About the Author

Alex Marland

Alex Marland is Associate Professor of Political Science and Associate Dean at Memorial University of Newfoundland.

Books by this Author
Brand Command

Brand Command

Canadian Politics and Democracy in the Age of Message Control
edition:Paperback
also available: Hardcover eBook
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First among Unequals

First among Unequals

The Premier, Politics, and Policy in Newfoundland and Labrador
edition:Hardcover
also available: eBook Paperback
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The Public Servant's Guide to Government in Canada
Excerpt

Chapter 1

 

Review of Core Concepts

 

The authors recognize that readers have different backgrounds, training, experience, and information needs. You are encouraged to peruse the chapters and content that you believe to be most applicable to your situation at a given time. Some readers may find it helpful to consult the Glossary of Terms on page 97.

 

Public servants make choices and take actions that profoundly shape Canadians’ lives every day. Our homes are safer because of the building code standards they help develop and enforce. The food we eat and the medicines we use are of higher quality and potentially lower cost because public servants provide oversight. Internet, radio, television, and print media content that we consume is influenced by policies they administer. Public servants play a role in developing and implementing all public policy related to our cars, the roads we travel, speed limits, the price of gasoline and insurance, who is licensed to drive, the availability of public transportation, whether there are bike lanes, and the rules of the road. In fact, by the time most Canadians arrive at their destination to begin the workday, chances are they will have indirectly interacted with government hundreds of times. Some may go on to have direct interactions during their day. Perhaps they will visit a government website, contact a politician, visit a hospital clinic, pay a tax bill, or argue over a parking ticket. We all regularly engage with various forms of government and, by extension, with the employees who loyally implement the policy decisions made by those holding political office.

 

In many ways, public servants stand on the front lines of Canadian democracy. Whether offering policy advice to cabinet ministers, delivering services to citizens, or working in concert with political staff, their roles require familiarity with common principles that underpin the practice of politics and governance in Canada. A refresher for some and a primer for others, this chapter summarizes core concepts about democratic governance and public administration.

 

What Is a Public Servant?

 

Generally speaking, we are concerned with the nonpartisan workers in the core public service, namely those in government departments, Crown corporations, and agencies. They are alternatively known as civil servants and bureaucrats, but for consistency we refer to them as public servants. This encompasses the permanent, salaried personnel in government and those on contracts, including short-term staff such as interns and co-operative education students. The roles and responsibilities of these employees are the focus of The Public Servant’s Guide to Government in Canada.

 

Working in government can be a demanding and rewarding caree path, one that directly employs roughly 4 million Canadians,1 as part of the world’s most effective civil service.2 Examples of the thousands of public servant job titles include:

 

• airport response specialist
• area licensing administrator
• bilingual branch library technician
• chief cook on a marine vessel
• citizen services officer
• community social service worker
• competition law officer
• director of integration and multiculturalism
• economic development analyst
• environmental planner
• equipment operator
• junior program analyst
• laboratory manager
• manager, strategic planning
• program coordinator
• public outreach education officer

 

This book emphasizes the roles and duties of public servants in the federal and provincial governments of Canada. Some content applies to employees in territorial, municipal, and Indigenous governments. Politicians and political staff are featured throughout this book because they work closely with public servants. Other people on the public payroll are not strictly considered public servants because government is not their primary employer. Public sector workers such as teachers, nurses, doctors, professors, military personnel, police and corrections officers, and others are subject to their own professional codes. They have their own separate training facilities, regulatory bodies, associations, and unions. What all of them have in common is that public sector workers are paid, at least in part, using public money. Moreover they are all subject to decisions made by the small number of decision- makers who run the government.

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Permanent Campaigning in Canada

Permanent Campaigning in Canada

edition:eBook
also available: Hardcover Paperback
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Political Communication in Canada

Political Communication in Canada

Meet the Press and Tweet the Rest
edition:Hardcover
also available: Paperback eBook
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Political Elites in Canada

Political Elites in Canada

Power and Influence in Instantaneous Times
edition:eBook
also available: Hardcover Paperback
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Political Marketing in Canada

Political Marketing in Canada

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook Hardcover
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The Democracy Cookbook

The Democracy Cookbook

Recipes to Renew Governance in Newfoundland and Labrador
edition:Book
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