Persichilli le non-Québécois -

Persichilli le non-Québécois

The newest PMO hire suggests the Conservatives are turning their attention toward the great big ethnic stew pot of Toronto


Rémi Carreiro/Flickr

Our confrères in Quebec are noting with great care and no particular delight the writings of Angelo Persichilli, veteran journalist in Italian and English, and newly-named communications director for Stephen Harper. In one column about 18 months ago Persichilli discerned the presence of “the over-representation of francophones in our bureaucracy,” and complained about the “annoying lament” from Quebec.

Persichilli, whose journalism I have not often lauded to the skies, is a gentle fellow and as soon as this became trouble he promised to be super-nice to the French types. The PMO clearly has no interest in being overtly antagonistic toward francophones. Persichilli (like John Williamson, one of several unilingual predecessors in the post) will apparently spend little time talking to Ottawa reporters in any language. That task will fall, on most days, to Andrew MacDougall, a well-liked and very bilingual PMO staffer. And yet my colleagues from Quebec worry.

They are right to worry. Persichilli’s appointment is significant, not for whom it snubs, but for what it represents: a significant reallocation of Conservative attention and energy toward another target, the great big ethnic stew pot of Persichilli’s Toronto stomping ground. 

My text here comes from Tom Flanagan, the University of Calgary political scientist. Here I have to emphasize, as reporters rarely do, that although Flanagan used to work closely with Harper, that relationship is done done done. Flanagan probably gets a wee trickle of inside information from friends of friends, but mostly these days he relies on his eyes and wit to figure out what’s happening in Ottawa. And his big post-election analysis for the June Policy Options magazine  (.pdf) is all about what we might now call the Persichilli phenomenon:

“When he reentered electoral politics in 2002, Stephen Harper wanted to reconstitute Brian Mulroney’s coalition of western populists, traditional Tories and francophone nationalists; but when the francophone pillar of the coalition proved unstable, he was able to replace francophones with sizable elements of Canada’s ethnic communities.”

Conservatives who tell me they’re really excited about Persichilli’s appointment point not to his sometimes pretty impressionistic columns in the Star but to his c.v., which includes a stint as news director for newscasts of several different languages at Omni TV. Omni, and the Chinese television juggernaut Fairchild, and Punjabi talk radio, and the daily Tsing Tao and Ming Pao newspapers, figure ever higher on the Conservative priority list. Their audience numbers are really high. Their audiences don’t get a lot of news anywhere else — Star readers read the Sun (no really, they do, or many do) and listen to satellite radio and got misty when Lloyd Robertson signed off last night and may have a few blogs they like. Ming Pao readers read Ming Pao. 

And increasingly they vote Conservative. Is the party’s hegemony among new Canadians complete? Ha! not on your life. Liberals and New Democrats remain highly competitive, even dominant, in some communities. So the Conservatives keep chipping away. Flanagan (with my (probably unneeded) emphasis):

“This increase in ethnic support released a treasure trove of seats for the Conservatives. In the Greater Toronto Area, once the Liberal equivalent of the Tory Fortress Alberta, the Conservatives won 30 of 45 seats in the recent election, including many in areas such as Brampton that are heavily ethnic. It was this batch of new seats in Ontario, mainly in the GTA, that gave the Tories their majority in 2011, for they actually had a net loss of seats outside Ontario

The Conservatives would still have a majority in 2011 even if they had won no seats at all in Quebec

[Flanagan goes on to delight game theory geeks everywhere with really interesting discussions of the “minimum winning coalition” and the “minimum connected winning coalition,” which can be defined as the smallest amount of coherent support that will guarantee victory. If it’s connected you want, he said, new Canadians are a great target because many live, think and vote like prairie populists and small-government conservatives.]  In contrast, francophone nationalists always present a problem, even when they can be brought to offer support to the Conservatives. They tend to have an instrumental orientation toward the federal government, seeing it primarily as a source of benefits for Quebec. This raises resistance among other Conservatives, who fear they will have to pay for these benefits to Quebec. …

In practice, French support in Quebec for the Conservatives was always fragile. Think how easily the issue of ‘culture cuts’ dislodged Conservative supporters in Quebec in 2008, even after the Conservatives had built a beachhead into the province in 2006. By comparison, the support of ethnic voters in Toronto and other metropolitan areas seems more likely to be stable, precisely because the Conservatives have attracted those ethnic voters who were already most like themselves in terms of demographics and politics.”


