Message from the Clerk: Bringing our values and ethics to life in our changing environment

September 18, 2023 – Defence Stories

Message from the Clerk of the Privy Council

Dear Colleagues,

Our world is increasingly dynamic, complex, and ever-changing. As public servants, we play an important role in the Canadian democratic system. We continue to rise to the occasion to serve Canada and Canadians. Our public service values and ethics serve as an important compass to guide our actions and behaviours, particularly as we adapt and evolve in times of change.

Our values are enduring: respect for democracy, respect for people, integrity, stewardship and excellence.

Today, I announced the creation of a task team of senior officials to design and lead an exercise to advance a broad conversation with public servants on how to bring our collective values and ethics to life within a dynamic and increasingly complex environment. The members are:

The task team will conduct outreach with individuals, networks and communities internal and external to the public service, and they will provide me with a milestone report on what they are hearing by the end of this year.

As head of the public service, fostering a renewed conversation on values and ethics will serve as one of my priority areas of focus over the next year and will support the effective management and renewal of our public service. I see the task team’s work as complementary to ongoing efforts to drive progress on other important priorities such as improving workplace wellness, making progress on accessibility, anti-racism, equity, and inclusion, and advancing reconciliation. Our ability to innovate and solve complex problems comes from collaborative teamwork and from the combined skills and perspectives of public servants from diverse backgrounds. Greater representation, diversity, and inclusion are essential for building a public service that not only serves Canadians with excellence but reflects them as well.

I am deeply proud to be a public servant, and I am confident about our ability to rise to new challenges in these changing times, to embrace collaboration and new ways of working, and to continually improve the services we provide. We can accomplish great things when we remain grounded in our values.


John Hannaford (he/him)
Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet

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