#94 – In Defense of Bobby-B-Borden

English Canada’s $100 note has a PM on it that I’ve been slamming over and over again.

That said, I have to give Borden credit for two things – womens’ suffrage, and starting to professionalize the Civil Service. Now, Nellie McClung and the Group of Five are hideously revision’d by Canada (their argument was highly racialized and basically said that white women must be better than nonwhite men and therefore women must be able to vote) and the Civil Service is still an insufferable den of patronage, but credit must be given where credit is due. Especially since the next crop of PMs are garbage.

Borden’s Civil Service Act of 1918 created a system of examination and an arms-length Public Service Commission to hire people rather than the old model of getting lucky with a patronage appointment. Of course, the PSC in turn was born of Ontario business interests having their way in Ottawa which means that it inevitably needed plenty of reforms. But progress is progress and improvement must be noted for what it is. Professionalism is a good start, and Borden made it happen. Points awarded, Bobby.

One of the niftier benefits of this system was the idea of permanance. That is, the Civil Service didn’t flip with the patron in the high chair anymore. This allowed for *gasp* planning to take place and fomented what Donald Savoie refers to as the Village Mentality – a quiet elite “just doing their job”. Which is another potential problem into itself (as Savoie makes mention of, because Savoie is a remarkable author), but hey. At least Canada now didn’t completely shift in the political winds! There’s an actual start for a country here. Only 50 years late, but that’s about that.

Womens’ suffrage is another story. Don’t worry though – that didn’t cover any of those nasty non-whites! Canada’s super-progressive nature (which saw it enact women’s suffrage decades after that bastion of progressive thought, Wyoming) finally saw this happen, and it only came to pass because of racism. But, again, any democratic reform that brings more access to the ballot box is a reform that I’m inclined to be okay with.

So, there you go. I’m an asshole but I’m a fair asshole. Now on to a real dicktoaster – Arthur “the Crusher” Meighen. Jesus fuck, the next streak is useless. This may be the start of another dry, dull collection of Crime Ministers, folks.

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