Former Senate staffer Chris Montgomery has it. So does Edmonton-St. Albert MP Brent Rathgeber. Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page has it in spades. It’s called courage, and there’s mounting evidence that Canadians crave it in their public officials.
The ancient Greeks prized fortitude, both on the battlefield and in the civic life of Athenian democracy. Whether you label it mettle, grit or tenacity in the face of hardship, its ultimate test is the ability to persevere in the face of death. But there are lesser tests too, including intimidation and threats to one’s livelihood or reputation.
Consider the ethical muck Canadians have witnessed in 2013 at the federal level. Despite and even through it, we find some rare exemplars of courage this past year.
Case One. March 22. Veteran public servant Kevin Page has spent the final day of his tenacious five-year term as Parliamentary Budget Officer in court, still trying to extract details of the government’s plan to balance the budget. Asked if he’s disappointed by the government’s treatment of him, he responds: “I have a steel plate inside my head. I’ve lost a son. I’m not scared. What am I going to be scared of?” In the same interview, Page noted an “enormous amount of fear” in the federal public service.
Case Two. June 6. Edmonton-St. Albert MP Brent Rathgeber resigns from the Conservative caucus. His justification? While he appreciates the role of compromise in politics, “I can only compromise so much before I begin to not recognize myself.” Rathgeber wants to uphold his commitment to transparency. He wants to represent his constituents in Ottawa, not the political executive in Edmonton. He sees no choice but to serve as an independent.
In normal times, as columnist Andrew Coyne pointed out last June, such decisions are politics as usual....
Full article: http://ottawacitizen.com/news/op-ed-toast-to-those-who-showed-courage-in-public-life
NOTE: Articles in the series represent the views of their individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the collective views of Stratéjuste, its partners or associates.
Posts in the Series
Indigenous women to the barricades: a book review
Indigenous rights are human rights: a reminder from Argentina
On surfing and strawberry tea: how your spring break could promote reconciliation
The right guy at the right time: Gord Downie's contribution to reconciliation
Encore une Commission...
Munich, 1933: The good bureaucrat, Josef Hartinger
Addressing the language of the Aboriginal/settler relationship
From big to better data through indigenous data governance
Toast to those who showed courage in public life
Excellence is everywhere: Blueprint 2020 and the future of the public service
Time to investigate options for resource revenue sharing
Speaking of accountability: examining the relationship of First Nation voters to their governments
About the Author
Jodi Bruhn (PhD, Notre Dame) is a former federal public servant. She is co-author of an anecdotal biography of Eric Voegelin, a political philosopher forced to flee Vienna in 1938.