The state of government communications in three acts

Behold the new era of open government


Canadian PressInternal documents show the prime minister’s department micro-managed a media event staged by Parks Canada, trying to erase the venerable agency from a public announcement while promoting the Harper government.

Postmedia. Federal librarians and archivists who set foot in classrooms, attend conferences or speak up at public meetings on their own time are engaging in “high risk” activities, according to the new code of conduct at Library and Archives Canada. Given the dangers, the code says the department’s staff must clear such “personal” activities with their managers in advance to ensure there are no conflicts or “other risks to LAC.” The code, which stresses federal employees’ “duty of loyalty” to the “duly elected government,” also spells out how offenders can be reported.

CBCApproval for a reality show production crew to film an immigration raid at a Vancouver construction site came directly from the federal government, documents obtained by a Vancouver woman show.


The state of government communications in three acts

    • My hunch is that the Page interviews speak too much for themselves, namely that the belief in Page being none political is no longer evident enough. Therefore, you might not find Page’s last days as political crusader to be documented here at Macleans. (You must understand.)

        • Yes, Macleans proves me wrong on one count; the interview with Page has been posted and I’ve read it. And long it is. Wherry has gone through great lengths to bring us the Page interview, considering the man being interviewed does not particularly seek the media attention………ahum!

          • Perhaps Page is a patriot, hoping to draw the spotlight to a growing problem of centralization of power in the PMO, with decreased information flow to both Parliament and Canadian citizens?

          • Perhaps. That would be one opinion. Other opinions are out there. I haven’t counted them all, but Page’s opinion is one of them.

            However, it would have been appropriate for Page to reveal his opinions after he had vacated the post of PBO. Any objectivity seeker would know that much. But Page is not an objectivity seeker, never has been.

  1. Obviously the RepubliCons have learned a great deal from the totalitarian states of the world — how far are we from “great and glorious leader” posters featuring Steve?

    • Yes, Harper is a totalitarian dictator. He has turned Canada into a totalitarian dystopia, worse than Orwells 1984. He has destroyed Canada as we know it. Stop Harper! Arab Spring!

      • Didn’t you hear? Canada is being turned into a banana republic that sells its resources to the lowest payer. Why, the CPC is applying the much proven Alberta “bend-over” business model that is guaranteed to make each and every Canadian well-to-do for at least a few days a decade. But you know you can’t do that with those pesky “regulations” in the way.

        • “Canada is being turned into a banana republic that sells its resources to the lowest payer.”
          Yes, I mean look at that Rio Tinto purchase of Alcan, for example. Dirt cheap. Rio Tinto grossly underpaid for Alcan. Everyone agrees on that.
          Ooops, never mind, scratch that post . . .

      • Driiiiiiink!

  2. Last week, doing my taxes I was forced to go to the RevCan website in order to file. Prominently on the site was the scroll announcing “Harper Government plan for Low-Income Canadians to reduce taxes.”

    • My God, that’s horrible. Low-income Canadians should be forced to pay high taxes.

      • Four posts on one story in three minutes. All using the same humorous device. I don’t really even need to point out the obvious anymore, do I?

  3. “Federal librarians and archivists who set foot in classrooms, attend conferences or speak up at public meetings on their own time are engaging in “high risk” activities”
    Well, duh . . . of course its a high-risk activity . . . people learning stuff is a high risk to The Harper Government (TM). Besides, look at who is targetted . . . “Librarian” starts with “Lib”. so you can’t be too careful.

    • ” people learning stuff is a high risk to The Harper Government (TM). ”
      Yes, because all smart people become Liberals, New Democrats and Greens, while all stupid people remain Conservatives.
      I’m not making this up.

      • Not at all . . . lots of smart and stupid people become members of various political parties, they tend to attract power seekers of all kinds.
        However, conservative political movements through the modern era have consistently tried to maintain the general population as ignorant as possible, whether it be from a desire to minimize costs to the public, suppress possible sources of dissent, control the population through religion or some sort of orthodoxy or provide a ready supply of cannon fodder. That they have all done this to lesser or greater degrees (like Canada 2013 compared to, say, tsarist Russia respectively) does not negate that.
        This governments cavalier attitude toward scientific endeavour and data-based decision making, their glorification of simplistic symbols (such as the re-use of “Royal”, extolling of the military, hockey (and I play it 4 – 5 times a week!)), their simplistic approaches to crime and justice, their constant messaging (EAP ads, Carbon Tax attacks) all are symptomatic of a desire to maintain the population in a state of blissful ignorance.
        So, yeah, you are making this up.

