Op-Ed by Jeannie Baldwin re: National Public Service Week

A week to be proud of – in spite of the Minister

On National Public Service Week, we thank our public servants for the incredible work they do building and preserving the things we value in this country, from our broad coastal shorelines to our densely packed urban centres; from the interior of this vast nation to the far northern communities that so starkly define its beautiful diversity. In all these places, public servants are there: supporting veterans, conducting safety inspections on everything from food to infrastructure, conserving parks and wildlife, protecting natural resources, teaching our university students and providing public services to those in need. And much more.

Unfortunately, our public servants do all these important things not thanks to, but in spite of, the minister responsible for them. It’s regrettable this needs to be said. But it does.

Throughout the past year Minister Tony Clement has relentlessly attacked public workers with false accusations and misleading statistics. His latest attack has been on sick leave – a basic right of workers and one which, in fact, protects the health not only of public employees but also the public we serve. It’s hard to take his inflated sick leave statistics seriously, when they’re clearly an effort to deflect attention from the truly painful numbers: for instance, the $2 million fake lake and cottage backdrop constructed in his riding for the G8 summit; or the $100,000 gazebo and nearly quarter million dollar toilets installed for the same event.

A strong public service is the best investment for a safe, strong and prosperous Canada. Attacking those public servants to deflect attention from federal Conservative spending waste is not only unfair, it’s a threat to our common future.

When Tony Clement attacks the hard work and accomplishments of our public servants, he’s doing more than attacking the employees he’s responsible for. He’s attacking the right of all Canadians to receive strong, quality public services. He’s attacking our national pride, and the collective experience of generations of dedicated Canadian workers.

But most of all, he’s attacking our future – the birthright of our children to grow up in a country with public services that will keep them safe and healthy, educate them and support them as they launch into productive futures of their own. He’s attacking the right of our current generation to grow old in comfort and security, with a public service to support the shifting needs of an ageing population. He’s attacking those who put their lives on the line for this country – the veterans and their families who deserve our unmitigated support. And he’s attacking the ability of this country to respond to rapid changes in global realities: from the world of business to the world of health, safety and security.

The quality of our future will be defined by the quality of the public services available to Canadians, and the quality and strength of the public servants who are there to provide those services.

We know that.

The Canadian public knows that.

Why doesn’t the minister?


Jeannie Baldwin

Regional Executive Vice-President, PSAC Atlantic