Transcript: Candid Advice for Canadian Prime Ministers | Oct 19, 2021

Steve Paikin sits with his hands folded in front of him on a table. He wears his brown curly hair short. Steve wears a navy suit jacket over a pale blue shirt and blue tie. A red lower case “a” appears on a screen to his side. Text beneath Steve reads “a. Candid advice for Canadian Prime Ministers. @spaikin @the agenda”

Steve says, MANY CANADIANS MIGHT
BE HARD-PRESSED TO KNOW WHAT IT
MEANS TO BE THE "CLERK OF THE
PRIVY COUNCIL."

WELL, MICHAEL WERNICK HAD THAT
JOB, AND HIS NEW BOOK DOES MUCH
MORE THAN EXPLAIN THAT THE CLERK
IS THE TOP JOB IN THE FEDERAL
CIVIL SERVICE.

THE BOOK IS CALLED: "GOVERNING
CANADA: A GUIDE TO THE
TRADECRAFT OF POLITICS."

A photo shows the cover of Michael Wenick’s book. Text on the book’s cover reads “Governing Canada. A Guide to the Tradecraft of Politics. Michael Wenick.” “Governing Canada” and “Michael Wernick” appear in black text and “A Guide to the Tradecraft of Politics” appears in red text against the white cover of the book. Red rectangles appear on the edges of the front cover.

Steve says, MICHAEL WERNICK SPENT ALMOST
FOUR DECADES IN CANADA'S PUBLIC
SERVICE, WORKING AT THE HIGHEST
LEVELS WITH THREE DIFFERENT
PRIME MINISTERS.

AND HE JOINS US NOW FROM THE
NATION'S CAPITAL FOR THIS
INSIDER'S VIEW.

MICHAEL WERNICK, IT'S GOOD TO
HAVE YOU ON TVO TONIGHT.
HOW ARE YOU DOING?

Michael wears a black suit jacket over a white shirt. He has short white hair and wears glasses. Text under him reads “Ottawa, ON.”

Michael says, THANKS FOR
INVITING ME.

Steve says, NOT AT ALL.
HOW WOULD YOU CHARACTERIZE --
LET'S START VERY GENERALLY
HERE -- HOW WOULD YOU
CHARACTERIZE WHAT THE ROLE OF A
PRIME MINISTER IDEALLY SHOULD BE?

Text beneath Michael reads “Michael Wernick. Author, ‘Governing Canada.’” “a. Candid advice for Canadian Prime Ministers. I’ve got the power.”

Michael says, WELL, AS I GO THROUGH IN THE
BOOK A LITTLE BIT OF WHAT PRIME
MINISTERS DO ALL DAY AND WHAT
MINISTERS DO ALL DAY, I DO
UNPACK THAT A LITTLE BIT.
SO I DON'T WANT TO GIVE AWAY
EVERYTHING THAT'S IN THE BOOK, STEVE.

BUT IT'S A JOB THAT INVOLVES
WEARING SEVERAL HATS.

THE ONE THAT I FOCUS ON THE MOST
IS CHAIRING CABINET.

YOU ARE THE PRIME, YOU'RE THE
FIRST MINISTER, IT'S YOUR
CABINET, AND DRIVING THE PROCESS
OF CABINET TO TAKE DECISIONS ON
BEHALF OF ALL OF US IS REALLY
ONE OF THE THINGS THAT I FOCUS ON.

BUT THERE ARE OTHER ASPECTS TO
BEING THE PRIME MINISTER.

YOU'RE FIRST MINISTER IN THE
FEDERATION DEALING WITH PREMIERS
AND OTHER LEVELS OF GOVERNMENT.

YOU'RE THE HEAD OF GOVERNMENT
FOR CANADA, AND A LOT OF THE
PRIME MINISTER'S TIME IS
INVOLVED IN INTERNATIONAL
RELATIONSHIPS WITH OTHER LEADERS
AND INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS.

YOU'RE THE CHAIR OF YOUR CAUCUS,
AND WHAT PRIME MINISTERS OFTEN
DO IS TEND TO THEIR TEAM.
THEY HAVE A HUNDRED OR MORE
MPs AND THERE'S A LOT OF
CAUCUS RELATIONS AND BRINGING
THAT TEAM ALONG AND DEVELOPING IT.

Text beneath Michael reads “Michael Wernick. Former Clerk of the Privy Council.” “a. Candid advice for Canadian Prime Ministers. I’ve got the power.”

Michael says, SO, YOU KNOW, THERE ARE
DIFFERENT ASPECTS TO BEING A
PRIME MINISTER.

IF YOU'RE OVEREXTENDED FROM THE
DAY YOU START TO THE DAY YOU
LEAVE AND THE MINDFUL MANAGEMENT
OF YOUR TIME IS REALLY ONE OF
THE KEY SKILLS.

Steve says, I WANT TO FOLLOW UP
WITH ONE WORD THAT YOU JUST USED
THERE THAT I NOTE OVER THE YEARS
THAT POLITICAL PEOPLE USE, BUT
IF I CAN USE THIS EXPRESSION,
DON'T TAKE IT THE WRONG WAY, BUT
NORMAL PEOPLE DON'T TALK THIS WAY.

YOU SAID POLITICIANS OR THE
PRIME MINISTER IN PARTICULAR
TAKES A DECISION AS OPPOSED TO
MAKES A DECISION, WHICH IS I
THINK WHAT THE REST OF US DO.

WHY IS THERE THAT DISTINCTION IN POLITICS?

