Message from the Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet, Ian Shugart

March 9, 2021 - Defence Stories

Dear colleagues, on March 9, I will be handing my responsibilities to Janice Charette who will serve as Interim Clerk, while I undergo treatment for cancer. I regret it has been a while since I said hello in an email, but this is a perfect moment to do so as I step back.

First, let me express my regret to be stepping aside at this time of continuing urgency across Canada and the globe, due to the pandemic and its economic and social impacts. My regret springs both from the sense of duty that we share as public servants, and from the fact that I shall miss you, and what we do together!

Second, I want to convey my confidence that things will be in good hands, beginning with Janice, but fundamentally because of you. The Public Service of Canada is strong and capable and committed. Over the last year, and long before, we have demonstrated this, and you are about to again! No department, and certainly not the public service, is dependent on one person; our institutions are resilient and strong. It is the people, our training, our principles, our expertise that enable us to serve the Canadian people through the government they elect.

Third, I want to pass on some instructions during this time. Continue to bring the highest standard and effort to the task before you – which remains enormous and unprecedented. COVID 19 must be confronted and defeated. The economy will need our undivided attention. The unequal impact of the pandemic has exposed challenges that demand attention.  Many of you are deeply tired from the extraordinary efforts that have been dedicated to the COVID fight over the past year, as well as on many other significant projects. Managers, please be sensitive to the needs of your teams; colleagues, support each other as best you can – because the job isn’t done.

Further, my recently released Call to Action on anti-racism, equity, and inclusion remains dear to my heart, and is essential for us becoming the public service all Canadians need. Do not let up. Do not let the Call to Action drop. All of us, especially leaders at all levels, have work to do, and opportunity to make a difference.

Fourth, I want to share my intentions for this time: to learn and to identify. Whether I want to or not, I am going to learn! I am curious about this journey, although I am fully aware that I won’t feel that way every day. I’ll learn a lot about a lot of things, not least about myself. I intend to benefit from the lessons. Learning is by its nature humbling, but without learning, there’s no improvement.

And I intend to try to identify with others, especially those less fortunate than I, and those who suffer in situations which are not of their choice, and over which they have no control: victims of abuse; those denied opportunity because of some attribute of their human-ness; those held without cause against their will. As I submit to things I would rather not, I am going to try to identify with them.

I conclude, dear colleagues, with my hope. I hope to return! A wave recedes from the shore, and then it comes back in. I look forward to renewing our partnership of service. In your family and personal lives, in your professional lives, as good citizens, I wish you every good thing in the days ahead.

Ian Shugart

Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet

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