From Ideas to Policy – The Role of the Public Service - Institute on Governance

From Ideas to Policy – The Role of the Public Service

1 minute read

Canadian politicians are not on the whole a philosophical lot. You’ll seldom hear the words of Burke or Mill or (yikes) Marx tossed around the House of Commons. There are a few aficionados of Ayn Rand but they don’t drop her name much.

Still, ideas do influence our elected officials. At a minimum they have broad opinions about the relative importance of economics and the environment, personal responsibility and societal obligations, getting tough on crime versus harm reduction and social reform.

But, speaking frankly if sweepingly, ideology makes bad policy. This is roughly what we mean when we say policy should be evidence-based. The broad and hotly contested realm of political and social theory must be tempered by a careful observation and assessment of outcomes. This is the sphere of policy experts with subject matter expertise, such as a professional public service.

We live in a time when a myriad of voices in social media, some of them very sophisticated, put forward social analysis with demands that it be translated immediately into action. But the line between the world of big ideas and public policy should seldom be too short. It is the job of politicians to weigh competing values and interests. And it is the job of public servants to advise on the consequences of proposals, intended or otherwise, and to provide options for achieving the outcomes that elected officials hope to see.

So in these tempestuous times, thank you to our professional public service for its expertise. Bring on the evidence!

You May Also Be Interested In

IOG Featured Image
Future of Work – Talent Retention & Trust

With guest contribution from David Scouler, Managing Director at CultureRx.

Learn More
IOG Featured Image
We Need to Change Our Conversations on Societal Infrastructure

With contribution from IOG Fellow Dr. Sara Filbee. We are

Learn More
IOG Featured Image
Future of Work – Hybrid Workplaces

With contribution from John Penhale. This blog post is the

Learn More
IOG Featured Image
Conduct during elections: The principle of ‘restraint’

During federal elections, the fair city of Ottawa experiences an

Learn More
IOG Featured Image
NEW PRESIDENT AND CEO APPOINTED FOR INSTITUTE ON GOVERNANCE

Aurele Theriault, Chair of the Board of Directors of the

Learn More
IOG Featured Image
Future of Work – A Dispersed Workforce

This is our third post in our series on Future

Learn More
IOG Featured Image
We Need to Change Our Conversations on Societal Infrastructure – PART II

With contribution from IOG Fellow Dr. Sara Filbee. This article

Learn More
IOG Featured Image
The Emergencies Act: The End of the Affair?

The declaration of a public order emergency under the Emergencies

Learn More
IOG Featured Image
REACTION – Team Canada Arrives Home

Canada’s best athletes returned to Canada from the Winter Olympics

Learn More
IOG Featured Image
REFLECTION – Co-Management Defined

With contribution from Sam Wells. The process of reconciliation between

Learn More
IOG Featured Image
REACTION: A Governance Lens on the Emergencies Act

When the Emergencies Act was invoked on February 14th, this

Learn More