Transcript – Episode 0: Introduction to the GAC Files

David Morrison: Hi and welcome to the GAC [Global Affairs Canada] Files! As you’ve just heard in our snappy musical intro, we aspire to be a podcast about the people, issues and ideas driving Global Affairs Canada. My name is David Morrison, and I’ll be your host for what I hope will be an interesting, thought-provoking and occasionally quirky exploration of our organization and what makes it tick.

Let me begin by saying that this is an experiment. None of us here at the GAC Files has ever done a podcast before. In fact, when I began to think about the idea a couple of months ago, the first thing I did was Google “how to create a podcast.” It turns out that the technological requirements are fairly straightforward. The tricky part is getting the content right: the format, the guests, the length, the questions and everything else that will make people tune in or tune out.

So, like I said, this is an experiment, and we’re wide open to your suggestions and feedback. Who would you like to hear from? Any guest in particular? How are we doing on length: Are we too long? Too short? About right? How about the overall approach, where we try to learn a bit about who someone is as a person, in addition to learning about their work as a colleague and their views on the leading issues of the day here at Global Affairs.

This last question—the balance between the person and the work and whatever else might be going on at GAC—gets to the core of why I wanted to do this podcast in the first place. The real genesis came several months ago, when the Me Too movement was gaining momentum, and my deputy minister colleagues and I were challenged on how to respond. We eventually came out with a broadcast message on the wider issue of harassment and inappropriate behaviour in general, which has launched some valuable work that I hope I’ll be able to discuss with a range of guests here on the GAC Files.

But the larger issue of wrestling with what to say in that broadcast message, and how to say it, suggested to me that we lacked appropriate tools at Global Affairs to have an organization-wide, ongoing conversation on issues that really matter to colleagues. We do have town hall meetings, occasional blogs and so on. But I was looking for something more, a way to have, or to broker, a multifaceted discussion, involving diverse voices, on issues like harassment in the workplace or mental health or work-life balance or lack of promotion processes or whatever else happens to be on the minds of people at Global Affairs. And so, I came up with the GAC Files, and we’re going to give it a try.

I should perhaps say a quick word about who I am, as my background will undoubtedly shape my approach on some of the GAC Files conversations. I’m a kind of hybrid public servant, in that I began nearly three decades ago as a foreign service officer at what is now Global Affairs Canada, but I quit after a single posting in Havana and then stayed outside of government and outside of Canada for nearly 20 years. During this time, I worked for a number of different organizations, including the United Nations, the World Economic Forum and an NGO, all of which helped shape my views on Canada in the international system and on what works and what doesn’t work in internationally oriented organizations. I returned to Canada in 2012 to join CIDA [Canadian International Development Agency]. I was quickly amalgamated into Global Affairs and have now had a great run since then, first as ADM [assistant deputy minister] Americas and now as associate deputy minister, where, because I don’t have a proper job description or much adult supervision, I am allowed to do things like start the GAC Files.

Before jumping in, let me thank the wider team here at GAC Files World Headquarters, in particular Sara Cohen and Victoria Fuller, who supported the idea from the beginning (albeit with raised eyebrows); Charles Mojsej and his team in the Communications Branch, especially Charles Brisebois, Kevin Wishlow, Andrea Martin, Kolin Casagrande, Fabien Boulay, Pascale Rouleau and Yan Parisien, who have done the heavy lifting in production and post-production; and last but not least, Heather Dallaire, who does the scheduling and supports me in all ways large and small.

And now...let’s listen to the GAC Files...

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