VOCL 016 – Leadership in the Nation’s Capital


Written By chris

On September 2, 2013

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Show Summary: The NB Study Group’s first two days in Ottawa as part of the 2012 Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference.  Activities in Ottawa included a dinner in and tour of Parliament Hill, preparing for the presentations, and more plenary sessions with amazing speakers.


Hi there!  Welcome to the Voices of Canadian Leadership podcast.

  • Clearing backlog of leadership articles, highlighting them on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and of course vocl.ca
  • Still working on artwork for Android app.

VOCL Main Feature

Summary of GGCLC so far:

  • Our group came from labour, business, non-profit, government and First Peoples
  • A broad range of speakers from academia, labour, business, and non-profit.
  • Completed touring NB, speaking with non-profit, labour, businesses and political figures (including the Premier and Lt Gov.)

We will now look at the main topic of the show – the New Brunswick Study Group’s first few days in Ottawa as part of the 2012 GGCLC.  Enough with the admin, let’s go back in time!

NB – 12 June 2012 – Our First Day in Ottawa   

Greeted by GGCLC staff on arrival in Ottawa, we were quickly whisked away to our final hotel of the trip. Checking in to the Marriott, we were pleased to see that many were afforded great views of the city of Ottawa. We all had a chance to clean up from the trip and get ready for the evening’s events.  

Gathering in the lobby at 5:45 PM, we all walked to the Parliament Buildings. After a quick metal detector check, we were led into the media hall for cocktails. We also had the opportunity to listen to the Speaker of the Senate, the Hon. Noel Kinsella, and to the Speaker of the House, the Hon. Andrew Scheer.  

 We proceeded to dinner in the main hall. Since the Hon. Noel Kinsella is from New Brunswick, he chose to sit at our table. It was a fantastic opportunity to discuss what we had seen and done over the past 1.5 weeks. Perhaps the GGCLC crowd was in too high of spirits since we were collectively asked to keep it down due to Parliament being in the process of a late-night debate on Bill C-38, the budget.  

 Once dinner was completed, we were afforded tours of the Senate Chamber, and the Parliamentary Library. For those who chose to undergo a secondary security check, the opportunity existed to go into the gallery of the House of Commons to actually watch the debate in person. We didn’t stay too long, however, since many wanted a good night of rest in anticipation of a busy day tomorrow.

Closing Plenary Schedule


It has been a long trip

It has been a long trip

Marriott Hotel Ottawa


Didn’t get to spend much time here since our work was being held at the Canada Conference Centre, and the evenings were spent at Parliament Hill and Rideau Hall.  I did love the breakfast being in the revolving restaurant – Margaret and I try to go to all of them in the course of our travels.

Dinner at Parliament House

Parliament House  – https://www.ourcommons.ca/en  

Hon. Andrew Scheer – http://www.parl.gc.ca/About/House/Speaker/index-e.html

Speaker of the House - Andrew Scheer

Speaker of the House – Andrew Scheer

Hon. Noel Kinsella – http://sen.parl.gc.ca/nkinsella/ and  http://sen.parl.gc.ca/nkinsella/English/Navy-e.htm

Senator Noel Kinsella

Senator Noel Kinsella

I had trouble hearing both Speakers so I wasn’t able to take notes.  The Hon. Noel Kinsella sat next to me, so we had a chance to talk about what we had seen.  He is also an honorary Captain (Navy) affiliated with the Naval Reserve, so I had a chance to talk “navy talk”.

Dinner at Parliament House Centre Block

Dinner at Parliament House Centre Block

During the dinner we heard which order that we were going to present in (eight each on 14 and 15 June 2012):

Closing Plenary Presentation Order

Closing Plenary Presentation Order

Tour of the Senate, the Library, and the House of Commons (debate on budget bill C-38).

