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Well, let’s just cut to the chase, shall we?


 

Where is the evidence that Guy Giorno is a competent prime ministerial chief of staff?

He arrived in July. Minister’s offices since then have been in a constant state of Langevin-directed chaos. Constant staffing changes are being driven by unseen gnomes at the centre countermanding the preferences of ministers who know their own employees and staffers who know their own competences. I know more than one case where staffers have been given to understand their continued employment with the government depended on accepting a change of assignment they found entirely unpalatable. What kind of Kafkaesque desk general thinks those people will do their best work at the new gig?

Immediately in mid-summer the prime minister started heaving from pillar to post about the timing and circumstance of the next election. His explanation for abandoning fixed election dates was risible. His stated goal was to reach a calmer post-election phase where a serious government could get serious work done. How’s that going?

The Harper Conservatives did make real gains in the election. They did this thanks to outreach work that began in 2006; and to Stéphane Dion’s tireless campaign to split the Liberal vote by legitimizing the Greens and demoralize Liberal campaign workers through confusion and mismanagement. What part of all this triumph was Giorno in charge of? Politicizing cuts to arts funding. Merci, Guy!

Long-term work paid off in the campaign; short-term work — let’s expand the economic portion of the leaders’ debate and show up with nothing to say about the economy! — not so much. And since the election, it’s the short-term work by profoundly short-term thinkers that has prevailed. Pillar-to-post messaging: That’s Harper in Peru with odes to Keynesianism, followed by Flaherty in the Commons with pointless, asinine provocation of parties who have the government outnumbered. A preference for picking fights over winning them — or even avoiding fights so you can govern instead — well, that’s been the theme of every week since July.

Kory Teneycke, it should be said, has been an excellent choice for communications director. On some days he looks a little harried. It is not an easy government to communicate for.

Fun fact: Giorno became Mike Harris’s chief of staff in August, 2000. Who believes the Ontario Conservatives’ fortunes improved after that date?


 
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Well, let’s just cut to the chase, shall we?

  1. If you haven’t yet, go read Scott Reid’s piece over in the Globe. Flip side of same coin, eh?

    I think parallels to the start of World War One can start being used now. The trains are leaving the station for the front. I don’t think there are any Schlieffen Plans in place, though.

  2. You know its funny, I just thought that SH mistook Canada now for Ontario in the late 90’s. I guess Giornio just has trouble leaving the 20th century, and is diong his best to maintain that reality, all evidence to the contrary.

  3. would Giorno have been on staff for the equally strategically brilliant move to give the budget speech at the Magma factory?

  4. The only head on a platter that matters is Harper’s.

    Who delivers Harper’s head on a platter gets to govern. The only question is whether the Conservative Caucus has the brains to do it before the Opposition coalition does.

    If the Conservative caucus does it first, they can go to Parliament with a new PM and a new finance minister and save the conservative minority.

  5. “A preference for picking fights over winning them — or even avoiding fights so you can govern instead”

    This is what I don’t understand. The Cons pick fights but run away at the first sign of resistance. The Government behaves as tho their ideas are bad/dangerous/scary and rarely make arguments that sound conservative. It’s like they are trying to bamboozle the public into supporting the party by making themselves appear Lib and I find it very frustrating indeed because they are doing nothing to advance conservatism within Canada. I think this started well before Giorno showed up on the scene but it has appeared to have gotten worse since he arrived.

  6. Whether he is good at running the office is one thing, but there has never been any doubt that his appointment was hugely significant as an indicator of the future direction of the Harper Government.
    A lot of commentators fell for sweaterman, but the real truth was welcome to Giornoland. A hard right turn, no governing from the centre, and Reform/Harris/ wedge issues. This last assault on the opposition, rubbing their noses in it, is pure Harris. But he had a majority! Somebody, as you are suggesting Paul, should notice the difference.

  7. Bring back Brodie!

    Bring back Brodie!