Now, one hire in the PMO won’t guarantee the continued success of this strategy. Nothing guarantees any strategy’s success. But a strategy is likelier to succeed if it is pursued than if it isn’t. Dimitri Soudas, who joined Harper from the Montreal mayor’s office in 2002 when Flanagan was still in Ottawa and Quebec was crucial to the game, is gone. Persichilli is moving in, and he won’t be paying much more attention to me in English than to Joël-Denis Bellavance in French. The game is elsewhere.


Persichilli le non-Québécois

  1. Conservatives who tell you they’re really excited about Persichilli’s appointment by pointing to his cv are the same who were impressed by Bruce Carson’s cv.  In both cases, it’s a perfect fit for Harper. 

    • This is the first time in a long time that I have heard the name Bruce Carson. Funny during the election Carson was used as a hammer by the media and of course the Harper haters like you. However, the election is over. It didn’t work and Harper has his majority. So no need to run stories about Carson anymore. The media has moved on looking for other shiny toys.

      There is no evidence Carson did anything wrong while working in the PMO and in fact had been gone for five years. Desparation thy name is Loraine.

      • There sure is evidence that they’re selective in telling the media whose cv they read and whose cv they claim never to have seen. Le fruit du hasard?

        Don’t worry, I am not one of the too numerous francophones who works in Ottawa.

        • If this is what has you in a huff this morning then you really need to get a life.

          Angelo simply stated what many of us believe. Sometimes the truth hurts.

          • Who’s “us”?

          • The us refers to hollinm, he refers to himself in the third person.

          • The us is many Canadians who live outside of Quebec and who are frankly tired of hearing about Quebec and its faux grievances.

          • @hollinm:disqus 

            Actually ‘us’ is all the Canadians who live outside of Alberta and are frankly tired of hearing about Alberta and it’s faux grievances.

          • @OriginalEmily1:disqus You seriously compare Alberta to Quebec? Maybe you should read up on Canadian history. Then you might be able to make comments that make sense to someone who’s not a snide left-winger. 

          • @Mainlander:disqus 

            Alberta is worse for whining than Quebec has ever been…and Albertans have no cause.

            And I am not, and never will be, a ‘left-winger’.

  2. If your strategy is to hold a knife at the throat of the RoC, don’t be surprised if the RoC finds a way to wriggle free.

    Just sayin’

    • Free of Canada and Canadiens?  Go for it, American Loyalist.

    • Of all the imagery available to you, why does it have to be the knife and the throat? Can’t it be  a simple game of marbles?

      Somewhere in the St-Kanada elementary school yard, ten friends prepare to play a game of marbles:

      Ontario: “Alright, to make it fair, lets pool our marbles together distribute according to who lost the worse last time we play.”

      Alberta: “Fair? I got a ton of marbles and that fat bastard Québec is going to get them all!”

      British Columbia: “Come on Alberta, your dad owns the marble plant and Québec is missing both his thumbs, have a little sympathy.”

      Prince Edward Island: “I think we…”

      Nova Scotia: “Shut up P.E.I.”

      Manitoba: “We do this to make the game more interesting for everyone.”

      Saskatchewan: ” If we wouldn’t, then the game would last just a few seconds and you’d have no one to play with.”

      Newfoundland and Labrador: “It’s not like most of you know how to play anyway.”

      New Brunswick: “Exactly our point.”

      Quebec: “If you’re not happy then leave, Alberta!”

      From the back of the school yard, Yukon cries out “You can play with us!”

  3. First of all is there no statute of limitations as it relates to Tom Flanagan? He has not been affliated with Stephen Harper for years and as Wells acknowledges is out, out, out. So his musings are his own. Now Tom is a smart guy and knows politics. However, is there never a column written where the once relationship of Flanagan and Harper is used as a basis to give credence to his musings.

    As for Angelo’s appointment Wells may be right. However, I think Quebec is in shock along with their rude and arrogant French language buddies in the PPG. It is not all about them even though they think it is. Canada voted in a majority government without the support of Quebec and Quebec will have less influence on national elections after more seats are added in Ontario and the West before the next election. Voting NDP is not going to increase that influence.

    Quebec is the second largest province in the country with a guaranteed 75 seats no matter what happens to their population. Canadians are getting mighty tired of this province being considered a have not province ad nauseum while providing social programs to their citizens which other provinces can only dream about. Something is going to have to change.