Our group stayed within the Centre Block boundary.  Lovely facilities – you can feel the history all around you.  The Senate chamber has a very elegant feeling to it, and the tour guides provided us with lots of background information.  Had my picture taken in the Speaker’s chair – it’s only fitting that my iPad was with me in the picture since it featured so much during my experience.  Couldn’t take a picture of the library, but the area fills you with awe.

The Senate Chamber

The Senate Chamber

Bill C-38

Official – http://parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?Language=E&Mode=1&DocId=5697420

Unofficial – http://openparliament.ca/bills/41-1/C-38/

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act.  Reading of the motions went on and on, and went well into the evening.  Not many people were actually on the floor, but those who were there were hardly engaged – I saw parliamentarians reading books, and one of my colleagues saw what appeared to be someone watching a movie on their electronic device.  The Speaker was very busy, however – I don’t know how much of a voice he would have had the next day…

Preparation Day – Canada Conference Centre (Repurposed rail station)

No blog on 13 July since we weren’t touring New Brunswick anymore – what were we doing instead?

Intense Discussions

Intense Discussions

The day was centred on how we wanted to create our presentation.  We knew that the talking stick was going to be a key component of our story – Matt Rolls started painting the talking stick to replicate the one that we had seen at the Lt. Gov.’s house.  Since that particular visit had such a significant impact on us, we quickly aligned ourselves to using the medicine wheel as a format for telling our story.

Medicine Wheel

The medicine wheel that we used had four main components – mental, physical, emotional and spiritual.  We placed easel pads on the walls, and each individual used Post-It notes with one-liners of an experience that they could match to one of the four categories.  At the end of the fifteen minutes that we had allotted, we had so much material!  Some items were repeated – this was a good indicator that it was a strong representation of our experience and that it had affected us in some way.

We then paired it down to the critical elements and started assigning speakers to each of the elements.  Instead of going back and forth between speakers, we decided to follow the talking circle format.  Only the person with the talking stick was allowed to speak, and that the stick was passed in a counter-clockwise format (based on stage design).  In order to avoid excluding the audience, our talking circle had to become a talking semi-circle.  The stick wouldn’t be coming back to the first speaker, so we had to make sure that each person’s narrative was part of the larger story.  I think that the people who had the hardest part were those who were assigned to emotional – it would either be “forced” and come across as non-genuine, or it would be real to the point of making it difficult to present.  In the next GGCLC episode, you’ll get to see/hear how well our group did.

We did have two-panel discussions that day – one for our group, and one for the GGCLC plenary.

First Panel – “Challenges of Leading a Public Sector Institution – Roundtable Discussions”

  • Liseanne Forand, President, Shared Services Canada
  • Suzanne Vinet – President, Regional Economic Development for Quebec
  • John Knubley, Deputy Minister, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Liseanne Forand, Suzanne Vinet, and John Knubley

Liseanne Forand, Suzanne Vinet, and John Knubley

Liseanne Forand

  • Shared Services Canada was created on August 4, 2011, to provide shared services infrastructure.
  • Too much overhead across government, need to consolidate across 43 departments.
  • New departments don’t get created very often – only authorized by Prime Minister (normally done in the utmost of secrecy).
  • SSC was originally created as a group from Dept. of Public Works, now comprises a group from other 42 deployments (5,000 employees).
  • Not really designed to start up an organization, so they had to create many things from scratch.
  • Critical data – tax files, pension files, penal files.
  • The people side of this transition was and continues to be huge.
  • Communication is key.  Bargaining agents liaised to ensure that all objectives could be met.
  • SSC is actually great for small departments – allows them to focus more on future goals instead of being mired in the minutia.

Suzanne Vinet

  • Discussed mandate in 2005, a period of growth over those four years.
  • She came in at time of downsizing, strategic review.
  • Had to re-think on how to deliver services to clients during the transition from a period of growth to downsizing.
  • How to invest in new technologies and methodologies.
  • Involve all staff as part of the solution-finding process.

