McLaughlin Lunch Talk Series continues with eye on federal governance

McLaughlin College will continue its popular Lunch Talk series with two upcoming talks on Feb. 9 and 14. Both talks take place from noon to 1:30pm at 140 McLaughlin College (Senior Common Room), and all are welcome to attend.

The Feb. 9 event, titled “Prime Ministers and the Canadian Public Service”, will feature guest speaker Richard W. Phidd, a retired (University of Guelph 1972-2005), professor, public administration and public policy; fellow adjunct professor, McLaughlin College, York University 2005-2017. He also authored several studies of public sector organizations and policy-making issues in Canada since the early 1970s.

Phidd will look at how Canada possesses a parliamentary system of government which is executive dominant, in that, the executive the prime minister and cabinet controls the decision-making agenda. In the 1960s, the decision-making system was rationalized by the recommendations of the royal commission on Government Organization (Glassco). In the 1970s following criticisms by the auditor general the Lambert Commission on Financial Management recommended improvements in accountable management within a framework of a fiscal plan (a mutually compatible management system).

Yet, the system continued to be executive dominant. Pursuant to the patronage scandal the Harper government passed an Accountability Act and established a parliamentary budget office and officer who subsequently categorized the system to be un-accountable.

In the 1960s, the Pearson government had established an economic council with freedom to publish its findings without cabinet authorization. It was abandoned in the early 1990s. Why the persistence of the accountability challenge? How can we address issues of executive dominance, parliamentary effectiveness and accountability and citizen engagement in the 21st Century?

This event is hosted by the Office of the Master, McLaughlin College and School of Public Policy and Administration.

On Feb. 14, guest speaker Robert MacDermid, York professor and one of Canada’s leading experts on money and politics in Canada, will deliver the talk “For the Love of Money: The Cash for Access Controversy”.

MacDermid will discuss how Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been the subject of media and opposition criticism during the past few months for so-called “cash for access” fund-raisers, where donors pay up to $1,500 for a social event with the PM or one of his cabinet ministers.

In reaction, the PM has announced new fundraising rules to provide greater transparency. But is that enough?

Facing similar criticism of her party’s cash for access fundraisers in 2016, Premier Kathleen Wynne brought in Ontario legislation to ban cabinet politicians from attending fund-raising events, to lower the annual donation limit to $3,600, to ban union and corporate contributions, and to provide more public funding for political parties. Is Wynne on the right track?

This even is hosted by the Office of the Master, McLaughlin College and York Collegium for Practical Ethics.

Light refreshments will be provided at these events.