    • I see you’re still speaking on behalf of [all] Canadians. Some habits die hard, it seems.

      • No but there are certainly a significant number of Canadians who are sick and tired of Quebec demanding and being bought off no matter which government is in power.

        They can speak their language in their own province no problem but to force the rest of the country to be criticized because they are not French is an affront to the majority of Canadians.

        You may like spending a couple of billion a year to enforce somthing that is impossible to achieve but I think our tax dollars could be better spent.

        I would remind you of this famous quote by the worst PM Canada has ever had:
        “There is no way two ethnic groups in one country can be made equal before the
        law….and to say it is possible is to sow the seeds of destruction”. Pierre
        Trudeau, 1966.

        • I don’t recall Trudeau saying any such thing, but if he did he was wrong.

          And as you well know Canada regards Trudeau as the best PM we ever had.

          • So now you are calling posters liars because you don’t recall what has been said in the past. He was not wrong. We don’t call it the two solitudes for nothing. There are many Canadians are not too happy with the way we are always cowtowing to Quebec.

            Obviously you don’t live West of Ontario. There are not many out here who thinks he was the best PM. Trudeau did more to damage our country than any other PM. You may love him but there are many us who believe he was the worst.

          • I lived all through that era, and I don’t remember Trudeau saying anything of the sort.  It doesn’t even sound like something he’d say….it’s nonsense.

            Albertans think a lot of strange things…that doesn’t mean Canada does

            Obviously you don’t follow polls…the majority of Canadians rate him as the best PM ever.

            Just go with your ‘united west republic’ and leave the rest of us in peace, kay?

          • Of course it must be a lie. Well here is the quote and many others that you French buddies have talked about over the years.

            In case in your delusional, prejudiced state you do not realize that the West is more than Alberta you can give your head a shake. However, like most of the elites who live in the East they do not realize that the power has shifted to the West and when we stop funding equalization we will see how well places like Ontario and Quebec survive.
            Perhaps you can show me a poll which is not done among Liberals but all of the country which show that Trudeau was the best PM ever. I don’t think there would be that kind of support west of Ontario. Oh, I forgot we don’t count.
            When all else fails Emily simple talk down to a segment of the country that does not support your political views. Whats this I think I recently read a comment from you about a united Canada. Cheap words coming from somebody who talks out of both sides of their mouth.

          • LOL  I see you’re now  just making up quotes at random.

            I live in Ont Hollinm…that is not the east, it is central Canada….and I’m not concerned with what  pre-industrial Alberta has to say. You already had to be rescued from bankruptcy once.

            End Equalization….fine with us….we’ve supported you long enough, and you’re a drag on our economies..

            Here’s a poll for ya

            PS…making up quotes from famous people is bad enough…so don’t make up quotes from me.

  4. Hmmm  Chosen not because of merit, but because he’s an ethnic….

    Appealing to new Canadians, not on the basis of being a Canadian now, but on the basis of what they believed and did in the ‘old country’…..

    Instead of being seen as pandering to just one group, Quebecois, setting the stage to have to pander to all ethnic groups….

    Driving wedges between groups so they automatically clamour for more…well the Chinese/Indians/Muslims etc got money, so we should too….instead of uniting Canadians as Canadians…

    Appealing to people on the grounds that ‘well at least it’s not those Frenchies’…

    The curtain now rises on disuniting the country

    Yup, real step forward this is…..[rolls eyes]

  5. Very interesting, Wells! I enjoyed this. 

    Read first two pages of Flanagan but too busy to read all at moment. I believe Goldberg is correct for entire world – all of us are socialists or classical liberals at heart. Also can be viewed protestants and their work ethic and catholics and their meek shall inherit earth or Alberta v Que in political cultures.

    Trudeau and his changes are not wildly popular anywhere in Canada. Liberals have not won an election since Trudeau was in power but his legacy remains and it is irritating many people. Less pandering to Que, and more focus on ethnic communities, is not going to irritate all that many people outside of Que. 

    When I was reading Flanagan article about how Harper had plan to unite Cons, and then lead to power, I was reminded of V Postrel article I read recently that looked at why Jobs was so successful at turning Apple around in late 1990s and it into company that it is today. Develop sensible plans or strategy and then ruthlessly implement. 

