Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
National Finance

Issue 13 - Evidence - September 3, 2003, 9:30 a.m.


OTTAWA, Wednesday, September 3, 2003

The Standing Senate Committee on National Finance, to which was referred Bill C-25, to modernize employment and labour relations in the public service and to amend the Financial Administration Act and the Canadian Centre for Management Development Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts, met this day at 9:29 a.m. to give consideration to the bill.

Senator Lowell Murray (Chairman) in the Chair.

[English]

The Chairman: Honourable senators, our first witness is Professor Peter Aucoin from the School of Public Administration at Dalhousie University. His biography and the list of his many publications are before you, while I can only add that, in our experience, he is one of the most highly respected people in the country in the field of public administration.

Yesterday evening, reference was made by Professor Hodgetts to an article authored by Professor Aucoin for the journal, Canadian Public Administration. The subject of the article pointed out that the so-called arm's-length foundations are not arm's-length but, rather, they are something more and something less than that. Since that has been a matter of considerable interest to this committee, we prepared a report on it some time ago. I sent copies of the article to a number of you.

Professor Aucoin will no doubt want to address, in his opening statement or in answer to questions, the subject matter to which Professor Hodgetts referred yesterday.

Welcome, Professor Aucoin, please proceed.

Mr. Peter Aucoin, Professor, School of Public Administration, Dalhousie University: I thank you for the invitation to appear before your committee, even though you did place me after last night's seminar with Professor Franks and Professor Hodgetts. Theirs is a hard act to follow. I now know how Pete Mahovlich must have felt throughout his career.

By way of transparency, as my notes make clear, I am a member of the Clerk of the Privy Council's External Advisory Group on the Modernization of the Public Service. I am also a senior fellow at the Canadian Centre for Management Development, which is affected by this bill. Of course, I speak for neither. I should also say that my area of expertise does not extend to the area of collective bargaining.

I have looked at aspects of Bill C-25, but I do not consider myself an expert in that area. I will speak briefly and in general terms to the basic structure that will be put in place by the passage of this bill, particularly as it affects the Public Service Commission and the Treasury Board. If there is sufficient time, I will make a comment or two on a few other related matters.

In my opinion, the proposed changes respecting the Public Service Commission and the Treasury Board are the exact requirements to streamline the staffing system and to enhance accountability — the two goals of public service reform in this area.

For reasons that I hope to make clear, I do not agree with other commentators, including other academics, who have appeared either before the house or your committee. They think that these changes represent a modest, incremental step in the direction of an ideal or a perfect system, where all executive power over staffing and management would be vested with the government, as the employer, while the Public Service Commission would be assigned merely an audit role.

That — I should mention because most of my work is done comparatively — is the situation in many other countries, and I think the Canadian system is much better. The Australians have moved to that kind of split, which others think is better, and I simply do not think it is better. Because of the particular nature of public service staffing, there are some grave concerns in that system.

Bill C-25 proposes that the Public Service Commission retain its authority to staff the public service. Of course, it also anticipates that it will delegate that authority to deputy ministers. However, and this is key, precisely because the commission retains its authority, it has, as it should have, the capacity to rescind a delegation to a deputy, to change the conditions governing a delegation to a deputy, or to revoke an appointment made by a deputy or a subordinate under a delegation.

In other words, the commission is not simply an audit agency, such as the office of the Auditor General, as many have implied. The Auditor General has no powers beyond the audit. The Public Service Commission, as proposed in this bill, has real powers to take corrective action against and to impose sanctions on specific individual deputy ministers to whom it has delegated staffing authority. I want to emphasize that point because a good deal of discussion simply ignores the significant powers that the Public Service Commission attains in this bill.

I would suggest that it is the ideal structure for two reasons. First, the nature of non-partisan public service staffing requires that the authority to staff not be given to ministers, either individually or to the Treasury Board as employer. By definition, you cannot have a public service commission that is non-partisan and, yet, have staffing decisions being made by partisans — ministers. The question of whether ministers are qualified to make those kinds of appointments is a separate matter. The point is that they are partisans, and if they are engaged in a process where partisans can be candidates, then they are in a conflict of interest. You simply cannot have such a process. If you want to have a partisan public service, then you could allow ministers to make appointments, but that is another issue and that has not been the Canadian way since the 19th century, except in some provinces.

Second, deputy ministers, under our system of government, should not be directly assigned statutory authority to staff the public service by an act of Parliament. The simple reason is that Parliament — the House of Commons and the Senate — does not have the capacity to hold deputies fully to account and, particularly, it does not have the power to impose sanctions on deputies if they did want to hold them to account. Deputy ministers are not appointed by Parliament; they cannot be removed by Parliament; and they cannot be disciplined by Parliament. Having deputy ministers report to Parliament on a delegated staffing authority creates a very weak system; and the Australians have precisely that system in place. Clearly, the accountability of their equivalent to deputy ministers is weaker as a consequence.

Having the public service retain its authority to staff and, thus, have the capacity to take action on the basis of its audits or investigations, means that the commission has a role in the administration of government — as Mr. Franks pointed out at last night's meeting — as well as duties to Parliament in its role as parliamentary agent in that context.

However, that creates complications when compared to matters in the private sector. I would argue that the complication derives from the fact that there is a public interest in having a non-partisan public service that serves in a governmental structure where partisans — ministers — possess executive authority over all other aspects of administration. Simplifying that structure would be a recipe for either partisan politicization in staffing, as occurs in some jurisdictions, or unaccountable management by public servants, or worse, both of the above.

I want to emphasize that the checks and balances talked about at last night's meeting are good in this system. Although checks and balances are not bad, they complicate issues. However, the nature of this process requires complication, not simplification. In my view, the commission would have sufficient powers to fulfill its responsibilities to guard against patronage appointments, which is clear in the act, and to protect merit in staffing against so-called bureaucratic patronage or managerial favouritism. The commission is much more than an audit agency. Whether it has the full budgetary resources to do everything it is required to do in this context is a separate issue. In part, of course, that would depend on the degree to which Parliament — the House of Commons and the Senate — would pay ongoing serious attention to the role of the Public Service Commission in this respect to ensure that there is pressure on the government to provide adequate funding.

I think you have already discussed the reasons for making the changes. The need to streamline the staffing of the public service is widely acknowledged. The present system is unnecessarily too slow for effective and efficient management and, in particular, for the recruitment of sought-after or potential candidates who have other career options. The public interest is not well served by this reality.

I appreciate that the matter is complex, but one of the primary reasons for the defects in the present system is that the administration of the system, as was pointed out last night, has become overwhelmed by excessive judicialization. There will always be some, but it is excessive in this circumstance. The situation is that we have a staffing regime governed by rules and procedures that are now the subject of extensive jurisprudence because of the current lack of definition in the system and the present recourse provisions. That could only be overcome by enhancing the discretion of management and by restricting the scope of appeals or recourse. This bill does both of those things.

At the same time, the accountability of managers from deputy ministers on down and the external control over them need to be strengthened. The present system, you must be aware, is simply not strong enough in either of those areas. That is in part because the commission is too involved in the staffing process and its credibility to hold others to account is diminished as a result. The President of the Public Service Commission, Scott Serson, made that clear in his June statements before this committee.

The judicialization of the current process also weakens accountability because it reduces the incentive for senior managers, individually and collectively, to deal with poor performing subordinate managers, even where misadministration is involved. The proposed system would strengthen managerial accountability by placing the Public Service Commission at greater distance from the government and, at the same time, by not reducing its powers. It would have much clout, but it would remain distanced from the government in this respect.

In that context, I think a significant change has to take place that is not covered, in a sense, by the act and would have to be covered by practice. The new system requires, in my view, that the President of the Public Service Commission should no longer be a member of the deputy minister community. He or she should no longer belong to certain committees because that membership compromises the integrity of the position and makes it more of an executive administration position than it should be. That must change. The indications are that everyone is thinking along those lines. While the commission should retain its authority over the administration of staffing, with regard to the delegation of deputy ministers it should stand aside and function as an overseer, an auditor and an investigator. It would hold deputy ministers to account, and it would impose sanctions on individual deputy ministers as required.

Having said that, it is absolutely imperative that there be no mistake. It is essential that the president be someone with extensive senior management experience in the federal public service. This is not a position for an experienced outsider. It is certainly not a position for someone from the private sector with no public sector experience.

Everywhere in the world, when you bring private sector executives into the public sector in these kinds of roles, as a generality, they fail. This is not just in Canada, it is everywhere they have tried it. In some places they have tried it quite extensively, and it simply does not work. It is like putting a hockey player in a baseball uniform and putting him on a ball field. It is not the same game at all. They are not knowledgeable and experienced enough; and, in many cases, they simply do not have the personality to function in what is a much more complex system — the governmental system.

It is also the case that, contrary to past practice, the President of the Public Service Commission should be serving in his or her final position in the public service. This is not a place from which one should go to another deputy minister assignment. That also compromises the integrity of the system. It should be a person who, upon taking up this position, should leave the public service afterward.

I have a number of related points I wanted to make in that regard, emphasizing some remarks I have already made. The first relates to bureaucratic patronage. In my view, the commission has sufficient powers to protect against bureaucratic patronage. Personal favouritism is always the risk in staffing, because judgments have to be made. This is not automatic. You cannot put the staffing system on automatic pilot. Judgments must be made about who is the best person, who is qualified. This is especially the case in a decentralized system — particularly where, in some instances, you do not have a publicized competition.

The present system is no panacea in this regard. We are not moving away from a system that is doing this well. The proposed system is much better because the commission will have a greater incentive and greater freedom to be more assertive in holding deputies to account, and in exercising its powers in imposing sanctions.

I also might add, for those of you not familiar with public service staffing, that there are people who suggest that favouritism is widespread. You read it in the newspapers all the time. However, the allegations of bureaucratic patronage are grossly exaggerated, partly by those who have an interest in attacking the credibility of managers generally. Managers cannot make the right decision — it is an anti-managerial perspective. It also ignores the fact that managers have a public service objective in trying to manage the careers of their staff in the broader public interest of bringing people along.

I should also point out that, while many people criticize managers for exercising power over their staff — which is an odd thing since they should be doing that — most public servants who want to have careers in the public service want to have their careers managed by the public service. Read all the reports on morale of the public service. They do not want to be left alone. They want people to pay attention to them, and give them feedback and instructions. There is a paradox operating here, and I think we need to give serious attention to it.

It is also the case that almost all competitions that are not for narrowly defined technical positions require qualitative judgments on the merits of competing candidates who, in most instances, are fully qualified. It is like staffing in the universities. There are so many people in certain disciplines that everyone in front of you is fully qualified for the position, and you have to make qualitative judgments. In those instances, of course, those who do not get the job always claim favouritism. It is inevitable.

Briefly, the school of public service is an important provision for the development of a professional public service. It builds on a tradition in Canada and improves it. It pays significant attention to what I call the professional dimension of the public service, that is the profession of being in the public service as opposed to be being a doctor or a lawyer or an engineer in the public service. I think that is important, and becomes more important with modernization. The idea of a professional public service as a national asset is increasingly recognized in the world, including by organizations that previously were not favourable to public service, such as the World Bank and the IMF.

On ministerial staff, there is a provision in this bill with which I disagree. You have heard others refer to it. I see no public interest in allowing ministerial staff to have the priority status that they have. I know many have gone on through that route to distinguished public service careers — some of them are good friends of mine — but that misses the point. They should not have this preferred access into the system. In any event, if having those jobs gives them relevant experience and knowledge, that should show up in their applications through the front door.

Regarding the scope of the commission's mandate, last night Professor Hodgetts referred to the fact that the public service, in a way, is becoming narrow, so the bill is dealing with less and less of the public service because important parts of the public service are outside of its mandate. They are not called public service, but they are still in the broader public sector. What we have been doing is narrowing the public service, and I think we have reached the point now — at least we will have in the aftermath of this bill — where we should be expanding the way in which we think of the diversity of regimes that could be in the public service.

For example, with apologies to the Jesuits, what Jesuitical trick does one deploy to explain to students or foreigners why the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency is not deemed part of the core public administration? You cannot. It simply makes no sense. The Revenue Agency is outside the system because, when it was created, there was no incentive to reform the system. To solve their problem you took it out. That is about 25 per cent of the federal public service. Parks Canada is a minor part of that, but it is in somewhat the same position. The broader public service has to be rethought in that way, particularly for the purposes of improved public accountability and for staffing the larger public sector, and the Public Service Commission should have a more important role here.

