'Enemy' list for new ministers is petty, childish, say government critics - Macleans.ca

‘Enemy’ list for new ministers is petty, childish, say government critics


OTTAWA – Immigration lawyer Barbara Jackman doesn’t know if the Conservative government has an “enemies” list, but if they do, she figures she’s probably on it.

Jackman, a prominent immigration advocate and perennial thorn in the side of governments of various stripes, never met once with Jason Kenney during his five years at Citizenship and Immigration Canada, and says the minister made it clear that if she attended stakeholder meetings, he would not.

A leaked memo shows that in the leadup to Monday’s cabinet shuffle, the Prime Minister’s Office asked ministerial offices to provide a list of unhelpful bureaucrats and “friend or enemy stakeholders” to guide the incoming boss on who to meet and avoid.

The PMO is refusing to confirm or deny the memo’s authenticity.

“While we don’t comment on internal communications, we are collaborating with our ministers, especially new ministers, to ensure they are fully briefed so they can continue their work on behalf of Canadian taxpayers,” Harper spokesman Carl Vallee said in an email.

The “Transition Binder Check List,” dated July 4, was to be inserted into transition briefing books prepared for new ministers as they entered cabinet or moved to different portfolios.

The memo was apparently inflammatory enough to cause some disgruntled individual to mail off copies to media outlets across Ottawa.

“Is this the real face of the new ‘fresh’ cabinet?” said an anonymous cover letter stapled to the PMO email.

The leak is illuminating on two fronts: It highlights both a Conservative government penchant for us-versus-them thinking and also the looming internal perils of a major cabinet shuffle that has left some long-time government members permanently on the outside looking in.

“When I heard about the list my first thought was, ‘Am I on it?'” Jackman said in an interview from her Toronto law office.

“Because this minister (Kenney) has made no secret about the fact that — although I’ve never met him, never dealt with him — he doesn’t like me.”

Kenney once called Jackman a “left-wing hack” in the House of Commons, later retracting the “hack” remark.

“Other ministers have disagreed with me but they’ve never refused to meet with me, nor have they bad-mouthed me out of the blue for no reason,” she said.

“It’s petty and childish. And to pass it on to the next minister is more pettiness and childishness.”

Chris Alexander, Kenney’s successor as immigration minister, told CTV the transition books are useful guides to policy.

“It’s not about who hasn’t supported us,” Alexander said Tuesday.

“We know there will be some of those in Parliament and outside. It’s about what has worked and what needs to work in the future if we’re going to keep this country’s economy strong.”

Robert Fox, the executive director of Oxfam Canada, said it is not an unusual government tactic abroad.

“Because Oxfam works around the world, we do see governments around the world who shut out their own citizens and we also see the consequences when governments do that,” Fox said in an interview.

“We think it’s vitally important that governments be open to hearing as many different views as possible.”

But that’s just not the way the Harper government rolls, said Brent Rathgeber, the dissident Independent MP who left the Conservative caucus this spring.

“On the political side, the communication people and issues management (staff) live in this life-and-death struggle world of politics that they’ve self-created for themselves,” Rathgeber said.

“There are no shades of grey. Everything is black and white…. If you don’t support the government and don’t support the government agenda, you’re maligned as an enemy.”

Jim Munson, a Liberal senator who was once communications director for Prime Minister Jean Chretien, said in an email that during his two years in the PMO he never saw or heard of a “so-called enemies list.”

“Bureaucrats were viewed as enablers helping to deliver government programs,” Munson said in an email.

The Harper government’s siege mentality suggests it is capable of anything, said New Democrat MP Charlie Angus, the party’s ethics critic.

Angus said he sees it at the root of everything from various election campaign spending imbroglios to the Mike Duffy scandal in the Senate.

“If you believe that you’re surrounded by enemies, then it justifies taking whatever action you feel is appropriate,” he said.


‘Enemy’ list for new ministers is petty, childish, say government critics

  1. It would be a badge of honour to be on this regime’s “enemy list”.

  2. Petty and Childish. File under rejected conservative slogans…

  3. PM Tricky-Dicky Harper

    • Nixon at least accomplished a few things internationally. Not this flacid bozo we have to endure.

      • Yes, he did, and as they say only Nixon could have gone to China.

