Liberals urged to scrap 19th century rule that requires laws be printed in books

Although I, like most people, never consult these hard copies, I think it these are important to have as an official and archival record.

As for the specifications, these can and should be updated, but again any new specifications should be archival quality:

An obscure statute dating from Confederation has Parliament frozen in time, forcing the government to print every new law on old-fashioned paper.

Bureaucrats want to ditch those rules, end the costly printing and make digital versions the new standard — but the Liberal government has yet to decide whether to break with tradition.

At issue is the Publication of Statutes Act, conceived in the 19th century, which requires the Queen’s Printer to publish new laws passed by Parliament in an annual compendium that must be printed on quality paper.

The legislation has never been overhauled. Although Justice Canada publishes the laws online as well, the digital versions aren’t considered official.

Each year, the Queen’s Printer — now part of Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) — must print and distribute about 250 hardcover copies of the annual statutes, destined for a select group of judges, legal libraries and other locations.

The total cost is estimated at about $100,000, including $40,000 worth of printing and distribution through a private firm.

The format is meticulously spelled out in a regulation that helps keep printing costs high:

“The annual Statutes of Canada shall be printed on Number 1 Opaque Litho Book according to Canadian Government Specifications Board Standard 9-GP-29, Grade 2, Type 1, (except moisture content) or equivalent in white colour, English finish, and the basic weight shall be 100 pounds per 1,000 sheets 25 inches by 38 inches.”

The detailed specifications continue for three more paragraphs.

Deputy minister makes the case

Last May, a senior official at PSPC pressed the new minister, Judy Foote, to fix the problem, according to a briefing note obtained by CBC News.

“The requirement to print the Annual Statutes predates modern electronic communications (some provisions have not been amended since the 19th century) and does not foster the timely and efficient access to federal legislation for Canadians,” deputy minister Marie Lemay said.

Lemay called for the repeal of the regulation, and amendments to the Publication of Statutes Act and other laws to haul Parliament into the digital era. The process would require formal notices, legal drafting and the backing of Parliament, and would take months.

But Foote’s spokesperson said rookie members of Parliament need to be updated on the issue before the government decides whether to scrap the printing requirement.

Regulations governing the printing of Statutes of Canada

A regulation spells out in minute detail just how the annual Statutes of Canada are to appear in book form. (CBC)

“As the Annual Statutes contain important information for elected members and many MPs are in their first term, Minister Foote, in consultation with the deputy minister, has determined that the department will formally consult with MPs and senators before making any changes to the delivery format,” press secretary Jessica Turner said in an email.

But Lemay had specifically cautioned against delay in her briefing note last spring.

“It is important to proceed … as soon as possible,” she wrote. “On January 1, 2016, Justice Canada changed the layout of its laws and regulations. They are now incompatible with the format of the Annual Statutes as required.”

“Consequently, it will be impossible to print the 2016 Statutes.”

Source: Liberals urged to scrap 19th century rule that requires laws be printed in books – Politics – CBC News

Statscan can’t afford for data access to play favourites

Former Chief Statistician Wayne Smith’s critique of Shared Services Canada may have some merit as this example illustrates:

There were some curious and intriguing details behind the headlines of Statistics Canada’s monthly employment report, as there always are. It’s a serious shame – and a serious problem – that almost no one could see them.

Again.

The national statistical agency’s website was out of commission since early Friday morning, before the 8:30 a.m. ET release of the February labour force survey. As of late afternoon, Statscan’s website remained dark; the details of one of the most important economic indicators of its monthly calendar were invisible to the Canadian public all day.

(By the way, the report showed that the Canadian economy added an estimated 15,000 net new jobs in February, a bit better than economists had expected, and the unemployment rate dropped to 6.6 per cent, matching an eight-year low.)

You might recall that something like this happened before, about eight months ago, when Statscan’s systems were down for more than seven hours on another jobs-report Friday. Not to mention the many, many occasions that Statscan’s website has fizzled out for much briefer periods shortly after the release of major economic indicators, during moments of peak traffic scrambling for the fresh data.

