This should be a simple yes or no question

The provincial government still isn't saying whether its new top climate action bureaucrat has any environmental credentials. Earlier this month, Public Eye exclusively told you the Western Canada Wilderness Committee sent a letter to Campbell administration asking for "biographical information"¦relating to Mr. (Graham) Whitmarsh's demonstrated policy understanding of key climate change issues and his track record on managing key cross-government projects." But, in his response to that letter, public service agency deputy minister James Gorman doesn't include any such information.

Instead, he simply says Mr. Whitmarsh, prior to becoming the head of the government's climate action secretariat, demonstrated "a notable capacity for developing relationships across the ministries and a capacity to learn and understand the many complex and diverse issues pertaining to climate action." This, during his two-month stint as the premier's chief carbon trading advisor.

Nevertheless, despite Mr. Whitmarsh's apparent lack of environmental qualifications, Mr. Gorman remains confident the former aerospace and airline information technology executive has the leadership skills "the Secretariat needs to be successful, and I have no doubt that both the Secretariat and the BC Public Service will be well-served by this appointment." So at least Mr. Whitmarsh has that going for him. The following is a complete copy of Mr. Gorman's letter.

***

July 12, 2007

Ms. Andrea Reimer
Executive Director
Western Canada Wilderness Committee
National Office
227 Abbott Street
Vancouver, BC V6B 2K7

Dear Ms. Reimer:

Thank you for your letter of July 4, 2007 addressed to Jessica McDonald. I have asked to respond on her behalf. Your comments pertaining to the commitments of the Throne Speech regarding climate action and Government's creation of the Climate Action Secretariat are very encouraging.

You have asked for clarification on the process used to appoint Mr. Graham Whitmarsh as Head of the Climate Action Secretariat. This position, as were all opportunities in the Secretariat, advertised in the Vancouver Sun and on our Employment Opportunities website. The recruitment notice was posted on the website for approximately two weeks, closing May 7, 2007.

There were thrity-one applicants for the position of Head and all the applicants were screened in relations to essential qualifications and a shortlist of five candidates was delivered. The five candidates were then interviewed by a selection panel comprised of Jessica McDonald (Deputy Minister to the Premier), Mr. Chris Trumpy (Deputy Minister, Ministry of Finance), Mr. Greg Reimer (Deputy Minister, Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources), Ms. Lori Wanamaker (Deputy Minister, Ministry of Labour and Citizens' Services) and Mr. Mark McLeod (Director, Executive Recruitment & Retention - PSA).

As outlined in the posting, the recruitment focused on a set of leadership attributes - the Head would have to have demonstrated leadership; led teams; worked and managed collaboratively across and within organizations; achieved real outcomes; be a strategist and problem solver; led change; and identifid and implemented creative yet practical ideas in response to substantive challenges. The advertised list of competencies reinforces this focus - leadership, strategic thinking, results orientation and relationship building were the critical considerations.

A review of Mr. Whitmarsh's employment background and accomplishments clearly reflects a match with our interests relative to the position of Head. Mr. Whitmarsh has more than 15 years of leadership experience, and has served at an executive level for the last 10 years.

Mr. Whitmarsh maintains an impressive record of accomplishment, having led staff and a range of business functions within a number of organizations; successfully executed various corporate change initiatives; crafted and introduced corporate policy and programs; authored and implemented stategic plans; repeatedly developed and executed challenging customer/client service initiatives; achieved real and substantive outcomes; and established exemplary relationships within and across organizations.

The selection panel determined that Mr. Whitmarsh was the most qualified candidate based on his background and accomplishments coupled with the interview conducted by the panel and past work performance checks.

As you mentioned, Mr. Whitmarsh was first appointed Chief Carbon Advisor in the Office of the Premier. He was hired to contributed to some of the preliminary work on climate action, and this initial appointment was based on the aforementioned conclusions regarding his leadership competencies and related executive experience. Over the course of his initial work, Mr. Whitmarsh demonstrated qualifications that further supported our selection decision, including a notable capacity for developing relationships across the ministres and a capacity to learn and understand the many complex and diverse issues pertaining to climate action.

With regard to your question about official announcement, information bulletins are only released for Deputy Minister appointments.

In closing, this is an exciting and ambitious time ahead for the Government and its climate action commitments. Mr. Whitmarsh has demonstrated the leadership the Secretariat needs to be successful, and I have no doubt that both the Secretariat and the BC Public Service will be well-served by this appointment.

Yours sincerely,

James Gorman
Deputy Minister
BC Public Service Agency

1 Comment

"Mr. Whitmarsh maintains an impressive record of accomplishment, having led staff and a range of business functions within a number of organizations; successfully executed various corporate change initiatives; crafted and introduced corporate policy and programs; authored and implemented stategic plans; repeatedly developed and executed challenging customer/client service initiatives; achieved real and substantive outcomes; and established exemplary relationships within and across organizations."

And oh yes, I forgot to mention that Mr. Graham Whitmarsh is also a friend of Gary Collins.

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