I’m from Bouctouche, me (Savoie 2009)

Update: A May 19, 2013 Globe and Mail article by Donald J. Savoie is entitled: “Nigel Wright’s resignation sends a powerful signal: serving Canadians is high risks with few rewards.”

Where is power? (2009)

In Power: Where is it? (2010), political scientist Donald J. Savoie argues that in contemporary society, power does not reside in institutions and organizations, as it may have done in the past.

Power has been moving, instead, as a blurb for the book (see link in previous sentence) notes, to “powerful individuals in both the public and private sectors, who often push aside formal processes in order to drive change.”

Savoie is also author of Court government and the collapse of accountability in Canada and the United Kingdom (2008). A blurb at the link in the previous sentence notes that by court government, he “means that effective power now rests with their respective prime ministers and a small group of carefully selected courtiers.”

“For things that matter to prime ministers and their courts,” the blurb adds, “the decision-making process shifts from formal to informal, involving only a handful of actors.”

In the circumstances, new accountability requirements are required, according to the blurb, and would “correspond with court government as well as the new relationships between politicians and civil servants, and civil servants and citizens.”

The relation between government and citizens remains a topic of interest, as a Jan. 18, 2013 article in The Toronto Star indicates. A Feb. 2, 2013 Globe and Mail interview with Michael Ignatieff addresses the topic as well.

Savoie is also author of Governing from the centre: The Concentration of Power in Canadian Politics (1999) and Whatever happened to the music teacher? How government decides and why (2013). If you have a library card, the latter book is available online at the Toronto Public Library.

The latter two studies are highlighted in a March 8, 2013 Toronto Star article.

I’m from Bouctouche, me (2009)

Savoie’s autobiography is entitled I’m from Bouctouche, me (2009).

In the preface (p. ix), he introduces his story:

“This is the story of the struggle of Acadians to take their rightful place in Canadian society. I am one of them, so it is also my story. It begins in a small hamlet where people looked to the Roman Catholic Church for hope and to farming, fishing, and construction for a living. In a generation, the Acadian world was transformed, turned upside down. It is a story worth telling, not only for the benefit of Acadians but for other minority groups and indeed all Canadians.

“The story speaks to Canada’s tolerance, openness, and willingness to embrace diverse groups, respecting the rights of all. In a world in which these values seem to be in short supply, this story celebrates Canada and the opportunities it affords all its people.”

The book features an insider’s view of the regional economy of the Maritimes within the Canadian federal system.

The Acadian diaspora (2012)

Savoie’s story brings to mind The Acadian diaspora: An eighteenth-century history (2012).

Using archival resources from France, Great Britain, Canada, and the United States, in this book Christopher Hodson “reconstructs the lives of Acadian exiles as they traversed oceans and continents, pushed along by empires eager to populate new frontiers with inexpensive, pliable white farmers.” The narrative is set within the geopolitical changes triggered by the Seven Years’ War.

“Faced with redrawn boundaries and staggering national debts, imperial architects across Europe used the Acadians to realize radical plans: tropical settlements without slaves, expeditions to the unknown southern continent, and, perhaps strangest of all, agricultural colonies within old regime France itself. In response, Acadians embraced their status as human commodities, using intimidation and even violence to tailor their communities to the superheated Atlantic market for cheap, mobile labor.”


The reference to the legacy of colonialism brings to mind a March 22, 2013 New York Times article highlighting the career of the writer Chinua Achebe.

Additional updates

An Oct. 6, 2014 Globe and Mail article by Donald Savoie is entitled: “The perils of the career politician.”

The concluding paragraph of the above-noted article reads: “We could start by returning parties to the rank and file, by making it easier for non-career politicians to enter the political arena, by decentralizing power so that one does not have to sit in the prime minister’s or premier’s chair to make a substantial contribution. We also need to retool our public services by peeling away constraints to good management, and by rediscovering the importance of evidence-based policy advice.”

A March 18, 2014 Globe and Mail article article is entitled: “Donald Savoie: Why Canada’s public service is declining and why it matters.”

An Oct. 6, 2014 CBC article is entitled: “Federal government scientists muzzled by media policies, report suggests: DND scores highest for openness, while Natural Resources Canada among lowest.”

The report is by Evidence for Democracy, a non-profit group that advocates for evidence-based public policy.


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