At the time of this writing, we don’t know what the problem was with Friday’s system failure. Neither Statscan nor Shared Services Canada, the agency that oversees e-mail, data and network services across the vast breadth of the federal public service, got back to us with an explanation. Certainly past snafus have been placed at the feet of Shared Services, the $1.9-billion brainchild of the previous Conservative government that was supposed to streamline Ottawa’s complex tangle of information technology, but has instead been blamed for everything from AWOL paycheques to RCMP systems failures.

The previous head of Statscan, Wayne Smith, resigned last September over Shared Services’ handling of Statscan’s information systems, which he said had not only become “disruptive, ineffective, slow and unaffordable,” but compromised the independence and confidentiality of the statistical agency’s data.

Now, I’m not here to point fingers. But the point is that these Statscan failures, while maybe not the same risk to public safety as the RCMP’s problems, are more than just a nuisance to the economists and journalists who wallow in these economic numbers.

The system problems, when they arise, create inequitable distribution of information that is relied on, and more to the point traded on, by financial markets. That’s a serious problem.

In the case of Friday’s jobs data, instead of every market participant being able to see the same data at the same time on the same website, each was left to his or her own devices (literally and figuratively). The lucky ones had access to Bloomberg data and news terminals, the expensive yet indispensable toys of professional trading operations, where at least the basic highlights of the report would have been fairly quickly disseminated. Others could have turned to media reports from the smattering of news organizations that attended Statscan’s pre-release lockup (in which reporters were given the release in advance but kept sequestered in a room, unable to communicate the information until the moment of the release time).

But if you were in need of the deeper statistical details below the surface of these quick-hit reports, good luck. Even the research departments of the big banks were scrambling, relying on friendly contacts at Statscan to e-mail to them whatever data they could.

All of which not only delayed the dissemination of this key economic data to the public and to financial markets, but also resulted in some very uneven distribution – in terms of both the timeliness and the amount of information that reached different sets of ears and eyes with an interest in the data.

And the employment data are very significant indeed to the bond and currency markets, especially now. It has become increasingly evident that the direction the Bank of Canada will take on interest rates hinges substantially on the evolution of the labour market. In its rate decision earlier this month, the central bank pointed specifically to “subdued growth in wages and hours” as key evidence of “persistent economic slack” in Canada.

And indeed, the February jobs report showed that despite the improvements in hiring and the unemployment rate, growth in wages and hours worked remained disappointing. Knowledge of this spoke volumes to any bond or currency trader placing bets on the timing of future Bank of Canada rate moves. And some traders had access to this information long before others.

That’s simply unacceptable.

As long as these technology problems persist, they undermine the integrity of an independent, impartial national statistics provider. Access to critical data can’t play favourites, even if it’s by accident.

Source: Statscan can’t afford for data access to play favourites – The Globe and Mail

Supreme Court judge [Justice Wagner] says Canadians shouldn’t worry about arrival of refugees, migrants 

Thoughtful and pertinent comments, particularly interesting his comments on identity:

Wagner said the notions of identity, human dignity and democratic values permeate the Charter and “lay the foundations for looking beyond our own borders.

“We can welcome refugees and migrants with the confidence that our society is able not only to manage our differences, but to thrive on them,” said Wagner.

Speaking to reporters later, Wagner acknowledged that, while his speech was delivered to a legal and academic audience, there was a message for Canadians concerned about the influx of refugees and migrants.

“We should, I think, welcome all those people and we should be willing to accommodate them and not change them,” he said.

“People should not be afraid of having migrants and refugees in their own countries. I think we’re strong enough and . . . we have strong moral values, and one of those values is the respect for human dignity. And, if we take our role seriously, we’ll look, we’ll adopt the perspective of the other, and it could only, I think, as far as I’m concerned, grow society much better in the future.”

Asked if that means there should be room for face veils and other individual expressions of religious identity, Wagner declined to answer, saying: “I don’t know if those cases will come before the court, so I don’t want to comment.”

