Stephane Dion suffers strategic communications leak

The Prime Minister recently announced a new set of by-elections to be held in early September. Stephane Dion, the Liberal leader, is facing renewed pressure to deliver during these contests and a number of observers have declared this to be a test of confidence in the man as quarterback of that party. If he fails in one or more ridings, Dion will face calls to step down. This comes after the announcement of the beleaguered Green Shift, a hail mary of a policy for Dion and commentators have noted that the policy will be the cornerstone of any future Liberal platform and will serve as a test run for this round of by-elections.

Therefore, it should be troubling for Dion to learn that there are members of his own political staff that are actively undermining the man at this critical time by leaking strategic communications that have landed right in my inbox. Take a look at this ten-percenter template that I received courtesy of a source at the Liberal Research Bureau.

Read this document on Scribd: greenshift

The document is a template for Liberal MPs to message on the Dion Liberal Green Shift. Dion’s staff sent along the Microsoft Publisher file of the document above. It doesn’t get more original than that from LRB. You can download the file here.

If you’re trying to find a silver lining in this by speculating that perhaps this was a brilliant strategic leak in order to get a Conservative blogger to spread Liberal policy for free, this also landed in my inbox courtesy of LRB:

Read this document on Scribd: greenshaft

It appears that some kids in LRB were having a bit of fun while their boss was away. The document also came in the form of a Microsoft Publisher file and you can download it here. The derivative version of the Liberal ten-percenter is a bit disturbing as it is insulting to francophones as Dion’s staffers mock his accent. There’s also a literary reference to Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin in the name of the fictional candidate Simon Legree. I haven’t figured that one out yet (UPDATE: Simon Legree is a literary reference to greed probably referring to Dion’s tax shift as a money grab from Canadians). This spoof on the ten-percenter by LRB is disrespectful of Dion and is juvenile. The lit piece leak in its original design format and the forwarding of the derivative piece mocking Dion are evidence that there are members of Dion’s trusted staff that are undermining their leader at this critical time. If Dion has a poor showing in the upcoming by-elections, he may be asked to resign as Leader and some Liberal staffers may only be trying to hasten that exit.

We’re also seeing evidence of Dion being undermined in a recent blog posting critical of Dion’s team which was recently stomped down by Dion loyalists. The posting was deleted but the subsequent apology explains the sequence of events.

Also, on the Guelph Mercury blog today, we see a pattern of Liberals using name-calling to diminish their opponents. Most disturbing for Liberal partisans though is that some of their staffers are doing it to their leader as well.

During the 2005-2006 General Election, there was talk of a mole in the Liberal war-room leaking information to the media and to Conservative bloggers. At that time there was a Chretien faction and a Martin faction. The Liberal Party under Dion is so fractured that they emphasize unity (“stronger together”) to convince their factious partisans rather than swing voters.

UPDATE (8/1): Last night, I was called and invited to meet up with Sarah Bain, a senior communications officer in Dion’s office. Bain wanted to put the Liberal side of the story out there. We had a great chat, and while it would have been helpful for them for me to reveal my source, Bain was respectful of confidentiality and didn’t even ask. I asked her to email me a quote,

“The Publisher file of the Green Shift ten percenter was distributed twice in the normal manner in which all LRB products are distributed. It was e-mailed to an extensive mailing list including all MP offices, as well as other caucus and party officials using a mailer program. It was also posted in the LRB Intranet site to which all Liberal offices in the Parliament Precinct have access.

“These products are distributed as Publisher files so that Liberal offices can modify them to their own needs. The intention is that MPs can put their own pictures and individual message in the file to personalize it before submitting it to printing.”

What Bain is communicating here is that while the ten-percenter was produced by LRB, it met a wide distribution list across the Liberal party from LRB to OLO to MP and Senators offices to even party HQ. Therefore, Bain suggests the leak could have come from a variety of Liberal offices. The original ten-percenter was dated July 7th, 2008 and has been in internal Liberal distribution for three weeks. Though the file has been circulated among Liberal staff, my source was LRB.

