When the Canadian Press reported last March that bureaucrats had been ordered to use the term “Harper Government” instead of the usual “Government of Canada” in official federal press releases and other documents, the reaction from the Prime Minister’s Office was swift. “Nothing could be further from the truth,” said Stephen Harper’s chief spokesman at the time, Dimitri Soudas. “There has been no change of policy or practice,” said Stockwell Day, then the Treasury Board president. Now, the Canadian Press reports that internal emails and other documents, released under the Access to Information Act, clearly show that bureaucrats were directed last fall to start using “Harper Government”—and some of them resisted the change. (The documents were released by Industry Canada only after a long delay, during which the Information Commissioner, an independent watchdog, found that the Canadian Press was justified in complaining that the department was refusing to comply with the terms of the information law.) Emails show bureaucrats referring to a “directive” from the Privy Council Office, the bureaucratic arm of the Prime Minister’s Office, demanding that “Harper Government” be used. “Please proceed with this approach,” reads one message. “Sorry—it is what PCO has instructed.” Another message refers to a news release having been dutifully “harperized.” Despite this apparently clear evidence to the contrary, a spokesman for Harper insisted that the earlier denials from Soudas and Day were correct.
Harper names the government after himself
Federal communications have been “harperized”
FILED UNDER: federal communications