Wagner holds one of the three high court seats reserved for Quebec. Quebec’s legislature is now studying a bill to require “religious neutrality” of those who deliver or receive public services, amid calls to ditch the bill in the wake of the slaying of six Muslims at a Quebec City mosque.

Wagner said judges have an “obligation” to try to understand the perspective of a person who says their equality rights are breached, but he added “that doesn’t mean that the claimant is right . . . that doesn’t mean that I would adopt his way, or his reasoning, or his opinion, or his end result.”

In his speech, Wagner admitted early approaches to how judges analyzed discrimination did not stand up to the task. He said Charter interpretation is still “a work in progress,” but, he added, over the past 150 years “the constitution has enabled us to navigate difficult questions of identity.

“Personal and group characteristics are the starting point of Charter equality jurisprudence, but identity is not about labels; it is a shorthand for how people see themselves, how others see them, and how those two things interact in people’s lives.”

Wagner said the Supreme Court looks to the context and experiences of a person claiming discrimination, and seeks to understand the person’s perspective, which is an especially important consideration in cases of aboriginal law or where there are overlapping characteristics of a person’s identity that influence how they experience discrimination.

Wagner said the experience of a woman who is part of a visible minority can be totally different from that of a young man who has the same characteristics. “If one of the two is not a citizen, or has a different sexual orientation, their experience could be even more different.”

“When the court eventually faces a question touching on trans-gender identity, these two propositions will provide essential frames of reference: that identity is not fixed, but changing, and that identity is not innate, but contextual,” he said.

Wagner predicted that, although the principle of “dignity” fell out of favour in judicial analyses of equality claims, it would find new traction in future Charter litigation. It is a crucial consideration when judges weigh whether a rights violation is reasonable and justified. “Equality infringements ought to be increasingly difficult to justify to the extent that it strikes at the heart of someone’s individual or group identity and, with it, their recognition as full participants in Canada’s ongoing democratic dialogue,” he said.

University of Ottawa law professor Errol Mendes said Wagner’s speech would please equality-seeking groups on the one hand, but he said Wagner also emphasized “democratic values” and “substantive” equality over any superficial concept of equality.

To Mendes, it was a signal from a judge who some suggest could one day become the chief justice of Canada, that the balance won’t always tip in favour of those who feel their rights are breached.

C-33 – Canada’s former chief electoral officers eager for successor, laud proposed electoral legislative changes

Interesting that the provision to extent non-resident voting rights not raised as an issue, again suggesting lesser priority:

Canada’s former chief electoral officers Marc Mayrand and Jean-Pierre Kingsley are lauding changes proposed in new legislation, including moving the elections commissioner back under the authority of Elections Canada and removing restrictions on who can apply for the job of commissioner.

But they also say there are other issues to be addressed, and with only an acting chief electoral officer in place since Mr. Mayrand stepped down at the end of December, both say they’re eager to see a new permanent chief electoral officer of Canada named.

“I don’t think it’s desirable to have too long of an interim in those positions [officers of Parliament]. I think these positions require people who have a firm ground and can make the difficult decision that they have to make from time to time,” Mr. Mayrand told The Hill Times in an interview last week. “There are other bills that I understand are coming forward and it’s important to have somebody in the position [of chief electoral officer] who can steer the organization.”

Having given notice of his plans to retire in June, Mr. Mayrand, who officially exited the role on Dec. 28, said, “It seems to be a long process, to say the least.”

The Liberal government will select its nominee to become the next chief electoral officer “in a manner consistent with the merit-based appointments process,” which the government has put in place, John O’Leary, communications director to Democratic Institutions Minister Karina Gould (Burlington, Ont.), said in an email.

That process involves advertising for open positions on a government appointments website, among other things.

“I haven’t seen any advertisement for the position,” said Mr. Mayrand in a telephone interview last week with The Hill Times. He said from his experience, once a candidate has been identified, the process “unfolds very quickly.” However, finding the right candidate can be “hard to do,” he noted, given the knowledge and skills required for the job.

Since Mr. Mayrand retired on Dec. 28, deputy chief electoral officer Stéphane Perrault has been the acting chief electoral officer.