Bain agreed that the second piece was childish and disrespectful of Dion and noted that the wide distribution of the original ten-percenter among staff meant that any disgruntled Liberal staffer could have made the derivative piece. This may be, and it could have been forwarded to LRB because my source of the first and second document were the same.

To her credit, Bain is broadening the list of suspects and therefore trying to diminish the severity of the leak; if the ten-percenter was in the hands of more staffers then the level of secrecy of the document goes down.

As for the second piece, I’m sure that it is quite disturbing for Liberals to see evidence of their staff undermining their leader.

Preston Manning Live Interview

Today, at 6pm EST, we’re going to try something new. My boss at the Manning Centre, Preston Manning, will answer your questions live here on this blog. The floor is open to whatever you’d like to ask (within reason) and I’ll do my best to moderate the discussion. It’ll be like those old days of the AOL celebrity chat, but with new web 2.0 technology. I hope that you’ll join us.

UPDATE: We’re live!

UPDATE: I think the experiment was a success. Here’s the video.

Krista Erickson update

This blog has followed Krista Erickson’s story with the Mulroney-Schreiber testimony, the subsequent scandal which erupted from it and CBC’s reaction surrounding the story. There’s an update today, via email that Erickson sent to updates friends and colleagues on the latest. This email was broadly distributed.

In January, this was among CBC’s response to Doug Finley, director of political operations for the Conservative Party:

Following an investigation by senior management of CBC News, we have determined that our reporter Krista Erickson did, in fact, provide questions to a Member of Parliament in the lead up to the Ethics Committee meeting in December. Those actions, while in pursuit of a journalistically legitimate story, were inappropriate and inconsistent with CBC News policies and procedures, specifically under our Principles, Sec. 3

Given the potential risk to the journalistic credibility of our Ottawa bureau, its reporters and CBC News generally, we have chosen on an exceptional basis to make the detailed outcome of our disciplinary process available to you, our employees and the public at large.

John Tory takes questions from Blogging Tories

and here was mine…

Stephen Taylor: In the context of manufacturing jobs in Ontario – Ontario being the economic engine of Canada – federal Liberal Leader Stephane Dion has recently proposed this carbon tax that he wants to take across the country to sell to Canadians this summer. We’ve seen measures in BC and in Quebec to start their own sort of carbon taxation. Do you believe that this is the right direction for Ontario in creating new jobs in a new economy or do you think it’s the wrong-headed approach for this province’s direction?

John Tory: Well, I think that a tax is a tax is a tax and when people describe a tax as revenue-neutral that sort of tries to somehow skirt the idea that somebody is still paying it even if you’re giving money back to somebody else but the bottom line is that somebody is still paying the tax. I think Dalton McGuinty had it right the first time when he said – and I almost quoted him – ‘Even the NDP knows that the last thing you do when the economy is struggling is impose new taxes’ and then for whatever reason – and I think you can all speculate and probably already have – what happened within the internal machinations of the Liberal Party he suddenly came forward a couple of weeks ago and said he thought this carbon tax was a good thing and that it was fine. And so, I think it’s the wrong approach. I’ve said that to the extend you need to have a price put on carbon in a cap-and-trade type of arrangement is better because it allows the marketplace to work on doing that sort of thing but I just think that the tax is the wrong approach and I just don’t understand why Mr. McGuinty isn’t far from endorsing it, he should be opposing it as he did before and it’s the wrong thing to hit the Ontario economy with at this point in time.

Stephen Taylor: So would you call upon the Federal Conservative environment minister to implement a cap-and-trade program?

