Saturday, May 09, 2009


Kevin Lynch

Top Aide Guy Giorno (on the left) with boss Prime Minister Harper (on the right)

Our most recent Clerk of the Privy Council, deputy minister to the Prime Minister, secretary to the Cabinet and head of the public service, Kevin Lynch, has joined the ranks of the genteel unemployed.

Not to worry for him of course. As with all former Clerks of the Privy Council a decent life awaits him – cushy board appointments to august and respected corporations, doting professors and students hanging onto every dull word he enunciates at snore session lectures at great universities, a comfortable pension, etc. And given that one of the retirement gold watches gifted to him by his employer - the government of Canada headed by our very own Inspector Closeau - was an appointment to the Privy Council, Lynch will be able to register in expensive hotels on his future generous expense accounts as the Honourable Kevin Lynch. Life will be good for Lynch. The kid from Cape Breton has done well.

Prime Minister Closeau once again showing the tact and class for which he has become famous was predictably not around to wish Lynch well on his public departure. Instead, he was visiting Afghanistan for a photo-op in the process of taking the scenic route back home from Europe. The story is that Closeau’s fractious relations with the public service caused by the petulance and bully-boy tactics of both the Prime Minister himself and his obnoxious chief of staff Guy Giorno - we shall call him Kato – resulted in such frigid relations with Lynch and other highly placed members of the public service that Lynch could stomach it no longer.

It has been noted in the press - and this is a Harperism if ever I saw one – that the last paragraph of the speaking notes sent out to the Conservative lackeys for regurgitation to all and sundry who may ask questions about Lynch’s departure, reads:

“Upon his retirement, Mr. Lynch will have served as Clerk for three years, four months. Since 1979, the average length of service for a Clerk has been three years, four months.”

Although I am a self-confessed cynic about whatever words are uttered by Closeau I believe that many would agree with my following interpretation of that paragraph:

“Look, we kept him around only for as long as we had to so that it doesn’t look so bad. Now, happily, he’s done.”

The speaking note paragraph is tactless, classless and petty - entirely consistent with the other utterings of Closeau when others got in his way.

Rumors persist that Lynch’s vast knowledge of the workings of government and policy – derived from more than 30 years in the public service - frequently angered Closeau and some of the Neanderthals in the cabinet. That sounds reasonable. I can see both Closeau and his government having trouble abiding intelligent people. It is further reported that the behavior of Closeau and his man servant Kato have pissed off the upper echelons of several important ministries, not to mention the whole Conservative party – including its MPs.

It is also widely rumored that Kato (Giorno, in case you are confused) was the brain behind the Closeau’s fiscal update and the attempted suffocation of opposition parties late last year. Apparently Kato's proposals were met with strenuous objections from Lynch. This too likely hastened Lynch’s departure. In addition, the recruitment by the Ignatieff Liberals of Kevin Chan who had worked closely with Lynch over the years also likely spooked both Kato and Closeau.

But even more troubling than the departure of such a qualified and experienced public servant from the most important public service job in the country is the question, where does that leave Canadians who are fighting their way through these economic troubled times? What happens to the stimulus? We all know that the Closeau Conservatives really don’t believe in stimulus spending, unless it is into the coffers of their pals.

Does Lynch’s departure mean that the likes of Closeau, Kato, the hapless creationist Stockwell Day, the portly motor-mouth Jason Kenney and their ilk are going to be less constrained from enacting their neocon ideology? It is reported that Lynch bent over backwards to make the Prime Minister look good – at times even sacrificing his own reputation in the process. But apparently it wasn’t enough to keep his bosses happy. Does Lynch’s resignation mean that all Closeau and Kato want at the top of the public service are kowtowing yes men that do their ideological bidding come hell or high water (as Paul Martin likes to say)?

As Sarah Palin would say, "You betcha!"

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