    Also, if our msm was not overwhelmingly white middle class and writing about tiramisu, maybe your statement about how the game is elsewhere would not be entirely accurate. 

    Jonah Goldberg
    “….  the fundamental difference, the difference that defines the difference between American, Anglo-American conservatives and European welfare states, leftists or liberals, is Locke versus Rousseau. Every philosophical argument boils down to John Locke versus Jacques Rousseau.

    Rousseau says the government is there, that our rights come from the government, that come from the collective. Locke says our rights come from God, and that we only create a government to protect our interests. The Rousseauian says you can make a religion out of society and politics, and the Lockean says no, religion is a separate sphere from politics” 

    Postrel ~ Where is Next Steve Jobs? :

    Apple’s recent success has made people forget not only how close the company came to failing but also what Jobs did to turn it around when he returned as chief executive in 1997. He diagnosed Apple’s problem: It was hemorrhaging cash and its product lineup was too diverse, confusing and expensive.

    • Which Trudeau changes are not popular ? 

      • Depends who you ask – take your pick. Trudeau was a fascist and implemented his fascist agenda. 

        Personally, Trudeau changes I dislike most are how we now murder babies, but not convicted murderers, and that’s all due to fascist who some Canadians think clever. 

        Canadians murder 100,000 babies a year and Montreal is pedophile capital of North America. Is that something we should celebrate? 

        Ottawa Citizen ~ May 2006:

        A new biography of the former prime minister, whom Canadians have long been taught to regard as a great liberal politician, reveals that as a youth and young man, Mr. Trudeau was an anti-Semite, admired fascist dictators such as Hitler and Mussolini, promoted revolution and longed for an independent and Catholic Quebec that would be home only to francophones.

        Lorrie Goldstein ~ The Sun, May 2003:

        Instead of public debate about a justice system that has become increasingly soft on crime ever since the Liberal government of Pierre Trudeau abolished capital punishment in 1976 and falsely promised life would mean life – at least for murder – we now have a totally different discussion. 

        Soft media interviews with corrections officials about how hard it is to re-integrate criminals into society and what a splendid job they’re doing of it. Criminal lawyers forever complaining the system is too harsh …. 

        PJ O’Rourke ~ 

        The second item in the liberal creed, after self-righteousness, is unaccountability. Liberals have invented whole college majors–psychology, sociology, women’s studies–to prove that nothing is anybody’s fault.

         No one is fond of taking responsibility for his actions, but consider how much you’d have to hate free will to come up with a political platform that advocates killing unborn babies but not convicted murderers. 

        A callous pragmatist might favor abortion and capital punishment. A devout Christian would sanction neither. But it takes years of therapy to arrive at the liberal view.

      • Tony only has one cause…abortion.  He pads his posts with other stuff…crazy stuff to get a rise out of people….trolling….but he always goes back to abortion.

        Just another fanatic.

      • NEP, Metric system, Official bilingualism, Multiculturalism ……

        • All of which are good….

          • If by good you mean expensive and useless programs that a majority of citizens didn’t want, then I suppose they could be called good.

          • By good, I mean good.  And a majority did want them or they wouldn’t have voted for Trudeau repeatedly.  He is still the most popular PM of the modern era.

            Just because you want to remain a bastion of white-working class citizens living in 1950 doesn’t mean everyone else wants to.

        • Still b!tching about metric?


  6. Flanagan article interesting because I have long believed ethnic votes have more to do with culture than religion. Lot of Catholics vote NDP while many also vote Con. It is not religious versus atheists, not entirely anyways. 

    Have no idea what data or stats say but my impression is that muslims and sikhs prefer more government involvement while buddhists/confucians/hindus are more rely on your wits. 

    Flanagan is accurate to a point but not altogether. I love Orient culture, lived in Korea for two years, did lots of traveling and confucian societies are quite right wing. 

    I know there are a lot of Christians in Korea, for instance, but they are classic liberals to us in Canada. Buddhists = libertarian, Christians = classic liberal. Very few evangelical types in Orient – they exist but not hugely popular yet. 

    I never forget drive from Seoul airport to city where I would spend next two years of my life for many, many reasons. Not least of which was three story building I live in was part of group of five other three story buildings. My building was complete, but other buildings were still under construction. 

