Last week ImPACt SK announced the upcoming launch of the IPAC Saskatchewan New Professionals Network on Thursday, January 26th.  In anticipation of this event, ImPACt SK talks to the organizer of the event, Katie Chesterton, IPAC SK’s New Professionals Liaison.

ImPACt: What is the New Professionals Network?

KC: The New Professionals Network is a new group that the Saskatchewan Regional Group of the Institute of Public Administration of Canada (IPAC SK) is launching. The aim of the Network is to build a community of those new to government/public administration, and allow its members to connect and learn from each other.

Networks exists in many other IPAC regional groups across the country, and representatives from each touch base monthly to share ideas on programming and events for new professionals. The Saskatchewan New Professionals Network can also present an opportunity to connect virtually with New Professionals across Saskatchewan and Canada.

ImPACt: What do you think some of the challenges are for new people entering the public service?  How could the New Professionals Network be of help?

KC: People new to the public service may be early in their careers, or may bring experience from other sectors. Either way, new professionals will need to learn to navigate new processes and ways of doing things, new philosophies. They may be looking for opportunities to upgrade their knowledge and skills. They may also be hoping to build their network.

If any of those are true for you, please come check out the launch event on January 26 in Regina.

ImPACt: What will people be doing as part of the New Professionals Network?

KC: There are a couple ways to get involved:

  • Join the New Professionals sub-committee that develops events and programs; or
  • Participate at upcoming events!

The goal of the network launch is first and foremost to get people connected. Another aim is to gather feedback from new professionals on what kind of opportunities they are seeking, whether they be for development, skill-building and learning, networking with other new professionals and public servants, or anything else that will support them in their new career. We will also gather a group  of volunteers to help brainstorm and organize events. For those outside Regina, stay tuned for opportunities to get involved!

ImPACt: How did you get involved with this project and why are you so excited about it?

KC: I got involved with IPAC SK in 2013, as a student representative on the IPAC SK Board. Once I finished school, I joined the board as the New Professionals Representative.

So far it has just been myself planning small events for New Professionals, and I am looking forward to growing our capacity by creating this network! It is time to get other new professionals actively involved in creating development and networking opportunities for themselves and their colleagues.


This week, ImPACt SK talks to Dr. Marie Delorme about her perspective on IPAC’s National Year of Dialogue.  
Dr. Delorme is CEO of The Imagination Group of Companies. She serves on the RCMP Foundation Board, River Cree Enterprises Board, the National Aboriginal Economic Development Board, the Alberta Premier’s Advisory Committee on the Economy, and The Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking. She is also an advisor to two Universities.

She has received the Indspire Award in Business and Commerce; and was named as one of Canada’s 100 Most Powerful Women. Dr. Delorme has also received the University of Calgary Dr. Douglas Cardinal Award; Alberta Chamber of Commerce Business Award of Distinction; Calgary Chamber of Commerce Salute to Excellence Award, and Métis Nation Entrepreneurial Leadership Award.

Dr. Delorme holds a Bachelor of Science degree, a Master of Business Administration from Queen’s University, and PhD from the University of Calgary.  Her research focuses on inter-cultural leadership.

ImPACt SK:  Dr. Delorme, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to us about your perspective on and your experiences with the call for Reconciliation and Dialogue within Canadian society.  To start off, can you tell us a little about yourself and how the legacy of Residential Schools in Canada has impacted your life?

Dr. Delorme: The dark legacy of the residential schools has far reaching impacts on all Canadians, as the objectives of this ill-conceived system were to dismantle families and assimilate Indigenous people into the dominant culture. When families and social systems are disrupted; when political and faith-based laws and policies encourage racism and isolation, every member of society is touched in some way. As a young person, I was aware that society did not readily accept Indigenous people. Being the child of a white mother and Métis father; and thus belonging to a group that did not fit with either culture, brings unique challenges relating to identity and self-esteem.