        • Quite the way for showing the world you are a conservative.

        • “However, conservative political movements through the modern era have consistently tried to maintain the general population as ignorant as possible”
          Yep, when I think of the likes of Winston Churchill and William F. Buckley, that’s what comes to mind — the fact that their entire lives were dedicated to spreading ignorance. Damn those conservatives!

          • To the extent they espoused policies that favoured the wealthy and limited accessibility to educational opportunities for those less-advantaged, yes, they favoured a more ignorant populace over a more educated one.

            But don’t ignore that I have said it was done to lesser or greater degrees. Certainly there are egregious examples: “separate but equal” in the southern states; control of education by the Church in Quebec until the Quiet Revolution. However even the limitation of educational opportunities in modern Quebec for francophones is a manifestation of a conservative “fortress” attitude (preserve French at the expense of English).

            Add to that the conservatives favouring of news sources like Sun News and Fox as opposed to the (in their view) elitist, academic reoprting one might find at other media sources.

          • Just testing one of your points a little – where would deregulating McGill’s tuition qualify? It would, say its proponents, bring in more interprovincial and international students, of higher calibre, and forestall a venerable institution from falling by the wayside of fierce competition between high end international universities. Based on your point about about a “conservative fortress attitude”, deregulation for these reasons would be liberal, non?

          • Why does McGill need to deregulate its tuition ? If its for reasons to secure funding then there’s a legitimate question to be asked as to whether funding universities is a better use of taxpayers money than, say, tax breaks for wealthy individuals or profitable corporations. The conservative ethos seems to favour the last two, with the attendant attitude of let the students pay for it themselves, effectively limiting access for individuals who don’t have the means to pay. My own approach is more pragmatic; it should not be all or nothing but in any case we should not be preventing able students of any background from partaking in education.

          • Aaaaand I have my answer. Thanks.

          • de rien

          • “However even the limitation of educational opportunities in modern Quebec for francophones is a manifestation of a conservative “fortress” attitude (preserve French at the expense of English).”
            Wow, you get today’s sophistry award, for pinning Quebec’s current language law proposals on conservatives and conservatism. You know, those laws and policies which are the pet project of, and entirely propagated by, the Parti Quebecois — you know, that political party that’s joined at the hip to the Quebec labour movement, left-wing academia and Quebec’s cultural and artistic elites.
            What are you gonna do for an encore, claim that Pol Pot’s killing fields and Mao’s Cultural Revolution were conservative policies propagated by conservatives? Do tell.

          • I don’t dispute that the PQ is of a left orientation in matters economic and social. However it is well-accepted that their stance on language and the makeup of society (favouring the Quebecois de souche and looking with suspicion on anglophones / ethnics) is directly descended from those of the old Union Nationale, which most would agree was a conservative party.
            The funny thing is, while the PQ was/is social democratic in many ways, including funding for education, their approach of attaching strings (restrictions on language of education) is fundamentally based on a conservative nationalistic vision of their society, wherein the Quebecois de souche are a heroic and embattled minority that must be protected against the ‘other’. Look atthe hearings that were held on reasonable accommodation: the places where the most batshit crazy things were said was in the regions where the PQ was strong.

          • It depends entirely on how you approach the analysis. It’s just as easy, and probably far less strained, to see the current language law proposals as classic lefty social engineering. It’s the antithesis of a free-market approach, a massive, paternalistic intrusion into the free market. They are proposing to force small businesses, including those who don’t have a single native French speaker, to speak French and use French as the language of the workplace. It’s like something Stalin or Pol Pot would have come up with. A bureaucrat, completely removed from reality on the ground, comes up with an abstract idea — French EVERYWHERE! — and forces on to small businesses, reality on the ground be damned. It’s a classic case of statist, lefty social engineering. You really ought to read Martin Amis’ Koba the Dread. He saw this kind of idiocy for what it is.

          • Well you can call it lefty social engineering, but I think you can find examples of social engineering across the spectrum.
            That said, I think the motivation of the PQ in its social engineering is to play towards more conservative elements of Quebec society, those that tend to be intolerant towards those not like them, who pine for what things used to be like. In a situation where identity is more important to the population than economics, populations will support policies that are fundamentally conservative, i.e preserve the status quo or return to the status quo ante.

          • I note the absence of a Canadian name. I assume with good reason?