  4. Anyone going into a senior job, either in government or the private sector, wants and needs to know where both the sweet-smelling roses and the cow pies are. To suggest otherwise shows either an incredible level of naivete or a very set and biased agenda.

    • agreed

    • Then, sweetie, you don’t lable them ‘enemies’. That is paranoid and sick beyond belief.

      • I really don’t appreciate the patronizing ‘sweetie’. However, looking beyond that bit of rudeness, anyone in a position of authority has entities that range all the way from very good friends to others who would gladly bury a blade in your back at the first opportunity. To deny that is not only naive, but denial. I’m not particularly keen to be one of those people who wear rose colored glasses while their head is buried in the sand.

        • “Enemy” is a very heavy-duty (and frankly childish) word to use on your fellow Canadians who might hold a different view than yours. It is disturbing when it comes from an apparent head of a democratic country.

          • Keep repeating the shallow mantra found in the article’s headline. Actually, you missed half of it: petty, if you’re into letting the liberal left wing media do your thinking for you.

  5. There is absolutely nothing “petty” or “childish” about informing new Ministers about possible land mines (in the form of hostile individuals or oganizations — such as the foreign funded Avaaz) that they might encounter as they take on new responsibilities. This is an entirely sensible thing to do and only fair to those who must get up to speed very quickly on their new jobs. As usual, the Harper haters have decided to give this a negative spin.

    • There is probably not a political party or for that matter a business that does not have an enemies list. I am pretty sure that there have been these type of lists have existed in parliament since 1867 and before. Why is this concept suddenly unique to the CPC and Harper’s so-called hidden agenda. This is the by-product of too many couch dwelling lefties with huge imaginations and way,way,way too much time on their hands

      • So tell us where to find the Liberal enemies list, aside from all members of CRAP.

        • So tell me how long have been living in your deluded reality that enemies list do not exist

  6. I would just like to say that I would be very proud to be on the “enemy” list of this paranoid and insecure little Hair Harper. He can now join the dirtied ranks of Nixon, J. Edgar Hoover, Mussolini and Hitler – all short-shrifted men who wallowed in their insecurities by bullying others.
    Disgusting little unCanadian creeps. 2015 cannot come soon enough.

    • you forgot McCarthey and look at the hell he created

  7. Where can I buy a t-shirt that says “PROUD to be on Hair Harper’s enemy list”?
    I would think you would find a majority of Canadians would definitely want to buy one and wear it with much enthusiasm.

    • Think it’s actually Herr Harper why not get a t-shirt that says;
      ” I Kan’t Splel”

  8. Sure would like to see the journalists enemies list. Not too many on there, 5 or 6 maybe out of the entire Ottawa press crew.


  9. I am Enemy # 1 its time for Canada to Write a Constitution IF you al believe we have one. Your so, SO, VERY wrong (I refrained from vulgarity) We have one clause that robs us of every word of the Charter of rights and Freedoms and its Quebec’s Linguistic Demise at this moment every person in Quebec has No freedom or Rights as we are supposed to know it and any judge can invoke this. section 33 the Famous Not With Standing Clause . Quebec seized on this and Joined confederation and snickered ah ha what constitution we will now show Canada what we want . LANGUAGE POLICE and UNIL:INGUAL BY DECREE Not withstanding every persons right to English or French, equally and without discrimination. Why does the Conservative government not want to make constitutional waves it is as plain as the nose on any persons face .
    CONSTITUTIONL REFORM or words that speak of it ! I want Canada to have one constitution and one that is Guaranteed not Assumed and then destroyed by the saying of 3 words . WHAT CONSTITUTION. NON and any one challenge my words Ill take you up on that and win read it weep Canada WERE all QUEBEC SAPS ONE MORE its taken too long for the blind mice ( 30 million of us to se it.
    Enemies are the Truth Police of Canada and should be listened to first and before a LIER and a criminal like HARPER. We should not fear them If we do we have the wrong government in power. They rule by Absolution and a MAJORITY Dictatorship. NO one can call them out ONLY we the people. Time for us to speak up and be heard. Time for us to NAG AT THEM . This fear is only one of a Cabinet hiding serious issues such as the Chinese investment issues sell Canada’s minerals and Oil Cheap because cheap Chinese labor will work them . What other Dictator mistakes has he made and hiding from us these Enemies want to publicize. ?????????