ImPACt SK:  As you know, IPAC has deemed 2017 to be the National Year of Dialogue for Renewing Relationships with Indigenous People.  With respect to public service professionals (whom IPAC represents), one of the Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was to “…call upon the federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal governments to provide education to public servants on the history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal-Crown relations.  This will require skills-based training and intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.”  In your consulting practice, you’ve worked with many different public sector institutions.  Why do you think that it is vital to successfully address this particular Call to Action?

Dr. Delorme: Although UNDRIP (United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples) and TRC have been extensively covered by media, as was the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples Report published in 1996, there is a general lack of awareness amongst most Canadians. We live in an era of news sound bites and messaging in 140 characters. Unfortunately, this leaves little room for the important in-depth conversations necessary to fully understand the history of Indigenous peoples. It is important for those in public service to understand how the past impacts the present and to develop cultural competencies. Educating public servants is one step in developing respectful government-to-government partnerships and ensuring that culturally relevant and respectful policies and programs redress the legacy of residential schools and make a real difference in the lives of Indigenous people.

ImPACT SK: Are there any examples of reconciliation and good relationships that you have seen that can serve as lessons for all of us working in the public service?  What are those lessons?

Dr. Delorme: Federal and provincial governments have entered into agreements and memorandums of understanding with Indigenous governments. Those relationships that focus on education are particularly important to ensure that Indigenous children receive the same opportunities as all children and have access to the same kinds of supports as all Canadian youth. There are some great examples across the country where communities have taken control of their education system. When history, language, and culture informs curriculum, children develop a solid foundation for learning. Corporate Canada and NGOs are discussing the TRC Calls to Action. Partnerships for economic and community development exist in great numbers across the country; these partnerships flourish when the relationship is mutually beneficial in every sense.

ImPACt SK: In terms of building new relationships, what do you think is required of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous public service professionals for them to be supportive of each other in the spirit of Reconciliation? What will it take to get there?

Dr. Delorme: It took generations to get where we are today; hopefully the process of reconciling does not take generations. The formula is simplistic but the process is complex. The new relationship must be based on first acknowledging the past and the inter-generational impacts of over 100 years of ill-conceived policies, laws, and social experiments. Apologies have been made and some reparation established. But the real work is just beginning in recognizing Indigenous constitutional, legal, and human rights; and to engage in mutually respectful and cooperative partnerships.

ImPACt SK: In your experience, what are the opportunities or the barriers to building new relationships? How will we know when we are on the right track in building these positive relationships and when we are not?

Dr. Delorme: We will know that progress is being made when the most critical issues facing many Indigenous people are addressed. These include low levels of high school and post-secondary completion; inadequate housing and crowded living conditions; lower income levels; health indicators that are lower that national averages; and high youth suicide rates.

ImPACt SK: How do you think that these new relationships can lead to positive collaboration and partnerships?

Dr. Delorme: See above

ImPACt SK: You have worked in both large organizations and small ones and have consulted in both the private and public sectors.  Do you see any particular type of organization or sector as having made significant progress with respect to Reconciliation and new relationships?

Dr. Delorme: Generally, the organizations that are engaging with Indigenous communities are those who have regional economic or political interests. It is not surprising that the resource, financial, and utility sectors have mandates, policies, and processes relating to engaging with Indigenous people. Supreme Court and lower court decisions dating back almost 2 decades have focused on the duty to consult. That duty is triggered if there is a chance that there may be an adverse impact on a community’s rights and traditional uses. It is not surprising then that almost every project impacting the land, air, and water affects the interest of at least one Indigenous community.

ImPACt SK:  What do you think First Nation, Metis and Inuit governments need and expect from new relationships in order to help them grow and achieve excellence in the delivery of programs and services to their citizens / members?