Michael says, IT'S JUST OTTAWA VOCABULARY
THAT I'VE BEEN STEEPED IN. MAYBE A
DISTINCTION WITHOUT A DIFFERENCE.

Text beneath Michael reads “Michael Wernick. Author, ‘Governing Canada.’” “a. Candid advice for Canadian Prime Ministers. I’ve got the power.”

Michael says, I MEAN, I THINK IT DOES GO TO
THE POINT THAT THE PURPOSE OF
GOVERNING IS TO MAKE OR TAKE
DECISIONS ON OUR BEHALF.

THESE ARE THE PEOPLE, THIRTY-EIGHT
MILLION OF US, AND WE GIVE ABOUT
THIRTY-FIVE OF THEM IN CABINET
AND ABOUT THREE HUDNRED AND THIRTY-EIGHT
OF THEM IN PARLIAMENT A MANDATE TO
DECIDE ON LEGISLATION, POLICIES,
REGULATION, NEGOTIATIONS AND SO ON.

AND IT'S NOT THERE TO BE A
CAMPUS DEBATING CLUB OR
SOMEBODY'S PERFECT MODEL OF
GOVERNMENT, IT'S THERE TO TAKE
DECISIONS AND ADVANCE THE COUNTRY.

Steve says, OKAY.
LET ME GET BACK ON THE PATH
HERE, AND THAT IS, AGAIN, BASED
ON YOUR EXPERIENCE, IDEALLY, DO
WE WANT A PRIME MINISTER WHO
SORT OF ROLLS UP THEIR SLEEVES
AND RUNS DEPARTMENTS AND REALLY
HAS THE HAND ON THE TILLER, OR
IS IT PREFERABLE TO HAVE A PRIME
MINISTER WHO IS MORE KIND OF A
MOUTHPIECE FOR THE GOVERNMENT
AND SORT OF CONVEYS AN IMPRESSION
OF THE KIND OF GOVERNMENT HE OR
SHE WANTS TO RUN?

Text beneath Michael reads “Michael Wernick. Former Clerk of the Privy Council.” “a. Candid advice for Canadian Prime Ministers. I’ve got the power.”

Michael says, WELL, I THINK THE
GOVERNMENT -- THE FACE OF THE
GOVERNMENT IS ALWAYS THE PRIME
MINISTER. IT IS THE FOCAL POINT OF
ACCOUNTABILITY AND QUESTION
PERIOD IS THE ONE RECOGNIZABLE
NAME FOR MOST VOTERS, YOU ARE
THE BRAND, THE REPUTATION, THE
IMAGE, AND THE MOST EFFECTIVE
SPOKESPERSON FOR THE GOVERNMENT
AND THAT'S A LOT OF WHAT PRIME
MINISTERS HAVE TO BE GOOD AT.

WHAT I TRY TO SHED LIGHT ON IN
THE BOOK IS APART FROM THOSE
TWO-MINUTE CLIPS IN QUESTION
PERIOD YOU MIGHT SEE ON THE NEWS
EVERY NIGHT, THE PRIME MINISTER
IS VERY BUSY DOING OTHER THINGS.

AND MOVING THINGS THROUGH
CABINET AND GOVERNMENT IS ONE OF
THE IMPORTANT ONES.

IT TAKES PLACE AWAY FROM THE
CAMERAS, AWAY FROM THE
SPOTLIGHT, BUT IT'S FUNDAMENTALLY
IMPORTANT TO OUR DEMOCRACY.

Steve says, ONE OF THE THINGS
YOU WROTE THAT SURPRISED ME A
LITTLE BIT WAS THAT YOU SAID
PRIME MINISTERS OUGHT TO BE
FEARED FROM TIME TO TIME BY
THEIR CABINET MINISTERS.

HOW COME?

Text beneath Michael reads “Michael Wernick. Author, ‘Governing Canada.’” “a. Candid advice for Canadian Prime Ministers. I’ve got the power.”

Michael says, I THINK -- IT'S PROBABLY
TRUE OF CORPORATE CEOs AND THE
HEADS OF LAW FIRMS AND SO ON.

I THINK TO MOVE A TEAM ALONG,
YOU WANT TO FEEL THAT THERE ARE
CONSEQUENCES FOR UNDERPERFORMANCE
OR FOR BEHAVIOUR AND THAT THERE WILL
BE SANCTIONS.

SO I THINK IT'S IMPORTANT TO BE
LIKED AND RESPECTED, YOU KNOW,
TO RUN A TEAM EFFECTIVELY.
BUT I THINK YOU WANT OTHER
PEOPLE TO WORRY A LITTLE BIT
ABOUT WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT THEM.

Steve says, HOW COMMON A
PHENOMENON IS IT THAT THE LONGER
A PRIME MINISTER IS IN OFFICE,
THE MORE HE OR SHE SURROUNDS HIM
OR HERSELF WITH SYCOPHANTS
AND/OR YES PEOPLE WHO TELL THEM
WHAT THEY WANT TO HEAR AS
OPPOSED TO WHAT THEY NEED TO HEAR?

An photo of the cover of Michael’s book appears beside him.

Michael says, I THINK IT'S A RISK THAT
YOU'RE IN A COMFORT ZONE OF
PEOPLE THAT YOU TRUST AND YOU'RE
USED TO WORKING WITH, AND WHAT I
SAY IN THE BOOK IS IF YOUR
DEFAULT WILL BE TO STAY WITH THE
SAME CIRCLE PROBABLY LONGER THAN
YOU SHOULD, BUT YOU AND I KNOW
SOME OF THE POLITICAL HISTORY,
AND PREVIOUS PRIME MINISTERS
HAVE MADE SUBSTANTIAL CHANGES.

