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If you announce a $2 billion election promise/funding commitment in a forest, and nobody hears …


 

So it turns out that, according to a commenter that took last night’s ITQ challenge, at least one media outlet did cover yesteday’s possibly-re-announcement of $2 billion worth of homelessness/housing funding: local Ottawa radio station CFRA. What’s not clear, however, is how on earth the station would have known to show up to hear it.  

There was no media advisory, and from what I can tell, the accompanying press release – obtained by macleans.ca –  appears to have been sent out not to the media, but to one, and one recipient only: the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, which proceeded to put out the statement that tipped off everyone else that the event had taken place at all.

In response to last night’s post, FCM’s intergovernmental affairs manager Eamonn Horan-Lunney dropped ITQ and Inkless an email. According to FCM, they learned of the announcement “around 4pm yesterday, shortly after it occured at an event with John Baird in attendance.” They obligingly sent along a copy of the release, in PDF format, which is printed on John Baird’s party letterhead, with the Conservative Party logo featured prominently at the top. The contact at the bottom? John Baird’s director of communications, Courtney Payne: 

 

Readers can imagine, then, the puzzlement with which we read the following in today’s Ottawa Citizen

The Conservatives intend to spend almost $2 billion over the next five years on anti-homelessness programs that were slated to expire next March.

The minister who made the announcement called it “a commitment” from the government — not an election promise — even though the nearly $2 billion in funding was unveiled in mid-campaign, less than four weeks from election day.

Monte Solberg, the minister of human resources and social development (who is not running for re-election), made the announcement at a youth-housing facility on Ottawa’s west side yesterday afternoon, along with John Baird, the Conservative incumbent in Ottawa West-Nepean.

Apparently, this wasn’t a campaign promise at all, but a “commitment” from the government, which was announced not by Baird, but the retiring minister. Yet oddly, it didn’t seem to make it onto the departmental website at Human Resources Development Canada, which seems a curious omission, given the amount of money involved. 

The Globe and Mail, meanwhile, quotes Kory Teneycke – listed here as a “Conservative spokesman”, but who also serves as the Prime Minister’s director of communication – confirming that the money had, in fact, already been allocated in the budget, but adds that “the decision on where to put it was made Sept. 4 at the meeting of the cabinet’s priorities and planning committee” – just four days before the election officially got underway, if you’re keeping track.  

So why, then, was it announced on John Baird’s letterhead, with no notice given to the media by either the department or, for that matter, the Baird campaign? And why did the FCM call it a “campaign promise” in its response, if it was actually just a reannouncement of funding that had already been secured?


 

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