Saturday, April 22, 2006

Meet Gwyn Morgan

"But if Morgan decides to make politics his business, the Liberals should worry…"

The Conservatives are creating something called the Public Appointments Commission, and yesterday Stephen Harper "nominated" a fellow Calgarian, ex-EnCana president and CEO Gwyn Morgan, as its chairperson.

Putting aside for a moment the irony of a Conservative government creating a new bureaucracy to oversee appointments to the bureaucracy (aren’t conservatives all about smaller government?), I think if we can get the appearance of political bias out of the appointments process that's a good thing.

With a non-partisan person at the helm judging appointments on their merits, not their party loyalty, we’ll get better people in these positions that have the confidence of everyone. I don’t necessarily think all the appointments made through the old PMO process were unqualified, far from it, but it’s the old appearance of bias thing.

Which brings us to our new appointments Czar, Gwyn Morgan. At first glance he looks good. Respected former CEO. Doing the job for $1 year, so it’s not about the Benjamins for him. Named Canada’s most respected CEO in 2005, nice.

  • First appearance of possible trouble comes in his PMO provided bio. A director of the Fraser Institute? We can forgive him that though, nobody’s perfect after all.
  • Where have we heard his name before though? Oh, that’s right. He was up for the Ambassador to the U.S. job a few months back, along with Reform Party founder Preston Manning.
  • The people at Calgary’s alt-mag FastForward don’t seem to be Gwyn fans, something about EnCana leaving behind an “environmental disaster” in Ecuador during his time with the company. Media bias though, I’m sure.
  • Alberta Venture magazine wanted Morgan to run for the Alberta Conservative leadership, and replace Ralph Klien. Said the mag: “He's a genuine small-c conservative, fearlessly opinionated and a proven leader.
  • I guess you can call Ezra Lavant a Gwyn-a-holic. Sorry Stock. In a Calgary Sun column on Morgan called “Conservative star rises” Levant practically gushes, lauding him for fighting tooth and nail against Kyoto, and prays he’ll jump into politics. There’s some good quotes, including the one at the top of this post. Here’s another, from a speech Morgan had recently made at the Fraser Institute:

“In a speech subtitled "what politicians are afraid to say," Morgan took on every sacred cow in modern politics. From government intervention in the economy, to the attempt to de-Christianize Christmas, to the stifling effect of overweening labour unions, to government-run health care, to the failure to acculturate foreign immigrants, no stone was left unturned.”

  • CP reported on his recent speech to the Empire Club today, and here’s the text of the speech. It’s all about “Canadian values” and no; things like SSM aren’t a value. But freedom from corruption is. Liberal corruption, of course. Here’s an excerpt where he discusses the Liberal Party, members of which I’m sure will get a fair shake from him. He also tows the party line on David Emerson and Michael Fortier…"Stephen Harper acted as a statesman."

We have witnessed the party that governed our country over most of its history, embroiled in behaviour that is comparable to that of countries at the bottom of the world corruption index.

And if that wasn't enough, the same party ran attack ads which took the Canadian political process to unprecedented lows in civility, respect, and honesty.

We saw an orchestrated attempt to impugn a Canadian political leader whose integrity is beyond reproach and a person who openly honours Christian values, but respects all religions. A person whose modest home, wife from small town Canada, two much-loved kids (and cats) place him solidly in the middle class mainstream of Canadian values.

We saw a governing party torn apart by dissention and corruption, a party which alienated the West and fanned the flames of separation in Quebec, actually base its election campaign on convincing Canadians that it best represented "Canadian values" and that it could best preserve national unity. Well, at least a plurality of Canadians saw through the charade.

This was also an election where the leaders of two national parties seemed to adopt as their principal definition of Canadian values "we're not American."

How sad. How counterproductive. Canada has so much to be proud of, and I for one, want the leaders of our country to champion the best of what we are, not what we are not.

  • Remember when Stockwell Day was being sued for defamation, and there was a stink about paying his legal fees? It seems “Alliance fundraiser” Gwyn Morgan was involved. Interesting reading.
  • In the Calgary Sun again, in a piece called "Waay right!", columnist Rick Bell says Morgan, “a strong backer and fundraiser for the federal Conservatives”, says the things Harper can’t say. Things like unions bad, gun registry bad, equalization bad, Quebec, Saskatchewan, and the Maritimes all bad. I’ll let this section go without comment. The “he” is Morgan.

With child care, he gives a nod to Harper without naming him. He attacks those who defend the present health-care system and takes a poke at the PM.

"Why do we expect different behaviour in Toronto, Ontario, than in Kingston, Jamaica," he asks, also singling out "a portion of our Indo-Chinese immigrants," maintaining most immigrants abusing our society are refugees.

So what?

So, what does it all mean? Merely that Morgan is a long-time Conservative loyalist and party bagman that shares Mr. Harper’s Conservative views. It’s not surprising that he’s taking a job with the Conservative government, and I’m sure he’ll fit right in.

