Minding the ministerial perception

by Aaron Wherry

The Citizenship and Immigration Department has spent $750,000 monitoring ethnic media coverage—including perceptions of the Immigration Minister and coverage during the last election.

“A series of interviews and appearances by minister Kenney and his representatives were strong contributors to the upswing in the ministerial image,” says a report from May 5, 2010, under a pie graph titled “Minister Overall Perception.”

The ministerial perception charts were weekly fixtures in the lengthy media monitoring reports in the spring of 2010, when the minority Conservatives were on a constant election footing.

Mr. Kenney’s office says it was not involved in the department’s media monitoring decisions.




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Minding the ministerial perception

  1. Kenney has been using taxpayer dollars all along to micro target the ethnic vote…

  2. I found this disturbing sounds like taxpayers are paying for campaign analyis

    Daily monitoring continued during the 2011 election period and included reports — graded from “very positive” to “very negative” — on campaign events by Kenney and Prime Minister Stephen Harper and their political opponents

    election clearly looming, the taxpayer-funded reports began being copied by email to an anonymous, private account, laurier365@yahoo.com, in addition to departmental officials.

    The departmental headquarters, including Kenney’s ministerial office, is located at 365 Laurier Ave., West, in Ottawa. The email account is no longer active

  3. Oh great, now thanks to this article they’ll have to start a separate fund for monitoring the perception of people learning about the money spent on gauging perception. Since I know you’re reading this – HEY KENNEY YOU ARE SCUM AND YOUR ANTI-VEILED CITIZEN OATH IS RACIST CRAP!

  4. What’s the big deal? The Conservatives won! That means they get to use any government funds they want to campaign for the next election. Right? Andrew, explain it to them.

  5. wiki ~ Narcissus in Greek mythology was a hunter …. He was exceptionally proud, in that he disdained those who loved him. Nemesis saw this and attracted Narcissus to a pool where he saw his own reflection in the water and fell in love with it, not realizing it was merely an image. Unable to leave the beauty of his reflection, Narcissus died.

  6. I can’t think of any reason why any department would monitor the “ministerial image” unless they were directed to.

    The image of the department as a whole? Sure. Although weekly seems quite excessive to me.

    And I’m sorry, for Kenney to say it’s office was not involved in the department’s media monitoring decisions.. to the tune of 750k.. doesn’t that imply that, at best, his office is incredibly loose with taxpayer dollars — that is, incompetent? Mr. Kenney, why are you letting tax dollars be wasted in this way?

    • In my own provincial exp, we monitor Monthly the overall impression of the “ministry”, not the “Minister’. Under no circumstances wiould be switch that, unless directly ordered by the staff of the Minister. And if they did this, there are lots and lots of unhappy, grumbling emails. It’s freedom of information time, Aaron.

  7. Well. At least we know that the money pulled out of the cancelled Katimavik program is being utilized in a fiscally prudent manner.

    An effing disgrace

  8. When Trudeau declared in 1971 that Canada would adopt a multicultural policy, it may have been for idealistic reasons initially, however Davey and Coutts and the boys soon reminded the PM that courting the recent immigration vote with strategically placed bocce courts, grants of land for ethnic gatherings, and special recognition of ethnic cultural practices would ensure that these immigrants would feel a special loyalty to the Liberal Party. The funds needed for this cozying up were public funds—not LPC funds.
    Until recently the Liberals owned the immigrant vote and won a few elections because of that.

    I suppose Harper and Kenney and the boys could have ignored the immigrant vote or at best treated them as equal citizens, but hey, they`re politicians—they identify voting groups and they court them—that`s their job—ask a Liberal.

    • If this is the best the CPC can do they might just bleed heavily on this matter.

    • Providing services to people with public money is what the government is supposed to do. That’s why it exists. If you’re saying that government shouldn’t be doing this, then you’re an idiot. But we already know that.

      The problem is, this doesn’t in any way address why government is spending public money monitoring the perception of people toward specific ministers as this provides no benefit to any part of the public aside from the minister.

      • Now even you do not really believe that ” Providing services to people with public money ” has always been done for strictly public service reasons. The Liberals were blatant about funneling public money into areas where they would be expecting a payback in the next election—that is until the ultimate funnel led them to Sponsorship.

        —-About your name-calling habit –are you feeling a bit off recently or is this just your way of letting us know you`ve got nothing else to offer ?

        • The name-calling is for two reasons. First, to make you understand that your lying crap is unliked and unwelcome here, at the very least by myself. I hold the vain hope that it might cause you to reconsider you constant lying and attempts to “muddy the waters” as the campaign manager for the CPC has said is a good thing to do. The second is for the benefit of folks who might just be looking in here. I think it’s probably better for them if they understand what a lying waste of skin you are from the get-go then having any sort of impression that you’re a reasonable use of a human being.

