| Bookmark and Share

How Ottawa's MEPs filter requests for information from government politicians or civil servants / Phone-in: Donald Savoie, author of "Power : Where Is It ?" "Where does real power lie in Canada ?"

"Can I Get Back To You On That ?" : One of the notions closely related to power is control. And in this uncertain world, people with power have always done what they can to control people and events that might destabilize that power.
But in anything involving as many people as the federal government - from politicians to civil servants and appointees - what's the state of the art in 2010 ?
Mike Blanchfield is one of the Canadian Press reporters who obtained nearly 1000 pages of documents known as Message Event Proposals - or MEPs. They're the template for the Prime Minister's Office to evaluate every request for a comment or interview. The many uses of these filtering devices were covered in a series of articles. To see some examples of MEPs, click here. We spoke with Mr Blanchfield about the effect of MEPs on the line that traditionally separated the public service and political staffers.

Everywhere and Nowhere: As an individual citizen, it's easy to feel you're out out the loop when it comes to major decisions. For instance, nobody in government or the civil service asked you whether it was necessary to spend more than a billion dollars on security for the G8 & G20. Nobody asked whether you'd rather arrange your mortgage or small business loan with someone at a call centre halfway around the world rather than with the manager of your local bank.
But decisions are made, and it's almost impossible to say who exercises power to make them because the process has become very opaque.
Is it a political leader ? A bureaucrat ? The CEO of a multinational ? The semi-mystical global marketplace ?
Donald Savoie has been fascinated by the problem of finding out exactly where decision-making power exists. He holds the Canada Research Chair in Public Administration & Governance at l'Université de Moncton and is the author of several books on the changing patterns of influence that shape our society - most recently, one with a blunt title : "Power : Where Is It ?" Our question : "Where does real power lie in Canada ?"

Click to download podcast