Former chief electoral officer Jean-Pierre Kingsley held the job for 17 years until Feb. 17, 2007 and was succeeded by Mr. Mayrand days later on Feb. 21 after the House of Commons unanimously approved his appointment.

“I am disappointed because there is no reason why the government did not initiate staffing action immediately when Mr. Mayrand announced that he was retiring [in June]. … At that very time, they should have set the ball in motion, and we would have a chief electoral officer as I speak. Acting appointments in the officers of Parliament positions is a very bad process,” said Mr. Kingsley.

The Liberal government is currently faced with a backlog of hundreds of unfilled appointments.

Mr. O’Leary said finding a new chief electoral officer “is a priority for Minister Gould, and we will have more to say about this in due course.”

Paul Thomas, a professor emeritus of political science at the University of Manitoba, said he thinks there’s a “very small community of professionals” in Canada with the expertise needed for the job of chief electoral officer.

“Election law is not the simple, straightforward thing of the past,” he said.

Prof. Thomas noted the next federal election in 2019 is “not that far away now, and it would be better if we had a permanent CEO with all the status and authority and confidence of the government and Parliament presiding over the administration of that election.”

Source: Canada’s former chief electoral officers eager for successor, laud proposed electoral legislative changes – The Hill Times – The Hill Times

Diversity in GiC appointments – 2016 Update

My latest in IRPP Policy Options:

election-2015-and-beyond-implementation-diversity-and-inclusion-062Following my 2016 baseline study of the diversity of Governor in Council (GiC) appointments (Governor in Council Appointments – 2016 Baseline), I have analyzed 2016 and early 2017 appointments using the GiC appointments index. There has been a strong push towards gender parity but no clear trend with respect to visible minorities and Indigenous peoples.

Baseline data below:

GiC Baseline 2016.010

Source: Diversity in GiC appointments

Someone should take the fall for Ottawa’s botched Phoenix pay system

Hard to disagree with Barrie McKenna: the lack of accountability at both the political and bureaucratic level, the inability of government to manage large-scale IT projects and the miss match between those who “sold” the project and those responsible for delivery are of broad concern, not just in the case of Phoenix.

IT in government is complex given the myriad of requirements and groups involved.

My experience with IT in government is a mixed bag. My most successful project, done with a small group of PCO policy types, was the creation of an Access database to manage the then Chrétien government annual priority setting exercise. Delivered on time, it worked  and ensured consistent tracking rather than the previous time-consuming and error prone Word-based process.

My second experience, also at PCO, but on a larger scale (more data, more users) and thus involving IT folks, was replacing the previous Cabinet meeting planning system with a more up-to-date platform with more flexibility. The IT folks and the consultant never got it to work during my time there.

Lastly, at Service Canada, we partnered with Service New Brunswick to deliver, on Transport Canada’s behalf, a system for pleasure craft licensing. When it went live, it crashed but we were able to identify and fix the problem within a few days (the data link capacity was too small, something missed in all the preparations, by all involved). After that it worked well (Service Canada eventually decided to end its involvement and focus on core services to ESDC):

The mess that is Phoenix is a story of misguided political objectives, bungled management of a major technology project and a complete failure by anyone in charge to take responsibility for mistakes.

The fiasco raises troubling questions about the government’s ability to perform one of its most basic functions – paying its bills and taking care of employees. The Phoenix system is just one of the major information-technology projects, totalling billions of dollars, now under way in the government.

Centralizing the multitude of separate payroll systems was the brainchild of Stephen Harper’s Conservative government, which was convinced it could wring huge savings out of the bureaucracy. In charge were then-public works minister Rona Ambrose (now interim Conservative leader) and Tony Clement, former president of the treasury board. Neither has expressed any remorse for the fiasco.

The Conservatives eliminated 700 payroll jobs in dozens of departments, mainly in Ottawa, and created a new centralized pay centre in Miramichi, N.B. – political compensation for the shuttered gun registry. Most of those offered positions there refused to move, leaving the running of Phoenix in the hands of hundreds of untrained new hires.