Sometime down the road, and it may come sooner than later, we have to rethink the appointment of deputy ministers and how to do it on a more independent basis. This is particularly the case if we move to more radical parliamentary reform and/or to a new electoral system that brings in minority or coalition governments as a norm. In those circumstances, I think the traditional approach that has served Canada very well will serve it less well. We want to think along the lines that New Zealand has instituted, at least in terms of its basic principles, where deputy ministers are appointed by the head of the public service. There is a democratic check in terms of a veto, but the process works that way. That is how the process used to work informally in Canada.

Finally, on whistle-blowing, since it is in the news, I do not have any special expertise here. However, in terms of broader interests, I think we need a separate act that would extend to the public service, broadly defined. The Public Service Commission should probably be the agency, but I would want to consider the effects of that on its other positions. I also think it absolutely must be an agency with public management experience. It is terribly important to protect whistle-blowers; it is also terribly important to protect the integrity of the system, particularly in a day and age where, once you are alleged to have done something wrong, you are convicted in the court of public opinion. There must be an experienced public sector management perspective given to this, so that people are protected for doing the right thing but, at the same time, the system must be managed correctly.

The Chairman: Thank you, Professor Aucoin. That was a very stimulating and, in some ways, provocative presentation.

Senator Bolduc: Do you know of any other public service in the Western developed countries where the notion of public examination — public competition for entry into the public service — is not utilized?

Mr. Aucoin: You may want to distinguish two situations here. One is the competition for a position in the public service, and the second is a competition to enter the service. Last night reference was made to the Department of External Affairs and its long tradition in that regard. In many public services around the world people are recruited through the competitive means to enter the service. They do not apply for a position. They apply to enter the service. Their careers are managed for the most part after they enter that system.

In the Western political system, particularly the ones that I study, which are Australia, New Zealand, Britain, United States and, to some extent, the European systems, there has been a significant devolution of managerial authority to staff. In many jurisdictions what we would call the deputy ministers are essentially the employers. In many cases, they have great discretion whether they use competition to bring people in or appoint people without competition.

Senator Bolduc: Do you think that it would be an improvement to this bill if the principle of public competition for entry into the civil service were included?

Mr. Aucoin: There are ways in which you can enter the service without being assigned to a particular position. There should always be competition. I cannot see how anyone could justify appointing people under the current bill to the public service without a competition.

Senator Bolduc: Although it is not mentioned in the bill?

Mr. Aucoin: It is mentioned in the bill in the sense that competitions and appointment without competition are an option. If someone in a staffing position uses a method other than a competition, it could be subject to recourse. That can be an abuse of authority under the act.

Senator Bolduc: You know very well that people are appointed or hired as temporary employees. That is the usual practice for 75 per cent of the jobs.

Mr. Aucoin: Under this proposed act, that will be changed. You will no longer be able to put temporary employees into positions that will become permanent. Temporary employees do not even have the right to apply for those. That split has been made.

Under the current act, you are absolutely right. Under the new act, that no longer will be possible.

Generally, the idea of using competition as you have described it is absolutely imperative throughout the system.

Senator Bolduc: It is not there.

Mr. Aucoin: You admitted last night that there were occasions when you wre appointed.

Senator Bolduc: I am talking as a general rule. Do you not think that public competition should be the rule to entry to the public service?

Mr. Aucoin: It will be under this proposed act.

Senator Bolduc: Of course, there will be exceptions. I understand that. As a principle, even the administrator should be bound by a basic rule for public employment.

Mr. Aucoin: In that case, I would say no. I would agree with it as a basic principle, not as a basic rule. If it becomes a rule, it then becomes subject to the kind of litigation, recourse and jurisprudence to which we have referred. There would be litigation and judgments not around the merits of the case, but around the procedures and the red tape.

This bill tries to construct a situation in which the principle is clear, but the rule does not back you into that corner. Several senators last night talked about the difficulties associated with going that route.

You cannot get rid of some judicialization. This bill goes a long way to deal with the issue that if you go into certain definitions of merit then you end up in that judicialization process. Other jurisdictions deal with that by giving more discretion.

Senator Furey: In your opening remarks, you spoke of the proposal in the bill that the commission retain its authority to staff while delegating staffing authority to deputy ministers. You said this was ideal for two reasons: first, staffing should not be given to ministers, and I think the reasons are obvious for that; and, second, deputy ministers should not be directly assigning the authority because they are not answerable to Parliament.

What is your concept of this power of delegation from the commission to deputy heads? Is it a true delegation of power? Does that fit neatly into this model about which you are talking to us?

Mr. Aucoin: By my definition, it is a true delegation. The Public Service Commission delegates the authority to the deputy. The deputy can use that authority. As in any system of delegation, the person who does the delegating can take back the authority if there has been misuse of that authority. It is not a devolution. They are not giving it away so that it is gone forever.

When I say that deputies cannot be held accountable to Parliament, I do not mean that they could not answer to Parliament. They could certainly do that.

However, accountability has two components. One is answering to a body. The other is the capacity of the body to hold to account. Parliament does not have the capacity to take away a delegation, to discipline a deputy, or to fire a deputy.

The Public Service Commission, as a result, is an odd creature. I will admit that. It is the nature of the non-partisan staffing process that makes this the issue.

Senator Furey: I certainly agree. I should have used the word ``accountable,'' not ``answerable.'' There is certainly a huge difference.

I see the authority to hire being delegated to a deputy minister or deputy head as falling a little bit outside of the model that you laid out for us in your openings remarks in that it does not quite fit as neatly as you would tend to like it to fit. Deputy ministers, for all intents and purposes, will be doing the hiring, even though the commission has the power to revoke that authority. They will be making these decisions once the authority is delegated to them. Is that not so?

Mr. Aucoin: Yes, of course. That is the point. You want them to make these decisions. However, if they start to engage in, or allow others to engage in, appointments on the basis of political influence or appointments are made with an abuse of authority or favouritism, that delegation can be taken away. As well, the appointment can be revoked in particular circumstances. That will happen.

If the Public Service Commission plays its role properly, it will impose sanctions on individuals. It will not be talking about department X. It will be talking about Suzanne Morris, who is the head of that department, losing the delegation.

A certain deputy could have his delegation taken away or more conditions imposed on him than someone else. The appointment that a deputy or one of his or her staff recently made could be revoked. To my mind, that is significant power.

If the commission does its job well, it will use those powers and not try to create rules. They should not say, ``A mistake was made, and so we need a new rule.'' That would be, once again, going the route of judicialization.

The rules are clear. You cannot abuse power, and you cannot allow political influence. That is clear. That is in the act.

Everyone is clear about what the abuse of authority means. It means rigging the system or hiring someone who has no right to have the job just because they are your favourite.

Senator Furey: You are still a proponent of this new system as opposed to having all staffing retained in the commission?

Mr. Aucoin: All staffing authority, yes.

Senator Furey: Thank you very much.

Senator Kinsella: Professor Aucoin, pages 107 and 108 of the bill deal with the exercise of senior human resources management and the responsibility of the Treasury Board. Some of the particular responsibilities are outlined. The House amendment, at paragraph (h) addresses the fact that the Treasury Board would have the responsibility to ``establish policies or issue directives respecting the disclosure by persons employed in the public service of information concerning wrongdoing...'' That is the Mickey Mouse whistle-blowing provision that was put in the bill at committee stage in the other place.

I was pleased to hear you testify that, in this day and age, we need a legislation-based, whistle-blowing mechanism. We can work on whatever that model would be, but we do need a legislative model.

What we are dealing with here, of course, is the public service, although a small part of it. As your academic colleagues said last night, we are not dealing directly with the heretic community of public agencies, nor with the whole federally regulated private sector.

Do you believe that we need whistle-blowing legislation in the private sector as well as in the public sector?

Mr. Aucoin: I have not given any consideration to that subject outside of the public sector, so I really should not comment on it. My interest here is that we extend it as broadly as we can within the public sector.

There are reasons why some organizations, such as Crown corporations, have the structures they do, which Ted Hodgetts has referred to as structural heretics.

I should mention that, over the years, there have been changes, especially since Professor Hodgetts wrote his famous textbook. In particular, in 1984, the Conservative government made amendments to the Financial Administration Act that significantly improved issues of ministerial responsibility and accountability for Crown corporations. In most respects, those organizations are much less heretical, if I can use that word.

His reference to the so-called independent foundations that your committee has paid some attention to in the past falls outside that. They are more than structural heretics, and they are beyond the pale, because they are essentially no longer government organizations. They are private institutions, and the money they have is private. That was my major concern. They should be brought back into the fold by being made government organizations.

The whistle-blowing provision should extend to the broad public sector. I see no reason for making distinctions on that matter because all organizations that are in the public sector at some point are within the fold of Parliament. Whether it should go beyond that into the private sector, particularly if it is the same piece of legislation, is something on which I cannot comment.

Senator Kinsella: In your presentation this morning, I underscored your observation that the Public Service Commission should stand aside and function as an overseer, auditor and investigator. I welcomed that observation. Of course, this is why I think that the Public Service Commission could be an ideal place for the whistle-blowing machinery, and it would not be difficult to include in the schedule that that would cover agencies beyond the immediate public service. That would be easy to do.

What I was a little bit surprised by, and what I would like to engage you on, is your view that the President — and I do not know why we use that title since I think ``chair'' or ``chief commissioner'' is perfectly good Canadian terminology — of the Public Service Commission ought not be an ongoing member of the deputy minister community. Is there not a case to be made that, by working and being part of that community, the commissioner and the commission remain fully cognizant of what is going on in the public service? At the deputy minister breakfasts and monthly dinners, many things that are going on are shared. It is valuable information for the Public Service Commission to have, and it can be gained through that means.

The other matter that I perhaps would quarrel with you on, or at least engage in debate with you on, is your suggestion that the post of the president should be an official's final position. What I do not like about this bill is the diminution of the Public Service Commission, although you rightly point out there is a strengthening in part of its responsibility. I would think that the chair of the Public Service Commission ought to be the best of the brightest, the most dynamic and most energetic, with innovative and creative ideas, as opposed to someone who has this as her or his final posting.

I am not convinced, from the experience of the past 20 years of heads of the commission who belonged to the deputy minister community, who completed a 10-year stint — although, as somebody pointed out, very few have gone 10 years — and who then went back into a line department or a central agency, that they did not bring something from the perspective they gained at the Public Service Commission. Is there not a case to be made on the other side?

Mr. Aucoin: Absolutely. There are always trade-offs to be made in making these decisions.

In the Canadian tradition, there was a point in time when the President of the Public Service Commission did stand back, particularly when the Public Service Commission staffed the public service itself, not the departments. It did not delegate, as it does now, even before this bill. Then it was more independent. Of course, the concept of the deputy minister community then was not as tight as it is now. They did not meet as often as they do now. They now function more as a corporate group.

There was less need back at that time for the President of the Public Service Commission to consider imposing any kind of discipline on deputy ministers because the people doing the work of staffing were members of the Public Service Commission. That began to change when delegations started to occur. It has been going on for some years now. It is not being introduced in this bill.

Two things happened. The President of the Public Service Commission became more and more a member of the deputy minister community, and the deputy minister community itself became more and more of a team which functioned as the senior executive. In that context, yes, there is an advantage to knowing what is going on inside the system. There is also a disadvantage sometimes in knowing what is going on in the system. Sometimes you do not want to know.

It is also more difficult to discipline your colleagues when you are a member of the team, and that is why I also say it is more difficult if you are mid-career and the President of the Public Service Commission. You may want to be the Clerk some day, but you would be disciplining people who might be able to affect your future. I think that is a no go.

You do make trade-offs in this system, but if we want to have the kinds of checks and balances that we are talking about, now that we are delegating, significantly, authority into departments, we need the checks even more. That is what this bill does. The status of the President of the Public Service Commission will go up, not down.

As well, with respect to being at the end of a career, what you want in this position is a guardian. You do not want an entrepreneur. If you are to have innovation, it should be occurring in the departments in the way that people manage the staffing system, et cetera. You want someone to guard the public interest.

That person has to be senior enough to know the games that are played, to be able to stand up to his or her colleagues, and to be able to impose the checks and balances. As I was saying earlier, the kinds of personal disciplines or sanctions to be imposed will be tough to make. You will be coming down hard on your colleagues, if you have the courage to do it, and I think the system will require that to be done.

Going back to Senator Bolduc's point, the concerns that he has require a guardian, because competition has to be the norm. You want the best and the brightest. We used to have a public service that prided itself on being the best and the brightest.

I still think we have one of the better public services in the world, but we do know that we have slipped in terms of getting the best and brightest. The images of the public service and bureaucracy-bashing have not helped. There are a number of options in the private sector. Those are a few of the number of reasons that it has been difficult to recruit people to the public sector. I believe that is now turning around, but it means that one really wants a strong guardian in the process.