Dr. Delorme: Indigenous people in Canada are not a homogeneous group. Hundreds of distinct cultures, languages, ways of knowing and being mean that the relationship is built with each group in a way that respects their unique protocols and practices. However, some fundamental ideologies for those relationships include core principles of respect, equality, and the preservation of Indigenous languages and culture. Foundational to this process are renewed nation-to-nation relationships between federal, provincial, and Indigenous governments.

ImPACt SK: To what extent are you hopeful that Reconciliation and Dialogue will lead to a better future in Canada?  What makes you feel this way?

Dr. Delorme: Hope for the future lies in lessons from the past. Against all odds Indigenous people have survived. This speaks to great resilience in the face of unimaginable suffering. I see a future where survival is replaced by thriving. Where racism is replaced not by tolerance but by embracing and celebrating diversity. Where language and culture inform the fundamental identity of our young people. Today, despite the social and economic disparities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in our country, there is another story that is rarely told. Over 30,000 of our people are in post-secondary institutions; over 40,000 are entrepreneurs; we are academics, scientists, doctors, lawyers, politicians, and business people. This is the future I envision. This is reconciliation.

ImPACT SK: Dr. Delorme, thank you once again for taking time to talk to us here at ImPACT SK.  We greatly appreciate you sharing your experiences and thoughts with us as we move forward into this new era of Reconciliation and Dialogue.



In May, Duane Mombourquette, IPAC Saskatchewan Board Member and Executive Director of the Saskatchewan Access & Privacy Branch,had the opportunity to correspond with Graham Smith about his role as the Deputy Commissioner and Director of Freedom Information on a wide range of issues relating to Freedom of Information legislation.

Mr. Smith, as Deputy Commissioner and Director of Freedom of Information in the Information Commissioner’s Office for the United Kingdom, you are responsible for your Office’s role in monitoring and enforcing Freedom of Information legislation across the United Kingdom. That seems a daunting task. In general, how are governments in the United Kingdom performing under Freedom of Information? Are there some challenges that are greater than others? Do you have any real success stories?

It’s a mixed picture. The UK FOI Act covers a vast range of public bodies, from large government departments, all levels of local government, National Health Service, police and the state education sector. Ensuring that public authorities are aware of their FOI obligations is itself a challenge. Performance is generally good, with an increasing willingness to disclose information which can be released without any harm. Delay in responding is the biggest single issue and then if the request is refused it can take a while to pursue a complaint through the system. But even here, it’s an improving picture.

The key success is the extensive use of the FOI to obtain information which previously was kept secret. There are numerous examples. Consumers have benefitted from the release of information about restaurant hygiene reports, vehicle test results and hospital infection rates. In addition there are many cases where local communities have got hold of information about key development and land use proposals affecting their area.

Great Britain is often portrayed as a leader in Open Government. Can you describe for our readers the state of Open Government in the United Kingdom? What has been accomplished and where is it headed?

The key here is proactive publication of information, usually through websites. The FOI Act provides for this through publication schemes. The ICO has approved a model scheme, backed by definition documents for specific kinds of public authorities, setting out what must be disclosed. The current government has made transparency a key theme of their coalition agreement. The open data agenda is being led by the Minister for the Cabinet Office, at the heart of government. For once there is a clear leadership message for the government in favour of greater transparency and the maximum disclosure of information compatible with good government. It is early days for seeing how this plays out in practice, but the initial signs are very positive.

Open Government can mean different things to different people in different locations. From Freedom of Information legislation, to proactive disclosures, to opening datasets to the public. Is there a perfect vision for open government? Is there an ideal state that we could be working towards?

I’d hesitate to describe a perfect vision, but I’m clear that it’s made up of different components, not just one of those you’ve listed. Proactive disclosure, an enforceable FOI regime, open data programme and the re-use of datasets for public good are all complementary concepts. They each reinforce each other, so the vision is the maximum disclosure, with appropriate free re-use opportunities and an effective FOI regime for information which is not proactively disclosed.

