The Campbell administration has, from time to time, been criticized for seeming to write its policies on the back of a napkin. There are also those who have wondered about the rapid ascension of finance deputy minister Graham Whitmarsh, who joined the bureaucracy in 2007 and was soon put in charge of the government's climate action secretariat - despite an apparent lack of environmental qualifications. Well, we think a recent profile of Mr. Whitmarsh, published in the September issue of Canadian Government Executive magazine, helps explain both curiosities.
According to the profile's author - environment ministry public affairs officer David Currie - Mr. Whitmarsh reportedly cited three reason for the "success" of the secretariat - "they deliberately overlooked obstacles, consistently acted decisively and capitalized on the sense of pride British Columbians felt about the environment and where they lived."
"Working behind the scenes as a newcomer to government meant there were no shortage of obstacles," explained Mr. Currie. As a result, Mr. Whitmarsh's "strategy was to overlook some of the obvious gaps in the plan, because as he sees it, 'it's not always about having a perfect plan on how to get to your goal and where you end up. It's like driving at night: you see enough of the road ahead of you to know you're going in the right direction. You can't see every inch of road in between here and there, nor do you have to. If you simply look over what obstacles are there, it is surprising how far you can get."