In some processes you will have competition for entry to the service. I think we must get back to that. That runs against the grain in some aspects of Canadian public life because it is very elitist.

[Translation]

Senator Gauthier: I have always been somewhat mystified by the role of the Clerk of the Privy Council. The clerk recommends the appointment of deputy ministers. Basically, he is the deputy ministers' boss. His role is not often discussed. The Clerk of the Privy Council has an important role in coordinating government operations. I do not believe that the president of the Public Service Commission plays any role in subcommittees and committees of deputy ministers and assistant deputy ministers.

For example, when I became a senator in 1972, we were in the midst of an official languages crisis and the president of the Public Service Commission was on a kind of crusade. If you remember, between 1972 and 1975 language training and the whole translation and interpretation field was an ambitious concept. At the time, the president of the Public Service Commission had been strongly criticized by the media. As a result, he had a great deal of ground to make up and I believe it was somewhat unfair and somewhat inappropriate.

Mr. Aucoin, earlier you said that the Public Service Commission should once more be given the task of appointing candidates. I agree with that, with some reservations, however. Deputy ministers come under the authority of the Clerk of the Senate. How could we encourage the Clerk of the Privy Council to become more involved? The current clerk is doing very good work. However, we have often had clerks who were less involved, less visible, and who were not at all involved in public debate. Should the clerk have more control over deputy ministers? Should he be involved in the delegation of authority, in appointments and in staffing?

[English]

Mr. Aucoin: I did mention briefly the question of deputy ministers, but it is important to emphasize that deputy ministers are not part of the public service. They are not appointed by the Public Service Commission. They are Order in Council appointments selected by the Prime Minister. The Public Service Commission has nothing whatsoever to do with deputy ministers. Once one is appointed to be a deputy minister, one moves out of the public service.

The Canadian tradition has always been that we appoint people from the career public service to be deputy ministers. The appointment is a prime ministerial prerogative in Canada. In some countries it is not. In a tradition going back some decades, our Clerk of the Privy Council is the deputy minister to the Prime Minister, if you like, and advises who should become deputy ministers.

The Clerk of the Privy Council has also been appointed as head of the public service. While the Clerk of the Privy Council has no authority over any of this, because it is all advisory, the clerk's role is, as you pointed out, senator, critical in this context. The tradition in Canada is that the clerk makes the appointment. Previous clerks to whom I have spoken have said that prime ministers rarely intervene; they do accept it. People who want to be deputies or deputies who want to move up the deputy-ministerial pecking order know it is the clerk who actually makes the decision.

There is a new guide for deputy ministers on the PCO Web site. That and other documents there make it clear that the boss of the deputy ministers is the Clerk of the Privy Council, including over things like performance assessments and pay. The clerk is the head in this regard.

The President of the Public Service Commission has played some role by being a member of the coordinating committee of deputy ministers in that kind of process. I suggest that that person move out as a consequence of that. The commission would be, in my view, even less involved in this process.

When I mentioned that we might want to think of a new process for moving to the appointment of deputy ministers, I had in mind the significant pressures around the world to politicize the senior positions of public service, either in terms of appointment or firing. In some jurisdictions, the position of what we call deputy minister is becoming very politicized. There have been major claims in Australia in this regard over the last while.

Margaret Thatcher was the first Prime Minister of Britain who ever questioned a recommendation about the appointment of a permanent secretary. Since then, there have been claims that prime ministers are playing a more aggressive role. It is not so much an issue of appointing partisan people as it is asking, as Margaret Thatcher was wont to put it, ``Is he or she one of us?'' That means, does the person have a particular style and is he or she wont to have the same policy objectives as the government.

You can see well now in the current hearing going on in Britain the pressures on that government to engage in partisan spin. One of the chief persons involved in that controversy, Mr. Alastair Campbell, press secretary to Tony Blair, from the beginning has been accused of pressuring government press officers into putting the spin on government. The major issue has been there all the way through that process.

New Zealand is the only country that has moved away from that process. As long as there is a democratic check in the system, we might want to consider that.

Senator Gauthier: You talked about about there being no appointment other than through a competition. There is only one door for everyone to enter the public service. Right now we have what we call ``exempt staff.'' After three years of working for a political person, you have access, on a preferential basis, to the Public Service Commission. I think that is wrong and you seem to agree. Am I right?

Mr. Aucoin: I do agree.

Senator Comeau: Mr. Aucoin, I would like to return to the question of bureaucratic patronage and to relate my concern about what may happen in practice. This is based on my experience. I served as a member of the House of Commons. There was often pressure to get people into jobs in the civil service. I do not think I am telling tales out of school by saying this. The pressure is always there. They are premium jobs, especially in rural areas where people see it as a means of getting into the public service. They are not quite sure how the system works. Once I explained to individuals that we had a Public Service Commission to which people should apply and that we had no control over the hiring of people into the public service, people were fairly well satisfied that it was out of our hands.

The problem that I see now is that by placing the hiring into the hands of area managers, regional directors, such as those in Fisheries and Oceans, Heritage Canada, Human Resources and a number of others, the local managers — the deputy heads as they are called in the bill — will be the local hiring people, the local kingpins. The pressure will then be on the member of Parliament, the minister, and the minister's staff locally, to cozy up to these individuals as the kingpins. Trust me, members of Parliament, ministers and ministers' staff can be very creative in cozying up to local kingpins. What will happen, in a practical sense, is that the backdoor will be open to get people into the public service through this means.

The Prime Minister himself set the bar some time ago when he indicated that a member of Parliament, regardless of his position, could call any individual within the public service and place pressure on that individual to do things. I do not think I need to give you an example, but I will. The President of the Federal Business Development Bank was called. As a member of Parliament, the Prime Minister called him up and placed pressure on him to get a loan for his friends.

The excuse that we had in the past, as members of Parliament and as ministers, was that we had a Public Service Commission that was responsible for this. We will no longer have that excuse. The pressure will be on members of Parliament to cozy up to these individuals and ensure that their friends get the jobs. How do we control this?

Mr. Aucoin: Ted Hodgetts mentioned that was one of the reasons for centralizing the system in the first place, namely, to take the pressures off people in the local areas.

I suppose you are all aware that two-thirds of the positions in the federal public service are not in Ottawa, they are out in the regions. You are talking about a lot of jobs.

If, on the one hand, MPs or senators or ministers are concerned about pressures that they want to deflect, all they have to do is still talk about the role of the Public Service Commission, which has the authority over this. In that sense, nothing has changed. On the other hand, if they want to get jobs for people, so they really do want to apply pressure, then it is a question of: Is this a good enough system? In part, you want to compare it to the present system, where the pressures can also be applied. The Public Service Commission role is not insignificant. Most jobs are being staffed in the local areas by local managers. As Scott Serson pointed out to you, he now has six auditors. The capacity to investigate all of this is not significant.

There are two points to be made. I am assuming that, if people on the political side want to deflect it, they can still do that. I do not see significant change there. However, if they want to apply pressure, what do local managers do? They must know that the delegation that they now have comes through their deputy and it is the deputy who will get in trouble if they start fooling around with appointments. It is also the case that, if the Public Service Commission, as the president says it will, will become more aggressive under this system, audits and investigations will occur and there are real sanctions involved. If area managers are found out, they will be fired for engaging in favouritism, as I think should occur in this case. Their careers are on the line. That is one resistance to pressure. The other is to do what is the appropriate thing to do. In the vast majority of occasions, that is to use competitions. That protects them. That is why it is a good principle. You get yourself in trouble when you go the non-competition route. Managers will be smart enough to figure it out.

I am arguing that in this new bill the incentives are there to perform better. Under the old bill, they were not there.

Senator Oliver: Mr. Aucoin, I would like to thank you for your excellent presentation. I have two short, precise questions.

The first comes from page 3 of your remarks. You state clearly that the proposed new system, which means Bill C- 25, strengthens managerial accountability by placing the commission at greater distance from the executive administrative area but without reducing its powers.

It is the last phrase, ``without reducing its powers,'' that I wanted to ask you about. The Public Service Commission now consists of three full-time commissioners. The bill proposes to reduce it to one with a group of part-times, who will likely be political appointees and will have political interference. Will that not weaken the system? You say ``without reducing its powers.'' It is my view that its powers will be reduced under this bill. Could you explain that, please?

My second question is also precise. You did not comment on it today, but the biggest problem facing the public service in Canada today is that it is not representative. It does not represent the diversity of Canada and that is a major problem for those within and without. Would you comment on whether or not this piece of framework legislation should address this issue in a major way rather than just in a preambular way?

Mr. Aucoin: On your first point, with respect to the phrase, ``without reducing its powers,'' I was using the word ``powers'' here in the sense of statutory authority. It has the authority to do the things that I said it would do, and I think those are significant.

If you want to use the word ``powers'' more generally to include capacity, which means both authority and, perhaps, budgetary resources, the number of staff and those sorts of things, I think I have already addressed that. It is an issue of the extent to which Parliament keeps pressure on government to have this body have that kind of budgetary authority, which means staff.

As to the commission having a full-time chair and part-time members, I must admit that I cannot recall the rationale for that. I do not know if I ever did. If I did, I have forgotten, and there are reasons for that.

I do not see the part-time positions being political appointments in the pejorative sense, meaning the appointment of party hacks. It is important to remember that the Office of the Auditor General is a pretty powerful agency and there is not a commission there. There is an Auditor General and then a staff. It does not necessarily follow that having part- time commissioners might reduce the powers. In fact, it could enhance those in many ways, particularly if there are more than two. For one thing, it could become more representative. It could have people across the country who do not expect to be in Ottawa all the time. You could enhance capacity in that way. You could deal with some of the pressures that other senators were talking about. People who are closer to the ground, for example, area managers, could help a lot.

I am not concerned about any reduction in real capacity.

Senator Mahovlich: Less is more.

Mr. Aucoin: It might be.

The second point is that the major problem is that the public service is not as representative as it should be. That is always, in a certain sense, an ideal. The public service is representative in some respects, but it is not representative in others. It now does well in respect of official languages. It is doing better. If memory serves me correctly, it is doing much better than most other comparable jurisdictions with respect to gender. There are not as many women in the senior ranks as there should be, but go to the U.S., Great Britain or other countries and it looks much different. There has been a concerted effort here in Canada in that regard.

You are right, however, in that it is weak in other areas. Some of that has been compounded by restraint, for example, by people being the last ones in and the first ones out in terms of restraints. That has not helped. Some of it is hurt by the perception of the public service. Over the last 20 years — and, in a way, that is what you are talking about — it has been difficult to recruit people, especially when there are options elsewhere. Who wants to work for a bunch of bureaucrats who cannot manipulate their way out of a paper bag?

As you well know, from our evidence at the Royal Commission on Electoral Reform, in looking at the participation of immigrant groups into the political process, it invariably takes a generation or two. We do know that some recent immigration into this country is of peoples from political regimes where working for the state would not rank high on their cultural priorities. There are adjustments to be made in that regard.

This bill helps enormously in this respect compared to the system we have now where we try to sort of shove ``representativeness'' into merit and I think we should not. They are two different things, and they are both legitimate. We need a representative public service and an important objective of that is to deal with it as a question of representation and not to make it a question of merit. Keep the two separate. As the bill is now structured, I think there is more discretion to deal with some of the difficult choices and the reconciliation that Mr. Hodgetts was talking about.

The Employment Equity Act is clear and you ought not to replicate it in this bill. Putting it in this proposed act in summary form will reduce the clarity. It properly belongs in the preamble. I do not think that is just a throwaway window dressing; that is where it should be.

The Chairman: We will have to end on that note, Professor Aucoin. The interest that your presentation has created here is evidenced by the fact that we have gone 15 minutes overtime. Thank you very much.

Honourable senators, if you want to talk about a unique perspective on these issues, you will have it in the person and in the experience of the Honourable Lloyd Francis. You have his biography there. Dr. Francis, to give him his proper academic title, started out as a public servant. He was the president of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, went into politics, was for many years a member of the House of Commons from various Ottawa- area ridings, served as Deputy Speaker and then Speaker of the House of Commons, Ambassador to Portugal, and he is a Privy Councillor. Those of us who have been around here for a while are delighted to see him back on Parliament Hill, if only for a short time.

Welcome, Mr. Francis. Please proceed.

[Translation]

Mr. Lloyd Francis, Former Speaker of the House of Commons: Honourable senators, thank you for affording me the privilege of appearing before you.

[English]

Mr. Chairman, I am not presuming to make detailed comments on the bill before you. I have some general comments; some things that bother me mostly about items that are not in the bill that you are now studying.

