Centralization of Foreign Policy & the Role of DM's

Yesterday Taylor and I had this oped published in the Toronto Star (PDF version available here). Had a tremendous amount of positive feedback from many friends, including those in the foreign policy community. Please keep sending me your thoughts. Among the most interesting was from David B. who commented that

“Prime Minister Mackenzie King resisted inviting opposition leaders into the Privy Council during the Second World War because he believed it was the duty of the opposition to oppose; he feared that co-opting the opposition would lead to government tyranny. An interesting counter-perspective.”

Fantastic historical anecdote and important counterpoint! In our example, it should be noted that even after Mulroney invited the opposition leaders into the Privy Council they continued to opposed the war. However, his act shifted the discourse from a political debate to a policy debate – although we could debate if that is desirable. Thank you David.

In addition, yesterday’s post on the role of Deputy Ministers and public sector service renewal generated a large amount of email – all of which was deeply appreciated. Many agreed, although some thought that DM’s can’t be completely divorced from the policy process (which was not my intent, but I concede the piece is easily be read that way – my error). My larger point was that, in the conversations I’ve seen, the leadership keeps looking for a policy solution to this problem – a document or combination of changes that will solve the problem. I just don’t think it exists because this is not a policy problem. It’s a cultural issue. This means it requires a different type of solution and in particular some leadership and behavioural modeling from the top (which is not necessarily lacking, its just not focused or sustained on this issue).

In another fun, albeit tangential historical anecdote. Andrew C. noted that JC Watts was not only an African American Republican Congressman, he was also a veteran of the CFL. Who knew? Apparently Andrew.
One final comment (excuse the pun). Many of you wrote me emails yesterday with your thoughts – and every one was both great and appreciated. I’d like to also encourage you to write comments on the blog. This whole project is made much more interesting when people build off of or critique what’s written. While this isn’t the globe and mail, there tend to be 100-200+ people passing through each day, so please keep emailing, but also consider sharing your thoughts with others.

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