The problem now belongs to the Liberal government, which could have delayed deployment of the system to work out the inevitable bugs. To his credit, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has acknowledged his government initially didn’t take the problem seriously.

“I’ll admit it,” Mr. Trudeau told a frustrated civil servant at a town hall in Kingston, Ont., earlier this year. “This government … didn’t pay enough attention to the challenges and the warning signs on the transition we were overseeing.”

But the mea culpa came three months after the government had promised to resolve the payroll mess. Now, it’s not even offering a target.

Just as troubling is the lack of accountability within the upper ranks of civil servants. Many of those responsible have retired or moved to other jobs in the government. No one has been fired.

Nor has there been a thorough investigation by Parliament of what went wrong. Deputy Minister of Public Works Marie Lemay, who inherited the payroll problem, appeared before the House of Commons government operations committee last year. But none of the original architects of the system have had to answer for their roles.

And then there is IBM Canada, which Ottawa hired to design and implement the system. It appears the government, not IBM, is on the hook for fixing the problems. So why, one wonders, would the government sign a contract that left it so dangerously exposed to financial and technical risk?

Phoenix was supposed to save Ottawa $70-million a year. Instead, the government has spent $50-million fixing the problem, including an extra $6-million paid to IBM, and there is no end in sight.

This isn’t just a story of a botched payroll system. It’s about the chronic inability of governments to manage major purchases, including technology projects.

Unless Ottawa gets to the bottom of what went wrong on Phoenix, it will keep making the same mistakes elsewhere in the government.

That should worry all taxpayers, not just government workers.

Source: Someone should take the fall for Ottawa’s botched Phoenix pay system – The Globe and Mail

Shared Services Canada, already having resulted in the resignation of the Chief Statistician (INSERT), now comes under fire from the RCMP:

CBC News has obtained a blistering Jan. 20, 2017, memo to Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale in which Commissioner Bob Paulson details how critical IT failures have increased by 129 per cent since the beleaguered department took over tech support for the entire government five years ago.

Not only that, the memo says, the duration of each outage has increased by 98 per cent.

“Its ‘one size fits all’ IT shared services model has negatively impacted police operations, public and officer safety and the integrity of the criminal justice system,” reads the memo.

The document appears to respond to a request for more information after a series of CBC News reports on the RCMP’s long-standing dissatisfaction with Shared Services Canada (SSC).

Despite the agency’s creation of special teams and committees to address shoddy service and repeated computer outages, Paulson said minimal progress has been made.

The commissioner bolstered his arguments by enclosing an appendix of recent critical incidents to show just how little appreciation or understanding there is for operational law enforcement requirements.

RCMP commissioner warns continued IT failures will have ‘catastrophic’ consequences

ICYMI: Conservative MPs laugh at Amarjeet Sohi’s past as city bus driver

So ironic, if not hypocritical, as the Conservatives, in government or opposition, always take aim at “elites.”

(My recent analysis of Senate appointments confirmed that senators appointed by PM Trudeau have more “elite” backgrounds than those by former PM Harper – Diversity in the Senate – Policy Options):

A federal cabinet minister who learned to deal with the public while driving an Edmonton transit bus was laughed at this week in the House of Commons, apparently for that very reason.

Amarjeet Sohi, the minister of infrastructure and Liberal MP for Edmonton Mill Woods, rose in the house Tuesday to speak about transportation.

He began his remarks by acknowledging that as a former transit driver he was especially shocked to learn that a bus driver in Winnipeg had been stabbed to death earlier in the day.

“Mr. Speaker, as a former bus driver, I want to convey our thoughts and prayers,” Sohi said.

On the video recording of the proceedings of the House of Commons, loud laughter could be heard coming from the opposition benches.

Sohi’s colleagues on the Liberal side could be seen shaking their heads in disbelief.

“What I heard was laughter,” Sohi said Wednesday during an interview from Ottawa.

The former transit bus driver went on to serve two terms on Edmonton city council, before winning a seat as a Liberal member of Parliament in the 2015 federal election.