  8. I know Brad meant “Magna,” but it would indeed be a defiant statement about the enduring power of Canadian innovation if Flaherty were to make a budget speech in a factory where they were manufacturing MOLTEN HOT LAVA!

  9. In other words, Barbarian Cross-Dresser Night at the Hard Rock Café. Big-time.

  10. “..if Flaherty were to make a budget speech in a factory where they were manufacturing MOLTEN HOT LAVA!…”

    Flaherty puts little finger to the corner of his mouth, turns to camera and says “The stimulus will be ONE MIL-L-L-LION DOLLARS”

  11. Maybe Giorno is incompetent, and not the be totally facetious, but what about Harper? Presumably he is given the green light to this stuff.

  12. Marty:

    Perhaps more important than any Schlieffen Plans would be: has any party got a Plan XVII?

  13. whyshouldIsellyourwheat
    Nov 30, 2008 16:14
    Report Abuse

    The only head on a platter that matters is Harper’s.

    Who delivers Harper’s head on a platter gets to govern. The only question is whether the Conservative Caucus has the brains to do it before the Opposition coalition does.

    If the Conservative caucus does it first, they can go to Parliament with a new PM and a new finance minister and save the conservative minority.

    WSISYW – sadly, I have to remind you that – other than maybe Prentice – the team is lacking a little in depth.
    Poilievre – Meh!
    Baird? don’t make me laugh!
    Clement? Call me a doc quick!
    Toews?
    The former General / Defence minister whose name I conveniently forget!
    Guergis!
    MacKay? ha!

    Aside from their questionable competence – who would have the gonads to actually cut Harper off at the pass!

    Er -are you getting my message yet?

  14. Charles H: “Perhaps more important than any Schlieffen Plans would be: has any party got a Plan XVII?”

    Well, Jack Layton does look a bit like Joffre, and if you gave him a moustache Dion could pass for Gallieni.

  15. Here’s Joffre, for comparison.

  16. Isn’t the bigger question, “where is the evidence that Stephen Harper is even remotely a tactician”? He became PM on solely on the strength of the sponsorship scandal, and by leading the first united Tory party in a decade. I mean, blame Giorno all you want, but can anyone point to a single solitary example of Harper’s reputed tactical cleverness?

  17. Wouldn’t it be something if the CPC imploded in the midst of this political crisis Harper and Flaherty seem to brought upon themselves. I don’t think that the CPC has much depth, but I wouldn’t put anything past that fink Peter McKay. In any case, it makes you wonder how happy and united the CPC is behind closed doors.

  18. Is Giorno’s competence really the “chase” in this scenario? I would submit that his employer’s competence is more in question. If you’re so smart Paul, why don’t you try being chief of staff to Stephen Harper. It would be like being top adviser to a bull in a china shop.

    “Um, sir, don’t take this the wrong way, but you might want to be careful *crash*… oh, no problem, I’ll just tidy this up *crash*… oh, no, not your fault, that rack wasn’t terribly stable anyways *crash*… maybe if those socialists had made a little room in here for you sir *crash*… don’t worry sir, I’ll just send out a fundraising letter to help us cover these costs *crash*…”

    End scene.

  19. WW – “The former General / Defence minister whose name I conveniently forget!”

    O’Connor, Gordon that is.

  20. People are talking about “tactics” but we have perhaps witnessed the most monumentally stupid gambit in the Canadian political history. Harper put a gun to the head of the opposition parties and announced that his first priority was systematically destroying them and that they had only one other option, that was to replace him and be the Government. “Vulcan Chess Master”? Try “idiot”.

  21. Some bosses are just unmanageable, I guess.

  22. I love the hypocrisy of the “Blame Giorno” team. Most have no clue what’s going on in Ottawa but write on blogs so they believe they are the definitive authority on politics. These kinds of decisions seldom manifest from staff, they come form politicians – at least that’s argument they’d be giving in defense of Mr. Brodie.

