Future public servants evaluated on opinions about Conservative Economic Action Plan.

The highly controversial Conservative Economic Action Plan is being used in an essay question for potential applicants to an elite management training program in the federal public service.

One of my former research assistants was really excited recently – he was applying to get a job in Canada’ public service. So he logged on to the Public Service Resourcing System to fill out requisite forms. Part of the job application process meant writing an essay. Making applicants write a 1000-word essay is probably a good way to see whether candidates can reason.

But look at what the topic was:

  • “In 1000 words (maximum) ‘In 2009, the Government of Canada introduced Canada’s Economic Action Plan to help Canada’s economy weather the economic storm. In 1000 words or less, please choose two of these measures and discuss their implications for Canada. In your answer, please consider, as appropriate, the social, economic and international policy imlications of each measure.”

It seems as though, to be recruited into the public service under the watch of this government, you must find a way to discuss the Economic Action Plan – a plan that has already been communicated to Canadians in a strongly partisan fashion.

The political communication around the Economic Action Plan has been venal to the point of being divisive:

  • the scandalous Conservative-branded cheques,
  • the fact that municipalities have to ante up money to pay for signs advertising the Action Plan, the uneven distribution of stimulus (with the majority being doled out to Conservative ridings),
  • etc.

The highly politicized, outrageous political communication of the plan has been so riddled with controversy that it has effectively invalidated the Action Plan as fodder for an impartial essay question for a public service entrance exam.

It doesn’t seem right for the Government of Canada to potentially make applicants feel as though they should pass a partisan or ideological litmus test to get a job with the public service.

Here is the screen shot of the webpage in which you type out your essay. Just make the text bigger to see the picture in higher resolution.

Canadian Public Service Job Applicant Essay Question

The Web Address and Text of the Job Description:


Accelerated Economist Training Program (AETP), Post-Secondary Recruitment

This career choice is part of the Post-Secondary Recruitment Program* (PSR) which provides entry-level positions to university and college graduates.

Department Name: On behalf of Government Departments (current participants: Department of the Environment, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Department of Citizenship and Immigration, Department of Industry, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Department of Health, Department of Transport, Treasury Board Secretariat, Privy Council Office, Department of Finance)
Locations: Ottawa, Gatineau
Classification: EC – 02
Salary: $49,381. The salary may be increased with relevant experience.
Closing Date: November 9, 2009 – 23:59, Pacific Time Useful Information
Reference Number: FIN09J-009189-000371
Selection Process Number: 2009-FIN-EA-BL-17074
Employment Tenure: Indeterminate
Vacancies: between 8-12 positions.

The Program is seeking highly motivated candidates who have an interest in Canadian public policy and governance, and who possess good judgment, analytical skills, leadership talent, and the ability to work as part of a team. The Program offers four challenging, six-month assignments in central agencies (i.e. the Privy Council Office, the Department of Finance Canada, and the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat) and various other departments in the National Capital Region (Ottawa/Gatineau). Participants will have an opportunity to analyze and contribute to a variety of social, economic, and international policy issues. Upon completion of these assignments, participants are eligible for intermediate-level positions in the Public Service of Canada. The combination of hands-on work experience and training provides participants with a unique introduction to a challenging and rewarding career and a chance to serve Canada and Canadians.

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