“I take pride in my background,” Sohi said.

“I think it does demonstrate a streak of elitist attitude in the Conservative party, where maybe they don’t appreciate we have working-class people in Parliament in the Liberal government who are making a difference in the lives of Canadians.”

Adam Vaughan, a Liberal MP from Toronto, raised a point of order in the House on Wednesday and asked that the laughter be “withdrawn,” which would strike it from the record.

“This is offensive to the values of this House, to the values of Canadians and the diversity of all of us,” Vaughan said.

But Conservative House leader Candice Bergen refused.

“There’s all kinds of laughter that occurs here,” Bergen responded in the House. “So we absolutely respect and honour all of the jobs that we’ve done, and the experience we bring to this house.”

Sohi said he wasn’t personally upset by the laughter, but he thought Bergen’s statement fell short of what was required.

Ahmed Hussen: The rise and rise of Canada’s immigration minister

Good long profile of IRCC Minister Hussen in Macleans (Hussen is well respected by many Conservatives who while in government engaged with the Canadian Somali Congress – whether this respect will continue as he implements Liberal policies remains to be seen):

Still, Hussen was not exactly a high-profile MP, and when he was tapped to take over the immigration file from veteran John McCallum—who subsequently resigned his seat and was named ambassador to China—the reaction was largely, “Who?” Hussen says he had no sense this was coming, but he was “very, very honoured and really touched” that the Prime Minister handed him this file. “I’ll be frank: it’s a big job, and he didn’t start as a parliamentary secretary, so he didn’t have the opportunity to get seasoned on the brief,” says Chan, who remained friends with Hussen after both left McGuinty’s office. “But I’ve never doubted his intelligence. So for me, his only major challenge is the cut-and-thrust, and the speed with which things will transpire in his life.”

Chan exudes a warm, fatherly sort of pride toward his colleague, despite being only nine years older. Hussen has three sons aged seven, three and five months; Chan’s three sons are just about a decade older, and he’s warned Hussen of how hectic it will be juggling everything now. Chan echoes others who know Hussen, in remarking on how he manages to be quietly commanding. “I think the challenge sometimes is in the heat of the bright lights, some people might take that (soft-spokenness) as a form of weakness. I would never take that as a view, that he won’t see through the issues or that he’s going to act in a capricious way, or that there’s a soft underbelly to him,” Chan says.”There isn’t.”

In fact, the PMO saw Hussen’s “preternatural calm” as a major asset in this portfolio, the senior government official says. The Liberal government—not unlike vast swaths of the U.S. government apparatus, apparently—didn’t know exactly what the Trump administration had planned, but it was clear from the campaign that immigration would be a hot file. Hussen was also seen as an ideal fit because he had, quite literally, been there. “We wanted to make sure there was someone in the control room who really understood what it was like to be on the shop floor,” the official says.

Hussen is almost comically understated about his dramatic public introduction to the job, conceding only that it was a “very interesting” weekend. “I’ve always learned most when I’m placed quickly in a situation where I have to deal with something,” he says. “It was a very steep learning curve to get right into it, but I have a very good staff and supportive department officials.”

When asked about his seeming reluctance to respond to issues like the U.S. travel ban from a personal perspective, Hussen returns to a familiar line in spelling out the various pieces of his identity and history. “I’m very happy and proud of my Somali heritage, but I also make it a point to emphasize that I’m a Canadian citizen, and I’m a Canadian,” he says. “This is where I have spent more of my life, this is home for me and this is the society I have grown to cherish.”

For Hussen, it’s about being proud of his roots, but recognizing that he is a citizen of one country now: Canada.

Source: Ahmed Hussen: The rise and rise of Canada’s immigration minister

Terry Glavin: Democracy is a shambles, and you’re a citizen. Get out of your echo chamber

Good advice by Glavin:

A healthy distrust of “experts,” the media, government and the business class is not a bad thing, but democracy is in a shambles the world round, and it’s not going to get better by heading for the hills, or by retreating into some safe space, or by listening only to people you agree with, or by ignoring information that challenges your opinions. You’re a citizen. Act like one. Get out of your echo chamber.

