Introducing the new PMO director of communications

by Paul Wells

Attention, Canadian females. This is the Conservative Party of Canada speaking. We want your vote.

You know his work, even if you do not know him. Kory Teneycke, the new director of communications for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, arrives from the Conservative Resource Group, whose 37 employees report to Teneycke (or did until this week) and which had a hand — or, as the case may be, a Splot — in all of the most exuberant ad campaigns run off the party’s website (which looks uncharacteristically sober today).

I have known Kory for something pretty close to a decade, never well. He is a slim, soft-spoken man, I suspect not much older than 30, who quit the Progressive Conservatives when he was the party’s student president at Carleton University to join Preston Manning’s Reform party. In this he was only staying true to his convictions: with David Frum he had helped to organize the 1995 Winds of Change conference that was the first, prehistoric attempt at a reconciliation between Tory and Reform conservative factions.

From Manning’s office, where he had a series of organizational roles, Kory went to Saskatchewan to help Elwin Hermanson’s Saskatchewan Party come within a hair of knocking off the Roy Romanow NDP. Then to Toronto, where he looked after energy and environmental files for Guy Giorno and Mike Harris. (So my first instinct — that Teneycke’s appointment represents a partial re-balancing of the very Queen’s Park-heavy new PMO toward the Reform faction — was misleading, since Teneycke has credentials in both camps.) Then came stints as a lobbyist at Prospectus Associates (bi-partisan; that’s Chrétien’s former body man Bruce Hartley listed among the principals) and then his most widely-noted gig, at the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association, which likes ethanol.

Through it all, I’ve found Teneycke personable and low-key. Much as I found his predecessor, Sandra Buckler, before she moved to the PMO. It is pointless to speculate whether he will be a kindler, gentler face for reporters to deal with. For one thing, I’m told the debate over whether it makes strategic sense to show reporters a kinder face is not settled at the PMO. For another, we’ll find out soon enough. But more broadly, it is no coincidence that a permanent campaigner with seasoning beyond his years is moving to the PMO.

On Wednesday morning Guy Giorno held a meeting of the entire PMO staff. After introductory remarks from the Prime Minister, the new Chief of Staff told the assembled staffers, some of whom have already since been fired, that when the House of Commons reconvenes in the autumn, the next election will be a year away at the most, and that all decisions will now be made within that pre-election frame. Conservative political staffers are being told to expect a leaner, less bureaucratic government that focusses less on day-to-day management of policy files — “we’ve got a professional public service to take care of that,” one source told me — and more on sharpening distinctions between the Conservatives and their opponents.

It’s within that frame that Kory Teneycke will operate.




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Introducing the new PMO director of communications

  1. “and that all decisions will now be made within that pre-election frame.”

    Mmm hmm. And this is a change from the current, policy-driven environment where they’re all about the long-term, what’s best for the country kind of thing?

  2. Jeff, good one.

    But is this really such a difference from recent Liberal governments and their “long-term, what’s best for the country” thinking?

  3. So the mission will be “sharpening distinctions between the Conservatives and their opponents.”

    Great. I was afraid there might be some attempt to build bridges, bring people together, that sort of thing.

    - JV

  4. “You know his work, even if you do not know him.”

    Wasn’t that Sparrow’s handiwork, and no, CPC website still has OILY and more photos of Dion than of Harper.

    “I suspect not much older than 30″

    Organized Winds of Change in 1995, when he was 17! And one wonders why that project went nowhere.

    “Then to Toronto, where he looked after energy and environmental files for Guy Giorno and Mike Harris”

    And that worked so well that Harris is now a dirty word in Ontario.

    Gee, Paul, who is feeding you this biographical fluff?

  5. Thanks for the background, good read.

  6. The Liberal style of government always reminded me of the same type of thinking as “What’s good for General Motors is good for America”.

    This type of arrogance is what got the Liberals into trouble in the sponsorship scandal and the 2006 election.

    Looking at the recent problems at GM, perhaps it would be better for Giorno to try a different model?

  7. Wow Brian, do you even read posts before you comment on them?

  8. “which had a hand — or, as the case may be, a Splot — in all of the most exuberant ad campaigns run off the party’s website (which looks uncharacteristically sober today”

    Hope you don’t get sued for this assertion, Paul. You’re claiming that the CRG, which I think is a taxpayer funded group, is working on ads run by the party.

    BTW – Sparrow is part of CRG now too.

  9. Mr. Wells this is off subject but I just re-read Stephen Harper and Tom Flanagan’s essay Benign Dictatorship (AKA The Blueprint)

    http://splatto.net/blog/?p=860

    And I was just wondering if we can get a report card from you some time in the future(I have read your excellent book Right Side Up, that does not count).

    Re-reading this now just blows my mind. How is the Conservative movement doing in your mind? in regards to this Essay.

    And also wathing the NDP get some good old fashion lefty’s this week. Has are country not progress along the lines that thi Essay laid out over 10 years ago?

    ps: sorry to be off topic but your really good with candian political history.

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