There is no worse heresy than that high office sanctifies the holder of it.
These are exciting times across the country, and not least in Ottawa, where the repercussions of Oct.19th continue to rock the capital.
The sensation of a new beginning is palpable – something akin to awakening from a decade long coma to discover a world on the cusp of transformation.
The debilitating communications gag, which had in particular compromised the work of scientists and diplomats, has been removed. Federal government employees, assured that they may once more speak and write freely about their work and will be treated with trust and respect, are exuberant.
The “Sovereign’s Wall” in the Pearson Building lobby – dominated by a larger than life portrait of Elizabeth II once described to me by a British diplomatic colleague as the expression of a “curious royalist fetish” that induced in him an “out of body” experience – is gone. It has been replaced by the pair of canvasses by Quebec artist Alfred Pellan which were removed on the occasion of a visit by Prince William in 2011. The restoration of these paintings, which celebrate Canada and Canadian artistic achievement rather than our colonial past, is a powerful totem.
More substantively, a striking array of initiatives – on refugees, climate change, foreign and defense policy – have been launched to compliment the raft of symbolic gestures and encouraging statements.
Still, the question must be put: with much of the low hanging fruit now harvested, what are the realistic prospects for bringing in the more complicated and difficult elements of the new government’s program?
That outcome will depend in large part upon the capacity of the public service to deliver, and in that respect, beyond the loss of critical expertise, the challenges may prove unexpectedly formidable.