Robert Bacal

All good points. Ministers can be amazingly naive, even stupid, not only about the bureaucracy, but about their own roles in government, and even how government works.

In one situation, we actually had to send an ADM along with the Minister during the budget/estimates presentation, because the Minister in question kept using incorrect and inflamatory wordage. He had been advised, for his own good, to use the proper accurate language, but “forgot”, so the next time the ADM had to whisper to him.

In another situation, a Minister walked into one of the departments in his purview and the receptionist was a little slow in responding. The Minister bellowed at her, “Do you know who I am?” and then fired her. Problem was he didn’t have the power to fire her — not a clue about how anything worked. The civil service quieted things down, as much to protect the Minister from humiliation as any other reason.

Finally, a more senior politician “put in a word” when his wife applied for a job in government in another department. Now, what SHOULD have happened is that a civil servant should have politely told the politician to fergettabout it. Nobody did. Wife got hired. Word got out about his improper influence, and big scandal ensued. Irony was the wife was probably well qualified in the first place. result? no winners.