    There were women – aged at least in 60s and hunched over – carrying 20 kg bags of cement on their backs and up three floors to top. My boss – picked me up at airport and drove me home – said not to worry about old women, they are given the light bags of cement to carry. Heavy loads were saved for younger people. 

    Christians in Korea, at least, want fewer grandmothers carrying bags of cement and more on modest public pension but they are not remotely progressive. 


    Many new Canadians are socially conservative, believing in stable traditional families rather than thelifestyle obsessions of Liberal elites. Most are religious; a surprising number, especially among Chinese, Vietnamese, Koreans and Filipinos, are Christian. Many are economically conservative and entrepreneurial, running small businesses and concerned about the tax burden. In other words, many immigrants look like Conservative core voters, except that they may have a different skin colour and mother tongue.

    • You were a  missionary in South  Korea, I’m guessing.

      • A Mormon then.

  7. Just to be clear, he is not, as the column writes, “unilingual.” He is, in fact, bilingual, but in Italian and English, and speaks only one of the official languages.

    He’s still a horrible choice for the job, and the PM’s communications director should be fluent in both official languages… but people who speak two or more languages are not “unilingual” by any definition of the word. 

  8. With regards to the “over-representation” of francophones, I think that’s because our federal beaurocracy has an over-representation of those who live in driving distance of the national capital.  That’s just the nature of really big countries.  And since Ottawa is in the middle of a traditionally bilingual region of Ontario and a sort-of bilingual part of Quebec, well, the natural hiring pool for the low-level positions that aren’t recruited nation-wide is a lot more francophone than the country at large.  The over-representation decreases and probably reverses as you go up the food chain in the beaurocracy.  (where there is a definite over-representation of upper-middle class old white men.)

    The other thing is that once a country decides on official bilingualism, you have to take the good and the bad.  The fact is that Canadian francophones (especially those outside of Quebec) are about a gazillion times more likely to be fluently bilingual than Canadian anglophones, for the exact same reasons they believe their culture & language is at risk.  (I have a pet peeve in that a higher level of FSL skills are needed than ESL skills to be “officially bilingual”, but since I have no desire to live in Ottawa & be a low-level beaurocrat, I don’t lose any sleep.)

    As far as hiring Mr. Persichilli, it’s probably because a total collapse of the separatist movement is really really bad in terms of firing up the Conservative base.  IMHO Harper kind of thinks the whole point of being in government is to create big problems and issues that get your base fired up so that you get re-elected.

    • I worked for federal department. As Shenping points out, the labour pool for low to mid-level employment in National Capital Region (NCR)  is drawn from the surrounding area. So any argument about francophone overrepresentation should take the NCR as its demographic basin. Add to that the Translation Bureau and the translation services in each department, and you might see why francophones might be somewhat overrepresented. In the latter case, proportionately fewer anglophones are involved in translation for a variety of reasons, which gives francophones a slight edge in that domaine. But try the Defence Department, and the opposite is true.
      As for why Harpo picked Persichilli, it has less to do with the implosion of the Bloc Québécois (which should not be confused with Quebec’s independence movement because it is only one of its manifestations) than with fact that he has no one in his inner circle who can give him good advice. Harpo also a reputation of keeping his cards close to his chest, so he is prone to foot-in-the-mouth disease. I just hope that his appointment does not become another Brockville flag incident:

  9. With Quebec, the phrase “throwing good money after bad” comes to mind.   Eventually you learn to stop doing it. 

    The sovereigntists and Jacques Parizeau types have always reminded me of that “high maintenance girl friend”.  Sure, there are many desirable traits, but after a while you get tired of having to focus all your attention on them, and it never seems to be enough.

    I think the PMO made an excellent choice.  Andrew MacDougall can handle the french reporters while Persichilli and Julian Fantino take french lessons, lol.

    “Persichilli is the recipient of the Canadian Ethnic Journalist’s and Writer’s Club award for excellence in journalism reflecting multicultural issues. He has also won several national awards for his contributions to broadcasting.”

  10. Who started this myth of Toronto as a Liberal fortress?

    Yes, it went almost entirely Liberal between 1993 and 2000, with major chinks in the armour starting in 2004.

    But is that ANYTHING even remotely like the near-monolith of Alberta, which has had, at most, four non-Conservative/Reform MPs in every election since the collapse of the SoCreds (a different conservative party).

