Met some people this weekend that were real cool and we had a great time.
There was one point in our very engaging conversation on Friday night that made me want to post.

One of the guests was asking me what I’d like to do when I’m finished with school. He assumed because I research education policy that I’d like to work for government.
I didn’t even blink before I answered, “no, I’d like to work separate from government.”
And he responded, “oh, you rebel”.

Although we went on to other conversation, I kept thinking…I’m a rebel for not wanting to work in government? But after further consideration I reminded myself that many people work outside of government, geographically and institutionally, but tow the gov’t line. For example, diplomats.

Diplomats are unique in that they are immune from the repercussions of states – unlike the average citizen. In their post and depending on their tier (there are 3 tiers in Canada as opposed to U.S. where there are 6 diplomatic ranks and 3 “flag” ranks) they have privileges that could make some people nervous. For example, we don’t know exactly what diplomats DO. They are not in the same way accountable to citizens as Ministers of Finance or your MP politician is. (Of course, it’s arguable if any politicians are in fact at all accountable to citizens – the Canadian sponsorship scandal by the Liberal government testifies to the fact that accountability is a distorted ideal rather than a reality…)

But, diplomats can also be rebels, if they choose to be. Foreign service officers in Canada are usually only fired for criminality and not incompetence. This means that when they spend the required 60% of their time overseas, their actions are not regulated the same way as in Canada.

Diplomats have the discretion as to whose visa to stamp, whose cases to investigate and what issues occuring abroad to highlight as important to thier nation. Although the bureaucracies of their home and host countries tend to mitigate the amount of corruption and bad decisions, we all know what politics is like at the higher/executive levels. It doesn’t take a cynic to understand that politics has more to do with the gestures and whispers outside the decision-making process than in the boardroom. Like corporations, back-room politics within government is more influential than public statements.

So rebels can be diplomats and diplomats can be rebels too.

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