        • And you are wacko.

          • Ah well, that settles it; your ironclad logic puts you right up there with Socrates and Aristotle.

          • I refuse to call you anything but wacko after reading your lefty and hateful view of conservative governments.

          • As the saying goes, I’ve been called worse things by better people. If you just wish to call names, can i recommend you go the comment boards on any of the Sun newspapers, some of us here, both conservative and not, are actually trying to exchange ideas and opinions.

        • You can’t seriously be saying that left wing or even centrist governments as a rule avoid the temptation to dumb down debate when it is politically advantageous to do so.

          • Not at all, but conservative governments – for various reasons – seem more inclined to look with suspicion at education and scientific inquiry.

          • Based on your highly scientific, empirical analysis, of course.

          • We need look only in our own back yard . . .Long Form Census; Experimental Lakes, prevention of scientists employed by the Federal govt to share their findings, positions of many of its members on scientific issues such as Climate change, evolution and creationism, ideological as opposed to evidence based policy with respect to crime and justice . . . it starts to add up.

          • As I said, based on your highly scientific, empirical analysis.

          • He also had all those people at Parks Canada muzzled last year. Park staff aren’t allowed to say boo!

          • That’s the religulous side coming out.

      • DrinK!

        • Full disclosure: my mocking you is not to suggest I agree with mtl_bcer.
          That said, I think it is an area of concern if the government feels that it is “high risk” for the public service to be…. you know… interacting with the public. What do we pay these people to do, sit in cubes all day?

          • Yes – and bow in obeisance to the overlords from the PMO.

  4. Ah….the Ministry of Information creeping to the surface.

    And who though that fascism was dead?

    • Yes, Harper is a Nazi.

      • You said it, not me.

      • Finish your drink!
        (dang, the walls are startin’ to sway back and forth here)

  5. The LAC thing is OBVIOUSLY insane, but I do think it’s a little premature to blame the government per se for it. The government is doing plenty of bad/crazy things to our national library, but the people running the joint are pretty out to lunch themselves, so I don’t think that we can say for sure that this new code of conduct that they’ve created came from, or was vetted by, any Ministers.

    Maybe I’m being naive, but I’d like to think that now a Minister will come out and encourage them to adjust it.

    • LKO, I work in a provincial setting, and I can tell you that every scrap of communication/events/social media that goes out of my office passes under the nose of some 20-something poli-staffer, and is subject to change for no reason whatsoever. As much as I’d love to believe otherwise, all such directives come down directly from the political side. It was always a “chinese wall” between the two sides, but the new generation sees the lack of written rules as permission to ignore the invisible barriers. and party/government is no indicator of this predisposition.
      Rant over.

      • Again, I could be being naive here, but I just can’t imagine that this is happening. If political staffers are actually vetting the academic papers and conference presentations of the librarians and archivists at our national library then a) the Conservative Party must have more money than God, and b) that’s terrifying.

        • Two comments:
          a) in Vancouver civic employees (20-something bureaucrats with degrees) are paid to engage in online forum and twitter debates to defend (municipal) party platforms.
          b) Yes, Vision Vancouver and the CPC seem to have more money than God.

          • Hmm, I guess that means that Vision Vancouver is a conservative party. Because only conservatives do stuff like that. Who knew?

          • “The other political parties would be just as bad” is hardly an inspiring rallying cry.

            It was the Tories who wanted the citizenry to hold the governing party to a higher standard. If they wanted the populace to accept that they’d do things like the Liberals used to, and constantly hold up the fact that “the Liberals used to do this too”, or “the NDP would try to pull similar stunts if they were in power” every time they’re criticized for their policies, then they shouldn’t have run an entire election campaign on the slogan “Demand Better”.

            Complaining that the Tories are held to a higher standard than the other parties rings pretty hollow given that holding the governing party to a higher standard was THEIR IDEA.

    • Reverse a stupid and unpopular decision..not a chance, not with this regime.

      • At least the Tories aren’t owning the decision though. James Moore stood in the House of Commons the other day and passed the buck straight back to Danile Caron, the Librarian and Archivist of Canada. He said that the government wasn’t consulted on the Code of Conduct, and if the opposition wants to ask about it then they should call Caron before a committee to testify.

        It’s an interesting example of “ministerial accountability”, but at least if the government isn’t defending the Code of Conduct it might give Caron the room needed to bow to pressure and reverse some of the code’s more egregious passages.