  23. “I love the hypocrisy of the “Blame Giorno” team. ”

    All Giorno has to do is return Wells’ calls, otherwise the blog-o-floggings will continue.

  24. “I mean, blame Giorno all you want, but can anyone point to a single solitary example of Harper’s reputed tactical cleverness?”

    Mark, I’ll give you two:
    1) Quebec as a nation pronouncement
    2) Tapping Manley to head the Afghanistan panel

    Not that I don’t agree that the current crisis was absolutely a case of the PM underestimating his Opposition.

  25. Yup – Quebec as a nation won him a lot of seats in Quebec. Tactically brilliant. Clever.
    The Manley thing, well, I’ll give you that. It doesn’t necessarily prove he was tactically brilliant, but just that he was more clever than John Manley. You can take your own stock on how clever that makes anyone.

  26. As I recall, at least two of the floor crossings Harper courted rearranged the House arithmetic so that a voting majority was possible with either of the three opposition parties (allowed CPC+NDP to be a viable voting block). It is possible that was just coincidence, but I think that unlikely – Harper was able to keep options open. Minor tactics perhaps, but tactics nonetheless.

  27. Mark,

    Quebec as a Nation was and is seen by most (except maybe Andrew Coyne) as a smart move in retrospect. Harper lost the Quebec seats because of arts funding, youth justice, and virtually ignoring Gilles Duceppe during the election.

  28. It’s such a smart move in retrospect that his own ministers still can’t or won’t tell anyone what it means.

  29. dB

    Thanks for catching the spelling slip. i wish i could claim to have had the Austin Powers thing in mind when doing it.

    And then there was the moving truck with all the desks and chairs they were gonna save by reducing the number of MPPs Ontarians hadto represent them. Ontario still hasn’t recovered the ability to properly cover legislation in committee after what was done there.

  30. wow, what a clever way to move the debate away from the real issue, the fact that the socialists and separatists (apparently unbenownst to the Liberals) have been hatching a plot since the election. yes, the very recent democratic election which they lost. A plot to attempt a coup on Harper because they know the only way they will become government is to take power not earn it from the voters who regected them on October 14, that’s right, less than 2 months ago. Silly me, I thought we lived in Canada, a democratic country.

    And if you want to write about a man who you clearly know nothing about, other than what’s on his cv, talk to the numerous conservative politcal staffers who I am sure admire and respect him, not the countless Liberal staff that i am sure have posted above me.

  31. What about Bernier? He knows the man, and apparently didn’t think a whole lot of him. Staffers have no incentive to be honest about Harper, or at least not until the tell-all book after the whole thing blows up.

  32. A plot to attempt a coup on Harper because they know the only way they will become government is to take power not earn it from the voters who regected them on October 14, that’s right, less than 2 months ago. Silly me, I thought we lived in Canada, a democratic country.

    Yes, silly you. Go back to grade 9 Social Studies and catch up on how the government is determined in our parliamentary democracy. Don’t like it? Start a republican movement.

  33. Sure, Paul. Blame the whole mess on Giorno. As if the Conservative government never picked a needless fight ’til July.

    Didn’t Flaherty meddle in the financial business of the Province of Ontario? And didn’t Clement follow up by picking a fight with doctors? And there’s the Conservative treatment of the media. And of public servants, long before the recent fiscal update.

    Can’t blame Giorno for all of that stuff. The latest ham-fisted antagonism of the opposition looks like it’s part of the same pattern, to me.

  34. I personally like the sound of Prime Minister Prentice.

    As much as I’d like to see the backs of most of these clowns and ex-Harrisites, I expect that, at this point, the best thing for Canada might be a complete CPoC shakeup and a renewed openness to compromise, if for no other reason than the continued threat of the opposition pulling the plug now that they’ve demonstrated they have the gonads and the wherewithal to do so.

    Let all the parties and the Canadian population recover from the last ill-conceived and unneccessary election before we head into the next. And make no mistake, with this coalition we’d be back in election mode within 6 months..

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