    Prior to 1993, Toronto always had a mixture of Liberal, Conservative, NDP, and swing ridings. After a brief interlude of Liberal domination, it may have reverted to that pattern. The past few elections is not all of recorded electoral history, Flanagan (et al.)

    There is no part of Canada that has such un-competitive electoral politics as Alberta, and I wish Albertans would stop projecting their wierd electoral herd psychology onto “Toronto” (or, in the past, “Quebec”, which also elected way more non-Liberals than Alberta ever did non-Tories.)

    • Perhaps you didn’t realise this, but 4 seats in alberta is a significant portion, we only have 28, certainly as significant as say non-bloc seats have been in quebec since their rise and before their recent fall.  But at any rate “screw the west” long enough and then wonder at why those 4 seats evaporate, are you really that clueless?  Alberta votes conservative with such unity right now because of an attitude by other parties that it’s not even worth trying.  And by not trying, well, it’s kindof a self-fulfilling prophecy.  The liberals have lost all hope by now, and the ndp have not yet built sufficient credibility here yet, but the cities could easily be in play to other parties if a) their platform (both official and implied) is not openly hostile to the province and b) they expend the effort to find and run real candidates with real campaigns instead of whoever wants to write on their resume that they ran for office once.

      On the provincial politics landscape we have one of the more interesting elections in a long time coming up here, the wildrose is the first alternative party we’ve had that isn’t acting like it’d be happy with a handful of mlas that will be ignored for the next 4 years ;)

      • Alberta provincial elections are always such nail biters.

      • That might be why Alberta votes conservative with such unity now.

        But how does it explain Alberta doing that since Christ had a foreskin?

        And really, buddy, I’m not out to “screw” Alberta (though I did once screw an Albertan.) I have to wonder, though, at times, whether all this screwing exists more in the collective mythology of Albertans, than in reality. (Same thing in QC and NL, actually.)

      • Four seats out of twenty-something in Alberta is similar to four seats out of twenty-something in Toronto.

        Which is why it’s ridiculous for Albertans, who have in my lifetime only once elected more than three non-dominant-conservative-party MPs in any given election, to complain about “fortress Toronto” or block-voting in Quebec, when federal electoral politics in Toronto and in Quebec are, mathematically speaking, far, far, far, far, FAR more competitive than Alberta.

  11.  “But a strategy is likelier to succeed if it is pursued than if it isn’t.”
    It’s sentences such as this that make my heart skip a beat when I see that Paul Wells has written a new column. I appreciate the reliance on sense over rhetoric.

    As far as the “lament” from Quebec, I find it rather annoying myself. The lament, that is, which comes from public figures such as Duceppe and Marois. I can’t blame the entire province for them.

  12. Who started the myth that AP was a journalist? I read most of his stuff in the Hill Times, and he was no journalist. He had more stories without a single attributed quote than anyone in history. I was amazed the HT kept running his free-form speculations as though they were news. 

    Having said that, the only downsides to his appointment are that he doesn’t know much about real journalism, knows nothing at all about how government actually works, and speaks but one official language not very well.

    • Nasty, you are, and you journalists should know better than to slag off anyone who puts pen to paper for public consumption.

  13. Mr. Persichilli has never been very interesting.

    Quebec , on the other hand, has always been the most interesting part of the country.

    Also the home of Ethical Asbestos.

    • Well, who do you want mining your asbestos? Canadians, or Zimbabwean children?

      • based on socialized medicine, sadly i’d chose the Zim children

  14. Mr Wells: Leaving aside the issue of Mr Persichilli’s qualifications or his (mis)understandings about Quebec and the place of francophones in the federal public service, please clarify something.

  15. Mr Wells: Leaving aside the issue of Mr
    Persichilli’s qualifications, (mis)understandings about Quebec and the place of
    Francophones in the federal public service and the (in)accuracy of his figures,
    please clarify something.

    You write that the appointment of
    Persichilli represents “a
    significant reallocation of Conservative attention and energy toward . . . the
    great big ethnic stew pot of Persichilli’s Toronto stomping ground.” This
    is why “Persichilli will apparently
    spend little time talking to Ottawa reporters in any language.” In fact, “That task will fall, on most days, to Andrew
    MacDougall, a well-liked and very bilingual PMO staffer.”

    I was struck by the last two sentences:
    “Persichilli will apparently spend little time talking to Ottawa reporters in
    any language” because “That task will fall, on most days, to Andrew MacDougall,
    a well-liked and very bilingual PMO staffer.”