In the early history of Canada, appointments to the public service were on patronage basis. In 1908, the Civil Service Commission was established to correct this. The commission, in the beginning, was given two functions: Appointment and audit, or verification of the appointments. Those two are contradictory. The body responsible for making appointments is to audit its own work. The initial emphasis was on appointment. This has shifted in recent periods to the audit process, and the appointment process has been made more flexible, a lot of it delegated under the principle of ``let the managers manage.''

You have seen an evolution in the functions of the commission. After this bill is adopted, as I am sure it will be and the government is obviously anxious to have it passed, the audit function will be a major responsibility of the Public Service Commission. This gives me a great deal of concern. The first concern I have is that they do not have the resources. From the evidence of Mr. Serson, did he say something like six or seven auditors when a decade ago they had far many more than that? How do they get these resources? They get resources through a budget process. What is the budget process for the Public Service Commission? It goes before Treasury Board. It is not a process in which any members of Parliament participate.

As Mr. Serson observed, the function of the commission now is to be a watchdog, and Treasury Board, like any other branch of government, does not like to be watchdogged. That was the expression Mr. Serson used. The process of getting the resources and the budget necessary to perform this function has to be faced very clearly by members of this committee and members looking at the legislation.

It is essential that some sort of parliamentary review take place by members of the Senate and of the House of Commons, to review this operation, make sure the function is being properly performed, make sure that the necessary resources are placed in the hands of the commission so that they can carry out this extremely important responsibility.

Mr. Chairman, when I was Speaker of the House I was terribly concerned about the proliferation of bodies reporting directly to Parliament. It started with the Auditor General, but he had a special committee and he got a great deal of attention for his or her work. Then came the Commissioner of Official Languages, the Privacy Commissioner, a whole host of bodies reporting to Parliament and no one was supervising them. The Public Service Commission was something of a hybrid. They reported through a minister, and the others did not even have a minister. However, the minister acts more as a post office, transmitting the report to Parliament. The minister has not given the usual type of ministerial direction to the operations of the Public Service Commission, nor would one expect him or her to do so.

Now, how do we rectify what is an obvious gap in the administration of a growing body of people outside the regular public service and outside the scope of the Public Service Commission?

When I was Speaker I made the resolution that I would try to get a member of the House staff to review the budgets of these bodies reporting directly to Parliament. Summarize them, present an annual report to members of the House, and I think the Senate, and make sure that each is called in turn. John Grace, when he retired as Privacy Commissioner of Canada, told me he had never been called before a parliamentary committee in the entire period of operation. One might well ask, who was supervising him? He did not have to report to a minister. This is a serious matter.

I believe the matter is extended also to a subject that you yourself raised, Mr. Chairman, in the June meetings, and Professors Franks and Hodgetts have extended to the meetings, what is really a parallel public service. Now all of Canada Post, NAV Canada, Canada Customs and Revenue Agency, the whole host, they have over 100,000 employees now. The suggestion that somehow all of these are, shall we say, operating within the scope of the principle of merit is a heroic assumption. Mr. Chairman, I have to say to you that I think this is something that has to be looked at and looked at very seriously.

I have another concern, and it is a real concern, and I do not have any easy answer. We read in the press about Mr. Radwanski and Mr. Cochrane. I am mentioning names. The press has mentioned them. They had terrible expense accounts. The problem with the financial administration of Canada goes a lot further than expense accounts. I would like to know how many public servants in Canada felt that the Government of Canada had to pay their way to Calgary during the week of the stampede, a time when normally the Government of Alberta, I suggest, would not be operating quite as actively as it would at other times.

I would like to know how many public servants were paid for full leave when they had already taken part of it. Whistle-blowing is great and people have who have the courage to do it I do not in any way wish to discourage them. However, whistle-blowing cannot be relied upon as a regular way of correcting financial abuse.

I note Ms. Robillard said she would introduce provisions to protect whistle-blowers. I take nothing away from them, but what comes after the fact? Whistle-blowing leads to very bitter personal relationships. It cannot be relied on as the basis of a system of correction of financial abuse.

What I suggest to members of this committee is that at some point someone has to look at the operation of the financial control officers in the department. They are subject to the discipline of the deputy and the senior officers of the department, and a financial control officer who hesitates or refuses to sign a document on the belief that he or she has concerns about the propriety of the expenditure can be subject to an enormous amount of pressure and harassment.

The answer has to be found somehow in creating the independence of the financial control officers within the department, and perhaps, Mr. Chairman, one might consider whether they should be employees of Treasury Board, not subject to the discipline of the deputy minister of that department.

Somehow the position of the financial control officers must be strengthened. The only way a system can operate is in anticipation of events rather than after the event. I shudder every time I hear about whistle-blowing. It certainly cannot be relied on as a system of financial control.

Mr. Chairman, the committee has heard testimony from Professors Franks and Hodgetts. Professor Hodgetts was a year ahead of me at university, and that dates both of us. I am sure he has given testimony that will concern you, as it concerns me, about this expansion outside.

In no way do I wish to reflect negatively on the Public Service of Canada. We have a good and outstanding public service with many dedicated people. However, the changes in the direction of the philosophy of letting the managers manage — and I suggest that the bill before you is the high point of that direction — will be thwarted if we do not place resources in the hands of the Public Service Commission so they can perform a proper audit function. To do that, we must review the procedure by which the Public Service Commission acquires its budget.

We must also look at the whole business of these agencies being supervised and reported on, and perhaps members of this committee will have suggestions in that regard.

The Chairman: Many thanks, Mr. Francis. That was extremely interesting.

Senator Bolduc: You gave us a very good institutional analysis of your experience and the way you handled the situation of abuse. Mr. Aucoin also made a very interesting institutional analysis. I have repeatedly stressed the problem of merit. We have made a great deal of progress in Canada in the last 50 years with the system of public competition for entering into the public service, and also with respect to competitions for advancement and promotion within the civil service. As a general process, it has given us good results. However, I am a bit embarrassed by the fact that since 1993 we have lost sight of that.

The commission has always had a certain auditing function. For example, in the last 10 years they have delegated their recruitment and selection processes. No one has told us how many people are sanctioned by the commission if the processes are not correctly followed. However, I suspect that not many managers have been demoted because of wrongdoing.

Have you any comments on those two points?

Mr. Francis: The Public Service Commission had these two jobs — appointment and audit of the appointment process — and in many respects they are contradictory, and I can understand why there was an evolution in the direction of reducing the cumbersome public competition way of selection. However, it did safeguard the merit process. Compromises are taking place, without question. I can understand why you believe that there was a sacrifice when the delegation of authority went beyond a certain amount.

Senator Bolduc: I do not mind the delegation, but I would like to be sure that there will be competition. It does not have to be by the commission; it can be by the administration, as it probably is most of the time.

Mr. Francis: How do you protect merit when they are assessing it? I do not have a clear or easy answer to that. It is something we have to live with as best we can. However, I am gravely concerned if the commission does not have sufficient resources to audit. The system will collapse if it is not given substantially more resources than it has now.

Senator Mahovlich: I want to congratulate you, Dr. Francis. You made things very clear. I want to speak about whistle-blowers. The whistle-blower of all whistle-blowers was the fellow from Watergate known as Deep Throat, and to this day he remains in the shadows. Do you think that is the way we should go with our whistle-blowers?

Mr. Francis: No.

Senator Mahovlich: What do you recommend?

Mr. Francis: I do not have perfect answers, sir. As far as I am concerned, a whistle-blower is only operating after the fact, telling you something that has happened. The damage has been done when the whistle-blower speaks, and I want a system that is preventive, not one that operates after the fact.

Senator Mahovlich: Is the American system preventive now? Are they fool-proof?

Mr. Francis: I do not know. I cannot answer that.

Senator Mahovlich: No country yet has a system in place.

Mr. Francis: I am sure it is a problem in every country of the world, but that does not mean we do not have to think about it.

Senator Beaudoin: You said that you were concerned about the number of organizations reporting directly to Parliament and not reporting to a minister of the Crown. This is interesting. What distinction do you make? ``Les grands commis de l'État'' may sometimes report directly to Parliament. At least there is a tradition. What do you suggest should be done? Should it be done always by a minister and not directly to the legislative branch of the state?

Mr. Francis: This is a fundamental question. As an example, the Information Commissioner presents a report to Parliament. However, members of Parliament may have 10 or 15 of these reports and they do you not always read them. They do not hit the headlines; no one bugs them about them; so they get no attention. My concern is that there is no supervision of the operation, and I want to create a mechanism whereby such an organization appears at regular intervals before a committee of Parliament. I do not think the Estimates Committee can do it. The Estimates Committee works with the Auditor General, who gives them more than enough work to do. However, there must be some kind of a committee of Parliament charged with regular examination of each of these agencies and ensuring that none of them is overlooked. Someone has to call them up and ask what they did with their budget last year, what they will do next year and why they exist. Someone must call them regularly and ask these questions and examine their operations. If no one is doing it, a price will be paid.

Senator Beaudoin: I would like to return to John Grace, who is a retired Privacy Commissioner.

Mr. Francis: He did a good job.

Senator Beaudoin: Yes, I agree. However, you think he should have been invited to appear before some committees.

Mr. Francis: Yes, I do.

Senator Beaudoin: Was he ever invited?

Mr. Francis: No.

Senator Beaudoin: That is a bit strange.

Mr. Francis: He was not the only one. A number in that ``family,'' shall I say, were in that situation, but Mr. John Grace was the first to complain about it. He said that someone should be checking on him.

Senator Beaudoin: Do you want to establish a superstructure?

Mr. Francis: Yes.

Senator Beaudoin: I understand your point.

Senator Gauthier: I want to ask about the financial aspect — the budget. You referred to a financial control officer within the departments. Where would this person receive the funding? Would the funding come from the Treasury Board?

Mr. Francis: Mr. Chairman, I believe that the department has Estimates voted by Parliament. The deputy minister of the department proceeds to operate his or her program in such a way as to require the use of these funds voted by Parliament. It is the function, I believe, of the financial control officer to certify that the amounts requested by the department are covered by the Estimates.

Senator Gauthier: We have five ``hauts fonctionnaires,'' or officers of Parliament: The Auditor General, the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada —

Mr. Francis: There are more than that, sir.

Senator Gauthier: There are only five officers of Parliament, and the others are not obliged to report annually to Parliament. Those five officers are: The Commissioner of Official Languages, the Auditor General, the Information Commissioner —

Mr. Francis: — the Privacy Commissioner and the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada.

Senator Gauthier: Only five officers are required to report annually, while the others do not have to report annually. Do you not agree?

Mr. Francis: I disagree, with all due respect to my colleague.

Senator Gauthier: You are right in that the five officers are not often invited to appear before Parliament, except the Auditor General. We had to add a new amendment in the 1980s to allow the Auditor General to submit four reports per year rather than just one report annually. You and I were involved in that amendment.

Mr. Francis: The Auditor General has his or her own committee that has more than enough work to do.

Senator Gauthier: That is correct, as has the committee for the Commissioner of Official Languages. The other three — the Information Commissioner, the Privacy Commissioner, the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada — do not have standing committees. We used to have a miscellaneous Estimates Committee. We even called upon the Prime Minister to appear. We called upon a number of witnesses each year and that created accountability, of a kind, at that time. In 1984, that committee was abolished, for some reason that I do not understand. Now, I understand that the House of Commons has restored a kind of accountability in terms of meeting with those officers. Who would you recommend should look into the work of the officers of Parliament? Do you see the Senate in this position?

Mr. Francis: Mr. Chairman, I am not familiar with the most recent organization of committees by the House of Commons, but it seems to me that this is a matter within the structure of the committees. It may well be that special committees are struck for a group of these, or perhaps some measures could be taken to guarantee the presence before the committee that is deemed appropriate. In that way, during any particular period of time — at the most a cycle of two years — each one of these five organizations would have to appear and justify program budget, et cetera.

Senator Gauthier: What do you think of having exempt staff, as those provisions are drafted in the bill, to the extent that we would be continuing the old system? Do you favour that approach, or would you prefer to eliminate it?

Mr. Francis: Are you referring to the former employees of ministers?

Senator Gauthier: Yes.

Mr. Francis: It is open to abuse and the bill before you attempts to give the Public Service Commission some authority to reject inappropriate appointments. I do not know how much further you can expect to go at this time with the matter. I certainly approve of what is in the bill, as far as it goes.

The Chairman: Mr. Francis, how important is it to do something about increasing the autonomy of financial control officers in departments, which you are talking about? Is that where the problem truly lies?

Mr. Francis: I believe it is essential, but it is obviously outside the scope of Bill C-25.

