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‘Combatting a pandemic requires mobilizing intelligence’: former PCO clerk calls for reforms to emergency preparedness

By Mike Lapointe       

With no 'institutionalized' emergency response group, the capacity for ministers to tackle pandemics is 'woefully lacking,' says Mel Cappe.

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, Transport Minister Marc Garneau, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, Health Minister Patty Hajdu, Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos, and moderator and Toronto Star reporter Bruce Campion-Smith, pictured on March 16, 2020, at the National Press Theatre in Ottawa. The Hill Times photograph by Andrew Meade

More than half a year into the government’s unprecedented commitment of time, money and resources to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, a former clerk of the Privy Council Office argues that improvements can be made to fix “woefully lacking” capacity at the ministerial level for dealing with emergencies—including beefing up security and intelligence mechanisms in both the public health agency and in the PCO.

Mike Lapointe

Mike Lapointe joined the The Hill Times in June 2019 and covers the federal public service, deputy ministers, the Privy Council Office, public service unions, the Phoenix pay system, the machinery of government, and the Parliament Hill media.
- mlapointe@hilltimes.com


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Julie Payette resigns as governor general after investigation into workplace harassment at Rideau Hall, Trudeau says her replacement will be named in ‘due course’

Apologizing for 'tensions' that became public over the last months, Julie Payette said that 'we all experience things differently, but we should always strive to do better, and be attentive to one another’s perceptions.'

Correctional Service ‘abdicating’ responsibility in Quebec woman’s murder, say critics of response to internal report

The killing of Marylène Lévesque by a parolee in January 2020 was a ‘catastrophic failure, which is tantamount to a wrongful death,’ says prison watchdog Ivan Zinger.

Former innovation minister Bains was most-lobbied minister in 2020

Mr. Bains, who was lobbied 214 times in 2020, took the top spot from the 2019 leader, Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau.

Parties ramping up candidate nominations across Canada as election threat looms

Quebec is expected to once again be a key electoral battleground, spurred on by the Bloc Québécois’ resurgence in 2019, with multiple candidates already nominated in three target ridings.

Conservative caucus votes to expel Sloan, former contender for party leadership

News|By Beatrice Paez
He faced potential expulsion last year during the leadership race over comments he made that appeared to question whether chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam, who is of Asian descent, was a pawn of China.

Could Parliament Hill withstand a Capitol Building-style insurrection?

News|By Alice Chen
'I hope that intelligence and security officials in Canada learned after what they saw in the U.S. and can make sure something like that does not happen here,' says Ottawa-turned-Washington correspondent Richard Madan.

‘Democracy has prevailed,’ Biden tells nation as Trump leaves office

News|By Palak Mangat
‘The rise of political extremism, white supremacy, and domestic terrorism [is one] that we must confront and will defeat,’ said U.S. President Joe Biden in his first address.

Post controversy, Green Party executive director position remains unfilled

News|By Alice Chen
The Green Party's former executive director resigned in October, but a public search for a permanent replacement has yet to begin.

Updated mandate letters allow Grits to showcase pandemic fight without being attacked for abandoning promises, say politicos

News|By Neil Moss
The new mandate letters add new priorities to the instructions given to cabinet ministers in the 2019 mandate letters.
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