An ethic of common purpose runs strong among Canadians

  • National Newswatch

It is the beating heart of what public service means to me.

Sometimes I am tempted to despair. Much of what we see and read everyday highlights the things that divide us or our abiding selfishness. Our social media platforms seem to have become a hive of endless argument, toxic commentary, expressions of privilege, or our obsession with ourselves: our appearance or our own personal advancement. Streaming platforms give us endless opportunities to binge watch shows that highlight con artists, thieves and much worse.

But whenever I feel down about this, I remember that everyday I also see the best of us. For every appeal to narrow, selfish interest I see many more appeals to the common good. I see people lifting each other up. I see companies rising to address progressive challenges such as inclusiveness, Indigenous reconciliation and climate change. I see dedicated public servants – and even politicians – working hard together to achieve shared goals.

This ethic of common purpose runs strong among Canadians. It is the beating heart of what public service means to me. It is a kind of invisible tie that binds us together across ideological, regional and cultural cleavages. We can be excused, I think, for forgetting that it is there. But it is. We should not be complacent about it. It needs to be tended and nurtured by example and practice. But It has never failed us… so far. And I can say with absolute conviction that its existence is why I have been drawn to the field of public affairs – both in the Canadian civil service and in politics. My team at Compass Rose has felt the same strong call.

Canada is one the world's great success stories because all of us believe in the value and potency of public service. And when I remember all of this I feel optimistic again. This National Public Service Week let's celebrate them, and Canada.