John Tory: One thing I would call upon the Federal environment minister to do and on all of the other governments is they’ve got to do the same thing. The last thing industry needs – and this is the kind of example they tell me about when I’m sitting in these often small boardrooms of small manufacturing companies – they say ‘Look, we don’t know where to start with all the different governments having all of their different programs whether it’s on climate change or a host of other areas’ and I think what they should be doing is making a bigger effort than they have to actually agree on an approach, that is going to be an approach that is consistently adopted across the country. What if you are a manufacturing company that’s doing business in Canada, Quebec, Ontario and Alberta? You’re then confronted by all kinds of different rules – federal, provincial or otherwise – on the subject of carbon and climate change. Alberta, you can go get a grant to deal with carbon sequestration, Ontario it looks like they’ll go along with the taxing thing but also be in a cap-and-trade system, federally it looks like they’re going down the cap-and-trade road, and Quebec might have a tax. I think that’s part of the problem these days, that everyone’s doing their own thing and they think can all do that with impunity and not having to take account. So I would say to John Baird, I know it’s hard for him because these other governments go off and do their own thing, but I think the thing he might be trying to do – and he has been – trying to get some agreement on something we can do as a country – provinces and federal government – and at least have a uniform set of rules people would know about if they’re in business.

We get letters – Green shift satire

I received this a while ago from a friend and it was so absurd it made me laugh so I thought I’d share it with you. It was written in response to Stephane Dion’s Green Shift proposal.

Omar Khadr: try him but not here

The status of Omar Khadr has been an issue that has been hotly debated in Canada and one that has recently seen media attention around the world with the airing of over seven hours of CSIS interrogation video of the boy at Guantanamo Bay.

It has also been one of intellectual conflict for conservative thinkers and hawkish Canadians. As a conservative, I have for the most part found intellectual solace in logic on issue tracks where my bleeding-heart friends usually hug the emotional left rail. The broad-arching free markets help rise more people out of poverty than knee-jerk social and emotional reaction to give hand-outs to sustain a substandard of living is but one example where cold right-wing logic is a better and more constructive end that short-sighted albeit well-meaning emotionalism. I have always believed that right-wingers act upon what they know to be true, whereas left-wingers act upon what they feel to be true.

And on the issue of Omar Khadr, I see a departure of my usually logic-minded friends on the right to irrational emotionalism usually reserved for the left.

There are a few indisputable facts about Omar Khadr that we should realize and consider through a logical lens in order to proceed both in manner true to our cold sense of objectivity and in harmony with our values as but one element of modern Western civilization.

  • Omar Khadr is alleged to have thrown a grenade that killed an American medic in 2002.
  • Omar Khadr is a Canadian citizen. This is true as a fact and our emotional reaction to his family’s own irrationalism and Khadr’s own alleged actions does not change the truth of this fact. While Khadr spent most of his life in Afghanistan or Pakistan, he remains a legal Canadian citizen. Our government has the responsibility to enunciate our values on Khadr.
  • Every single person held in custody ought to be afforded the due process of law. There are exceptions that have been made when national security has been at stake yet Khadr has been held since 2003 and cannot be reasonably considered as a valued source of intelligence at this time. To deny Khadr due process is more fundamentally an affront to the basis of our values as modern civilized states in that we value the rule of law as constituent of the foundation that undergirds our society.

While Omar Khadr should not be left to rot at Guantanamo Bay, does this mean that Omar Khadr should be returned to Canada to face Canadian justice?

No.

Omar Khadr ought to face justice against his American accusers and stand trial before an American court. Guantanamo Bay cannot provide the justice that Americans deserve as Gitmo itself robs that society of two of its fundamental values: due process and the rule of law.

This conclusion of course will lead to some uncharacteristic emotional outcry from conservatives and most reaction will not be based upon the cold logical reason that is usually the hallmark of our ideology.

But, let’s go to first principles. Omar Khadr doesn’t himself deserve to be released from jihadi limbo at Gitmo and tried before an American court. However, as individuals who are defending a society based upon key values such as due process, presumption of innocence, and the rule of law, we deserve it. Khadr’s present threat does not manifest itself in his illiberal hatred of our culture, it rests instead in the extent to which we are to make our own values malleable in order rationalize our understandable but illogical emotion.

