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Book Review

Defending a Contested Ideal

Defending a Contested Ideal

by Luc Juillet & Ken Rasmussen

In 1908, in order to combat the patronage that undermined both the effectiveness of public administration and democratic practices, the Canadian Parliament decided that public servants would be selected on the basis of merit, through a system to be administered by an independent agency: the Public Service Commission of Canada.

Published on the occasion of the Commission's centenary, this book recounts its history and that of the merit principle, which was born of controversy and has since been the subject of countless debates. It also explains the Commission's outstanding resilience and shows its unique contribution to the development of an independent public service, which has been an important pillar of Canadian parliamentary democracy.

The book also describes how the Commission has contributed through the years to finding an evolving balance among three related, but sometimes conflicting, objectives associated with staffing the public service of a liberal democracy: political neutrality, democratic equality and managerial efficiency.

Luc Juillet is the Director of the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs and holds the Jean-Luc Pepin Chair on Canadian government at the University of Ottawa.

Ken Rasmussen is the Director of the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy at the University of Regina.




Democratic Government, Merit and the Public Service Commission of Canada

Chapter 1
The Origins of the Public Service Commission: 1867-1918

Chapter 2
Creating a Merit System: 1918-1944

Chapter 3
Rethinking the CSC
Gordon, Heeney and Glassco: 1945-1967

Chapter 4
The Management Assault on the Public Service Commission: 1967-1979

Chapter 5
Struggling to Defend Political Neutrality: 1979-2006

Chapter 6
The PSC as a Cautious Reformer:
Staffing Reforms during the Mulroney Years: 1984-1993

Chapter 7
Merit as the Essential Mandate:
Repositioning the PSC: 1993-2008



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