‘Hold to clarify my amended response is the one I want used no figures’

Ministerial aide Ryan Sparrow helpfully suggests a new slogan for the next Conservative re-election campaign.

Bureaucrats calculated the value of the advertising campaign and prepared an answer the same day. Before making it public, however, they consulted Mr. Sparrow and other political officials on the proposed response. “The ad appeared on national networks, aboriginal and ethnic networks. The total TV media buy was approx $4,536,000. The Olympics package had a net cost of $1,849,829.00,” the chief of media relations, Patricia Valladao, said in an e-mail to Mr. Sparrow and two other ministerial aides, Michelle Bakos and Ana Curic.

Mr. Sparrow answered by telling the bureaucrats to “amend the response,” to simply say: “One 30-second TV ad was created in support of Canada’s Economic Action Plan. The ad started running the week of January 18th and will end with the Olympics. The ad highlights key government programs available to Canadians who have been affected by the economic downturn: extended EI benefits, retraining opportunities, apprenticeship grants and self employed EI benefits.”

‘Hold to clarify my amended response is the one I want used no figures’

  1. Ryan must be a slow learner. He should have spoken with these bureaucrats. Using the spoken word to tell them to suppress the truth would mean that he (Ryan) was more likely to get away with it.

    After all, even Richard Colvin's bosses knew enough to tell him to stop putting anything in writing.

    • Lesson learned, undoubtedly.

  2. I find this post more of an exercise in really poor email subject header writing than an exercise in exposing political oversight of bureaucracy.

    • Really?

      Come on.

  3. The government's whole argument about decisions like this being made by public servants and not political staffers is undermined when public servants apparently feel obliged to check in with political staffers before proceeding, even after having made the correct decision. This is why the arguments that national security documents aren't censored by political staff, but by neutral bureaucrats doesn't hold much water with me. How many of our public servants who are responsible for redacting national security information from documents before they're released feel obliged to email someone like Sparrow before hand to make sure they did it "right".

    It's just unconscionable to me that a bureaucrat could be right on the verge of providing the public with information the public is entitled to, only to be thwarted in the attempt by a political hack. And not just any political hack, but a political hack from the party that's supposedly all about transparency and accountability. That Sparrow could even write such an email (which essentially says, "before you release the information that's been requested through the Access to Information Act, please be sure to take out the information the G&M is actually requesting") is pretty shocking. That he'd then respond to the G&M's second response, EXPLICITLY asking for costing, with "the original response is fine" is just ludicrous.

    That the government does not answer questions put to them in Question Period is a routine of our democracy, and not worthy of much comment. That the government now appears to want to extend their non-answering of questions beyond Question Period to as far as placing roadblocks in the way of Canadians' access to information they should be entitled to, or out and out lying to journalists who are trying to track down the truth, is very worrying.

    • I couldn't agree more.

    • Hear, hear.

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