May 8 Conference on “Ethical Standards, Culture and Leadership: ‘Back to the Future’ with the Tait Report”

When: May 8, 2018 from 8:45 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Doors open at 7:45.
Where: Amphitheater, Saint Paul University, 223 Main St., Ottawa
Cost: Until April 17: regular $200 ($175 for each of three or more from one organization); EPAC member $150; student $35. After April 17: regular $225 ($195 for each of three or more from one organization); EPAC member $165; student $40.


Ethical Standards, Culture and Leadership:  ‘Back to the Future’ with the Tait Report

Our full-day conference looking at John Tait’s 1996 report A Strong Foundation will take place at St. Paul’s University in Ottawa on Tuesday May 8, 2018, from 8:45 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. (Doors open at 7:45.) The title of the conference is Ethical Standards, Culture and Leadership: ‘Back to the Future’ with the Tait Report.

  • How did that Report launch and frame two decades of heightened attention to values and ethics in the federal public service? In the public sector more generally?
  • Are values and ethics properly embedded in the public service today? What works and what misses the mark?
  • The world has changed since 1996. Do we need a different framework of values and ethics to meet emerging challenges?

That’s the past, present and future of our ‘Back to the Future’ programme of a keynote address and three expert panels.

Mary Dawson, former Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner of Canada, will deliver our keynote address. Dr. John Kelly, Haida Elder and Carleton University adjunct professor, will open the conference.

Our panellists, moderators and commentators for this ‘Tête-à-Tait’ include senior figures who helped produce and implement the Report; active and recently retired leaders; and younger public servants looking to a challenging future:

  • Kent Aitken, Treasury Board Secretariat
  • Ian Bron, former public servant, member of Canadians For Accountability
  • Craig Ervine, Canada Post
  • Ann Fraser, Executive Director of Values, Integrity and Conflict Resolution, Canadian Food Inspection Agency
  • Mary Gusella, former DM of Multiculturalism and Citizenship Canada
  • Andrew Hayes, Office of the Auditor General
  • Ralph Heintzman, Tait’s vice-chair and former head of the Government of Canada’s Office of Public Service Values and Ethics
  • Mira Knox, Transport Canada
  • Jim Mitchell, retired, Privy Council Office
  • Judith Moses, retired ADM, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and Ontario Public Service
  • Andrew Treusch, former Commissioner, Canada Revenue Agency
  • Anne Scotton, Ontario Regional Director General, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada;
  • Catherine MacQuarrie, Privy Council Office
  • Roger Scott-Douglas, Secretary-General, National Research Council
  • Scott Serson, former DM and co-champion for Values and Ethics in the Public Service

Click here for further details and to register:

The conference is sponsored by the Ethics Practitioners’ Association of Canada (EPAC), the Centre on Values and Ethics (COVE) of Carleton University, and the Public Ethics Program of Saint Paul University.

Here is an overview of the programme:

Panel 1: The Tait Vision of Public Sector Ethics: Articulating a Culture. The Tait Report sought to describe the very identity of the public sector, its current needs, challenges, and ambiguities at the end of the 20th century. Did this values based approach capture the reality and the ideals of public sector culture? How well has it stood the test of time?

Panel 2: A Legacy of Public Sector and Organizational Ethics. The Tait Report partially explains the arrival of public sector ethics related leadership responsibilities, codes, dialogue-based ethics awareness programs, ethics courses for employees, reporting requirements from central agencies, and much more.  How much have these initiatives transformed the institution? To what extent has public administration been strengthened by this work? To what extent has it fallen short?

Panel 3: Public Sector Ethics: The Next 20 Years. Changes in technology, Canadian society, and geopolitics are profoundly impacting governance. Which developments pose the greatest challenges for public sector ethics today and tomorrow?  Which elements of the Tait legacy should we rethink in order to sustain public trust in the public sector of the future?

Observations from senior figures who helped create and implement the Tait Report

“It pulled together and defined values and ethics in a way that made ethics accessible to all stakeholders: senior management, management, employees, ministers, politicians, and even those on the outside.”

“The report underscored the significance of an understanding of ‘the good’ that is not learned from abstractions but from real life. In this context, real people set expectations for leadership.”

“The report was an important element in the healing process following the 1993 government reorganization and downsizing.”

“The desire for ethics is like a swinging pendulum. Once ethics programs are in place, people say that you don’t need them, they require too much time and money, or we have too much legislation. Then, all of a sudden there are so many scandals. The pendulum itself is the challenge.”


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