I have chosen to keep some of the posts “password protected” because they deal with a subject matter relating either to elected officials in the Canadian federal government, or political parties that serve in the Canadian federal government. Since I am an employee of the Canadian federal government, expressing opinions about those elected within it may appear to create a conflict of interest.
It should go without saying that the proper role of a public servant in the Canadian federal government is to follow the direction of either of the elected ministers (or in some cases, the direction of an arms-length and independent officer) so long as that direction is legal. I am firmly of this opinion. Nothing posted to this blog, either publicly or privately, is meant to contradict that notion – public servants work for the interests of the government of Canada, and should not substitute their judgment for those of ministers (or independent officers, in the cases where they are in charge of a government department or agency).
Where a post is “password protected” on this site, this is the case because the post may appear to deal with matters relating to my position in the public service. Though no one in the public service has ever made a substantive claim of a conflict of interest where I am concerned, nor would there have been a reason to do so, I am nevertheless concerned about the possible creation of an impression of impropriety. I have committed no improprieties, and I am only concerned not to allow people circumstance to imagine such a thing.
I believe that public servants not at an administrative level (deputy-heads and up) have a legally-recognised right to express themselves on topics relating to the federal government and when these are not the subjects of policies they are responsible for administering. I believe, furthermore, that this is an well-defined position of the Supreme Court of Canada, and that case law supports the right of public servants to speak out on political matters, particularly when they relate to union matters for the members of the public service itself. It should not be construed that voluntary self-censorship on my part means I believe public servants must muzzle themselves.
In an ideal world, the public’s reasonable expectations that the public service not appear partisan should be balanced with the public servant’s reasonable expectation to enjoy the same political rights as other Canadians. The Supreme Court of Canada has set a proper balance, but certain forces in Canadian society, for their own partisan reasons in many casses, nevertheless believe what they want to believe. For such individuals, the only way to ensure a non-partisan civil service is to ensure civil servants never speak about the government when they are off-duty. Though I disagree that civil servants have that obligation, I will nevertheless observe it.
For that reason, I have chosen to restrict access to numerous of these posts through password protection. Those who request the password for these posts are telling me that they know I am a Canadian federal employee, accept both that nothing they will read contradicts any responsibility I have within the government, and that I am not “campaigning” for their vote in some sense, but am merely expressing a personal opinion, not to be shared widely. My policy will be to provide the password only to those who are known personally to me, rather than to the general public.
I may allow myself to speak of provincial government elected officials and political parties, as I am not a provincial government employee; only those cases where a provincial political party is an entity with a close relationship with a larger federal political party will I restrict my comments. I will also allow myself to speak of foreign governments, as I work neither for a foreign government, nor for the foreign service of Canada.
Hopefully, this will make it clear that I take my responsibilities as a federal employee seriously. If anyone has a serious complaint with any of the blog posts found on this site, please leave a comment on the offending post and it will be dealt with promptly.