          As to the rest of your post, I’m half ass tempted to ignore it, as I recognize you’re simply attempting to muddy the waters and distract from the issue, but I feel it’s worth pointing out just *how* you’re an idiot:

          The reasons behind providing public services to people are irrelevant, so long as the services are provided fairly. Hell, our democratic system is *based* around the idea that we elect those who we think will provide the most for us.

          Which is why, bringing this back to topic, Kenney’s behavior is so reprehensible here. Not only has this department been using taxpayer money to benefit his election chances, it’s done so in a manner that provides no benefit to the rest of us.

          • So you think you are some kind of policeman monitoring the contributors to this blog—IMHO you are one of the reasons why this blog has only become a mirror image of the host—so many of you irrelevants need Wherry to lead you in your constant whining.

            I provide, frequently alone, a contrarian view to your simplistic left wing stance. And that`s all it is—a hateful stance against all things Conservative—completely ignoring the fact that Liberals perfected the art of sucking up to any group available.

            And you actually think your hateful rants would serve as any benefit to any that might be looking in here—try to get a grip on reality.

          • “I suppose Harper and Kenney and the boys could have ignored the immigrant vote or at best treated them as equal citizens, but hey, they`re politicians—they identify voting groups and they court them—that`s their job—ask a Liberal.”
            Yes, they identify voting groups and they court them, and that’s perfectly fine. But can you explain to me why that should be done with tax payer dollars as opposed to party dollars?

          • You provide lies, red-herrings, and garbage. A contrarian stance would be one that actively engages the issue of how Kenney is incompetent, and attempts to demonstrate why it might be a reasonable thing for him to do.

            Whines of “But Mom! They Did It First!” are not contrarian. They are pathetic distractions at best, especially given that the CPC campaigned specifically on not being like the Liberals. It was generally assumed by people that that promise didn’t mean they’d actively attempt to be worse.

            Incidentally my hateful stance is not against all things Conservative, just against things that are idiotic, false, and damaging to our democracy. Unfortunately, it seems this often coincides with the policies and actions of the CPC, and almost always coincides with the crap you put forth.

      • I think what he’s saying is that the Conservatives have adopted one of the worst practices of a previous the Liberal party, with the twist that there aren’t even any public services to show for it – so, uh, let’s all talk about the Liberals.

        • I think what he’s saying is that the Conservatives have adopted one of the worst practices of a previous the Liberal party.

          Now, now, credit where credit is due.

          The Conservatives have adopted almost ALL of the worst practices of the previous Liberal Party.

    • So you’re saying the hated, despicable, evil, morally bankrupt Libs are role models for current Cons?

      Amazing.

      • I don’t know, it’s not so amazing. Didn’t pretty much EVERYONE figure out, years ago, that the Tories had adopted pretty much every trick they ever screamed about the Liberals doing?

        That said, I suppose that it is arguably amazing that Andrew’s coping to it so honestly.

    • Thank you, Andrew. I didn’t see the explanation “Liberals Bad, Shiny Key!” coming. You are a treasure.

      • I can`t believe that you have not made the connection between the active effort by the Conservatives, led by Kenney, to appeal to recent immigrants as a means to offset the stranglehold the Liberals had over the immigrant vote.

        Both Kenney and Harper can read history and Election results. They knew their best chance for a majority was through the heavily-populated ethnic urban vote. And they were absolutely right. They are the most diversely represented group in Parliament and their voters are quickly becoming the most diverse.

        When I see the stubborn and angry refusal of liberals like Thwim to face the fact that the old Liberal way won`t work anymore I`m not surprised that the Liberals have become the Party of the old white guy—-I`m just surprised that it happened so quickly.

        • The point is obvious and yet you still can’t seem to grasp it: Public money is being used not to provide services to Canadians but to a single Canadian, the Minister.

          This has nothing to do with seeking favour with ‘ethnic groups’ through the provision of ‘bocce courts’ and the like (which, agreed, was very much an old-line Liberal approach) and everything to do with favourable perception – or not – of a particular minister (which is brand-spanking new). To the tune of 3/4s of a million bucks.

          And, yes, Kenney’s office’s denial of any knowledge of this indicates either a baffling incompetency regarding the public treasury or worse: a cynical squandering of public funds for political purposes. Let us hope it is merely the former.

          • Sometimes it is good to carefully read the linked articles.