PRIME MINISTER HARPER WENT
THROUGH SEVERAL CHIEFS OF STAFF
AND MANY, MANY MEMBERS OF HIS
INNER TEAM.

CERTAINLY BRIAN MULRONEY DID.
HE DIDN'T FINISH WITH THE STAFF
THAT HE STARTED WITH.
PIERRE TRUDEAU, AND SO ON.

Text beneath Michael reads “Michael Wernick. Former Clerk of the Privy Council.” “a. Candid advice for Canadian Prime Ministers. I’ve got the power.”

Michael says, I THINK WHAT I SUGGEST IS
THAT ONCE IN A WHILE YOU PAUSE AND
TAKE A LOOK AT BOTH THE PROCESSES
THAT YOU'RE USING AND THE PEOPLE
THAT YOU'RE WORKING WITH AND
JUST MINDFULLY THINK
ABOUT IT FROM TIME TO TIME
BECAUSE EACH MANDATE IS GOING TO
PRESENT NEW CHALLENGES IN A NEW CONTEXT.

Steve says, THE LATE, GREAT BILL
DAVIS USED TO SAY, AND IN FACT
HE TOLD THIS TO BRIAN MULRONEY
WHEN MR. MULRONEY WAS IN DEEP
TROUBLE, HE SAID THE PEOPLE WHO
GET YOU THERE ARE NOT THE PEOPLE
WHO WILL KEEP YOU THERE.

DO YOU FIND THAT TO BE THE CASE?

Text beneath Michael reads “Michael Wernick. Author, ‘Governing Canada.’” “a. Candid advice for Canadian Prime Ministers. I’ve got the power.”

Michael says, WELL, I CERTAINLY MAKE THE
DISTINCTION THAT THE PEOPLE THAT
ARE GOOD AT WINNING ELECTIONS ARE
NOT NECESSARILY GOING TO TRANSFER
IN AND BE AS EFFECTIVE AT GOVERNING.

THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO ARE VERY
GOOD AT THE BUSINESS OF ELECTIONS.

SOME OF THEM COME INTO
GOVERNMENT AND FIND THEMSELVES
IN THE PRIME MINISTER'S OFFICE
OR THE OFFICES OF CABINET MINISTERS.

A LOT OF THEM DO TAKE TO GOVERNING.
BUT SOME OF THEM DON'T.

SO I DO WANT TO DRAW A LINE
BETWEEN THE SKILL-SET OF WINNING
ELECTIONS, WHICH I KNOW NOTHING
ABOUT, AND THE SKILL-SET OF
GOVERNING AND GETTING DECISIONS
ON BEHALF OF THE COUNTRY.

Steve says, LET ME PUT YOU IN A
REALLY SQUEAMISH POSITION RIGHT
NOW, WHICH IS TO SAY, THE
CURRENT PRIME MINISTER HAS HAD
THE SAME CHIEF OF STAFF SINCE
DAY ONE AND HE'S NOW IN YEAR SIX.
SHOULD HE BE THINKING ABOUT
CHANGING THAT POSITION?

Text beneath Michael reads “Michael Wernick. Author, ‘Governing Canada.’” “a. Candid advice for Canadian Prime Ministers. I’ve got the power.”

Michael says, HE SHOULD BE THINKING ABOUT
WHAT TEAM HE WANTS TO USE IN HIS
THIRD MANDATE, AND THAT GOES ALL
THE WAY THROUGH THE TEAM.

Steve says, DOES THAT MEAN HE
SHOULD CHANGE KATIE TELFORD?

Michael says, THAT'S REALLY UP TO THE
PRIME MINISTER.

Text beneath Steve and Michael reads “a. Candid advice for Canadian Prime Ministers. Politics and Partisanship.”

Steve says, YES, IT IS. ALL RIGHT.
LET'S TALK ABOUT POLITICS AND
PARTISANSHIP HERE.

AND I WANT TO ASK YOU ABOUT AND
I KNOW YOU GET ASKED THIS ALL
THE TIME ABOUT THE INDEPENDENCE
OF THE CIVIL SERVICE.

BECAUSE OF COURSE THERE WAS THAT
MOMENT IN TWENTY-FIFTEEN WHEN JUSTIN
TRUDEAU FIRST BECAME PRIME
MINISTER AND HE WENT TO THE
FOREIGN AFFAIRS BUILDING, THE
PEARSON BUILDING, AND -- I MEAN,
HE GOT ROCK STAR TREATMENT FROM
PUBLIC SERVANTS WHO ARE
SUPPOSEDLY NEUTRAL, THEY CHEERED
FOR HIM, THEY HUGGED HIM, DID
SELFIES WITH HIM AND THAT KIND
OF THING.

HOW CONCERNED WERE YOU THAT THAT
KIND OF SITUATION CONFIRMS WHAT
TOO MANY PEOPLE ALREADY BELIEVE,
WHICH IS THAT PUBLIC SERVANTS
PREFER TO HAVE THE LIBERALS IN
AND THE CONSERVATIVES OUT?

Michael says, I FOUND THAT THOSE SCENES
REALLY UNFORTUNATE AND DISMAYING.

I KNOW WHERE IT CAME FROM.

Text beneath Michael reads “Michael Wernick. Former Clerk of the Privy Council.” “a. Candid advice for Canadian Prime Ministers. Politics and Partisanship.”