You might be surprised by what you find out there.

Source: Terry Glavin: Democracy is a shambles, and you’re a citizen. Get out of your echo chamber | National Post

The Privy Council Office needs some new computers — and they want to buy Apple, not Windows

Fun piece by David Akin on PCO’s purchase of Apple. As a long-time Mac user, was frustrated by the corporate IT folks who were overly slavish with respect to Windows and Blackberry.

But Macs have generally always had a place in the Comms shop for videos and other creative work:

Between federal government civilian employees and the RCMP and Canadian Forces uniformed members, there must be close to 500,000 people.  Almost all of those folks would need a desktop computer. Many would need a laptop computer. And many would need a government-issued smartphone.

All those devices — not to mention the servers that store government data and software — present one heckuva a challenge from an information technology management point-of-view. The federal government’s I.T. chief has to worry about security, about cost, interoperability, and ease of administration when it comes to training and software updates. For those reasons, the government has for years standardized on computers that run Microsoft’s Windows operating system which means, almost by default, a standard deployment of Microsoft’s Office suite — Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Access.

The standard smartphone deployed to government employees has, for years, been a BlackBerry.

But things are changing.

Example: Last night, the government posted a tender for a supplier to fix up bureaucrats who work in the Privy Council Office with 52 computers — from Apple!

Now, maybe the PCO was working on Macs before this tender offer went out. I’ve asked the department if that’s the case and we will update here. I am told, in fact, by a PCO spokesperson that it is not unusual for departments to have a small number of Apple computer in use “for specialized requirements.”

 

…The PCO is the federal government department that supports the work of the prime minister. It is the civil service mirror/partner, if you will, of the PMO — the Prime Minister’s Office. Officials in both the PMO and PCO work closely together. In my personal experience, I have seen many PMO officials using Apple products. And I know via some documents I dug up using an access to information request that the prime minister himself had some Apple products purchased for his use at his home office at Rideau cottage. He bought (if memory serves) an iPad Pro, among other devices and information technology.

But Trudeau is not the only prime minister to have picked Apple. That’s right: Stephen Harper was an Apple guy. The one and only time I ever saw Harper use any piece of information technology, it was his own personal Apple MacBook, which he brought into the House of Commons one night during a long “take-note” debate. Interestingly, the Apple logo that is on the front of any MacBook had been covered on Harper’s device with a family photo.

And it was another Conservative politician — Stockwell Day — who was the first MP I ever saw to bring a tablet into the House of Commons and, you bet, that tablet was an iPad. Nowadays, if you look down upon the House of Commons, you will see a sea of iPads.

But I can tell you House of Commons I.T. had to be dragged kicking and screaming to agree to have iPads on the House network or to agree to support iPads.

And so it may be with the broader government-wide I.T. community, already dealing right now with a very rough transition to some common platforms and computing environments via Shared Services Canada. (And we won’t even talk about the fiasco that is the computerized Phoenix payroll system.)

But at the Privy Council Office — the command-and-control centre for the entire civil service — 50 Apple computers are on the way.

Why are they going Mac and getting off of Windows? Unknown at this point. Again: Questions are in to PCO and we’ll see what they say. But there might be a few reasons.

First, speaking as a guy who used the original Apple McIntosh to paginate my university paper back in the 80s, who used to be a technology reporter and who still has a working Apple G4 Cube at home, Macs are just, well, machines for the rest of us. (See that famous Apple ad, below, which introduced the world to the McIntosh).

But there is also some evidence that, even though a comparable Apple desktop is more expensive versus a comparable Windows box, the total cost of ownership — TCO in I.T.-speak — is actually lower once you factor in how much it costs to provide tech support to users of device and other issues.  Heck, even IBM now buys Macs and encourages its clients to do so because of lower costs. (IBM, incidentally, was widely believed to have been the firm that was mocked in that original 1984 Apple ad.)

Source: The Privy Council Office needs some new computers — and they want to buy Apple, not Windows | National Post