Harper’s inner circle

Photograph reveals a rare glimpse of the PM’s advisers

by Paul Wells

Prime Minister Stephen Harper surprised his nearly 300,000 Twitter followers on Monday by tweeting photos and video from a typical day at home and on Parliament Hill.

One of the most striking posts was a short video showing him entering his daily senior staff meeting. It was a rare look at the advisers who are on hand to brief the PM as he begins his work day.
Many of these people are barely known outside Harper’s office. Their hiring and departure is almost never announced in a news release. This isn’t the only power group in Harper’s Ottawa — cabinet ministers and their staffs have important responsibilities; top bureaucrats manage departments numbering in the thousands — but in a city where it sometimes seems that clout increases with proximity to Stephen Harper, this is literally the inner circle.

Click on each individual to find out who they are and what they do:

Related reading: The Maclean’s Power List




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Harper’s inner circle

  1. i thought harper never read canadian newspapers or canadian news.i guess his ghost watching staff must be watching instead.ever since people complained about him being alone with his cat in his office(dr evil),he(harper)wants canadians to see his family portrait.tell me the reporters and journos are not fluffing for this goverment.so i guess harper has ghost writers and ghost watchers.

    • Tip: Press the spacebar after typing a sentence. This will reduce the instances of awkward, dead links.

  2. Where’s the cat…he’s the real power behind the throne. I bet he’s off behind a two way mirror with his paw on the the on/off switch for the mics. He’s probably taking this video too.

    • Obviously you didn’t see the pictures. Harper ate the cat for breakfast, because that’s what Harper does. And any time you see him eating candy, you can be sure he stole it from a baby. Because he’s evil.

      • No you fool. It’s the cat we have to watch out for i tell you. I bet the top of the agenda in that room was more mining for friskies on native land.
        That cat is a killer. I bet it can outwit Tony with just one paw tied behind its tail.

        • You make outwitting Tony sound like a feat, so clearly it can’t be Tony Clement you’re talking about . . . so what Tony are you referring to?

          • Crap my I phone effort doesn’t always arrive…

            No, it’s THAT Tony alright…what do you suggest to even the odds a little more? Maybe if we distract the cat with a ball of yarn?

          • I’m afraid that’s still out of Tony’s league.

          • :)

          • Same guy… You think it might help if we evened it up a bit more by distracting the cat with a ball of yarn too?

  3. For those who might be interested, would the author be able to give a rough comparison, in terms of race and gender, of how this circle of influence would stack up against the close circles of Mulcair and Trudeau (perhaps even Garneau, for fairness).

  4. we will see part III of this story in some newspaper tommorow showing harper tweeting to the cat..

  5. It certainly puts the twit back in twitter. Isn’t there enuf pics of the King all thruout Harperland?

  6. Where’s the personal stylist? Taking the picture?

    • shes getting the cat ready for a photo opp tommorow,showing how he can tweet harper.

    • And what’s the “body man” for?

      I hesitate to ask. Maybe he’s Harper’s stunt double, when he needs someone to drive the ATV or run for a double double at Timmies…read a book that elite snob of a novelist keeps sending him..pat the cat… that sort of thing?

      • “Sir? Sir? You’ve got to get out of here, you’re late for your next appointment.”
        *ignored*
        *sighs*

        *calls next destination on cell* “The PM’s running a little late today…”

        • ‘…can we send the cat instead? It’ll be alright, we’ll send TPs along with it. You’ll hardly notice the difference really. But you’ll just have to put it outside every now and again.’

      • I’d be guessing if I went into detail but the answer is basically, “whatever needs doing.” From carrying the text of a speech to being the last person to speak at a meeting. Every PM has had one. Bruce Hartley for Chrétien, Jim Pimblett for Martin. Ray Novak had the job until he grew out of it. The body man’s at almost every meeting. If he says smart stuff, he has clout. Charlie Young was Jed Bartlett’s body man. Apparently Reggie Love is Obama’s:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Body_man

        • Thx for the heads up Paul. I’m sure you realize i was being facetious. I’ve never heard that expression “body man” before. It seemed a bit odd, even suggestive to those of [cough] low humour.

  7. So Alykhan Velshi’s job is ‘ensuring that the government’s actions increase its chances of re-election’

    It almost sounds like actions that ‘increase your chances of re-election’ and actions that are ‘what’s best for the country’ aren’t always the same things.

    Yeah, I know any government has ‘that guy’ on their staff, but… ugh, that’s depressing.

    • Better to have one guy explicitly doing it than having the whole staff on it. In theory.

      • Depends on where that guy is in the pecking order.

        • True, you don’t want him having “zampolit” status, to pull the title from “The Hunt For Red October”…

          • Ah, yes. Starring Sean Connery as the Vilnius (by way of Edinburgh, Scotland) Schoolmaster. “Och, I know Slava. There’s prec-ious lit-tle room in Slava’s he-art for anyone but Slava.”

  8. Is this the cabinet room?

    • More like the war room.