Michael says, IT CAME FROM THE TONE MORE THAN
ANYTHING OF THE LAST FEW YEARS
OF THE PREVIOUS GOVERNMENT MORE
THAN THE SUBSTANCE, AND THE TONE
THAT MINISTERS AND THEIR OFFICES
PROJECT TO THE PUBLIC SERVICE
HAS AN IMPACT ON PEOPLE'S MORALE
AND ENERGY AND DEDICATION.

THAT DOESN'T MAKE THEM PARTISAN.

I WORKED ABOUT EQUALLY FOR TEAM
RED AND TEAM BLUE AND, YOU KNOW,
PUBLIC SERVANTS COME IN AND WORK
REALLY HARD TO DELIVER SERVICES
AND PROGRAMS THAT THE GOVERNMENT
OF THE DAY HAS A MANDATE FOR.

AND IT WAS IMPORTANT THAT -- AND
IT REMAINS IMPORTANT THAT WHEN
THERE IS A CHANGE OF GOVERNMENT
THAT THE INCOMING GROUP FEELS
THAT THE PUBLIC SERVICE IS THERE
TO GIVE THEM ADVICE AND SUPPORT
AND HELP THEM DELIVER THE
MANDATE THAT THEY TOOK TO CANADIANS.

SO I WAS VERY PLEASED IN TWENTY-FIFTEEN
THAT WE WENT FROM TEAM BLUE TO
TEAM RED IN SIXTEEN CALENDAR DAYS
WITH VERY LITTLE LOSS OF TRACTION.

Steve says, LET ME ASK YOU ABOUT
THE THINGS THAT GET GOVERNMENTS
INTO TROUBLE, AND YOU HAVING
BEEN THERE IN THE PUBLIC SERVICE
FOR NEARLY FOUR DECADES, WOULD
HAVE SEEN THE KIND OF THING THAT
TRIPS POLITICIANS UP.

WHAT DOES IT TEND TO BE?

Text beneath Steve and Michael reads “a. Candid advice for Canadian Prime Ministers. Scandal.”

Michael says, BEHAVIOUR.
IT'S USUALLY NOT A POLICY ISSUE,
IT'S NOT BRINGING IN SOME
UNPOPULAR PROGRAM OR LAW OR
POLICY -- THAT CERTAINLY CAN HAPPEN.

IT'S NOT ALWAYS, YOU KNOW, SCANDAL.

Text beneath Michael reads “Michael Wernick. Author, ‘Governing Canada.’” “a. Candid advice for Canadian Prime Ministers. Scandal.”

Michael says, IT'S JUST A QUESTION OF
PROJECTING BEING OUT OF TOUCH,
PROJECTING BEING CARELESS WITH
PUBLIC MONEY IS PARTICULARLY
CORROSIVE, ANY KIND OF SORT OF
BEING ARROGANT OR FEELING
ENTITLED TO THE JOB CAN BE A
PROBLEM, AND WE'VE OBVIOUSLY
SEEN AND THIS IS NOT JUST IN
POLITICS BUT IN OTHER SECTORS,
BEHAVIOUR, YOU KNOW, PERSONAL
CONDUCT, HARASSMENT, BULLYING IN
THE WORKPLACE, THE WAY YOU GET
ALONG WITH OTHER PEOPLE IS
REALLY IMPORTANT.

SO IT'S BASICALLY, YOU KNOW, A
PROFESSION OF PEOPLE, AND WHAT
I'VE SEEN OVER THE YEARS IN
TERMS OF WHICH CAREERS FLOURISH
AND WHICH ONES DON'T, IT'S
ALMOST ALWAYS ABOUT BEHAVIOUR.

Steve says, DO YOU THINK ONE
PARTY SUFFERS FROM IT MORE THAN
THE OTHER?

Michael says, NO, I THINK THE ONLY REAL
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PARTIES IS,
FROM MY PERSPECTIVE, IS THE ONES
THAT ARE IN AND THE ONES THAT
ARE OUT.

Text beneath Michael reads “Michael Wernick. Former Clerk of the Privy Council.” “a. Candid advice for Canadian Prime Ministers. Scandal.”

Michael says, BEING IN GOVERNMENT
BRINGS WITH IT CERTAIN, YOU KNOW,
CONSTRAINTS AND CONNOTATIONS,
AND BEING IN OPPOSITION DOES, TOO.

THAT'S REALLY THE FUNDAMENTAL DIFFERENCE.

Steve says, BOB RAE SAID THAT TO
ME ONCE. HE SAID WE REALLY OVERDO
THE ANALYSIS WHEN WE TALK ABOUT
LIBERALS VERSUS CONSERVATIVES.

IT'S REALLY INS VERSUS OUTS.
THE OUTS WANT TO GET IN, THE INS
WANT TO STAY IN, AND THAT RALLY
MOTIVATES EVERYTHING.

DO YOU THINK THERE'S SOMETHING
TO THAT?

Text beneath Michael reads “Michael Wernick. Former Clerk of the Privy Council.” “a. Candid advice for Canadian Prime Ministers. Scandal.”

Michael says, I THINK THAT'S A PRINCIPAL
DRIVER AND THAT'S DEMOCRATIC POLITICS.

GOVERNMENTS WANT TO REMAIN IN
OFFICE SO THEY CAN DO THE THINGS
THAT GOVERNMENTS GET TO DO.

AS I SAY, YOU KNOW, IN THE BOOK,
SOMETIMES THE POINT OF WINNING
ELECTIONS IS TO BE ABLE TO
GOVERN, YOU KNOW, AND IF YOU GET
TO GOVERN TWO OR THREE MANDATES,
YOU BEND THE CURVE OF HISTORY.