The Chairman: I understand that. We are interested in good public administration and we do have a few minutes left to explore this. Therefore I will exercise the prerogative of the chair and do so.

Look at some of the abuse in recent times — the problems that have arisen, to use a better euphemism — at HRDC and the sponsorship program, for example, and I could name others. I suggest that they had their beginnings in an attitude that demanded: ``The objective is important, so just get it done.'' That instruction, or that philosophy, came from the political level, perhaps for good reason. The get-it-done philosophy prompted public servants to cut corners. Thus, due process was not observed.

Mr. Francis: That is right.

The Chairman: Thus, public servants have ended up ``carrying the can'' for some of this, as they should. Ministers, to some extent, have evaded or escaped ultimate responsibility. However, it seems that in focusing on the autonomy of financial control officers, you would have to move down the line quite a distance to find the responsibility, whereas the causes of these problems originate at a much higher level than that.

Mr. Francis: Yes, they do.

The Chairman: Perhaps the financial control officer is the last person to prevent the disaster from happening, but surely we should be focusing on due process all the way down the line. Some of this happens in this mania to let the managers manage and to decentralize, et cetera. You will appreciate the following comment. The other day I saw an excellent article by a columnist deploring and regretting the departure of a member, Mr. Dennis Mills, who is not running for election again. The columnist said that Dennis Mills is a man who is impatient with process and that he is objective-oriented. I share his admiration for Dennis Mills, but it seems to me that it is a terrible mistake to knock process because lack of observance of due process gets us into trouble every time.

Mr. Francis: I agree, Mr. Chairman, but how do you stop it? Are you appealing to the conscience of the senior people because they know that if they accomplish something then they may be cutting corners? Would you rely on that appeal to conscience as the basis of the system for the correction of abuse?

The Chairman: No, I am suggesting accountability, perhaps to Parliament to begin with. If our last and best hope were a good financial control officer in the department, then I think we would have very serious problems.

Mr. Francis: Mr. Chairman, this is the only point I can think of, and I do not pretend to possess all the answers. Where you are anticipating a problem, before the money is spent, the financial control officer should have to sign. It would be at that point the pressure would be brought to bear. If the officer can say ``I will not sign it and I do not care what you say to me. I do not report to the deputy in this department but I do report to Treasury Board,'' then the position of the financial control officer would be immensely strengthened. That is my personal observation.

The Chairman: Thank you for indulging me on that one. As I might have anticipated, Senator Bolduc wants to add something.

Senator Bolduc: I agree with you. The controller representative used to be in the department, but he later became an officer of the department. The Frenchhave an interesting feature in their structure. They do not have, as you know, deputy ministers as we have here. They have mostly director generals of the various branches, like our assistant deputy ministers here, and then the minister is at the top. Sometimes they have a secretary-general for the department, but not necessarily. If they do have one, he does not have the same role as our deputy ministers. However, they also have what they call an inspector general.

Mr. Francis: Is that position similar to that of the Auditor General?

Senator Bolduc: Exactly, but the inspector general deals with the inspection of finance. He has the independence of a judge. As inspector general in a ministry, he does not report to the secretary-general of the department but to the minister. You have the line officers, the directors general for any program — secondary education, colleges, and so on — and then the inspector general who reports directly to the minister. He can draw to the attention of anyone in the department an error in financial matters. I think this is not a bad feature.

Mr. Francis: It is very interesting.

How can you support a financial control officer who says, ``There is a recommendation that so and so be paid in lieu of leave. May I see the leave documents?'' and he cannot have access to those documents. What can you do to protect him in such circumstances?

Senator Bolduc: Of course, if each major program of government has standards and norms, he can always point out that a certain procedure does not conform to standards. If the minister takes the position that he will proceed in any event, then he will ask for a written permission. We used to do that as deputy ministers. If the minister instructed me to do something and I refused, I could ask for a the written directive from the secretary-general of the government. That is the means by which deputy ministers are protected against abuse of power by a minister.

The Chairman: On that note, I think we will end the discussion.

Thank you very much, Mr. Francis. You have given us valuable insights into a number of matters in the bill and not in the bill.

[Translation]

Mr. Desautels is a former Auditor General of Canada. He is well known to everyone. Since 1990, he has witnessed a number of attempts to revamp the public service, including PS2000, if I am not mistaken. PS2000 was an initiative spearheaded by Paul Tellier, Clerk of the Privy Council, and was carried on by Jocelyne Bourgon.

[English]

I think it is fair to say that much of the impetus for the present government initiative, including this bill, came from successive reports by Mr. Desautels when he was the Auditor General. I greatly appreciate your willingness to come here and help us with this bill, Mr. Desautels. Welcome back. Please proceed.

[Translation]

Mr. Denis Desautels, Former Auditor General: I was somewhat surprised at your invitation to appear before your committee to discuss Bill C-25, which was passed by the House of Commons in June. After all, I ceased to be Auditor General over two and a half years ago.

I am not as familiar with the ins and outs of this bill as I was while I was Auditor General, but nonetheless I hope to be of some use to your committee during your study of this bill. In any case, the concerns which have led to these legislative amendments are not recent, and are not likely to have changed much over the past two years, even though efforts to improve the existing system are continuing.

[English]

Before I get into the substance of my remarks, allow me to make two points to put these remarks in their proper context. First, I wish to remind the committee that I was consulted by government officials responsible for preparing this legislation by virtue of being a member of the external advisory group to the President of the Treasury Board and the Clerk of the Privy Council. Second, I have a limited understanding of the complexities of the various laws that govern staff relations, per se — a very important component of Bill C-25. I do not think I can be of much help to the committee in that specific area.

During my term as Auditor General, I became increasingly concerned with issues of human resources management, despite all the efforts that were being made to reform the public service, starting with Public Service 2000 at the outset of the 1990s. Indeed, we in the Office of the Auditor General could sense a lot of frustration around human resource management among deputy ministers, managers and employees; and we even received encouragement to delve into those issues. The Office of the Auditor General tracked these efforts at reform and carried out a number of audits and studies throughout the 1990s, culminating in a chapter published in April 2000 that received a lot of attention. This chapter, which was titled ``Streamlining the Human Resource Management Regime: a Study of Changing Roles and Responsibilities,'' drew the following broad conclusions.

First, the current framework was unduly complex and outdated. Second, this framework was ill-suited to an environment that demanded flexibility and adaptability. Third, staffing was a major source of frustration to managers and employees alike. Fourth, there was fractured responsibility for the management of human resources, and a need to clarify the respective roles of deputy ministers, the Public Service Commission and the Treasury Board. Finally, the changing demographics of the public service and other elements of stress on the system made the need for changes even more urgent.

The study also described the long history of concerns about human resource management and failed attempts at reform, and provided examples of complex rules and jurisprudence in staffing appeals which further complicated staffing. This history goes as far back as the 1960s with the Glassco commission. It concluded with a plea for a flexible and responsive system that supports and sustains continuous improvement. At the end of the day, it is in the interest of all Canadians — and of ministers of the Crown, who are accountable to Parliament and to Canadians for their departments — to have a public service that meets those criteria and can deliver the services Canadians expect.

[Translation]

I would like to draw the committee's attention to another document published by the Office of the Auditor General in February 2001. It is entitled: ``Public Service Management Reform: Progress, Setbacks and Challenges'', and examines efforts to reform the public service since PS2000. It includes three interesting documents prepared at the Office's request: one is by John Edwards, who headed the PS2000 project for a number of years, the second is by Professor Peter Aucoin of Dalhousie University, whom you met this morning, the third is by Ian Clark, Secretary of Treasury Board in the 1990s.

Other chapters on specific aspects of human resources were published in December 2000. My successor, Sheila Fraser, has continued to examine these issues, including recruitment challenges, in her own reports.

[English]

Bill C-25 has attempted to deal with most of the issues raised by the Auditor General. I am particularly pleased that the government has made such an attempt to modify the legislation that underpins the entire regime. Given the complexity of the task and the numerous risks and pitfalls of such a project, I was deeply concerned that the government might choose to avoid changing the legislation and instead attempt marginal improvements through strictly administrative means. Indeed, some people were suggesting that most of the problems could be fixed without touching the legislation, a position with which I did not agree, and which would once again avoid dealing with the essential issues.

I commend the President of the Treasury Board for choosing this route, and I hope that the bill receives Senate support as well.

This is a long and complex bill but, in substance, it addresses the most important issues of human resources management, namely: the simplification of laws on the various aspects of labour relations; the modernization of staffing to make it more responsive to needs; a more logical role for the Public Service Commission; clearer accountability of deputy ministers for human resource management; regular reporting to Parliament by the Treasury Board; and a recognition of the need for staff development through the proposed Canada school of public service.

Undoubtedly other issues might have been addressed within this bill, such as procedures for voicing concerns about values or ethics. However, such issues should be handled through separate legislation, if it were felt to be needed. I would hope that this bill can be amended in the future, as well, to reflect changing needs and conditions. For instance, the entire definition of the core public service might be reconsidered at some point in the light of experience under the proposed legislation and the experience now being gained by the various new agencies that are excluded from the core public service.

[Translation]

In brief, then, I hope that this bill receives the Senate's support and royal assent because it will enable the kind of reform we have been waiting for far too long. Thank you for your attention. I will do my best to answer your questions.

[English]

Senator Oliver: One of the questions that I would like to put to you deals with how you think the Public Service Commission, as it will exist after the passage of this bill, should find more resources to carry out its new and expanded duties and roles. Several witnesses appearing before the committee today and yesterday have said that the Public Service Commission remains very important to the administration of the Public Service of Canada, but that they do not have the financial resources to carry it out. They would normally go to Treasury Board to get the needed resources. However, Treasury Board could easily say no. The Public Service Commission would then be hamstrung. What do you recommend be done to ensure that the public service can be properly funded to carry out its mandate under Bill C-25?

Mr. Desautels: Mr. Chairman, this is a question with which I had a certain amount of experience as Auditor General, because one never feels that one has all the resources needed to carry out a full mandate. It is a question of making the case for your needs. In our case, even though we are an agent of Parliament, we had to go through the Treasury Board process, which was not ideal, by the way.

The new Public Service Commission would be in a similar situation. I would wish that the new Public Service Commission with its new and clearer role would become, over time, more of an agent of Parliament than it has been in the past. Therefore, it would have a closer relationship with committees of Parliament, which would help in getting the right political support to get the resources needed to carry out its proper role.

In my role as Auditor General, I had a privileged relationship with the Public Accounts Committee. The support of that committee was essential and extremely useful in accomplishing the full mandate of the Auditor General.

I would hope that the Public Service Commission, in time, would become more of an agent of Parliament and cultivate a close relationship with different committees of Parliament. It would, therefore, get the appropriate support.

Senator Oliver: Would the money be voted by committees rather than having to go to Treasury Board? Are you suggesting they should forget about going to Treasury Board to raise money? You said it was not a perfect system and that it was certainly a troubling system. Should it be two committees — a committee of the House of Commons and a committee of the Senate — that the Public Service Commission should approach for funding?

Mr. Desautels: I do not believe that is possible under our current Constitution and parliamentary process. All agencies, therefore, must go through the same appropriation process. Having political support, however, from committees of Parliament, can exert a certain amount of influence during the estimates process.

The Chairman: People are talking about a situation somewhat analogous to the way in which we in the Senate and our counterparts in the House of Commons draw up our budgets. We draw up our budgets, which do go to the Treasury Board. Due diligence and care is taken. It would be a rare occasion on which Treasury Board would send the budget back. There is much consultation back and forth, but it would be a rare occasion when the Treasury Board would send the Senate's budget back and tell us that it was unacceptable.

We are talking about a process that involves Parliament and Parliament's servants such as the Auditor General, the Commissioner of Official Languages and others.

Mr. Desautels: Mr. Chairman, I would like to make one other point in answer to Senator Oliver's question. I do not know what kind of financial resources the new Public Service Commission will need in the future. I think that that has yet to be determined. However, my understanding is that they will be relinquishing certain responsibilities that they were carrying out in the past. However, they will have to rev up their capabilities in other areas, such as audit process to oversee properly the system and report properly to Parliament. There may not necessarily be a net increase in financial resources, but a different mix of talent could be needed.

[Translation]

Senator Gauthier: Let us talk about accountability. There are five agencies, or five senior officials: the Auditor General of Canada, the Chief Electoral Officer, the Commissioner of Official Languages, the Human Rights Commissioner, and the Privacy Commissioner. These are the five officers of Parliament identified as having a special relationship with Parliament.

When you were Auditor General, were you ever invited to deputy ministers' meetings to discuss government policy?

