So many people to say nothing

by Aaron Wherry

The Hill Times tallies the number of people employed by the government for the purposes of “communications.”

The Hill Times went through the government electronic directory service to get a rough idea of how many communications staffers—people paid to help craft and disseminate any given government message—currently work in the public service, ministerial offices, the PMO and the PCO. In all, there are currently around 1,500 communications staffers working in government offices and departments across Canada, including 87 in the PMO and PCO.

That’s roughly five for every MP. And if that total doesn’t include staff employed by opposition MPs and leaders’ offices, the ratio is even higher.




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So many people to say nothing

  1. Sounds like a lightbulb joke – how many Con spinners does it take to come up with ‘the NDP are not fit to govern!’

    • Info Alert:

      Conservative Government decries NDP attacks on hard working public servants. 

  2. The very notion of ‘including’ opposition MPs – which is to suggest that government communications exists, in any way, to assist the opposition – is laughable on its face. 

  3. This steadily growing ‘truthiness’ filter between our politicians and the public deserves a name. I vote for The Bullsh*t Brigade, but I’m open to other suggestions, too.

    What I fear is that TBB will be a permanent fixture of government, even after the Conservatives are gone.

    • Indeed, Harper’s contempt for Canada and it’s institutions has been so successful we are in danger of it becoming the new norm :(

  4. Communications types are what is ailing Canadian democracy the most – Canadians employ at least 1,500 people to lie to us and to treat government propaganda as truth. Astonishing we can find money to pay for thousands of propagandists but people are caviling about costs of adding 30 MPs. 

    George Orwell ~ Political language — and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists — is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. 

  5. To be fair, the number of ways we communicate these days is overwhelming – and it is instant.  

    “At the political level, there really were no formal positions known as director of communications in the early ’90s. By 2003, every minister had both a communications director and a press secretary…you saw changes of that kind happen, all of which are clear indications that the emphasis on communications was increasing at both the political and bureaucratic level,”
     
    Now it is the NDPs turn. 

    “I would argue that other parties are following that [Mr. Harper’s] recipe. Because one main message being repeated by everybody, it gives the impression that that party is very disciplined and is ready for power. I think the NDP is going in that direction as well, now that they’re getting closer to power,” said Joël-Denis Bellavance, a La Presse reporter who has been working on the Hill for the last 17 years.

    Mr. Bellavance said during the last election campaign the NDP followed “the Conservative philosophy” when it came to protecting first time NDP candidate Ruth Ellen Brosseau from controversy, following her campaign-time trip to Vegas. Mr. Bellavance said the NDP was “protecting her and limiting access, not even telling us (the national media) when there would be media availabilities at some point.”

    And, having finally achieved their much sought-after majority in the May election, Mr. Bellavance said he’s already noticed some signs of the government easing up their tight hold over communications. On a November trip to Cannes, France, Mr. Harper reportedly agreed to take eight questions from reporters, double the amount he usually allows”

    • Harper agreed to take 8 questions?  If this doesn’t signal a new era in openess, what does?

      • Answering them?

      • Must drive the jurnos crazy, lol

  6. I really wish they’d seperated the ministerial staff from the public service. They do different work.

    • That was my question, do the numbers include public servants or just ministerial staffers? There are significant differences, but there are also troubling overlaps. I worked about 20 years in government communications in two different departments, and in both, the number of actual communicators, the people who write stuff and distribute it, were seriously outnumbered and generally out ranked by communications planners. And now that I’m safely retired, I can say that I think there are too many government communicators, and way too many policy types. Most of their work serves the government and senior managemnet, not the people who pay their salaries.

  7. Do you think it is easy to ^not communicate! (shrug shoulders here)

  8. It’s a bigger problem than hiring spin doctors; that’s just the tip of the control agenda iceberg which has also included breaching the Access to Information Act with impunity, breeching members’ privilege with impunity, intimidating civil servants and appointed commissioners, invoking closure and limiting debate at every turn, and refusing to answer questions in or out of the House.
     
    It’s a feature of the permanent election campaign (campaign is intended in the military sense) and the refusal to be accountable starts with elections in which candidates, except for a few chosen cabinet members, duck candidates meetings and hide from reporters. 
     
    Those same candidates, now that they are elected, stand up before Question Period to read from “member statements” prepared by the PMO. They vote the way the government tells them to and apparently every bill that comes forward is something that Canadians elected the government to do without question, comment, study or amendment.

     
     

  9. Fire the lot of them. Turn the whole ball of wax over to Ezra and sun tv; not that it’ll be an more effective but it should give us wonderful entertainment value and save a few bucks into the bargain. Maybe they can even turn it into a reality tv programmes. Have Tony as the sychophantic creepy host.
    They could call it: Unvarnished Tales from Gazeboland.” or:” Want the truth? You can’t handle the Truth”. Contestants could include…
    O’Leary, Pollievere, Del mastro, Anders and to add balance…Martin[pat and paul], Kaplan and Ford…Cherry could be a colour commentator. The possibilities are endless…see political ratings soar overnight. Think of the advertising revenue alone? We pay off the debt by ’12. You could even have team crazy[ your choice] vs team sane[ Wells, Coyne and Hebert] just to keep it fresh. Invite up Cain Perry, and Palin for a super series finale.

  10. That sure is a lot of flying monkeys.

  11. How many of those “communication staffers” are commenting on Macleans Blog right now???

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