A photo of the cover of Michael’s book appears beside him.

Michael says, A LOT OF THE MEDIA COVERAGE
FOCUSES ON WHETHER A PARTICULAR
LAW OR POLICY DECISION IS
POPULAR OR WILL BRING YOU UP OR
DOWN IN THE POLLS AND WIN YOU
THE NEXT ELECTION.

BUT FROM MY POINT OF VIEW THE
POINT OF WINNING ELECTIONS IS TO
BE ABLE TO GOVERN.

Steve says, LET ME PULL A QUOTE
FROM THE BOOK HERE.

YOU WROTE: "ANY WHIFF OF IT --
CRIMINALITY IN GOVERNMENT -- IS
VERY EXCITING AND IS LIKELY TO
GENERATE A FRENZY."

YOU SAY, "YOU CAN'T MAKE USE OF
A GOVERNMENT AIRCRAFT OR A
CHARTERED AIRCRAFT WITHOUT
BRINGING DOWN SCORN OR
THEATRICAL OUTRAGE."

IS IT YOUR BELIEF THAT
GOVERNMENT WATCHDOGS AND
JOURNALISTS OFTEN OVERHYPE OR I
GUESS SEX UP SCANDALS THAT ARE
REALLY NON-EVENTS AT THE END OF
THE DAY?

Text beneath Michael reads “Michael Wernick. Author, ‘Governing Canada.’” “a. Candid advice for Canadian Prime Ministers. Scandal.”

Michael says, I WANT TO BE REALLY
WELL-UNDERSTOOD ON THIS.

A VIGILANT MEDIA AND PRESS AND
OPPOSITION AND THE INSTITUTIONAL
WATCHDOGS, AS WE CALL THEM, ARE
REALLY IMPORTANT TO EFFECTIVE GOVERNMENT.
THEY SHED A LIGHT ON THINGS AND
FORCE GOVERNMENTS OF ALL STRIPES
TO STRIVE TO DO BETTER.

SO WE AS CANADIANS ARE
WELL-SERVED NOW BY HAVING THAT
ACCOUNTABILITY AND FEEDBACK LOOP.

THE POINT I WAS TRYING TO MAKE
IS THAT CANADA IS ACTUALLY VERY
WELL-GOVERNED.

IF YOU LOOK AT ANY INTERNATIONAL
INDEX OF TRANSPARENCY OR
CORRUPTION OR EFFECTIVENESS ON
ALL KINDS OF SCALES, I'D BE
HAPPY TO RECITE THEM FOR YOU.

CANADA HAS A VERY STRONG PUBLIC
SECTOR, BOTH AT THE FEDERAL AND
PROVINCIAL AND MUNICIPAL LEVELS,
AND THESE TRANSGRESSIONS THAT
YOU DO SEE IN OTHER COUNTRIES IS
OUTRIGHT SORT OF NEPOTISM AND
FRAUD AND CRIMINALITY AND
INTERFERENCE IN THE JUDICIARY,

THEY JUST DON'T HAPPEN IN CANADA.

AND SO EVEN A WHIFF OF IT OR AN
ALLEGATION OF IT IS OBVIOUSLY A
VERY SERIOUS MATTER, AND I
TOTALLY UNDERSTAND WHY THEY
IMMEDIATELY, YOU KNOW, CREATE
SOMETHING OF A FEEDING FRENZY IN
THE MEDIA. I'M NOT CRITICAL OF THAT.

I'M JUST SAYING IF YOU'RE A
MINISTER, YOU NEED TO BE VERY
MINDFUL OF THAT AND BEHAVE --
YOU KNOW, BEHAVE CORRECTLY AT
ALL TIMES.

Steve says, NOW, WHAT YOU JUST
SAID IS AN EMPIRICALLY PROVABLE
FACT. IF YOU GO TO TRANSPARENCY
INTERNATIONAL, YOU WILL FIND
CANADA VERY HIGH UP ON THE LIST.

BUT WE ACTUALLY DROPPED A FEW
PLACES ON THE LIST LAST YEAR
BECAUSE OF THREE LETTERS: S-N-C,
WHICH ACTUALLY DON'T APPEAR IN
YOUR BOOK.

AND I WONDER WHY NOT.

Text beneath Michael reads “Michael Wernick. Author, ‘Governing Canada.’” “a. Candid advice for Canadian Prime Ministers. Scandal.”

Michael says, WELL, I DON'T TALK ABOUT ANY
SPECIFIC INCIDENTS IN THE BOOK.

IT'S A PHOTOMOSAIC OF GOVERNING
OVER SEVERAL YEARS, OVER -- I
WORKED CLOSELY WITH FOUR PRIME
MINISTERS -- THREE PRIME MINISTERS
AND I GOT TO SEE ANOTHER ONE UP CLOSE.
I WAS A DEPUTY TO SEVERAL MINISTERS.

SO WHAT I'M TRYING TO DO IS GIVE
A COMPOSITE PICTURE OF HOW
CABINET GOVERNMENTS AND SHED
LIGHT ON THE HOW.

AS ONE OF THE REVIEWS IN THE
BOOK SAID, IT'S NOT A TELL-ALL,
IT'S A HOW-TO.

AND I THINK I'M IN A UNIQUE
POSITION BECAUSE OF MY
CUMULATIVE EXPERIENCE TO TALK
ABOUT THE TRADECRAFT AND WHAT DO
THESE PEOPLE ACTUALLY DO ALL DAY
ON OUR BEHALF.

Steve says, YOU ARE.