There is inconsistency on the Liberal side too, of course. Khadr was captured, interrogated and held under approval from the previous Liberal administrations. For them to demand his return, shows intellectual dishonesty and absurd emotionalism.

Khadr should not be returned to Canada, as we do not simply return Canadian citizens to Canada when they run afoul of the law in the United States. However, to complete this logical loop, Khadr must face the law in an American court. With both US Presidential candidates calling for the closure of Guantanamo, Prime Minister Harper would be wise to call for Khadr to face American due process.

Omar Khadr interrogation – supporting documents

Tomorrow, video of the Canadian/American interrogation of Omar Khadr at Guantanamo Bay will be released to the public. DVDs containing the video are said to run 7.5 hours long and Khadr’s defence team will be releasing a “highlight” video for the media.

Here are the documents describing Khadr’s interrogation

Read this document on Scribd: omar-khadr-interrogation

Stephane Dion goes west

Dion says that the Liberal carbon tax is a way for Alberta to redeem its “damaged” reputation!

I don’t know what’s more amusing for communication blunders, this declaration by the Liberal leader or the time when he compared Alberta to a milk cow.

I also enjoyed this,

Although Dion’s personal reputation in Quebec has not fully recovered, the country is now restive and the threat of separation is low, the former university professor said.

“We have a united Canada, a Canada built on clarity and mutual respect. We did it with the courage, the determination, of a cowboy from Calgary,” Dion told Liberal party supporters yesterday.

I know he was being figurative, but one has to wonder if he could have been referencing Stephen Harper.

Garth Turner, legend of the elected Liberal Member of Parliament

Canadian Press in the Globe and Mail:

Mr. Turner, 59, was a Conservative when he was first elected to the Commons in 1988. He served briefly as revenue minister and ran unsuccessfully for the Tory leadership in 1993 and lost in the general election that year.

He was re-elected as a Liberal in 2006.

I’m sorry, but that’s just not so!

Regular readers of political news will remember that Garth was unceremoniously booted from the Conservative Party caucus for breaching caucus confidentiality (and for not being a team player in general). He then mused on joining the Green Party making the Greens somewhat excited and likely anxious at the same time. He polled his constituents on their preferred path for their maverick MP and staying to this apt descriptor, ignored their advice and joined the Liberal caucus. Turner has never been re-elected as a Liberal MP even though he said that the floor-crossing David Emerson should have gone back to his constituents to be re-elected as a Conservative.

“Anyone who crosses the floor ultimately should go back to the people for ratification and I stick by it and hopefully in this case that will happen,” — Garth Turner as a Conservative MP

Garth has yet to resign his seat to force a by-election. He’s at home in his new – but not Green – shifty party.

Kory Teneycke is Stephen Harper’s new Director of Communications

Congratulations to Kory and thank you for taking up the cost of the job. A former lobbyist, Teneycke is now subject to future lobbying restrictions of the Federal Accountability Act. Though with this cost comes greater personal honour of serving Canadians.

Today the news hit the wire: Kory Teneycke is the new director of communications for the Prime Minister’s Office.

In Langevin, I’ve heard that new chief of staff Guy Giorno is telling communications staff that the theme from now until the writ is “be political”. As the new director of communications, Teneycke will assume this role of actively building positive political momentum in the messaging of the government, something that was somewhat muted under the former director.

Under Sandra Buckler, the communications strategy seemed to be more of a shield; the former D.Comm. was effective in circling the wagons closely and the government only messaged to mitigate damage or give a basic understanding of its agenda.

Under Teneycke, I’ve come to understand that the strategy will be more of a sword. The communications strategy of the Teneycke comms shoppe will be proactive in its approach, it will get ahead of message and set the political tone from the Conservative government’s perspective.