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The Bourgon Papers
Public Governance International > The Bourgon Papers

Public Governance International is currently conducting a research and archival project centred around the personal records of PGI President Jocelyne Bourgon.  A decades-long career in and around public service, Canadian and international, has left her with a large personal archive of speeches, publications, letters, audiovisual material, and more.  The collection can give a unique look into public service around the turn of the millennium, and shows one of several strands that led into the development of the New Synthesis of Public Administration.  PGI is hard at work putting these records into context for readers and researchers, drawing insights and lessons for the challenges of the 21st century, and preparing these records for delivery to Library and Archives Canada.

What We Have

The heart of Madame Bourgon’s collection spans from when she became Canada’s first woman Clerk of the Privy Council, Secretary to the Cabinet, and Head of the Public Service in 1994, all the way through today.  Speeches and publications cover her Clerkship, her time as President of the Canada School of Public Service, her internationally-focused years leading up to the launch of the New Synthesis project, and the full span of PGI and the New Synthesis.  Alongside these are letters and photos from across her full career, audio and video recordings, and more.  Much of this material is otherwise difficult to find or outright unavailable.

PGI researchers have been conducting interviews and gathering additional materials, giving context to what was already on hand and building a more complete record.

Latest Progress

PGI is working on a set of draft texts to contextualize the records and to aid readers and researchers.  Mme. Bourgon has written on her pre-Clerk years, her view of the Clerk’s role, Program Review and regaining fiscal sovereignty, and the 1995 referendum.  Additional work regarding La Relève, the Policy Research Initiative, and the turn towards citizen-centred service is underway.

This project is a major work in progress, expected to continue past the end of 2023.  We expect to have more updates to share over time.

Last update: September 28, 2023
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Reflecting on the National Public Service Week of Canada, PGI has dug deep into our archives to share the first-ever digital Annual Report to the Prime Minister on the Public Service of Canada. The Sixth Annual Report was Madame Bourgon’s final report to the Prime Minister of Canada as she was preparing to move on from her role as the first female Clerk of the Privy Council. Her final report is reflective of her esteemed tenure as Clerk, one that continuously pushed boundaries and guided the Public Service of Canada through an unprecedented period of change to prepare for the challenges of the 21st century.