Mr. Desautels: No. To my knowledge, deputy ministers met weekly with the Clerk of the Privy Council and the Auditor General. Other agents of Parliament were generally not invited. The only meeting to which we were regularly invited was the monthly lunch, at which we did not discuss government policy. The lunches were more by way of being social occasions, with guest speakers. The Auditor General, and to my knowledge senior officials of Parliament, did not take part in deputy ministers' meetings when government policy was discussed.

Senator Gauthier: So you did not take any part in meetings of committees and subcommittees of deputy ministers of the Crown?

Mr. Desautels: No.

Senator Gauthier: I am satisfied with that. With respect to the accountability of so-called agents of Parliament, you told Senator Oliver that you had a problem — and I share your difficulty there — in finding an appropriate formula to allocate funding without going through Treasury Board. Did I grasp that correctly?

Mr. Desautels: My comments were that the existing system is not an ideal one. We would do better to find a different formula. I specifically mentioned the Auditor General's Office, but my remarks could apply to other senior agents of Parliament.

Senator Gauthier: We know that Treasury Board holds the purse strings. You were Auditor General for 10 years. In that time, did you consider any way of obtaining your funding through a different formula?

Mr. Desautels: We considered the issue many times. The issue was again raised in my last report, in which I reflected upon my 10-year mandate. I believe there are a number of possible formulas. The British Parliament uses a different method. A parliamentary committee decides on votes to be granted to the British Auditor General. There are therefore precedents and formulas in other countries that we could apply here.

Senator Gauthier: Are there other models in Australia or New Zealand which work in the same way?

Mr. Desautels: There are other models. If memory serves me, the Australian system is a little different from the Canadian and the British systems. A joint committee examines the budgets of the Auditor General.

A comparative study indicates that there are approaches different from ours. Those approaches seem more satisfactory in safeguarding the independence of senior agents of Parliament.

Senator Gauthier: I am satisfied with that answer. There is a problem that we could examine.

Senator Beaudoin: Mr. Desautels, you said that Bill C-25 largely met the issues raised by the Auditor General. You added that other issues might be dealt with through administrative rather than legislative changes, since legislation is always more difficult to implement. I fully agree with going that route, insofar as we can avoid legislating. On that point, could you give us some examples of where it would be preferable to make administrative rather than legislative changes?

Mr. Desautels: I would like to make myself clear. There is no way to avoid amending the legislation. I do not agree with the notion of just making administrative changes without amending the legislation. In my view, that approach has been applied far too long, and today it has resulted in an unacceptably cumbersome system.

When it comes to employer-employee relations, there is a lot we can do by applying administrative measures and thus mitigating some existing problems. Changes can also be made to the Public Service Commission's mandate without having to amend the legislation. But in my view, those measures do not go far enough. If we want genuine change that meets expectations, there will have to be legislative amendments. I am happy to see that the government has agreed to go that route, rather than just making administrative changes.

Senator Beaudoin: We can always improve a statute. To achieve that, you say that it would be best to take the administrative rather than the legislative amendment route. I quite agree that changes are necessary.

Some witnesses have said that being too specific in some areas may lead us to more instances where we turn to the courts. Employer-employee relations always involve some risk. But it is often difficult to achieve satisfactory results solely through administrative means. Insofar as such means are feasible, I quite agree with your statement. Are there areas where we would do better to take the administrative rather than the legislative route?

Mr. Desautels: As I said before, legislative amendments cannot be avoided.

Senator Beaudoin: But this bill meets the need for legislative changes.

Mr. Desautels: On the whole, the bill does meet those needs. That is why we have to take the legislative route.

Under the bill, authority will be delegated to Treasury Board to regulate some legislative aspects. Regulation provides some flexibility. Such authority is supported by the legislation, but is nonetheless a more administrative activity.

Treasury Board has some flexibility in establishing hiring, appointment and promotion regulations. The Public Service Commission also has some flexibility. Thus, the bill offers both those organizations flexibility without making things too specific. That flexibility will contribute to reducing the trend towards court action in some areas.

Senator Chaput: The witnesses we have heard over the past few days say that the bill takes a holistic approach, insofar as everyone involved works together towards common goals. Another goal of the bill is to speed up a process — delegation — which is too slow at the moment. Delegation is not a problem in my view, as long as we establish guidelines.

I would like the bill to deal with the following points. The first important point is fair, equitable and transparent access to jobs for all Canadians. For example, no Canadian should be prevented by his geographic location from applying for any job.

Another important point is competitions. In my view, it is very important to have open competitions for jobs. I hope that this bill deals with the issue.

With respect to the definition of merit, if I understand correctly, the Public Service Commission will establish guidelines. I am satisfied with that proposal. At present, there is a new independent committee within the Public Service Commission. We have the Public Service Staffing Tribunal, and a new public service school has been created. Within that holistic approach, how will the three institutions work together? What fundamental differences in their mandate will make it possible for them to complement one another? Is my question clear?

Mr. Desautels: I think it is, yes. Before answering your question, however, I would like to comment on your preamble if I may. You alluded to some issues that are important to you, and which you wish to ensure are in the act. These issues include access to jobs and competitions. I want to be clear on this. We have to make sure we do not return to a system that will again become too cumbersome by imposing all kinds of conditions and objectives.

Access to jobs is one example. We need a practical approach to everything. If we find ourselves obliged to launch a national competition to fill a clerical position in Halifax, the whole hiring process will slow down to a crawl. That is unacceptable. It would take much too long to fill any position. I am just sounding a warning. We should not make the system that cumbersome again.

As for the organizations you named, each has a fairly distinct role. By establishing the public service school, we remove from the Public Service Commission a number of duties that were not always compatible with its role as an agent of Parliament. I think that is a good thing. The new school will thus become even more viable than before. The school and the commission have two distinct roles, which should be played by two different organizations.

As far as I understand, the Public Service Staffing Tribunal will have a fairly specific mandate. I suppose one could expand the Public Service Commission to take on that role. We agree that an appeal mechanism is needed so that people who are unsatisfied with tribunal decisions have somewhere to go.

As I was saying earlier, I am not an expert on the technical aspects of labour relations. We need an appeal mechanism that is used only for that purpose. We will have situations where employees will want to appeal to a tribunal of this kind. The organizations' roles are clearly different from one another, and there should not be any cause for confusion.

Senator Bolduc: You said that the President of the Public Service Commission will become an agent of Parliament. But in law and in fact, he is not. The commission has exclusive authority in appointing people to the public service, whether those people report to the commission or not. We give the commission authority, but it will delegate that authority to administrators and deputy ministers. It will remain a point of control, or audit. Its essential role will be to define delegation of authority for appointments in different job categories in government departments.

In my opinion, it will still remain an agent of the executive, of the government. But we wanted to be independent of the government. I do not see how we can get around the problem. The whole issue was very well explained by Mr. Aucoin this morning. As Mr. Hodgetts said yesterday, the commission will be both an agent of government and an agent of Parliament. The commission will be one of those rare beasts that are an agent of both institutions. Do you not see a problem with that?

Mr. Desautels: I did not say it was a perfect solution. However, it is something of an improvement over what we have now. The Public Service Commission wears two hats: in the morning it is an agent of Parliament and in the afternoon it is an agent of government. It is always torn between the two.

However, it goes beyond that. The president of the commission and commissioners are often deputy ministers who will do that work for years and then come back as deputy ministers after. There is no watertight seal between two areas; there is freedom of movement. In a way, they are more government officials than officials of Parliament.

The proposed changes are a step in the right direction. As far as possible, members of the commission will not be appointed by the government. They will be appointed independently.

In the past, if I had one criticism to make of the Public Service Commission, it would be that its reports to Parliament were not sufficiently useful, and did not satisfactorily meet its obligations to Parliament. Some of the amendments in the bill will improve that.

It is a compromise between the two. As I understand it, the reason for the compromise is that the government did not want to give deputy ministers full responsibility for staffing. We needed a kind of safety mechanism.

Senator Bolduc: It is something of a constitutional problem.

Mr. Desautels: That is why the commission retained that function.

Senator Bolduc: Since 1993, the commission has had the power to delegate, and did delegate. So why are people saying the system is so cumbersome if authority has already been delegated to departments? Why is everyone so unhappy with the system? When you were Auditor General, you did your own recruiting. The commission delegated to you the authority to recruit good auditors. Was it a long process?

Mr. Desautels: No, it was not very long. It was quite efficient. We had full authority, because the Auditor General had special status. We had more autonomy than most departments. In principle, delegation did exist and was developing. However, it was taking time for the process to evolve and clarify the role. Things varied from department to department. So now we have delegation with a more comprehensive approach. The commission retains responsibility, and must see whether delegated authority is properly exercised.

Even when authority was delegated in the past, such delegation was not the same in each department. Moreover, the commission fulfilled other duties which in my view were not compatible with its obligation to monitor the application of the merit principle.

Senator Bolduc: Everyone agrees that additional decentralization is necessary. There is not much debate on that. What concerns me is the existence of standards for decentralization.

If I understand correctly, the bill will give senior officials — except deputy ministers — and other officials, including assistant deputy ministers, directors general and directors the right to engage in political activity.

This concerns me a great deal, because I myself am a former president of the commission. I know that public employees must be given certain rights, because they are citizens like everyone else. However, there are things one should not do when one is a senior official. You cannot advise the government one day, then contradict your own advice the next.

We have the example of what happened to Dr. Kelly in Britain, and I will take advantage of what happened there to highlight the importance of what I am saying. When you become a public servant, you enter into a kind of ``deal'', where you have a career plan and job security. But at the same time you are required to keep the advice you give to government confidential. The agreement is this: we have confidence in you provided that you speak to us but do not speak to anyone else. Senior officials advise government, but cannot at the same time speak out and say other things publicly. As far as I understand the events in Britain — and I am not putting Dr. Kelly on trial here — it appears that Dr. Kelly told the government that one way of dealing with things was to attack Iraq. Then he seems to have said that the government exaggerated the threat, and that story was taken up by the BBC. So basically he said two different things. But regardless of that, the point is that he spoke out in public, and the resulting pressure was so great that he could no longer bear it.

I wanted to mention this here because senior government officials other than deputy ministers will have the right to engage in political activity. At the same time, they will be told — and this seems a bit odd to me, but I have got it right here — that though they are allowed to engage in political activity such activity, should not influence their non- partisanship. This all looks a bit odd to me; real life just is not like that. I would like to hear your views on this, since during your ten years as Auditor General you had so many opportunities to observe the government.

Mr. Desautels: Mr. Chairman, I concede that I have not examined this aspect of the bill. All I can say is that the public service must invest in ethics and values. Above and beyond the law, officials must meet a certain standard that relates to the concerns you raise. I don't think that this is solely a legislative issue. I have not studied this aspect of the bill, but there is a broader issue of values and ethics that will perforce influence decisions of this kind.

[English]

Senator Ringuette: Thank you, Mr. Desautels. I will quote ``the modernization of staffing to make it more responsive to needs.''

[Translation]

I agree that we have to be more efficient so that we meet needs. However, in order to be more efficient and have more authority, we have to be more responsible. And when we look at responsibilities, we find that only 4 per cent of deputy ministers' directorates are responsible for producing departmental human resources strategies or plans; only 4 per cent submitted such a plan. But I am quite certain that every single one of them filled out the forms for the performance bonus, though this is another issue. How is it possible that 4 per cent of directorates and branches have an effective strategic management plan to meet departmental needs, while the other 96 per cent do not have one? I am almost convinced that those 96 per cent of departments would say they need more flexibility to meet needs, yet they do not seem to be able to plan what those needs are. That is where I find myself in a quandary. I do believe there is a need for greater flexibility and more responsibility. Yet if we allow 96 per cent of those departments to have more flexibility, when statistics show that 54 per cent of positions are already filled without competitions, I really wonder where we are going. We need to have a balance here. If you want more flexibility to manage your departments, then you will have to demonstrate your management planning ability. I am sure that, with your experience, you will be able to answer my long question.

I also have another important question. There is a problem within the public service as well. You said earlier that we should not make the system more cumbersome through the recruitment process, but there are other processes involved as well. First of all, we have completely set aside one process that was extremely good and useful — the process of keeping a bank of qualified potential employees. I have visited the commission; did you know that there are over 400 different criteria for one clerical position? To what extent can the system absorb all this? And people say that the system is already so cumbersome that we cannot give all Canadians access, or the opportunity to apply for any job.

There are many difficult issues here. I will now give you a chance to answer my two very important questions.

Mr. Desautels: With respect to human resources management, or human resources management plans, I do believe that most people have indeed realized there is a systemic problem there. One goal of Bill C-25 is to clarify the responsibilities and accountability obligations of deputy ministers in the area of human resources management. In the future, therefore, we can expect every single department and every single deputy minister to report on human resources management, and to have human resources management plans compatible with their organization's business plan. We had noted that weakness in the system. Bill C-25 is trying to correct that by clarifying the responsibilities of deputy ministers with respect to human resources management.

