BTC: Predictable


Today’s story about Ryan Sparrow and the errant email is many things. But it is not, by any means, a surprise. Nor is it merely testament to a war room gone wrong. Even to call it a gaffe probably puts it too nicely.

Not when the Prime Minister once accused the opposition leader of sympathizing with the Taliban. Not when the Defence Minister has, at various points, questioned the patriotism of Canadians who disagree with the war effort in Afghanistan, accused Stephane Dion of endangering the lives of Canadian troops and dismissed his opposition critics as enemies of the state.

Not when the Prime Minister once casually suggested various opposition MPs were bigots. Not when he once implied there were anti-Semites on the opposition benches. Not when, just a night earlier, he was linking his opponents to Hezbollah.

Not after the nation’s doctors were chastised as unethical. Not after the Premier of Ontario was dismissed as the “small man of confederation.” Not after the Finance Minister deemed the nation’s most populace province to be the last place he’d invest. Not, for that matter, on a day when the Prime Minister was suggesting a carbon tax would break-up the country.

And not, ultimately, when the Tories themselves have drawn a straight line from the PMO to Mr. Sparrow.

“The public face of the Conservative Party as it battles through an election spending controversy is a 26-year-old political science graduate from Edmonton: a young partisan described by one senior Tory as so loyal that he’d ‘literally… take a bullet’ for Prime Minister Stephen Harper,” the Globe reported in April, profiling Mr. Sparrow. “That’s exceedingly high praise for Ryan Sparrow in a political party that perhaps more than any other in Ottawa demands unswerving allegiance from staff.”

Sparrow, Tories explained to the Globe, was only doing as told when he tried to conduct preemptive briefings with select reporters ahead of an affidavit release in the In-and-Out proceedings. “Tories privately say Mr. Sparrow should not be held responsible for communications strategies at party headquarters, saying the Prime Minister’s Office is calling the shots for this hardball approach to the media. ‘If they told him [instead] to go out and buy [reporters] beers every night, he’d do that,’ a second senior Tory said.”

Concluded the Globe reporter: “The Harper government appears happy with Mr. Sparrow.”

In this case, of course, the target wasn’t Stephane Dion, Denis Coderre or the universally reviled press gallery. It was the father of a deceased soldier. (Jim Davis’ mistake? He objected to the Prime Minister’s assertion of a hard deadline on Canadian involvement in Afghanistan. An objection the Prime Minister shared just a year ago. “We can’t set arbitrary deadlines,” he said, “and simply wish for the best.”) And at that, Ryan Sparrow had to take a bullet. 

When the Prime Minister got around to commenting on the matter today—after, mind you, the RCMP had been sent after Bob Fife—he placed the ultimate responsibility squarely with himself. “That individual has been suspended from the campaign,” he said. “I want to make it very clear that I have set a tone and an expectation as leader for this campaign. I’m going to make sure that that is followed all the way to victory.”

No doubt he intended to distance himself from the nastiness of today. But however you interpret those remarks, there is likely to be no truer summation of how it is Ryan Sparrow came to be suspended.

(See also: Geddes, Coyne, O’Malley, Wells, Radwanski, Bell)


BTC: Predictable

  1. If the current incarnation of the Liberal Party were not so strategically timid and inept, they would pounce on this, and every other Conservative gaffe like a vulture on an abandoned moose carcass. It’s not pretty, but that’s how you win elections, and it is why the Liberals will not win this one.

  2. I disagree Noam. First rule of politics: when your opponent is busy shooting themselves in the foot, and everyone is watching him do it, stay out of the way.

  3. You are so wrong Ted. When it comes to runing for office any press is better than no press as you can manage bad press and even use it sometimes as nothing is bad for everyone, but you can do nothing about no press. Especially when running for office this principle applies as no press means basically one thing no votes.

  4. It would be one thing for the Liberals to let the Conservatives defeat themselves if Stephane Dion was more well known, liked, and trusted by the Canadian public. But since Canadians appear to be weary of him, the Liberals have to get agressive.

  5. It’s day 4 of the campaign. Why take people’s minds of the Harper gaffe-an-hour antics? There will come a day when Harper is gaffe free, I’m almost certain of it, and there is still almost two months of campaigning to go. Certainly, if they did nothing, they’d get nothing. But don’t replace those nice headlines in tomorrow’s paper just yet. We’re reading this issue online right now. Most people are working. Which reminds me…

  6. If the current incarnation of the Liberal Party were not so strategically timid and inept, they would pounce on this, and every other Conservative gaffe like a vulture on an abandoned moose carcass

    Well, they were doing a pretty good job with the scandal-a-minute Conservatives while serving as Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, but that just enraged Harper so much, he went and nuked the 39th Parliament.

