U of S President appointed to PM’s advisory committee

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Peter MacKinnon will be working alongside Stephen Harper

Daryl Hofmann
The Sheaf (University of Saskatchewan)

SASKATOON (CUP)  – University of Saskatchewan president Peter MacKinnon will soon be advising Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Harper’s office made the announcement on Feb. 1. MacKinnon will assist a nine-member federal advisory panel that meets three times a year. The panel guides the vision of Canada’s civil service.

The advisory committee was founded on November 2006 and reports to the prime minister as well as the clerk of the Privy Council on matters ranging from diversifying worker recruitment strategies to effectively branding the public service as a “trusted and innovative institution,” according to a government website.

The fourth and most recent report, “A Relevant and Connected Public Service,” applauds the government’s “Economic Action Plan” and acknowledges that a complete transformation in the leadership of public service is appearing due to the multi-year retirement wave of the baby-boomer generation.

“The quality of the public service [sector] is tremendously important, and the fact that this committee was appointed to assist in its renewal and future development makes it a committee that can add value to the future,” said MacKinnon.

Indira Samarasekera, president of the University of Alberta, left the committee in 2010. MacKinnon will be taking her seat.

“I think the committee is intended to draw upon a variety of backgrounds and the background of [managing] a university of substantial size is a good background from which to approach some of these issues,” said MacKinnon.

MacKinnon, originally from P.E.I., came to Saskatchewan in 1975 as an assistant professor of law after studying at Dalhousie University in Halifax and Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont. He later went on to receive a master’s in laws at the U of S and served as dean of law for 10 years before taking on the president’s job in 1999.

As an adviser, he will join other recognized leaders and distinguished individuals from across the country.

The committee is co-chaired by Paul Tellier and David Emerson, both hailing from Quebec. Tellier is a prominent CEO who has worked with CN railway and Bombardier. Emerson is a former Liberal MP most famous for crossing the floor in 2006 to join Harper’s cabinet.
The group also includes Dominic D’Alessandro, president and chief executive of Manulife Financial, and Barbara Stymiest, who heads the RBC Financial Group.

MacKinnon is enthusiastic about the opportunity, but remains modest.

“I come to the task with humility. I really believe in a strong and highly successful public service. I think it’s important to the country and anything I can do to assist in some modest way with that, I will welcome. But with that, I have a lot to learn as well.”

The first public service committee of 2011 – MacKinnon’s first ever – got underway Feb. 3 in Ottawa.

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