Having been appointed by the John G. Diefenbaker (Progressive Conservative) government, the commissioners and their extensive staffs had to face the not-uncommon fate of such bodies in that they report to a quite different government, in this case the Lester B. Pearson (Liberal) government, elected in 1962. Some of their recommendations, particularly those concerned with personnel issues and industrial relations in the public sector, were overtaken by events because, on the eve of the 1962 election, both major parties were induced by the public service unions to adopt a policy of collective bargaining for civil servants. A further series of inquiries led to the adoption of legislation enacting a collective bargaining regime in 1967, contrary to the advice contained in the Glassco Commission's report.
The Civil Service Commission also staged a moderately successful counterattack against recommendations that would have trimmed its powers. It persuaded the government that rather than having its control over selection and promotion transferred to the heads of departments, these functions should remain legally vested in the CSC but should be delegated to departments under guidelines set by the CSC. But delegation implies the possibility that it may be revoked; the CSC (by this time renamed the Public Service Commission to reflect a broader jurisdiction covering statutory authorities and government agencies other than departments) thus retained a vital role as a central personnel agency and guardian of the merit principle.
If the Glassco Commission missed one of its main targets, it had more success in hitting others. For example, it opened a long-suppressed debate over the future role of the French language in Canadian government operations. English had been the language of official business, its dominance defended on the grounds that to use more than one language would be costly and inefficient. The Glassco Commission, however, challenged the linking of efficiency with unilingualism. It held that "valid arguments have been advanced that the public service should be representative of the country as a whole." It therefore recommended that the federal government recruit, retain, and promote to senior positions more French Canadians and that the bilingual capacity of the public service should be developed. It was left to a later body, the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism, and to the Official Languages Act of 1969, which embodied some of its recommendations, to make headway toward bilingualism in Canadian public sector management.
Another qualified success of the Glassco Commission was the promotion of program budgeting. The early forms of this technique were too complex, leading to much frustration and to the abandonment of the more formal aspects of the process. However, to the Glassco Commission must go some of the credit for the Canadian federal government's perseverance with program-related financial and managerial reforms, including forward estimates; planning and budgeting for outputs and outcomes, not inputs alone; and, more generally, corporate planning and management by objectives.
Finally, partly due to the Glassco Commission's support of its mission and approach, the Treasury Board Secretariat, now detached from the Department of Finance and established as a separate agency, did become, or was confirmed as, the pivot of federal government administration. Only later, in the Pierre Trudeau years, was its power to be rivaled, or occasionally surpassed, by that of the Privy Council Office. By then the political agenda had changed, and efficiency in public sector management had been supplanted by constitutional, economic, and other issues. The next two inquiries into public service matters, the Lambert Commission and the D'Avignon Committee of 1979, focused on accountability in financial management and personnel management and the merit principle, respectively. Both paid tribute to the Glassco Commission, but by that time its influence had diminished. Nevertheless, its report remains a great landmark in Canadian public administration.
DAVID C. CORBETT
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-----, Royal Commission on Financial Management and Accountability, 1979. Final Report. (The Lambert Commission.) Ottawa: Canadian Government Publishing Centre.
-----, Special Committee on the Review of Personnel Management and the Merit Principle, 1979. Report. (The D'Avignon Committee.) Ottawa: Canadian Government Publishing Centre.
Hodgetts, J. E., W. McCloskey, R. Whitaker, and V. S. Wilson, 1972. The Biography of an Institution: The Civil Service Commission of Canada, 1908-1967. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press.
Hodgetts, J. E., 1973. The Canadian Public Service. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
-----, 1963. "The Grand Inquest on the Canadian Public Service". Public Administration (Australia), vol. 22, no. 3: 226- 241.
McLeod, T. H., 1963. "Glassco Commission Report". Reprinted in Canadian Public Administration: The Twentieth Anniversary Issue. 1978: 92-108.
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