AND IT'S SO RARE FOR US TO HAVE
SOMEBODY WHO HAS HAD YOUR JOB ON
THIS PROGRAM THAT I'M GOING TO
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF IT RIGHT NOW.

I'M NOT GOING TO REHASH THE
WHOLE SNC-LAVALIN THING AGAIN.

WE'VE HAD JODY WILSON-RAYBOULD,
THE FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL, ON
THIS PROGRAM A COUPLE OF TIMES
TALKING ABOUT THE SET OF
CIRCUMSTANCES THAT ULTIMATELY
LED TO HER LEAVING POLITICS AND
YOU LEAVING YOUR JOB AS THE CLERK.

SO LET ME JUST PLAY A LITTLE
SNIPPET HERE OF WHAT SHE HAD TO
SAY IN ONE OF HER PREVIOUS
APPEARANCES HERE AND THEN WE'LL
COME BACK AND CHAT.

SHELDON, IF YOU WOULD?

Jody Wilson-Raybould wears her dark hair loose over her shoulders. She wears a blue shirt. Text beneath her reads “Jody Wilson-Raybould.”

Jody says, IT WAS MY JOB TO PROTECT THE
GOVERNMENT, TO PROTECT THE PRIME
MINISTER FROM WRONG-DOING IN TERMS
OF INTERFERING WITH A PROSECUTION.

An photo of Jody’s book “Indian in the Cabinet: Speaking Truth to Power” appears beside her.

Jody says, I WOULD EXPECT THAT ANY
LEADER WOULD LOOK TO THEIR ATTORNEY
GENERAL TO DO EXACTLY THE SAME
THING AND CERTAINLY IN TERMS OF
BEING A TEAM, I WANT TO BE ON
TEAMS WHERE PEOPLE HOLD TRUE TO
THEIR VALUES AND PRINCIPLES,
HAVE INTEGRITY AND SPEAK UP WHEN
SOMETHING IS WRONG, AND I WILL
NEVER ASCRIBE TO A POLITICS
WHERE THERE IS AN ASSUMPTION
THAT BEING ON A TEAM OR DOING
YOUR JOB IS DOING WHAT YOU'RE
TOLD BY UNELECTED PEOPLE.

Steve says, WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF
HOW SHE HAS INTERPRETED HER
MISSION AS A CABINET MINISTER?

Text beneath Michael reads “Michael Wernick. Former Clerk of the Privy Council.” “a. Candid advice for Canadian Prime Ministers. Scandal.”

Michael says, IT'S – I REALLY
DON'T WANT TO GET INTO A
SHE SAID/HE SAID WITH
MS. WILSON-RAYBOULD.
MAYBE SOME OTHER TIME.

I THINK AS A MEMBER OF CABINET
YOU'RE IN A UNIQUE POSITION TO
HAVE INFLUENCE AND TO SPEAK UP.

THERE ARE MULTIPLE, MULTIPLE
OPPORTUNITIES. YOU'RE AT CAUCUS
EVERY WEEK. YOU'RE AT CABINET.
YOU'RE AT CABINET COMMITTEES.
YOU'RE SITTING IN QUESTION PERIOD.
YOU'RE IN THE GOVERNMENT LOBBY.
YOU HAVE ACCESS TO THE PRIME
MINISTER, TO OTHER CABINET MINISTERS.

AS I SAID AT THE COMMITTEE, YOU
CAN PICK UP THE PHONE, CALL THE
PMO SWITCH BOARD AND CONNECT
WITH ANYBODY AND SAY, "YOU KNOW,
I NEED TO SPEAK TO YOU ABOUT SOMETHING."

SO I'VE ALWAYS WONDERED WHY, YOU
KNOW, THE MINISTER JUST DIDN'T
TAKE UP THAT OPPORTUNITY.

SHE HAD MANY, MANY OPPORTUNITIES
TO SPEAK UP IF SHE WAS
CONCERNED, AND SHE DIDN'T DO SO.

THE MATTER WAS NEVER RAISED AT
CABINET OTHER THAN TWO BOOKENDS:
DEFERRED PROSECUTION AGREEMENTS,
WHICH ARE AN ENTIRELY LAWFUL
THING FOR THE MINISTER TO
CONSIDER, WERE ADDED TO THE
CRIMINAL CODE ON THE
RECOMMENDATION AND SIGNATURE OF
THAT MINISTER, AND SHE SPOKE IN
FAVOUR OF IT AT CABINET AND IT
BECAME PART OF CANADIAN LAW.

AND THE NEXT TIME THE MATTER
EVER CAME UP INSIDE THE CABINET
ROOM WAS AFTER SHE HAD LEFT AS
A MINISTER.

Text beneath Michael reads “Michael Wernick. Author, ‘Governing Canada.’” “a. Candid advice for Canadian Prime Ministers. Scandal.”

Steve says, SHE DID FEEL YOU
INAPPROPRIATELY PRESSURED HER TO
SIDE WITH THE PRIME MINISTER ON
THIS ISSUE.

DO YOU THINK THAT'S AN ACCURATE
CHARACTERIZATION OF YOUR CONDUCT?

Text beneath Michael reads “Michael Wernick. Author, ‘Governing Canada.’” “a. Candid advice for Canadian Prime Ministers. Scandal.”

Michael says, INAPPROPRIATE IS, YOU KNOW,
UP TO PEOPLE LIKE THE ETHICS
COMMISSIONER AND OTHERS TO JUDGE.

