Under-represented grammar

May 6th, 2010
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“… where your representivity problems are the greatest”. -

Maria Barrados, President, Public Service Commission of Canada

For those who’ve experienced it, the bureaucracy has a language all its own; and it frequently isn’t pretty. Ms Barrados is by all appearances a highly educated person. Unfortunately, she’s been overtaken by the internal lingo of the public service bubble.

She was recently interviewed on Calgary’s talk-radio QR77 about the fact that women had reached more than their proportionate share in the civil service. the question was then posed whether or not affirmative action was still needed in the public service. She not surprisingly argued that, despite this, affirmative action programs needed to be continued to deal with problems of “under-representivity”. Undaunted by that linguistic lapse, she went on to declare that “visible minorities are under-represented as do the handicapped.”

One can only hope that, when applicants are favoured over others using those characteristics, that they coincidentally bring with them a sounder grasp of the language than does Ms Barrados. It’s more likely that their “representivity” will be deemed more important.

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By John Weissenberger
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