Ottawa

NDP and Liberals appealing to federal public servants during campaign

The NDP and Liberal parties are appealing for the votes of what they perceive as hundreds of thousands of disillusioned and disrespected bureaucrats while the Conservative party stands by its commitment to an efficient public service.

Stephen Harper says he supports public servants and they shouldn't be worried

The NDP and Liberal parties are appealing for the votes of what they perceive as hundreds of thousands of disillusioned and disrespected bureaucrats while the Conservative party stands by its commitment to an efficient public service.

Over the past week, both the Liberals and NDP have issued announcements saying they'll return trust and respect to the bureaucracy, give voice to previously muzzled scientists and restore collective bargaining rights to unions negotiating benefits for public service workers – including the very controversial, sick leave benefit.

Emilie Taman, the NDP candidate for Ottawa-Vanier, lost her job when she decided to run for office. (CBC)
On Tuesday, NDP candidates from across Ottawa-Gatineau along with media and their supporters squeezed into a tiny campaign office in Ottawa's Lowertown nieghbourhood to announce the party's plan to fix what it sees as an embattled federal public service.

The NDP says the bureaucracy has been neglected, undermined and abused over the past decade and Ottawa-Vanier candidate and former federal lawyer, Emilie Taman says she speaks from experience.

"It's become harder and harder to be a public servant these days," said Taman who was fired from her job with the federal prosecutor's office when she left work to run in this election campaign.

"The Harper government's disrespect for the work that we do has created toxic work environments."

Parties release plans for public servants

The NDP's commitments include protecting public service whistleblowers, implementing clearer rules around the use of temporary workers, and removing partisan patronage from government appointments.

Meanwhile, the Liberals have delivered a similar appeal to the hundreds of thousands of government workers in this country and several former public servants are also running as Liberal candidates in this election campaign.

Justin Trudeau recently issued an open letter to Canada's public servants. 

It sets out the Liberal party's commitments to respect veterans, trust the abilities and advice of the bureaucracy and like the NDP, it would restore the mandatory long-form census, protect food safety and environmental protections.

"Respect and trust for our public servants by the federal government has never been so low," wrote Trudeau. "I want to take this opportunity to assure you that I have a fundamentally different view than Stephen Harper of our public service."

Conservatives support bureaucrats

At a recent campaign event in Ottawa, Stephen Harper responded to questions about public servants.

"They really should not be worried," said Harper.

Harper made note of the strong political support his party has enjoyed in the Ottawa area in the past – a region that employs the largest number of public servants in the country.

The sick leave issue has been a sore point for unions and workers, but Harper stands by his government's decisions to book more than a billion dollars in savings by cutting back sick leave plans.

"We are committed to a strong package of employee benefits, but one that is in line with what exists in the private sector,' said Harper. "But we're not going to pay people who are not sick, sick leave."

The Public Service Alliance of Canada, the largest public sector union, launched its own campaign yesterday called Vote to stop the cuts.

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