I AM VERY COMFORTABLE THAT I WAS
DOING MY BEST TO DO MY JOB AND
IN FACT ONE OF THE THINGS THAT I
SAID AT THE COMMITTEE, AND I
WILL REPEAT, IS THAT PEOPLE ARE
TRYING TO OVERSIMPLIFY WHAT WAS
GOING ON.

IT IS ENTIRELY POSSIBLE TO
BELIEVE THAT I WAS TRYING TO DO
THE RIGHT THING, THE MINISTER
WAS TRYING TO DO THE RIGHT
THING, HER CHIEF OF STAFF WAS
TRYING TO DO THE RIGHT THING,
PMO WAS TRYING TO DO THE RIGHT
THING, AND IT JUST LED TO THE
SET OF CIRCUMSTANCES IT DID.

Steve says, LET ME ASK ONE MORE
THING ON THIS AND WE'LL MOVE ON.
SHE SECRETELY TAPED YOUR PHONE CALL.

WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THAT?

A photo of the cover of Michael’s book appears beside him.

Michael says, WELL, WHAT'S IMPORTANT IS
WHAT THE REST OF CABINET THOUGHT
OF THAT AND WHAT THE LIBERAL
CAUCUS THOUGHT OF THAT.

I THINK IT WAS AN IMPROPER THING
FOR A MINISTER TO DO.
I THINK IT WAS AN IMPROPER THING
FOR A LAWYER TO DO.

AND IT CERTAINLY WAS A VIOLATION
OF TRUST IN A PERSONAL
RELATIONSHIP WITH HER THAT IN MY
CASE GOES BACK TO TWO THOUSAND AND SIX.

Steve says, EVER SPOKEN TO HER
SINCE ALL THAT?

Michael says, NO.

Steve says, OKAY. MOVING ON ...

THIS IS A PARTICULARLY
TEMPESTUOUS TIME IN OUR
POLITICAL HISTORY, AND YOU
GARNERED A LOT OF HEADLINES A
COUPLE OF YEARS AGO WHEN YOU
APPEARED BEFORE A PARLIAMENTARY
COMMITTEE AND YOU EXPRESSED A
LOT OF CONCERN THAT, "SOMEONE IS
GOING TO BE SHOT IN THIS COUNTRY
DURING A POLITICAL CAMPAIGN."

Text beneath Steve and Michael reads “a. Candid advice for Canadian Prime Ministers. The price of political life.”

Steve continues, I MEAN, SURE ENOUGH LAST
WEEK A BRITISH MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT
NAMED SIR DAVID AMESS WAS
STABBED TO DEATH AT A
CONSTITUENCY MEETING.

AND I GUESS MY QUESTION IS: HAVE
YOU SEEN ANYTHING IN THE LAST
SEVERAL MONTHS THAT HAS MADE YOU
LESS CONCERNED ABOUT THE NATURE
OF POLITICS IN THIS COUNTRY TODAY?

Text beneath Michael reads “Michael Wernick. Former Clerk of the Privy Council.” “a. Candid advice for Canadian Prime Ministers. The price of political life.”

Michael says, WELL, I SPOKE UP ON THE ISSUE
THE DAY AFTER THE YELLOW VEST
RALLY IN WHICH PEOPLE WERE
WALKING AROUND WITH SIGNS, YOU
KNOW, ABOUT TREASON AND TRAITOR
AND THE RHETORIC WAS STARTING TO
BUBBLE UP, AND WE HAD SEEN WHAT
HAD HAPPENED IN FRANCE WITH THE
YELLOW VESTS AND SO ON.

I HAD ACCESS AT THE TIME TO
INTELLIGENCE AND POLICE REPORTS
AND KNEW WHAT WAS HAPPENING.

I KNEW SOME OF THE ABUSE, THE
VILE THINGS THAT WERE BEING SENT
TO MINISTERS, PARTICULARLY TO
WOMEN AND PEOPLE OF COLOUR, TO
POLITICAL STAFFERS, VIDEOS ON
HOW TO COMMIT SUICIDE, RACIST,
HOMOPHOBIC AND MISOGYNIST SORT
OF STUFF, AND THE THEORY AT THE
TIME WAS, WELL, LET'S NOT TALK
ABOUT BECAUSE IT WILL JUST
ENCOURAGE COPYCATS.

AND I JUST FELT, YOU KNOW, I
NEEDED TO CALL IT OUT AT THE TIME.

YOU KNOW, SINCE I LEFT, I DON'T
HAVE ACCESS TO THAT FLOW OF
INFORMATION. I'VE TALKED TO A FEW
POLITICIANS. THEY HAVE SPOKEN UP ON IT.
AND IT'S SPREAD TO PEOPLE IN
OTHER PARTIES, IT HAPPENS IN
OTHER COUNTRIES.

Text beneath Michael reads “Michael Wernick. Author, ‘Governing Canada.’” “a. Candid advice for Canadian Prime Ministers. The price of political life.”

Michael says, SO WHAT I TALK ABOUT IN THE BOOK
IS, THERE WILL BE A PRICE TO
THIS IN THE SENSE THAT I WOULD
THINK TWICE ABOUT COMING INTO
PUBLIC LIFE, YOU KNOW, BECAUSE
OF THIS, AND CERTAINLY GETTING
PEOPLE TO STAY IN PUBLIC LIFE.

SO, YOU KNOW, OVER A COURSE OF
YEARS, THERE'S GOING TO BE
ADVERSE SELECTION-- AND THAT'S NOT
GOING TO BE GOOD FOR DEMOCRACY.