But is he the person to de-politicize the appointments process? Is he the non-partisan person to take the partisanship out of the appointments process in the way the Conservatives promised with their accountability initiative? Not by a long shot.

You can give someone a fancy title, but this is just business as usual: a party loyalist in charge of doling out patronage. Which is fine, but let’s just call a spade a spade, shall we?

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Sherry R said...

Let's just call a spade a spade. Okay then. Mr. Morgan was "nominated" not "appointed" for this new position. His nomination will be vetted through an all party commons committee. Other parties can nominate someone should they choose to. If they do that will be an endorsement of setting up the PAC in the first place which the Liberals have vowed to oppose.
Mr. Morgan will be tasked with setting up the new dept and there will be a 5 member committee that will then vet all appointments. Those 5 members will also be chosen by all parties.

However, in the new spirit of non-partisan appointments one would hope that political affiliation will be trumped by actual skills, experience, education and other merits for these members. This is a committee to in essence HIRE qualified individuals for executive posts.

Experience in hiring executives and assessing qualifications would be a valuable skill.

Since Mr. Morgan has been so vocal and forthright about his views on cronyism I think he is an excellent choice for this position.

It is the Liberal Senators who are screaming the loudest - the ultimate recipients themselves of porkbarrel political appointments-unelected, unaccountable and for those who are screaming about "being above having their own ethics monitored" one would think the culture of entitlement reigns supreme within the pogey for life halls of the senate.

By the way - 59 journalists have been appointed as senators - for favours rendered?? Watch how the media handles this - the loudest dissenters will be those journalists who figured it was going to be their turn at the trough and this committee will put an end to the riches of their retirement dreams - compliments of the unsuspecting and duped by propaganda taxpayer.

ottlib said...

All fine and good Sherry but after this new office is created who will be putting forward the names of the people to be appointed?

Remember that the positions that this office will be filling will be positions that are currently filled by the PMO. These are not regular public servants whou have to apply for these jobs under Public Commission Service regulations.

So who will be nominating the people to fill these positions? I know Stephen Harper talks a good game about accountability and transparency but I am not very impressed with his actions on those scores. Mr. Fortier, Mr. O'Connor, his muzzling of his ministers come to mind.

Sorry, the cynic in me believes that this is just a way to provide political cover to Stephen Harper when he begins to appoint his good Conservative friends to plum patronage positions.

Personally, I wish our politicians would just admit that patronage is an integral part of all political systems, ours included, and then promise to be diligent in finding someone who is qualified for a position even if he is a political friend. That would eliminate the need for them to spend time, money and effort trying to find political cover for these appointments and to focus their efforts on the issues that really effect the lives and livelyhoods of Canadians.

gimme a break said...

Mr. Morgan has made some inappropriate remarks in Calgary about certian ethnic groups and crime.
This was pulbished in the Calgary Herald.

I would not want to be a person of obvious non-caucasian ethnicity looking for a public appointment with him at the helm.

Sherry R said...

Re: who puts the names forward. The Prime Minister has said that there are some positions where the PM will still appoint- obviously those that require people who are on side. For the positions that will be determined by the new PAC I understand that it will be conducted like an executive search with positions advertised. The individuals themselves will apply. This does not mean that individuals with the pre-requisite credentials and qualifications who are ALSO somehow affiliated with a political party cannot apply and be considered- but it does mean that the qualifications are based on merit.

Have any of you applied for a job? Resume, short list, interviews, etc.

That is how it will work.

I have a friend who had NO communications training who was made Communications Director to supervise university and college trained professionals simply because he was a political friend of Joe Clark's. He did political work on the taxpayer's dime under the highly paid auspicious of working in a department. He had these tax payer paid professionals that he supervised also do political work on the job. This is happening everywhere in all departments. We as taxpayer's must support ending this.

The former PC party was as bad as the Liberals in my opinion - this is to cut the crap across all parties.

foottothefire said...

Ah, Sherry. Hiss the snake couldnt have said it better .... trusssssssssssssst in me! That's all we got to do to get to heaven! Trussssssssssst in Stevie. and of course now we should, trusssssssssssssssst in Gwynn. No chance that (like Hiss himself) there's an hidden operative at the other end grabbing a strangle hold on the committee selection process while we're being kissed and stroked up front? hmmmm? Would it be to harsh of me to say, shame on you, Sherry.
I am also struck by the possibility that Gwynn represents Rumsfeld within Stevies mind in some strange Freudian way?

A BCer in Toronto said...

Nominated, not appointed. My bad, I missed that in the release, and I've corrected the post.

The rest of the post stands. How Harper could pretend a party bagman and loyalist is the man to end cronyism is laughable, and how it can be defending is boggling.

It's fitting Mulroney has been in the news of late, because there's no whore like an old whore. Or a self-righteous one.