The same thing applies to positions that are filled without a competition. Studies that were undertaken when I was there and also under the direction of Ms. Fraser showed that because the system was cumbersome, competitions could be avoided through the use of term positions. Rather than dealing only with these symptoms, I think we should attack the root of the problem. We must no longer provide excuses for people to circumvent the process. Nothing is perfect, but that is one of the objectives of the bill.

As to your second question, I think we should do our utmost to make the system more functional, less cumbersome and less costly. When I was first appointed Auditor General, I told a former deputy minister that it was my belief that human resources management in the federal government cost twice as much as it did in a well-managed private sector business. I was told that my estimate was off and that it was three or four times more expensive. The system is far too cumbersome to properly serve the needs of Canadians. We need a better and more efficient public service; we can do it, we are getting closer but we have to tackle these issues as quickly as possible.

[English]

The Chairman: Once again, Mr. Desautels, we are grateful to you for taking the time from your commitments in the private sector to come here to share with us your experience, knowledge and views on these important issues.

Mr. Desautels: It has been a good experience for me this morning. It reminds me of the good old days. Thank you.

The Chairman: We will conclude our morning sittings by hearing from the Commissioner of Official Languages, Ms. Adam.

[Translation]

I believe that you are all familiar with the Official Languages Commissioner, Ms. Dyane Adam; she is a frequent guest of parliamentary committees, but we do not often have the pleasure of her company at this particular committee. Mr. Guy Renaud, the Office's Director General of Communications, Mr. Gilbert Langelier, Director General for Special Inquiries and Audit and Pascale Giguère, Legal Advisor, are here with the Commissioner.

Ms. Adam will make a presentation, after which honourable senators will be invited to ask their questions. Welcome Ms. Adam.

Ms. Dyane Adam, Commissioner of Official Languages: I would like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to comment on Bill C-25 on the modernization of the public service. The public service is a key institution in Canada's political system. It is a crucial link between Parliament, the government and the Canadian people, providing a multitude of services that contribute to the well-being of all Canadians.

The public service must be responsive in order to better serve the public, but it must also reflect the values of the society it serves and the legislation on which it is based must give practical expression to these values.

Linguistic duality is a fundamental value of Canadian society whose foundations can be found in our Constitution. For its part, the Official Languages Act sets out the obligations of federal institutions with respect to services to the public and language of work. The current government also reaffirmed its commitment to linguistic duality in the speeches from the Throne in 2001 and 2002, and, in its action plan for official languages released in March 2003, the government also set the objective of creating an exemplary public service with regard to official languages.

It is not surprising to see, in this preamble, that, as the Official Languages Commissioner, I have an interest in this bill. The linguistic duality aspect has, of course, been examined. In my presentation today, I would like to show how this bill could contribute to Canada's linguistic duality.

First of all, I will briefly outline the contribution of the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages to this reform. I would like to ask you to make three changes that all pertain to the new Public Service Employment Act and these changes relate to language training, the Public Service Staffing Tribunal and competition notices. Then, since the legislative reform will involve updating related policies and regulations, I would like to see action taken to correct certain anomalies.

Since the Treasury Board Secretariat decided to reform the public service, the commission has stepped in to reiterate that linguistic duality is at the very heart of the public service. We produced a public document entitled ``Towards a Modern and Bilingual Public Service'' which summarized our approach and our suggestions to the government. These suggestions were intended to ensure that the official languages become an integral value in the operations of the public service and part of the culture of each institution. The key points were as follows: include fluency in English and French as basic skills and treat them as such in the classification of positions, work toward the widespread use of imperative staffing for bilingual positions, require that all deputy ministers be bilingual, and include language training in public servants' training and professional development plans.

Last March, I appeared before the House Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates to suggest changes to Bill C-25. Since linguistic duality is intrinsically related to work in the public service, I suggested that this value be included in the preamble to the act and in accepting this change, the government and members of Parliament recognized that all the objectives of the Official Languages Act are reaffirmed through this reform. At the third reading of Bill C-25, the Treasury Board president reiterated that linguistic duality is indeed one of the guiding principles of the new act. Since linguistic duality is so clearly part of the foundations of the public service, I ask you to consider these additional changes that could give practical expression to this value.

[English]

In regard to some of the proposed changes in Bill C-25, the first change I would like to suggest pertains to language training. Since the beginning of the official languages program, this training is sought to increase the bilingual capacity of the public service, while ensuring that unilingual Canadians can join the public service and advance within the public service. Bill C-25, however, does not reflect this.

Many people agree that language training must be an integral part of professional development. It is not enough to simply satisfy on paper the language requirements for positions. The action plan for official languages states, for example, that language training should be improved and offered earlier in a public servant's career. The President of the Treasury Board is also in favour of reviewing language training, which is currently the responsibility of the Public Service Commission.

In order to foster a consistent approach, I suggest that the language training of public servants becomes the responsibility of the new Canada school of public service, which is provided for in Bill C-25. By doing this, Parliament would show that learning the second language is part and parcel of developing the knowledge and skills that managers and employees must have to effectively perform their duties in the federal public service. The school could impart the values inherent to the language and culture through its professional development programs.

I therefore recommend that the following subsection be added to the mission and the duties of the future school: ``to provide language training so that public servants can reach the proficiency levels required for positions designated bilingual in order to ensure the Official Languages Act is implemented and also to help employees achieve their career goals.''

The second change I would like to propose pertains to the bilingual capacity of the Public Service Staffing Tribunal. Bill C-25 provides for the creation of a new independent tribunal that would be responsible for reviewing complaints about internal appointments. I note with interest that failure to respect the right to be evaluated in the language of one's choice in an appointment process will be included among the potential grounds for complaints before the new tribunal.

A study we conducted in 1999 showed that some federal tribunals face challenges with regard to upholding language rights. The members of federal tribunals appointed by Governor in Council do not always have the language skills required to meet the demand from the parties being heard. Yet, section 16 of the act clearly states that federal courts have the duty to ensure that the person hearing a case is able to understand the official language chosen by the parties without the help of an interpreter. As a result, all courts and tribunals must maintain sufficient bilingual capacity at all times to ensure that the language of the hearing does not alter impartiality procedures or cause undue delays for the parties. This does not mean that every member of the tribunal must be bilingual, but rather that the tribunal as a group must be able to function effectively in both languages.

I am, therefore, of the opinion that the collective linguistic capacity of tribunal members must be considered as early as during the appointment process. Moreover, the bill already provides that candidates must have certain qualifications in order to be appointed as tribunal members. I am not suggesting today adding further qualifications, but rather making the Governor in Council accountable by adding the following to clause 88 of the bill: ``The Governor in Council shall ensure that members of the tribunal, as a group, are able to hear complaints in both official languages in accordance with the provisions of section 16 of the Official Languages Act.''

Finally, my last suggestion concerns competition notices. Since I appeared last March with regard to Bill C-25, some people have raised the issue of competition notices. I have carefully reviewed this matter and am of the opinion that the language requirements must be clarified. As compared with the current Public Service Employment Act, this bill has an omission that could threaten certain acquired rights. The new bill does not state that competition notices must be posted in both official languages. It is only logical that, if employees have the right to be evaluated in the language of their choice, they should also be able to learn of a competition in their preferred language. Without an explicit provision in this regard, however, the bill is open to interpretation. I suggest, therefore, that wording similar to that in the old act be repeated in clause 33, which pertains to types of appointment processes, reading: ``An advertised appointment process must be communicated in both official languages.''

[Translation]

The last point that I would like to raise deals with non-imperative staffing. In order to serve the public in both official languages and guarantee public servants' right to work in their language, a number of positions in the public service are designated bilingual. These positions are usually staffed by qualified candidates with the required language skills. Through exclusion orders, however, a person not meeting the language requirements may be appointed to a bilingual position. Such persons are allowed two years to acquire these language skills, at public expense. This is referred to as non-imperative staffing, to use the bureaucratic jargon.

What was intended as a transitional measure has become a long-standing practice. According to the 2001-2002 Public Service Commission annual report, non-imperative staffing is still used in 20 per cent of the bilingual positions staffed. This is a significant anomaly that the government must address in its review of the implementing regulations and related policies.

I therefore recommend that non-imperative staffing be eliminated gradually, starting with the internal staffing.

This would send the message that a public servant must first acquire the knowledge required for a bilingual position before applying for it. Motivated individuals wishing to prepare themselves must be granted equitable access to language training, regardless of the linguistic designation of their position. Greater emphasis must also be placed on maintaining the skills acquired. At the same time, persons not meeting the requirements of the bilingual positions they hold must be transferred within a reasonable time.

The President of the Treasury Board took clear action in this vein last March with regard to senior officials. A recent study by the Canadian Centre for Management Development on language of work, entitled ``French to Follow?'' also makes similar recommendations. I suggest that imperative staffing should be the rule for managers as of April 2004 and that the same rule apply for other positions as of April 2006.

Insofar as external hiring is concerned, I suggest that, for the time being, the government be allowed to continue to recruit people who do not meet bilingualism requirements. However, people who still do not meet the linguistic requirements of their positions after the two-year period for learning the second language through publicly funded training could not be selected for an appointment in the public service. Appointments to positions designated bilingual should therefore always be conditional on acquiring and maintaining these skills. This would require a change to the exclusion order.

Since the government intends to make major investments to encourage the learning of the second official language in schools, it seems only natural that non-imperative staffing should be gradually eliminated for external staffing. This would constitute another major step in making the public service a bilingual institution that reflects the fundamental value of linguistic duality.

In closing, in an era of pluralism and diversity, the public service must continually adapt in order to reflect changes in society. It must do so while continuing to include official languages among its underlying values. A bilingual public service can play a crucial role by helping to build bridges between our two official language communities and thus help to make our society more open to differences, the key to continued progress in accommodating the rights enshrined in our country's Constitution.

I would be glad to answer any of your questions.

[English]

Senator Kinsella: On a point of order, could we ask the witness what page of the bill her first recommendation for an amendment with regard to the new school refers to in the bill? She has recommended that a subsection be added.

Ms. Adam: I am at page 172.

[Translation]

The Chairman: Amendment to the Canadian Centre for Management Development Act.

[English]

Ms. Adam: I am in the French version.

The Chairman: ``Objects and Powers.''

Ms. Adam: It is in Part 4.

Senator Kinsella: Thank you. I can find it now.

[Translation]

Senator Beaudoin: I must congratulate you. Your brief was wonderful. I have always felt that clause 16 of the Constitution Act, 1982, makes both languages not only official, but equal as well. Both languages, French and English, should be given equal treatment at the federal level; we cannot say that often enough.

With a few exceptions, that does not apply to the provinces, but it is the case for the federal government. Your Public Service Staffing Tribunal is something new. I believe it must be completely bilingual. We all agree on that.

I have just taken a look at the Official Languages Act, that my colleague Jean-Robert Gauthier carries with him at all times. I was interested in clause 16 of the Official Languages Act. This also applies to clause 16 of the Constitution Act, 1982. There is one thing that is more important than the Official Languages Act, and that is the Constitution. The Constitution must be reflected in the Official Languages Act. I agree on that point. I would suggest adding a paragraph stating that clause 16 of the Constitution Act, 1982 must be respected. As luck would have it, both clauses are numbered 16, a happy coincidence indeed. I do not know if you feel the same way as I do, but I believe that we should refer to clause 16 of the Constitution Act, 1982.

Ms. Adam: My amendment refers neither to the Official Languages Act nor to Canada's Constitution. When I appeared before the House of Commons Government Operations and Estimates Committee to comment on this bill, I suggested that an amendment be made to the preamble. I felt it was important that it be stated at the very beginning of this new Public Service Act that linguistic duality was truly a fundamental and underlying value within the federal apparatus and its public service.

I assume that the preamble has been changed to reflect the objectives and the principles of the Official Languages Act. Of course, as I said in my presentation, the very foundation of the Official Languages Act, as everyone knows, can be found in Canada's Constitution. The amendment or the proposal that I am putting forward today does not really involve the act or the Constitution. I am suggesting that the Governor in Council ensure that the members of the new tribunal have the necessary qualifications to hear the parties in the official language of their choice and that this would be possible at any given time. I made that suggestion today because our 1999 study of federal tribunals demonstrated that many tribunals were not able to offer equal services because the appointments to some of these bodies did not follow the established process, namely, consultation between the Privy Council and the tribunal in order to ensure that there be a proper collective capacity. My predecessor made this recommendation to the Privy Council in 1999. It involves all federal tribunals. Very little has been done, nor has there been any direct response by the government to the Commissioner's recommendation. This is something that should be clearly expressed when the language of the public service and the rights of its employees are involved.