What is your role in regard to Open Government initiatives in Great Britain?  Does the Commissioner’s Office become involved in Open Government initiatives directly? Is there an oversight role for Open Data or proactive disclosure?

This is an exciting area of change for us. So far we have been involved in discussions with officials in government who are taking the agenda forward. A new Act of Parliament, just recently passed, includes a provision for datasets published in accordance with a public authority’s publication scheme to be released in machine-readable format if required. The Commissioner is responsible for enforcing these provisions, so now we are directly tied into the agenda by legislation, as well as constructive dialogue.

Making data available to the public proactively can be a very resource intensive exercise. It seems likely that as governments move more and more towards open data schemes, they will need to be selective in regard to where they put there efforts. How do public bodies in Britain and elsewhere decide where to focus their efforts? How do they determine what data to make available and what to hold on to perhaps until a Freedom of Information request is made?

Good records management is essential to the effective operation of any access to information regime. The National Archives gives excellent guidance on this in the UK and there is a wealth of useful advice on their website. With the exponential growth in the information we all produce and consume, it’s important not only that proper records are retained and can be easily retrieved but that ephemeral, transient stuff is disposed of promptly and efficiently so systems don’t get avoidably cluttered. Past FOI requests can give an indication of what might be demanded. It’s not always easy to predict what the public will want to see, but if it’s been legitimately and appropriately disposed of before the request comes in, there’s little to be done except take a lesson for the future.

One of the challenges often faced when preparing data to share in an open data environment is the need to protect privacy while at the same time still providing data sets that are useful. How does Great Britain address this challenge? Do you see advances in this area in the future, whether through technological or policy?

This is a big issue for us, particularly as the Commissioner regulates data protection as well as FOI. With data mining and mashing techniques there are legitimate fears that individuals might be identifiable from apparently anonymous datasets and some sensitive personal information inadvertently disclosed. The ICO is currently working on an Anonymisation Code of Practice to help tackle this issue. A draft for public consultation will be issued very shortly on our website – Keeping up with, let alone keeping ahead of, technological advances is one of the greatest challenges in information management.

In the United Kingdom there has been some debate about the effectiveness of Freedom of Information legislation.  On the one hand, former Prime Minister Tony Blair – whose government introduced the legislation, has written in his memoirs that the Act was a mistake, that it undermines sensible government. Others take a different view, suggesting the Act is working as intended.  Is there anything to Mr. Blair’s comments? Is it possible that governments change their behavior as a result of FOI – in part defeating the purposes of the Act, or do you think that on balance the Act is working as it should in Great Britain?

FOI has its enthusiasts and its critics. The Justice Committee of the UK’s House of Commons is currently conducting a review of the impact and effectiveness of the FOI Act. Its conclusions will be very interesting. Certainly the evidence presented to the Committee has varied. Some suggest that there is a definite chilling effect on civil servants and ministers, in terms of policy discussions not being recorded or not being had at all for fear of disclosure under FOI. But there’s little or no hard evidence of this. We certainly recognize and respect the need for safe space in which to development policy in sensitive areas and the need to protect international relations and national security. We believe our decisions do this, but we also respect the fact that others may take a different view of where the public interest lies. On the whole, I think the Act is working well. There will always be marginal cases and it’s the controversial ones that get noticed, but these are exceptional. The right of appeal against an ICO decision to a Tribunal provides a further safeguard and ultimately there’s a government veto to override a decision of the ICO or the Tribunal in the most exceptional circumstances.

What advice would you give to our readers back in Saskatchewan who may be interested in building an Open Government regime, whether in a small local government or a large public body?

To be clear about red lines, to recognize that once released data can’t ever be retrieved, to have proper respect for the private lives of individuals and to appreciate that the potential for open data tomorrow will always be greater than it is today.

Graham Smith was interviewed by Duane Mombourquette, Executive Director of the Access & Privacy Branch with the SaskatchewanMinistry of Justice and Attorney General