      • “Gentlemen! You can’t fight in here. This is the war room!” (Interesting, also, how Peter Sellers’ President Merkin half resembles, in substance and demeanor, the current American office holder.)

    • The Cabinet meets in Centre Block. This room is likely in Langevin.

      • Would this be the room where Harper met with the FN leaders?

  9. So that’s what “highly placed sources speaking on condition of anonymity”
    look like in the daylight …

  10. I have been catching up on Anglo-Canadian culture – Trailer Park Boys!

    There’s this very nasty alcoholic park supervisor, Mr. Lahey, who has in his trailer a big picture of the Queen. This is what I am reminded of when I see this picture.

    I write this with all due respect to Her Majesty. I am a staunch monarchist. I have nothing against photos of the Queen – I have one in my house. But there is a proper place for the Queen, and a proper size for her photograph. This picture of the Queen is grotesque and inappropriate.

    • It’s a matter of personal opinion, it’s isn’t to me.

    • You think the Prime Minister’s office or residence is not a proper place for a Queen’s photograph? Don’t lie, you are not a monarchist and you don’t have her photograph at home.

  11. I’m glad I don’t have a smartphone. This sort of unsollicited propaganda makes me nauseous.

  12. This is a photo of an actual Cabinet meeting…..the political one is just for show, because the public expects a cabinet made up of MPs. As we all know, the public one gets to say nothing and do nothing….they just repeat talking and attack points and take home the salaries.

    Nice catch Paul.

    • The captions indicate that none of the people at that meeting was elected to be there to represent us.

      It is truly shocking that our country is being run from behind the scenes by people that one individual, Stephen Harper, has selected and hired.

      No wonder this country is falling apart and is in utter shambles financially….this is truly scary!

      • I’m a bit surprised by the apparently earnest comments questioning why none of these people were elected.

        1. Our democracy is representative, not direct

        2. As Wells points out, this isn’t the only power table in Ottawa

        3. Do you really think an organization the size of the government of Canada can be run entirely by elected officials? This is only the inner circle of the PMO. Each minister’s office has a similar circle, not to mention the offices of Deputy Ministers. The problem is not with unelected people doing pubic work – that is necessary. The problem is with ministerial responsibility – which is a concept that has pretty much been killed.

        4. How would you propose to stop this type of organization from occurring. The Prime Minister (or any executive) is going to ask for advice from people s/he trust and from people who have a track record of giving useful advice.

      • Well said Disgusted..EVERYTHING is done in secret by this lot.

  13. I wonder why Canadian pols and senior mandarins demand privacy and why do our journos go along with it? I love politics, it is interest of mine, but Canadian politics is dull as dishwater because of secrecy. I read UK and US press for politics and know all the senior players but in Canada the top people are ghosts.

    Pols like secrecy because that way no one knows what they are doing wrong but I have no idea why Canadian journos have decided to not write about influential public employees. The anonymity and privacy granted to our pols and bureaucrats means we are getting poor service from our bureaucracy. Organizations only improve when they are under attack or threatened but our msm think it is their job to be stenographers and The State now resembles Jabba the Hutt.

    • UK politics is more interesting principally i think because any self respecting pol DOES want to get portrayed in the gutter press as someone’s boy toy…it has become a badge of honour by now.

    • You don’t know senior advisers to Obama or Cameron. I doubt you know who Cameron is.

  14. I love cats. They most certainly should be, permitted in the inner circle. I was told cats have clout in the Harper’s home? Let’s appeal to them.

    Does anyone have the numbers of Politicians, we pay salary’s for? It seems there are more Politicians than Canadian citizens. I don’t even want to think, of the expense accounts. That has to be scary.

    • You don’t know?? 308 MPs. Keep your mouth shut, yo the ignorant.

  15. This comment was deleted.

  16. It’s funny after all the fun we’ve been having with this that only one person has[ crudely] pointed out that almost all of that room consists of people who are unelected. There’s over a dozen of the buggers. It is too much to expect i suppose that they work for free!

    • Mr. Harper is elected. This team is his assistants.

  17. Who are the two people who can’t be seen?

    • Nobodies. His schedulers.

  18. And so the inner circle is comprised of people of various expertise all dedicated to “spin” — Steve sets the agenda — their role is obviously to ensure that any obstacles to it are dealt with. I wonder if any of them would be willing to speak if the emperor entered the room in the nude — –

    • Do you think no PM before had his team “to spin”, as you put it? Your hate is obvious.

  19. O: Paul Wells with breaking news – former Opposition Leader, now Prime Minister, keeps young, able-bodied gentleman at beck-and-call in apartment over Stornoway garage!

    oops, sorry there, must’ve crossed intellectual wires with one of those loons who keep howling about Jack Layton (RIP).

  20. Looks like a line up..or sit down of the usual suspects!

  21. must gall Harper to have the REAL Queen looking DOWN on him.

  22. Is it a strategies to attract voters for the next elections? to bad, I’m not going to vote for your Mr. Harper.

    • As if you did…lol

  23. So nice of Harper to allow a couple of women into the Inner Circle…

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