Monday, June 7, 2010

A Leader In Control

Stop the presses; Prime Minster Stephen Harper is in "hyper-extreme" control of the government's message. Government officials preparing to make public statements or hosting events must first check with the Prime Minister's Office. I'm shocked!!! We live in a 24 hour news cycle where one MP making a stupid comment in a remote part of the country can become headline news in minutes, day or night. Moreover, we are in a minority government where political parties are forced to live in constant campaign mode, where messages must be vetted and approved. And yet according to the Globe and Mail, sending a memo to the PMO constitutes “hyper-extreme control”.

You could even say that one of Ignatieff's greatest weaknesses (of which there are many) is lack of control over his own caucus. Whether it is whipping foreign abortion funding votes, or letting Ujjal Dosangh speak for the party in public, the Liberal Party has paid a price having so many different people running around the country promoting ideas that are not party policy. I know Ross Rebougliati was ordered once by Donolo to not speak to the media, which is just a smart move as Ross is not particularly intelligent. Liberal MPs loyal to Bob Rae running around town musing about a merger with the NDP are not helping the federal party.

Perhaps Iggy should take a few cues from the Prime Minister when looking for the most effective means of leadership in a minority government with a 24 hour news cycle. I have no problem at all with bureaucrats having to send a memo to the Privy Council before hosting an event. I suspect this is standard procedure in many democracies, and is not a signal that Stephen Harper is a dark lord raining Hell fire on the unsuspecting populace. Ultimately the elected members are held accountable at election time for the action of the bureaucrats under their command, thus is makes perfect sense to vet their agendas. Many of the current pool of “public servants” were hired or appointed by the Liberal party, and yes some of them are partisans.


  1. I thought the same thing when I read the headline: What? A leader who likes to control his party and the government? What heresy!

    That's exactly what I want in a leader. But as your scan the Toronto Star you can see that their 24/7 Harper-hating message is currently on hyper-drive.

  2. I was in the fed government for a long time and we were NEVER EVER allowed to speak to the press. Why would we want to? Public info all went through the Communications group attached to each department. Most communications groups in departments either report to or were controlled by the DM. This is NOTHING NEW, except the means is being done a bit more formally than in the past.

    I was a lonely conservative in the public service, as almost everyone I met voted Liberal or NDP or revealed that their ideas were in line with the Liberals. We did not talk about politics, but I knew that I should not say much. Many management positions are now held by Quebecers and NCR people, as the new rule in the the late '90s meant that Anglos could not apply unless they had a very high level of French language skill, and access to language training for was frequently denied. This is why they are trying to do this for the Supreme Court as well.

    Almost all of these very fully bilingual people are not conservatives, so I believe that tight message control is an essential element. Gradually, the government has cut most westerners and conservatives from top positions. The working language of my department went to completely French from bilingual by 2002, except in some regions. They now have low quality bilingual staff, as my speciality is mostly learned in English-language universities.

  3. Dippers run home to Jack, all excited about those cabinet seats in Iffy's coalition of losers

    Nanos poll May 29 - June 3
    Dippers 20.7 up 4.5%
    Libs 29.2 down 4%
    Cons at 35.6 down 1.6% (inside MOE)

    The headline is laughable: