A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

[LINK] “The big stuff gets away from PM”

Veteran Canadian politics journalist Susan Delacourt has a new article, “The big stuff gets away from PM”, that might explain why there have been so many interesting press scandals surrounding the Conservative govenrment of Prime Minister Stephen Harper lately.

It has been a bad week for a government that prides itself on secrecy and communications control.

A cabinet minister has been dumped because he left secret, internationally sensitive documents at an ex-girlfriend’s house.

Yesterday, in the midst of an official European tour, there was a mad scramble aboard Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s plane to reverse yet another “misspeaking” incident from a communications official – this one, revolving around what Canada and Italy had agreed upon in regard to troop commitments in Afghanistan.

And one week ago today, a report was issued on the way Canada got embroiled in the Democratic presidential race in the United States. The report, and subsequent revelations in the Star this week, have painted a picture of this government, at its top levels, being reckless in the handling of information in a way that could seriously harm future relations with a potential U.S. president.

Taken all together, these incidents point to what seems to be a glaring irony surrounding the Harper government and its communications strategy. To wit: this capital is locked down tight when it comes to small, domestic, even trivial minutiae. But on the big important stuff, the kind of information that could affect Canada’s relations with the world, people have seen a side of the Harper communications-management machine this week that appears to be a little loose, if not chaotic.

The danger of the fallout from the past bad week is that it will reinforce and strengthen the tight-fisted approach, while doing nothing to fix the ham-fistedness.

A more complicated reading of this week’s communications disasters might show, in fact, that the pressure cooker of Harper’s message control is starting to show signs of wear and leakage – that one can only keep the lid on information so long in government before the effort explodes in strange and unexpected ways.

For anyone interested in Canadian politics, this article’s exploration of a major element in the current federal government’s self-representation makes it worthy reading.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 30, 2008 at 6:54 pm

Posted in Assorted

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