The federal government is in the midst of finding the successful candidate for parliamentary budget officer (PBO): there are, apparently, three names left on the list.
And whoever wins will have big, politically unpopular shoes to fill. He or she will be replacing Kevin Page, a PBO who took his job so seriously that, despite the fact the Tories created the job, they had grown to loathe, demean and discount Page’s work.
Monday, the Globe and Mail reported that the remaining candidates are undergoing psychological testing: Page himself suggested that the ruling Tories have come to hate the position so much that they might be looking for someone who might buckle under intimidation.
That’s a little far-fetched: psychological testing is already used in the federal executive branch, and candidates for senior management positions in private business have seen the testing become common.
It may seem strange (OK, we’re kidding, it’s not strange at all), but companies are keen to know the moral compass of candidates who will be handling millions of dollars of their money, and the temper of those involved in making (and sometimes driving) decisions.
When you put someone on a senior management team, you want to know in advance if they’re likely to become a screaming tyrant who dominates an already-good team merely to satisfy their own personal foibles.
But while the topic of psychological testing might be debatable, it would be interesting to see if those at the top of governments, both provincial and federal, would be willing to experience the same rounds of testing they’d like to run their senior staff through.
It would be especially interesting because our elected officials have abilities far beyond most senior managers — for example, the ability to vote on their own salaries, benefits and pensions, and, in some legislatures, the ability to submit expenses simply on the weight of their own word (receipts optional).
Imagine: testing to detect the overweeningly self-important, those willing to be dishonest to suit their own ends and those who have honed self-interest to near-sociopathy. The elected could still argue that they face the most blunt of psychological tests — election.
But back to the PBO: we have pointed this out before, but it is worth repeating.
The Harper administration is facing a clear test of its own with the upcoming appointment. If we get a lapdog instead of a bulldog, they will have failed that test.
And we’ll know even more about a government psychology that, month after month, displays more than a few harmful tendencies.