretty amusing really. If the liberals stand for something – even if symbolically – by walking out it a silly publicity stunt. But if they had not said anything they’d be accused of standing for nothing. On the contrary tactics like this will get noticed in Quebec – whether it will benefit them is another thing. What would you have the LPC do – not stand for something they helped to entrench in this country? People with a longer memory then you can recall a time when shut up and learn Engilish if you want to participate in the national affars of this country was all one could expect.

      • The Liberals could have simply voted against it, as the NDP did. The boycott was a publicity stunt, nothing more. 

        • Yes, they could have voted against it, and it would have passed into history unnoticed. I’m sure you would have preferred that folks not notice when the CPC violate their own rules.

          That said, as a publicity stunt, it was a good one because hey, look at the publicity it’s getting.

          • My point too[ one of them anyway] If it is successful as a publicity stunt it will have succeeded politically. I can’t see the point of CR’s objection. It has got the third party much needed attention that isn’t easy to get theses days and has reinforced the historic commitment of the liberal party to official bi-lingualism. 

          • His objection is that it’s drawn attention to how the CPC doesn’t follow their own guidelines.

    • It’s this simple, Crit:  If the job description says “French level C/C, English level C/C required” (as a number both in and out of public service do), then the job should go to a candidate that meets those qualifications.  This candidate did not meet those qualifications.  Ergo his is not qualified for the position, as advertised.  They can always rerecruit the job with the French proficiency level reduced if they need this guy so bad, or if he’s the only qualified candidate (somehow I think that’s a load of horse-puckey).

      I’d hardly expect to get a position in my field in the public service if it was advertised with French B/B as a requirement (as I only have French A/A).  I wouldn’t even apply.  Why should Ferguson get special treatment?

  7. There are so many talented people out there that could benefit government but they are excluded because they are not bilingual. As long as they are proficient in one of our official languages that should be good enough.

    • I agree. So long as that’s what the position requirements are listed as.

  8. The federal auditor general is arguably the most important auditing position in the country.  Therefore, any process to select a new one should ensure the best one is selected.  ”Best” is generally a function of expertise and experience.  Whereas the pool of potential candidates who possess the necessary expertise is deep and wide (such that bilingualism could be a differentiating factor), the pool becomes far more shallow when experience is considered, especially if you define (as arguably you should) experience as “experience as an independent auditor of municipal, provincial or federal governments”.  I suspect that vetting the pool of candidates on the basis of the latter gets the pool down to a couple dozen, at best, most of whom will NOT be bilingual, since all but two provincial auditor generals and all but a handful of municipal auditor generals would need to be bilingual.

    The proper criticism to levy at the CPC, therefore, isn’t that they selected an auditor general who meet the “bilingual” criteria – it’s that they made “bilingual” a criteria in the first place.

    • At this point, it’s both, however.  They should be criticized for making bilingual a criteria if they didn’t mean it, and they should *also* be criticized for not going by their own established criteria.

      So it seems the CPC believes that two wrongs make it Right.

      Heh. Pun not intended, but I’ll take credit for it anyway.

    • So what this means is that the lack of bilingualism of the auditor general costs us an extra 56 – 77k.

      CPC fiscal austerity for ya right there folks.

  9. Actually by not voting, the Liberals support the appointment by default.
    Like many canadians who do not vote in elections.
    If you do not bother to vote.
    You have handed the responsibility for the decision to those who care to vote.
    By abstention, the Liberals have no right to complain about the outcome.

    The new auditor general should thank the Liberals for their indirect support…

  10. Actually by not voting, the Liberals support the appointment by default.
    Like many canadians who do not vote in elections.
    If you do not bother to vote.
    You have handed the responsibility for the decision to those who care to vote.
    By withdrawing from voting, the Liberals have no right to complain about the outcome.

    The new auditor general should thank the Liberals for their indirect support…

    • That’s crap. People who don’t vote have every right to complain. It’s not as if the representatives only represent those who voted for them, after all.

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