            For your benefit and that of any body who may be just looking in here, it is important that you do not take the word of the angry Thwim. In his hateful haste to agree with Wherry and condemn all things Conservative he may have led you to believe that the three-quarter million was spent on Kenney`s perception in the last Election.
            Actually only a small portion of that was spent on Kenney and it was over 3 years—probably not unusual—can you grasp it ?

          • While talking about Thwim, you avoided the calmer, reasonably-tempered me.

            Perfectly fine to identify voters and target them. Perfectly fine. But why is it ok to do that with taxpayer dollars instead of party dollars?

            Answer me that, Andrew.

          • It`s not ok to spend any hard-earned tax payer money on strictly Party purposes—but I`m enough of a realist to know it is done and always has been done. If the media is more observant of gov`t waste after they dropped the ball during the Chretien gov`t, then that is a good thing.

            Granted it appears much of this three-quarter million was spent on the normal activity that happens at Ministries, however I will agree that even the small portion spent on Kenney`s profile should have been Party funds—-let`s hope our blog host is as diligent at weeding out the waste in all gov`t depts and all civil servants.

          • “If the media is more observant of gov`t waste after they dropped the ball during the Chretien gov`t, then that is a good thing.”

            Agree. And now that the media has observed it, and asked the government about the spending, the next question is what will the government do to respond? Will it pay back the money spent on partisan purposes?

            Back in 2004 Stephen Harper told me to “demand better”, not more of the same. To paraphrase a recent National Post column, the only difference between today’s Conservatives and yesterday’s Liberals is the colour of the signage.

          • Gee, you know, it’s not hard to recall the ‘media’ breaking the HRC b.s. And, gosh, didn’t they kind of make us all aware of money for flags, or something, being re-directed to the Liberal party? So, exactly where were balls dropped? It’s pretty fair to say the ‘media’ had a lot to do with the end of the last Liberal government, no?

            “Most government departments do issue-related media monitoring, but the Citizenship and Immigration exercise appears more politically attuned.”

            That’s from the linked article. Seems like a measured statement. No conclusions, right? The media’s just being ‘observant’.

            So let’s go to simple precepts, like ‘qui bene’. Who benefits from this $1.2 Million monitoring of the ‘ethnic media’ by Kenney’s ministry and, apparently, the PCO?

            Was it the Canadian public, who paid for it? If so, how? Please do tell.

            Arguably, the Minister himself and the Government in general benefited quite well from the public money spent monitoring the minister’s public image. Electorally at any rate. But, of course, the Minister knew nothing of it. One supposes the PCO – who, as the WFP reports, spent almost 500 K to the same firm – was equally unaware of the cash bonfire.

          • Well, Andrew, the last election wasn’t mentioned in the response, so let’s dismiss that particular red herring.

            The issue appears to be the direction of public money, over time, to manage an individual minister’s public perception to no one’s interest but his own (And as the WFP is reporting this evening, it’s not just Kenney’s ministry: the PCO is also in on the fun). If you have facts you wish to advance that counter this, please feel free to rebut accordingly,

            This is not about wishing to “condemn all things Conservative”,

            Again, the issue is public monies directed not to any perceptible benefit to the public but to the service of an individual member thereof, a minister of the crown, If there is a benefit, it can understandably be perceived, perhaps even shown to be, one of personal or political advantage.

            And if that’s not the case, the minister is either unaware of, unwilling to oversee or unable to manage his ministry’s spending. Which is incompetence (or ‘uncompetence’,take your pick). So, grasp that.

        • When I see the stubborn and angry refusal of liberals like Thwim to face the fact that the old Liberal way won`t work anymore I`m not surprised…

          Except, the “old Liberal way” still DOES work. It’s just been painted blue, and is now labelled the “new Conservative way”.

          If the government using taxpayer money to do partisan polling in order to better target their taxpayer-funded partisan advertising doesn’t work, then why are the Tories continuing the tradition???

          • Didn’t you know that a blue shit sandwich tastes better than a red one?

            Andy’s Bluerave Diner; belly up for a steamie

            bon appétit

          • If you think the Conservatives have replaced the Liberals as far as using public funds for Party purposes you are either not paying attention or you`ve got lazy and are just going along with the Bash Harper Troupe.
            Even a questionable controversy like this where a small part of a monitoring study went into the perception of the Minister has the jackals out looking for meat—no monies went to Party slush funds, no envelopes of cash.

            It took 5 years before a media outlier (Leblanc, I think) bothered to investigate the MILLIONS of dollars being funneled into the Quebec branch of the Liberal Party. My point about the “old Liberal way” is that there was a cozy relationship between the media and Chretien and even with Mulroney that does not exist now with Harper—-there is no way the media would ignore corruption under Harper the way they did with Chretien.
            They don`t like Harper, and he certainly doesn`t like them.

