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By Chris Hannay (@channay)
During the October election, Gerald Butts, the Prime Minister’s principal secretary, took a pause in the campaign to tweet a picture of a book on forecasting the future that he was buying at McGill University.
Mr. Butts has now hired one of the authors of that book to help the Prime Minister’s Office make better decisions.
“We had good long discussions about my book, about decision making,” said Dan Gardner, a former Ottawa Citizen columnist and, until yesterday, the editor of Policy Options. “I have to say, I’m really impressed with Gerry’s own capacity for self-examination, self-criticism. He’s a very astute and informed thinker.”
Mr. Gardner will not be working directly out of Langevin Block, where the rest of the Prime Minister’s Office toils, but he said he expects to be “on call” when they need an external point of view to clear their heads.
“I’m going to bring, I hope, a critical perspective, where I look at the work that’s going on, the decision-making that’s going on, and I try to apply exactly the things which I talk about in Superforecasting and my other books.”
Mr. Gardner is the author of three books that look at how to evaluate risk and what clouds the thinking and predictions of experts.
“If there’s one theme to all three books, and all of the work that I do, it’s that good decision-making requires vastly more self-criticism and self-awareness than people typically deliver,” he said.
Between resettling thousands of Syrian refugees in a short period of time to climate change policies, Mr. Gardner said he expects there will be no end to the difficult decisions facing the Liberals in the early days.
“I think it’s fair to say this is a very ambitious government.”
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW THIS MORNING
> In Edmonton yesterday, Justin Trudeau pledged to fast track infrastructure spending in Alberta and reiterated that the province should apply for $250-million from a rarely used federal financial stability program.
> Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett says she has asked her department to immediately look into a technicality, reported in The Globe yesterday, that denied an estimated 1,000 residential school survivors their claims.
> New Brunswick has lowered its highest income tax rate in anticipation of the higher federal tax on the 1 per cent, in what might be the first provincial move of many along those lines.
> Governor-General David Johnston says he’s loved having the Trudeau family staying on the Rideau Hall grounds while 24 Sussex is being renovated. “It’s delightful. It’s absolutely wonderful. First of all, to have three children who come and play in the garden and we can bring some of our 12 grandchildren here and play with them, which is just lovely,” he said.
> A Liberal MP is taking flak for having received $70,000 in severance from Gatineau city council after he was elected to Parliament in the fall.
> And former prime minister Jean Chrétien was recently asked what he thought of Mr. Trudeau’s performance so far, and what he thought about Hillary Clinton’s race for the presidency. Here’s what he said. (for subscribers)
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WHAT EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT
“It is Confederation upside down: A Liberal Prime Minister went to Alberta to meet the Premier as an ally. Make no mistake: Justin Trudeau and Rachel Notley need each other. And both of them, left-leaning politicians promising historic action on climate change, need oil to flow. This was a Trudeau visiting Alberta not in magnanimous boom times, but during a worried, cranky bust.” – Campbell Clark (for subscribers).
Jeffrey Simpson (Globe and Mail): “Given the president’s dissipating power, however, Canada should be looking to the shape of U.S. politics post-Obama and to understanding the swirling currents of American society that are shaping those politics.” (for subscribers)
Robyn Urback (National Post): “This is not to suggest support for equal pay is unbecoming, but if the NDP hopes to offer an alternative to the government, it needs proposals that don’t simply echo those of the party in power, even if those ideas were lifted wholesale from the NDP policy book. Time for the NDP to go back to the drawing board and come up with something new and bold, or face another lengthy spell as the afterthought party.”
Chantal Hébert (Toronto Star): “Canada has hit upon defining issues that have pitted regions against region in the past. ... But none of those discussions engaged Canada’s municipal politicians in the way that [the pipeline debate] does.”
Don Braid (Calgary Herald): “Here comes a column I never dreamed I’d write about a Liberal PM. Trudeau the younger is here to promise help, not pick fights, on a visit that’s highly important both symbolically and practically.”
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