Janice Charette to be replaced as Canada’s top official tomorrow

By on 21/01/2016 | Updated on 25/09/2020
Michael Wernick, Clerk of the Privy Council, Canada

Janice Charette will be temporarily replaced as Canada’s top civil servant by her deputy Michael Wernick tomorrow.

Wernick’s appointment as clerk of the Privy Council and secretary to the Cabinet was announced just yesterday by Liberal prime minister Justin Trudeau who described him as “an outstanding public service leader.”

He also said he has asked Wernick for “advice on a process to fill the position on a permanent basis.”

Read more: Canada: civil service head calls for officials’ integrity after harassment complaints

The announcement comes just a year after Charette was appointed to the role by the previous Conservative government.

Charette, who will remain in the public service as senior advisor to the Privy Council Office, pending a new assignment, set out recruitment, policy and mental health as her top priorities last year.

She also spoke out against “unacceptable” levels of harassment in the public service and vowed to tackle the issue.

Just before Christmas, Charette told all public servants that her vision for the future of the organisation was a “public service that is agile, high-performing, innovative and collaborative [that] will allow us to succeed” in improving the lives of Canadians.

But her term has been cut short with yesterday’s announcement.

Read more: Interview: Janice Charette, Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet, Government of Canada

Her successor Wernick has been in the federal public service since 1981.

Since joining government he has held various high-level roles.

He worked at the Social Policy Division of the Department of Finance, Consumer and Corporate Affairs Canada, the Economic and Regional Development Policy Secretariat of the Privy Council Office, and the Constitutional Affairs Secretariat of the Federal-Provincial Relations Office.

From 1996 to 2003 he served as assistant deputy minister and then as associate deputy minister at the Department of Canadian Heritage.

From 2003 to 2006 he served three prime ministers as deputy secretary to the cabinet, plans and consultations, at the Privy Council Office.

Read more: Janice Charette praises public servants’ ‘professionalism and dedication’

Trudeau said he “has the depth of experience and the skills we need to move full speed ahead on the implementation and delivery of our government’s agenda.”

He added: “I believe strongly in the vital role a modern, professional public service plays in our democracy. “We will ensure its long history of achievement continues into the future and that its capacity to deliver services to Canadians and advice to government is renewed and enhanced.”

Trudeau also thanked Charette “for her exemplary service to Canada.” She has, he added, “had a long and distinguished career as a dedicated, hard-working and brilliant public servant, and as clerk she guided the public service through an election year and my government through a seamless transition.

“Ms. Charette led the public service through a difficult period with distinction and Canadians should be thankful for her stewardship. Making mental health a workplace priority is a legacy of Janice’s that will better the lives of many public servants for years to come.”

Read also: Interview: Janice Charette, Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet, Government of Canada

Canada: civil service head calls for officials’ integrity after harassment complaints

Janice Charette praises public servants’ ‘professionalism and dedication’


About Winnie Agbonlahor

Winnie is news editor of Global Government Forum. She previously reported for Civil Service World - the trade magazine for senior UK government officials. Originally from Germany, Winnie first came to the UK in 2006 to study a BA in Journalism & Russian at the University of Sheffield. She is bilingual in English and German, and, after spending an academic year abroad in Russia and reporting for the Moscow Times, Winnie also speaks Russian fluently.

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