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
The Origins of the Public Service Commission: 1867-1918
Creating a Merit System: 1918-1944
Rethinking the CSC
Gordon, Heeney and Glassco: 1945-1967
The Management Assault on the Public Service Commission: 1967-1979
Struggling to Defend Political Neutrality: 1979-2006
The PSC as a Cautious Reformer:
Staffing Reforms during the Mulroney Years: 1984-1993
Merit as the Essential Mandate:
Repositioning the PSC: 1993-2008