    Does  this means that Persichilli was
    hired to work for the PM, paid by taxpayer dollars for a job that will be done
    mostly by Andrew MacDougall?

    So what will Persichilli do? Work for the
    “reallocation of Conservative attention and energy toward . . . the great big
    ethnic stew pot of Persichilli’s Toronto stomping ground”.

    Unless I am missing something, Persichilli
    will be paid by the federal govt to work for the Conservative Party. Does this
    mean that taxpayers’ money will fund the Tories’ long-term election strategy?

    I don’t know whether this is actually illegal
    (the Tories have already been in trouble over funny election campaign spending),
    but it certainly does not sound very ethical. Maybe that’s the way the world

    But perhaps, given your line of work and
    access to contacts, you might shed some light on this. Thank you.

    • The question is fair, and the honest answer is probably along these lines:

      The PMO has the right and the duty to re-structure itself and focus on key priorities as mandated by the PM at the start of a new mandate. Outreach to ethnic communities across the country is responsible and has been neglected by previous governments. 

      The fact that it helps the CP execute a political strategy does not render it indefensible for a government, any more than any other activity undertaken by government that can be seen to have political considerations behind them, like, say, spending or tax cuts. Ultimately, every decision made by government has political implications, and governments expect to be judged on some large number of them (you have four years to stew over this one, if you’re so inclined). By writing the article, PW is helping you make decisions, instead of just telling you what to think – that’s what the comments are for, apparently. 

      • Of course, everything is political. The issue here however is whether the political strategy in question is being done for the Government of Canada or the Conservative Party of Canada. The former acts on behalf of all Canadians and taxes them; the latter only for the Tories and their financial supporters.
        In the past 40 years, the federal govt has had several outreach programmes for New Canadians reaching out to ethnic communities in many ways: multicultural programmes, translated govt documents (like old age security programme booklet) and announcements in ethnic print and electronic media. So there is nothing new here.
        If the PMO needs to be restructured to help communications with new Canadians, the man/woman in charge might hire some aides. In this case, Mr Persichilli should work for someone like “Andrew MacDougall, a well-liked and very bilingual PMO staffer”, along with other staffers for specific target groups.
        The way Mr Wells describes the situation suggests (to me at least) that Mr Persichilli was not hired to do the job he is taking up, but rather to work for the ruling party “in the great big ethnic stew pot of Persichilli’s Toronto stomping ground” at taxpayers expense.
        He is getting a govt job to do party work, violating at least the spirit of Canada’s election laws.

        • You are missing the main point, which is, the PMO no longer cares about separatist pandering anymore.   Here is the usual reaction, boo-hoo.

          “A separatist firebrand in Quebec has filed an official complaint against Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s new choice for communications director.

          Gilles Rheaume wants the Canadian Human Rights Commission to investigate the appointment of Angelo Persichilli.

          The ex-president of the St. Jean Baptiste Society says the fact that Mr. Persichilli can’t speak French is unfair to French-speaking Canadians and journalists.”

          • I’m not missing the point. I want to know if the PM is breaking the law. The politics of the appointment is one thing; legality and morality are another. Harper might think he can get a few more votes in the ethnic stew of Toronto (which is pathetically patronising towards his target group), but stirring a hornet’s nest in Quebec and elsewhere in Canada is not smart politics. With such a short-sighted appointment, he might breathe new life in the BQ and the PQ, and many voters outside Quebec might end up blaming Harpo for it. What is more, now Persichilli will come under close scrutiny and it will be fun to see how many scheletons are in his closet.

          • That’s a pretty astute observation you make, politics notwithstanding. Unfortunately though i imagine the Harper apologists will resort to their usual fall back – ” the libs did it too!”- and they probably did too- although what that has to do with the right or wrong of it has always eluded me. Politicking on the public dime but for the almost exclusive benefit of the CPoC has become a hallmark of the Harper govt.
            My own view is similar to yours – this could backfire and only add to the always present us vs them theme in Canadian politics. A PM first duty should always be to national unity, however tempting the lure of ethnic pandering. I find it amusing that a couple of the most vociferous objectors toward ethnic pandering in Quebec on this thread seem to have no qualms about ethinic pandering outside of Quebec, as long as it benfits conservatives.
            I hope PW’s addresses your question at some time or other.