Breaching the trust of the Canadian public has become so commonplace now for the Conservative government that their tactics have become positively predictable.
Here’s the golden rule of disaster communications for this government and it’s ministers: if a Minister gets in trouble, blame the staff.
This was the inevitable result of Julian Fantino’s partisan screed that surfaced on the Canadian International Development Agencies website two days ago against the NDP. This was only the second of three partisan appeals written using government resources by the CIDA Minister.
The first was a few days before the NDP rant, this time pointed at the Liberal party.
The third, aimed at “correcting” a Huffington Post blogger, was less partisan aimed but still raises questions about how CIDA resources are being used.
The result? A quickly created twitter account just to deal with this one specific issue. At the time this post was being written there were twelve tweets, eleven of which were identical responses to queries, that read as follows:
@ottawacitizen CIDA was asked to add appropriate web content. These were posted in error. CIDA was asked to remove them immediately.
— Meagan Murdoch (@FantinoOffice) January 16, 2013
There you have it, an error. Don’t worry though, it was only government resources used for partisan attacks. They were removed, so now all is well and good in the world, right?
Something has to strike you as odd though when you begin to look back at similar incidents of error by government Ministers. It’s hard to believe that this was an accident, given how much this party makes these “errors.” The excuses given at the end of the day typically lay blame at the foot of either staff members or some other agencies (read Elections Canada).
Cases in point:
In 2007 a connected Tory was “handing…an untendered $122,000 contract to write the 2007 budget speech.” It was blamed on the Chief of Staff of Finance Minister Jim Flaherty. Flaherty “regretted” that policy wasn’t followed and said he trusted his Chief not to make the same mistake again.
In response to questions regarding Tony Clement’s G8 slush-fund,then Infrastructure Minister John Baird stated agreed that the Auditor General found “administrative deficiencies surrounding the intake of these(G8) projects.” No fault on the Ministers responsible for these files, rather the blame lands administrators who are likely only told what to do.
Of course, let’s not forget the In-and-Out scandal, where the Conservative Party of Canada shifted money around constituencies in order to flout Elections Canada advertising rules.
For a full history of this scandal, click here.
The response from the frontline communicator (and permanent opened mouth) Pierre Poilievre then was “This is a question of a long-standing administrative dispute with Elections Canada.” This was Poilievre’s constant refrain. Nothing to see here. Move along. it’s just an administrative dispute.
When all is said and done though, the party did plead guilty and paid a small $52,000 fine in order to save the buts of four charged Conservative Party insiders.
This is the modus-operandi of this party and its approach to being caught with their pants down. Blame a staffer or something else in order to deflect and distract from the person or persons who should actually be responsible.
It is the government who should ultimately be responsible for these missteps. Don’t take it from me though:
…ministers are answerable to Parliament and to its committees. It is ministers who decide policy and ministers who must defend it before the House and ultimately before the people of Canada…Ministers ran for office and accepted the role and responsibility of being a minister. Staff did not.
Inspired words. Who said them? Jay Hill, Government House Leader for the Conservative Party of Canada. He said this little more than two years ago on May 25th 2010.
Five months later, Mr. Hill would resign from the government.
I guess his idealism went with him.