Hugh Segal appointment step forward, but how much of one?

The appointment of Hugh Segal to co-chair the Prime Minister's Advisory Committee on the Public Service is definitely a step forward for those worried about the decline of evidence-based policy making in the federal government.

Segal has shown he believes public policy should be based on evidence. That makes him a significant improvement over one of the people he is replacing.

Last May, one of his predecessors, former cabinet minister David Emerson, suggested that public employees should not longer rely on data that has been checked and verified by non-partisan sources like Statistics Canada. Instead Emerson suggested that public employees should use information from lobbyists and others whose job often involves distorting the facts to support a particular outcome.

Segal's views are a reminder that until a few years ago there was support from across the political spectrum for evidence-based decision making. In the best case scenario Segal's appointment is a sign the federal government realizes its current approach needs fixing.

Sadly, there is also a worst case scenario where he is more of a monument to a time when conservatives felt they had a responsibility to govern for all citizens and evaluate evidence before making policy decisions.