          • Andrew, I work in a public service that has rules about the division between political and public service uses. And while, yes, policy always has and always will have a political component, we’re NOT SUPPOSED to use our budget to do political research. In fact, the current party in power enacted legislation so that anything that goes out to the public goes before an arbitrator who decides if there is any political content. And it works.
            So, we agree it’s not supposed to happen. We agree he Liberals used to do it.
            And you’re okay with the Conservatives doing it? How does that work?

          • I replied to Matlock above that I would have preferred that the portion of the budget that went to Kenney`s perception should have been paid by the CPC, however if you are in the business you must realize that may have been an awkward thing to do ( but it should have been done.).

            Since you may have been in the business for some time and observed different governments you must also realize that that is a wide gray line that happens every day when Ministers deal with routine activities with Party implications. The best defence against abuse of public funds is a strict financial manager at the top—say what you like about Harper—his control freak personality is vastly different than Chretien`s ” every thing`s gonna be ok, I`m goin golfin ” or Mulroney`s somewhat flexible moral code when it came to finances.

          • “The best defence against abuse of public funds is a strict financial manager at the top”

            No it’s not. The best defence against abuse of public funds is a strong and independent audit function within the government. Within Ontario for example, government advertising cannot be created without first going to the Auditor General to ensure it is non-political. Within each of these departments, there should have been mechanisms in place to ensure these monies were not spent without ensuring the services rendered were non-political.

            These mechanisms weren’t in place in this situation. To the extent they weren’t, it is a failure of the government.

          • Are you sure you want to be promoting your Ontario government as an example of the efficient and ethical use of public funds ?

            The McGuinty government that participated in the massive waste of taxpayer money on eHealth and ORNGE ?

            —not to mention the three-quarter Billion wasted on the Natural gas plant relocation needed to win the Oakville seats. That`s three-quarter Billion with three more zeros than the small portion of the three-quarter Million that we have been talking about here.

            Waste is waste, but let`s get some perspective.

          • Geez, you walked right into that one. Are you not aware it was the Ontario Auditor General which brought both eHealth and ORNGE to light? And look that the ensuing fallout has done to the popularity of the provincial Liberals.
            Reinforces my exact point, the best defence against abuse of public funds is a strong audit function within the government.

          • You may have been a bureaucrat for too long—it does not make it ok to squander public funds just because you have some other bureaucrats announcing they have been squandered—get back to me when I see some payback including jail time for those responsible—it is not good enough for a branch of government to report on government mis-spending after it happens and those responsible like McGuinty and Smitheram just walk away with their severance payments.

            My point was that if McGuinty did not have the backbone of a noodle then there would not have been the waste, in the first place, of more then a Billion dollars—that`s Billion—–and we are still talking about a few thousand dollars–perspective.

          • Andrew, the reason the Auditor General exists in Ontario is because the last government in power flagrantly used public service advertising for political ends. The strict financial manager in Ontario during this time is currently, the strict financial manager in Ottawa. The one currently authorizing authorizing $60 million in Economic Action Plan advertising. The kind of ads that created the need for an Auditor General in the first place.
            But as you answered “I would prefer” earlier, I’ll take that as your stated criticism of Mr. Kenney’s actions. Close enough.Good try with theOrnge/ e-health red herring though.
            Oh, Matlock…you’re thinking of the Ombudsman. Auditor General is strictly responsible for the advertising.

          • ” I would have preferred that the portion of the budget that went to Kenney`s perception should have been paid by the CPC”

            Right, it’d be fine if the Government of Canada was just doing contract work for the CPC.

          • Yup, the media is out to get him. You know it.

            It’s great that no money went to the Party. Of course why would the party need the money when they can simply turn a government ministry into an arm of the party and let them do the work in the first place.
            But sometimes the party does need money. Thankfully, you can get your kickback

            straight from the taxpayer at

            80 cents on the dollar , rather than stuffing brown paper bags in your shirt.

  9. I don’t see what the big deal is. If the government’s going to overspend their taxpayer-funded advertising budget every single year, then surely they need some taxpayer-funded polling to help them target all those ads at the right voters.

    We want taxpayer-funded programs to be successful, right? So if the Tories are going to use our taxes for ads to help them get elected then OF COURSE we’d want those ads to be properly targeted to have the best chance of succeeding. Otherwise all those taxpayer dollars being used to get the Tories re-elected would be WASTED. I don’t understand what the problem is here.

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