John Knubley

  • Farm credit corporation.
  • Agriculture is about 8% of the GDP.
  • Largest employment in manufacturing is in the food sector (auto in decline).
  • Challenge – a perception of agriculture as old-fashioned – currently using GPS and satellites.
  • Wheat board is the big challenge due to underpinning infrastructure.  Looking at changes to the wheat handling system.
  • Shared jurisdiction in agriculture (60% federal, 40% provincial).
  • Farm operations of today are a huge business.
  • Trade – trying to open markets across the world (some success with beef and pork in China).
  • Deficit reduction action plan (budget 2012).
  • Have science branch merging with agronomists in order to meet targets.
  • People (cutting by 10%) – have huge needs in terms of reduction, but being placed on hold (except for targeted requirements).  What types of new program delivery must be in place to accommodate a reduction in staff?
  • Looking at switching to electronic formats and using social media.
  • Key leadership attributes – Do something you love, surround yourself with good people, work in teams, be courageous, take a whole bunch of risks and be ready to make mistakes.

Second Panel – Plenary Discussion – Importance of Effective National Government

  • Conference Centre was the location of repatriation of Constitution under the Trudeau era (1982).
  • Government is Canada’s largest employer.
  • Canada has come through a global economic crisis as a leader.
  • At threshold for a great opportunity.
  • People growth – one Ottawa every week in the world – will create huge demands on energy.
  • Shifts in economic power over time – Europe, United States, Asia – we have to change every time.
  • Training needs to be targeted to the right audience.
  • Looking at finding solutions that are holistic.


  • Accountability (must be comfortable)
  • Risk Management (uncertainty, country’s “brand”)
  • Trust (willing to put your fate in the hands of others – you can’t know everything)
  • Public institutions need the best people in those institutions.

*** Don’t wait for government.

SIDE NOTE:  Lorraine will be the Chair of the 2015 Conference, and Wayne will remain as a Vice-Chair.

VOCL Resources and Articles

This week – a random selection of resources and articles

“Finding leaders among project managers” by the Project Management Institute at Telegraph.co.uk

For really big projects, project managers also need to be project leaders.  A greater emphasis is required in soft skills, especially in regards to communication.


“What Is Authentic Leadership?” by Kevin Kruse at Forbes

1. Authentic leaders are self-aware and genuine.

2. Authentic leaders are mission-driven and focussed on results.

3. Authentic leaders lead with their heart.

4. Authentic leaders focus on the long term.


“Tanbridge House School pupils instilled with advice on leadership” by West Sussex County Times

A panel-led discussion with students and local business leaders on good and bad aspects of leadership.  Some of the key points included having the courage to make tough choices, having direction and desire to see things through, having a strong belief in yourself, and giving people permission to fail.  Not all panel leaders were in agreement, however, about whether leaders need to be “ruthless”.

//original article has been deleted//

“Generation transformation: Wharton leadership coach sees students put making a difference above all else” by Orlando R. Barone at Philly.com

An article from the executive leadership coach for first-year MBA students at Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.  He speaks about the qualities that he has observed in his students – he observed that “…they don’t merely want to be leaders; they want to be “transformational leaders…”  Interestingly enough, even amongst these high achievers, the author discovered a tone of humility about them (recall the “Servant Leadership” article by Edward D. Hess featured in VOCL 015.


VOCL Closing Thoughts / Future Episodes

  • In the midst of vacation – regret delayed publishing.
  • Takeaways
    • Both panels talked about risks – good and bad.  Think about how you deal with risk.  Do you just seek to augment the good? Diminish the impact of the bad?  Do both?
    • Once again, we’ve heard that people shouldn’t wait for Government.  Are holding back on something you want to achieve, simply because you’re waiting on someone/something else?
    • Many of the people and articles talked about trust – placing trust in others, but also placing trust in yourself.

I’m Chris Hache, asking you to be VOCL for a better Canada


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