Op-Ed: How Government’s Buddy System cheats equal opportunity employment Special

Posted Nov 4, 2011 by Steffan Ileman
If you think that the federal and provincial governments are equal opportunity employers, think again. Bureaucrats have a genius way for drawing up job descriptions so that a coveted position will be filled by buddies or ripen for political patronage.
Canada s Parliament Buildings  Ottawa  Ontario
Ottawa: Parliament Hill.
When I ran a business in Downtown Vancouver I used to get a fair number of complaints about discrimination in employment. In response I used to lecture people on Canada’s virtues in observing equal opportunity and merit, and pointed to the various statutes and institutions that protect equality under the law. A couple of years after returning to the job market myself, I’m now nearly convinced that this country runs on closet nepotism and favouritism, and differences between Canada and underdeveloped countries in this respect are only cosmetic.
One of the subtle tools used by bureaucrats to ensure that no outsider will get a coveted government job is to come up with a plausible phrase such as “committee experience”. Oops, you don’t have any experience sitting around a big table with other people? What do they expect, that you’ll pick your nose or make inappropriate noises in the room? Crack dirty jokes to the august congregation? Such a requirement, which may not even be advertised to avoid sounding stupidly irrelevant to the main purpose of the position, will effectively shut out all but the higher-ranking bureaucrats while avoiding scrutiny under the law.
Lack of “Committee Experience” has been a buddy system favourite that I’ve come across several times in my personal experience to shoot down a job application at the outset.
As I’ve discovered through a request under the Privacy Act, a paper shuffler in government has deemed that I don’t have any “Experience in a Decision Making Environment” and decided that my application shouldn’t even be considered. If the phrase "Decision Making Environment" refers to decisions to squander millions of dollars of public money, he’s entirely correct. Otherwise, my three decades of professional experience has been one hell of a decision making environment where those glorified clerks wouldn’t be able to survive a month. If bureaucrats were trained in the real world where you have to deliver results and subjected to the same laws of natural selection and elimination like everyone else, governments wouldn’t be in the pickle they are in today.
I’ve posted an evaluation sheet for a government job application that has taken me nearly five months to obtain from a public body under the Privacy Act. Statutory limit is 30 days. They’ve urged me to complain to the Privacy Commissioner, probably because it’s another useless exercise designed to sanitize the process. This is a government agency that the media has been accusing of patronage appointments, so I’ve redacted their names. Apparently, inbreeding as a cause of biological retardation applies to organisations as well.
This is only one of the examples in my personal experience with provincial and federal public service.
This is not the end of the story...