Steve says, WHEN THE LAST
ELECTION CAMPAIGN YOU SAW
SOMEBODY PITCH A HANDFUL OF
GRAVEL AT THE PRIME MINISTER
WHEN HE WAS ON THE HUSTINGS,
WHAT WENT THROUGH YOUR MIND AT
THAT MOMENT?

Text beneath Michael reads “Michael Wernick. Author, ‘Governing Canada.’” “a. Candid advice for Canadian Prime Ministers. The price of political life.”

Michael says, I WAS THINKING THAT THE
PERSONAL PROTECTION DETAIL WOULD
BE EXTREMELY CONCERNED BECAUSE
IF YOU CAN REACH SOMEBODY WITH
GRAVEL, YOU CAN REACH THEM WITH
OTHER THINGS.

AND I THINK THAT NOT JUST THE
PRIME MINISTER BUT MINISTERS
AND, AS WE'RE LEARNING,
CONSTITUENCY MPs ARE PUTTING
THEMSELVES IN HARM'S WAY.

IT'S JUST A REALITY THAT PEOPLE
ARE GOING TO HAVE TO BE VERY
CONCERNED ABOUT PHYSICAL
SECURITY OF PREMISES AND
BUILDINGS AND VEHICLES AND
MINDFUL OF THIS, YOU KNOW,
GOING FORWARD.

WHAT PEOPLE SEE LESS OF IS THE
VILE THINGS THAT HAPPEN IN
CYBERSPACE AND THE KIND OF JUST
OUTRAGEOUS HATE SPEECH AND ABUSE
AND BULLYING THAT GOES ON EVERY
SINGLE DAY.

Steve says, LET'S FINISH UP ON THIS.
DO YOU THINK, SIMPLY BY DOING
THEIR JOBS THE WAY THAT THEY
THINK THEY NEED TO DO THEIR
JOBS, AND OBVIOUSLY THAT
INVOLVES A GREAT AMOUNT OF
INTERACTION WITH THE PUBLIC, DO
YOU THINK OUR POLITICIANS ARE
PUTTING THEMSELVES IN NEEDLESS DANGER?

Text beneath Michael reads “Michael Wernick. Author, ‘Governing Canada.’” “a. Candid advice for Canadian Prime Ministers. The price of political life.”

Michael says, I WOULDN'T SAY NEEDLESS.
I THINK IT NOW IS JUST PART OF
THE COMPACT OF GOING INTO PUBLIC
LIFE AND JUST TO BE SMART ABOUT IT.

YOU DO GET BRIEFINGS ON PERSONAL
SAFETY AND SECURITY.
THIS HAPPENS IN THE PRIVATE
SECTOR AND DIPLOMATS AND PEOPLE
GOING INTO OTHER JOBS.

Text beneath Michael reads “Michael Wernick. Former Clerk of the Privy Council.” “a. Candid advice for Canadian Prime Ministers. The price of political life.”

Michael says, I JUST THINK IT'S SOMETHING --
YOU KNOW, MY ADVICE TO A NEW
MINISTER IS LISTEN CAREFULLY TO
THE SECURITY BRIEFINGS AND TAKE
THEM SERIOUSLY.

Steve says, AND JUST FINALLY FOR
YOU, IS THERE LIFE AFTER BEING
THE CLERK?

Michael says, OF COURSE!

[Laughs]

Text beneath Michael reads “Michael Wernick. Former Clerk of the Privy Council.” “a. Candid advice for Canadian Prime Ministers. The price of political life.”

Michael says, LIKE ALL CANADIANS, LIFE
WAS DISRUPTED BY A GLOBAL PANDEMIC,
BUT I'VE BEEN DOING SOME
TEACHING, SOME WRITING, SOME
CONSULTING, AND TRYING TO PASS
ON SOME OF THAT EXPERIENCE.

AND I HOPE THE BOOK IS AN EFFECTIVE
WAY -- I WROTE IT MOSTLY FOR
STUDENTS OF POLITICAL SCIENCE
AND PUBLIC MANAGEMENT, POLITICS
COURSES, AND THEY KEEP GROWING
NEW ONES, SO HOPEFULLY THE BOOK
WILL HAVE A BIT OF A SHELF LIFE.

BUT ANYBODY WHO WANTS TO TAKE A
BIT OF INTEREST IN HOW OUR
UNIQUE VARIANT OF DEMOCRACY
WORKS, AND IT'S NOT EXACTLY LIKE
THE STATES OR IT'S NOT EXACTLY
LIKE THE BRITISH TELEVISION SERIES.

I WANT TO GET ACROSS A BIT OF
THE CANADIAN VARIANT OF
DEMOCRACY AND HOW IT WORKS AND
WHAT THOSE PEOPLE THAT WE
CHOOSE, THAT WILL BE SWORN IN I
GATHER NEXT WEEK, WILL BE DOING
FOR THE NEXT FEW YEARS.

The cover of Michael’s book appears beside him. Text beneath Michael reads “a. Candid advice for Canadian Prime Ministers. Produced by: Harrison Lowman. @harrisonlowman”

Steve says, WE ARE HAPPY TO
REMIND PEOPLE IT'S CALLED:
"GOVERNING CANADA: A GUIDE TO
THE TRADECRAFT OF POLITICS."

AND IT'S BROUGHT MICHAEL WERNICK
TO OUR STUDIO VIRTUALLY FROM THE
NATION'S CAPITAL.

MICHAEL WERNICK, THANKS FOR
JOINING US TONIGHT ON TVO.

Michael says, THANKS, STEVE.
AND THANK YOU FOR YOUR INTEREST.

Watch: Candid Advice for Canadian Prime Ministers