Senator Beaudoin: I wholeheartedly agree and I will leave the issue of bilingualism in the judicial process to my colleague Jean-Robert Gauthier.

The other day I wrote a special letter to the Minister of Justice: when bilingualism is supported by the Constitution, there is nothing stronger. That is the case in Manitoba, and in Quebec, in New Brunswick, and in other provinces, they are slowly moving in that direction. I think you are right in suggesting not only that both languages are equal but that bilingualism should apply in the judicial system as well. It is fundamental for a country like Canada.

Senator Gauthier: To echo what Senator Beaudoin has said, you stated that an amendment had been made to the bill. I have not managed to find it. Could you send me a copy of that amendment? There is no mention of it in the document dated June 3, 2003.

As any good politician will tell you, you should never ask a question if you do not already know the answer. The new training school, the Public Service School has a specific mandate. Is it a federal institution?

Ms. Adam: Yes.

Senator Gauthier: It would therefore be subject to the Official Languages Act. Is the tribunal mentioned by my colleague a federal institution? Yes, therefore the Official Languages Act and the Constitution would apply. The obligations could not be clearer: obligations that relate to understanding both official languages.

Your first recommendation is to the governor in council. I do not want to be mean but these are well-intended and the road to hell is paved with good intentions. You said earlier that a number of federal tribunals did not meet these requirements. Could we have a list of the tribunals that do not meet these linguistic requirements?

Ms. Adam: We can send you a copy of the study which included a sampling of the tribunals' capabilities. We did not examine the tribunals as a whole. These tribunals must be able to provide services in both official languages, but we studied the reasonable timeframe and similar situations. Is justice really served if a tribunal does not have enough bilingual judges to hear the cases in a timely fashion? It is not cut and dried. But we can provide you with a copy.

The question was not answered and I believe it truly warrants the attention of Parliament. It involves the difference between an act, its implementation and outcome. May I add something? We organized a seminar in April 2003 along with the Department of Justice and the federal tribunals in order to discuss linguistic duality and the implementation of the act to provide services in both official languages. This was one of the problems that was discussed and many tribunals stated that it did apply to them. As you know, the tribunals cannot control the appointment of their own members, so they find themselves in these situations. We can provide you with copies of the seminar proceedings in which the details of this problem are discussed.

Senator Gauthier: Yesterday, witnesses told us that the President of the Public Service Commission should be an officer of Parliament. Staffing, and all that it involves should be a stated responsibility of the person who holds that position.

We were told about the national school or the training institution or the Public Service of Canada School, which would be the new title. It would be a combination of the Canadian Management Centre and all of the current public service training facilities.

Can you give me more specific information on language training? The commission has spent some time on this in recent years. This is not covered by the act. Who will be responsible for language training, not only in view of today's needs, but training for the future? Who will be responsible for that?

Ms. Adam: According to the new bill, the responsibility will remain with the Public Service Commission. There is nothing in the bill relating to language training. One of the proposals I am making to your committee is that the new public service school be responsible for language training because even if it is more or less separated from training or professional upgrading of public servants, it will still be taken up by the new school. Language training has been made a separate skill, something that is not really part of a civil servant's qualifications. I feel that the federal public service does not only operate in a bilingual but also an intercultural environment. We operate in at least two cultures. This is something that is never discussed.

We know that in legal circles there are two cultures. There is a difference in the way the Anglo-Saxon culture works and thinks as compared to the francophone culture. Both of these cultures work side by side in the federal public service and that must be taken into account in managing our human resources and government business.

Senator Gauthier: Parliamentarians are worried. There is a move towards privatization. Are we about to privatize language training? Will public servants have to meet the linguistic requirements before being appointed to their positions? A number of questions come to mind. There is no mention of this in the bill. There is a void in this bill. I am asking you the question. You say that the Public Service Commission will be responsible. I know on good authority that the commission has been deprived of this responsibility for the time being. It has been given over to the Management Centre to which these people must now report. Something has happened and I cannot get a handle on it.

Ms. Adam: As the Official Languages Commissioner I recommend that language training be included in the bill, that something should be said about this and that it should truly become the responsibility of the new school. That, in some way, is a reflection of your concerns.

[English]

Senator Kinsella: I wonder whether the commissioner could help me, also speaking of the school? In the English version, on page 171 of the bill, there is reference to the ``Canada School of Public Service.''

[Translation]

In the French version of Bill C-25, it is called the Canada School of Public Service.

[English]

Senator Kinsella: Is there not a major difference?

Senator Beaudoin: What is it?

Senator Kinsella: Is it the ``Canada School a la fonction publique du Canada'' or is it ``l'École de la fonction publique du Canada''? It seems to be different.

Ms. Adam: I have my opinions, but they prefer the French version over the English version.

Senator Kinsella: This is a point of substance. I think the intent is expressed in the French version where it is referred to as the ``School of the Public Service of Canada.'' It is not the Canada school. I think that is quite wrong.

Let me turn to another matter with reference to the school.

I like your amendment very much, commissioner, and will be supporting it. It would probably fit in nicely on page 173 of the bill, under a new paragraph (i), to provide language training and so on, as you put it.

Have you or your colleagues looked at whether or not there would need to be a transitional amendment if this were adopted in order to have transferred to the public service school, or the school of the public service, the official language training function that is carried on now by the Treasury Board?

Ms. Adam: I believe there are already other training functions that will be transferred. Other schools will need to merge with the CCMD.

Senator Kinsella: There are specific transitional provisions in this bill to move the Canadian Centre of Management Development into this new school. My question is, if your amendment, which I will support, is adopted, do we need to have any consequential amendments in order to move the Treasury Board official language training function?

Ms. Adam: I would presume that the same process should be followed as other functions are transferred from one organization to the other. I would apply the same type of transition period to facilitate and ensure that public servants do get the training in that transition period and that there are no negative side effects for that particular period.

Senator Furey: Obviously, the goal of all parliamentarians — and I am sure civil servants — is that in an ideal Canada, bilingualism should be a minimum. I was intrigued by your comments. I can understand the elimination of non-imperative staffing for internal staff with its attendant two-year program. I am not so sure I agree, though, that it should be eliminated for external staffing. I realize that you try to offset that a little by commenting on the fact that the government intends to make major investments to encourage learning of second languages in schools; but there are a host of unilingual Canadians who would be at a decided disadvantage without that program if they wanted to apply for a position in the civil service.

I think the program puts them on a more equal footing when you consider that, internally, it is all publicly funded.

Ms. Adam: My recommendation is not to eliminate non-imperative staffing for external training, but to have a limited time for those persons to get the training and to fund their training, because we have had problems in the past of providing the training to individuals. They should be given a time limit of two years. This is only for the bilingual positions.

Senator Furey: I understand that. Perhaps I misunderstood you. I thought that you were saying that, internally, this program would cease, and people would be given two years to achieve bilingualism at public expense for positions that were bilingual. I read in your comments, and I thought you heard you say, that the program would be eliminated for external staffing because it would only be natural that non-imperative staffing should be eliminated gradually. To offset that, you pointed to the fact that the government would be investing monies in school programs to assist people to become bilingual. In addition there would be public funding within the civil service.

That would put unilingual Canadians who want to get into the civil service at a decidedly disadvantage right now, economically and otherwise. There is more than the funding of these programs. There is also the time off and everything else that goes with it that would give people within the civil service a much greater advantage over those who want to come in.

Ms. Adam: We need to consider interventions that must be made at different levels. I am proposing that for outside staffing, non-imperative staffing could be maintained for some time, and we would provide them with the training. At the same time, the federal government and provincial governments are investing and reinvesting in second language training in schools.

Yesterday I signed certificates for high school students. It is a pilot project. They took the public service linguistic test and were successful. This is the first time that high school students, to my knowledge, have taken that test. It is in collaboration with a school board. It is not in Quebec, and it is not in Ottawa. It is not in any of the designated bilingual areas of the country. It is in Edmonton. I signed over 70 certificates for students, both immersion and FSL graduates. I think that this is the way of the future.

Thirty years ago when the Official Languages Act was passed by Parliament, we embraced it. We put measures in place to ensure that all Canadians would have access to the public service. Now, we are in a society that is different. It is more pluralistic, diverse and international, where languages form a part. We have two official languages.

Our government is investing more again. We need to act on both so that eventually we will have a lot more high school graduates with the necessary competency that already have passed their test. It is for us to pick them up when they graduate from university.

Senator Furey: I agree with you whole-heartedly and I am all in favour of any program that promotes bilingualism at any level. I see that there are a group of young Canadians who have not had that advantage. I would not want to see them fall through the cracks. By fall through the cracks, I mean not have the same opportunity to come into the public service that public servants already have. I think that program helps towards that. There is no question about it.

Ms. Adam: If we invest more, parliamentarians are in a very good position to promote this question in their different communities across Canada. If someone wants a career in public service, then he or she should invest in language training at a younger age. It is much easier than doing it when you are 40 years old. We know that.

It is for us to do that. Prevention is a much better than cure.

Senator Ringuette: I am pleased to hear of your experience because I do believe language skills are like math skills or science skills. It is a competency. Throughout my experience in the federal arena, I have never heard of non-imperative staffing where 20 per cent of the new jobs that require bilingualism are excused.

I have been arguing for 10 years to remove geographic restrictions from employment. Here the bureaucracy has created an excuse based on language. We are talking about restricting the access of Canadians because of language. It is a joke.

The accessibility to public employment with the federal government for Canadians from Gander to Kelowna, B.C., is not available. With regard to linguistic capability within the system, the bureaucracy has created an excuse. You can understand my frustration as a francophone from rural Eastern Canada. It is like playing double jeopardy for me.

I would welcome your comments on these excuses given relating to non-imperative staffing and it being too costly and too burdensome to open up access to the system to all Canadians.

[Translation]

Ms. Adam: Non-imperative staffing has been an order since 1982. This exclusion order is not a vested right. It should be an exception to the merit principle. We are seeking the recognition of the merit principle in the public service; in other words, the position should be staffed by the person who is best qualified to do the job. The exclusion order makes it possible for a person to hold a position without fulfilling all of the requirements.

The Chairman: Staffing is done on the condition that the employee learn the language. The Commissioner is suggesting that this be made more explicit.

Ms. Adam: I am saying that in some cases it should be eliminated. You are aware of the problems we have had with bilingualism over the last 30 years. Our deputy ministers and our senior civil servants are constantly trying to extend the timeframe. That is what happened in the past and the deadlines were always extended.

Senator Bolduc: Like they did with tobacco!

[English]

The Chairman: I might argue that the flexibility that is provided for non-imperative staffing permits people in various parts of the country who may not be linguistically qualified for a job to enter the service on the condition that they learn the language.

Senator Ringuette: The practical aspect is that for 97 per cent of new competitions, the system has a geographic restriction of 50 kilometres based on postal code. Therefore, if your postal code is not within that geographic limit, the system, never mind the bureaucracy, automatically rejects your application. However, the system does not automatically reject, because of this non-impairive system, your application for a bilingual job if you are unilingual French or unilingual English, and that is an additional disparity.

Senator Kinsella: As a clarification for the record, in case I heard incorrectly, you were explaining, in response to Senator Furey's question, a special program that you had, and you said it was not in a bilingual designated district. Did I understand you to say Moncton was one of the sites?

Ms. Adam: No, I was referring to a new initiative between a school board and our office and the Public Service Commission where high school graduates took the public service linguistic test and were successful. My office gave the certificate to recognize that they have achieved that. This is a new initiative in Edmonton.

[Translation]

Senator Gauthier: I have a question about the three recommendations that you have made. Am I wrong in thinking that if they are federal institutions they are covered by the act? In that case, there would be no need to amend the bill as you have suggested. Could you give that some thought and send me a written answer before September 16th?

Ms. Adam: We can answer you in writing, and I suppose we should address our response to the chairman for the benefit of the committee?

[English]

The Chairman: Back in the early 1980s, Senator Gauthier and I were co-chairs of the Joint Committee on Official Languages.

[Translation]

He might remember a letter that was sent to us by Prime Minister Trudeau in which he rejected most of our committee's recommendations, stating that it was not necessary because all of that was already in the Constitution. It was most interesting.

[English]

Senator Comeau used to be a chairman of that joint committee for a while as well, as well as Senator Ringuette. This is a little reprise of the old Joint Committee on Official Languages.

Thank you very much, Madam Commissioner, and your colleagues.

The committee adjourned.