    You have the finesse the Harpies. They’re very fragile and brittle.

  7. Hey Wayne cracked another one. Referred to his CONs and put the word ‘principle’ in the same sentence…
    Yep, its all good for the CONs. But why won’t your leader talk about his plan to deregulate the nuclear safety, as requested by his Big Oil masters?

  8. Nothing like reading a left wing repoter use a dumb statment, to produce an even more dumb statement.

  9. Hey Dan keep trying maybe you will actually hit a puffin with one of the shots as this latest one is a miss.

  10. The depravity and vindictiveness of the CPC clearly knows no bounds. Their use of the death of a Canadian soldier for purely partisan political purposes is both disgusting and reprehensible. And yet another shameful display from the party that wants to continue governing Canada. Pardon me while I vomit.

  11. Uh, Robin, the CPC didn’t use the death of a Canadian soldier at all, even I’ll admit that. The problem was rather that they were willing to trivialize the death by writing off the concerns of the solider’s father as ‘an Iggy supporter’

  12. Stephen Harper – The Blowling Alley PM….do what he says, if you get caught he’ll knock down you pin.

    Sparrow – latest victim.

  13. I think the fatal flaw in the Cons awesomo-destructo strategy was based on Stephane Dion being the caricature they wished he was and that they went to war against this caricature. Reality is quite different. Despite the usual Traversties and Duffy blinders, the Cons appear to be having the kind of week everyone expected of Stephane Dion and the Liberals. Whowouldathunkit?
    Just wait, there is still the upcoming court dates for the Cadman affair and the In-&-Out shenanigans, not to mention the Julie Couillard book. And I am willing to bet dollars to donuts, the Cons will not know what hit them when it comes to the debates. Harper is withering under the glare and spotlight, he is not used to being bombarded with a constant stream of bad news. Stephane Dion has had 20 months of practice and it looks like he can very much handle it. It appears the Cons stratey was basically just more attacks. Brilliant!

  14. I see where Ted is coming from but ultimately I agree with Noam. If the Libs weren’t in such a big hole already they could let the Cons self distruct but as things stand more boldness is required. As for Wayne- I am always amazed at your ability to pretend that everything Tory is perfection no mater how much it stinks. The Tories are doing their level best at self anhialation by any even vaguely objective standard and you turn to the old “any press is good press” line. You seem to think that Dion (or anyone who isn’t Tory Blue to the core) is the literal spawn of Satan while Haper craps blocks of rose scented pure gold. Seriously, partisanship is fine but there is a line between partisanship and laughable blindness.

  15. the cons are self destructing

    “Conservatives are known for being disrespectful to people who oppose them. I’ve seen it in the House of Commons – the insults come fast and furious.” NDP Leader Jack Layton

    Tory communications director Ryan Sparrow was suspended and forced to apologize Thursday for implying that criticism from the father of a Canadian soldier killed in Afghanistan may have been politically motivated. Sparrow made the suggestion in an email to a CTV journalist after Jim Davis, who lost a son in Afghanistan, called Harper’s surprise pledge to pull Canadian troops out of Afghanistan in 2011 “irresponsible.” Sparrow’s email to Jenna Fyfe, a producer with the television network, appeared to discount that criticism by noting that Davis was a supporter of Liberal deputy leader Michael Ignatieff.

    It was the fourth time in the still-early days of the campaign that Harper has had to deal with gaffes, or climb down from previous positions.

    The prime minister issued a rare apology for an offensive ad showing a bird pooping on the Liberal leader. He reversed his opposition to including Green Leader Elizabeth May in the televised debates. And he had to deal with the resignation of a Conservative candidate in Halifax after it became known she had a criminal record.


  16. Harper has created an atmosphrer of mean spirited vindictive attacks. It is no wonder his staff engages in it having watched their leader. The puffin is coming home to roost.

  17. Losers hire losers. Harpy better take the hit as leader – that’s his job and if he can’t stand the heat…..

  18. Dumb!

    Okay, let’s shine some light on the rhetoric behind this article.

    “Not after the Finance Minister deemed the nation’s most populace province to be the last place he’d invest. ”

    Now let’s look at Flaherty’s actual quote:

    “Their business taxes are the highest in Canada. If Mr. McGuinty thinks that’s good for the manufacturing sector in Ontario, he’s wrong. It discourages investment in the province of Ontario. If you’re going to make a new business investment in Canada, and you’re concerned about taxes, the last place you will go is the province of Ontario.”

    He was criticizing McGuinty’s government for keeping business taxes too high. Stands to reason that if business taxes are the highest in Canada and taxes are an issue for where you place your investment dollars, that the place in Canada with the highest taxes, will be the last place you invest.

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