Katherine K. said...

It is so very telling - Liberals immediately suspect nefarious deeds from anyone who is in a position of trust. Could it be based on the fact that most of the positions of trust in Canada are filled with Liberals - and the bagmen in the backroom are members of the billionaire club? Power Corp and the like.

Being that the heads of all crown corps, most deputy ministers, most senior beurocrats, most ambassadors, senators, communications directors, heads of large foundations, aboriginal organizations....the list is endless were Liberals APPOINTED by Chretien and Martin Liberals that means that you must share the Conservative mistrust of these partisan people in positions of trust.

Do we have to wait for Sheila Fraser's audits to get the details or, do tell, since you seem to KNOW that people in these positions are somehow tainted.


A BCer in Toronto said...

Could it be based on the fact that most of the positions of trust in Canada are filled with Liberals...Being that the heads of all crown corps, most deputy ministers, most senior beurocrats, most ambassadors, senators, communications directors, heads of large foundations, aboriginal organizations....the list is endless were Liberals...

It is so very telling - Convervatives immediately suspect nefarious deeds from anyone who is in a position of trust.

perryinsurrey said...

Interesting, too. Conservatorys have dumped the 'anonymouses' tags because no one would take them seriously, and are all appearing under posts by 'sherry r' and 'katherine k'... Any relation to Joseph K, Kat? Perhaps you should read that 'Trial' book again, because you're goofy commodant H. is starting to look certainly Kafka-esque in his duplicity and spin-around acts. Anyone who Ezra lauds is someone who should be handed a one-way bus ticket to Calgary --- oops!

ottlib said...

Ok Sherry R, which positions are the ones that will require someone who is "on-side"? Has that been made clear to anybody yet? Also, a five person committee is going to have a difficult time filling the hundreds of positions that are available in a timely fashion. So what will happen is this committee will make some high profile appointments and the rest will be appointed the old fashioned way when everybody is looking at what the committee is doing. An old magicians trick, distract the audience with one hand while the other is doing what is necessary to make the magic trick work.

Yes Katherine K., my scepticism is the result of distrust. You see, there are greedy and grasping Conservatives just like there are greedy and grasping Liberals. These Conservatives have been waiting 13 long years for their chance at the government trough and they will expect Stephen Harper to stand and deliver. Considering Mr. Harper's actions to date I expect Mr. Harper will deliver as expected.

As I stated before I really do not have any real problem with that except that the central theme of Mr. Harper's message for the past three years is he would do things differently. He is not following through thus breaking his most important election promise and showing a spectacular level of hypocracy.

MiamiGreg said...

Before making ignorant statements such as one included below, Mr. Gwyn should spend his time exploring why Jamaican Canadian’s have such dire economic circumstances in Toronto, contrast that to Jamaican Americans in Atlanta, New York, Miami, Charlotte etc…who have higher employment statistics and earn significantly more than the national average in the United States. He could explore this discrepancy but it might lead him to discover issues of systemic discrimination and nepotism which are rampant in Toronto.

"the vast majority of violent, lawless immigrants come from countries where the culture is dominated by violence and lawlessness. Jamaica has one of the world's highest crime rates driven mainly by the violence between gangs competing for dominance in the Caribbean drug trade,"

If there were no Jamaican Canadians in Toronto it probably be would be some other group facing the brunt of the racism, as you look across the country one group is always marginalized as the source of “gangs and violence” South Asian/Indo Canadians (Vancouver, Calgary), Aboriginal Canadians (Saskatoon, Regina, Winnipeg), Jamaican Canadians (Toronto), Haitian Canadians (Montreal), African & Aboriginal Canadians (Halifax). Malcolm Gladwell’s 1996 New Yorker article analyzing the contradiction of “how West Indians celebrated in New York for their industry and drive could represent, just five hundred miles northwest, crime and dissipation” provides an excellent analysis “what has happened to Jamaicans in Toronto is proof that what has happened to Jamaicans here is not the end of racism, or even the beginning of the end of racism, but an accident of history and geography. In America, there is someone else to despise. In Canada, there is not. In the new racism, as in the old, somebody always has to be the nigger.”

Malcolm Gladwell. “Black Like Them” The New Yorker, 74-81 (29 April & 6 May, 1996). Reflections on why West Indian immigrants are perceived to be different from other African Americans.
Available at:

Finally imagine President Bush trying to appoint someone to such a high profile position who was on the record with the same sort of statements about African Americans or Hispanic Americans, the nomination wouldn’t even survive the Senate sub-committee hearings and Bush probably wouldn’t nominate such a candidate because it would be seen as a liability. I guess the difference is you have 30+ million African Americans and 25+ million Hispanic Americans in the US that constitute a huge voting block whereas Jamaican Canadians don’t exist in large numbers outside of Toronto and are ignored by all political parties including the Liberals.