The Oliphant Curiosity Shoppe: PCO correspondence analyst "pick list" of boilerplate replies - Macleans.ca

The Oliphant Curiosity Shoppe: PCO correspondence analyst “pick list” of boilerplate replies

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Okay, so as ITQ may have mentioned in passing before, one of the many unexpected delights of taking a brief sabbatical from the Hill to cover the Oliphant inquiry — other than the larger-than-life characters, the dramatic testimony and the enforced two hour lunch break within walking distance of the Sconewitch, of course — has been the vast quantity of largely tangential material tabled in support of testimony from various witnesses, which often has little to do with the controversy at hand, but provides a rare glimpse inside the inneriest-most workings of government.

For example, take this document — which appears midway through a 300-plus page binder filed in support of last month’s appearances by two senior officials with the PMO and PCO correspondence units, respectively, who testified on how correspondence sent to the Prime Minister’s Office is managed.

Dated January 26, 2009 —  the very day Parliament returned to business after that unfortunate bit of business surrounding the fiscal update — it provides the full list of available replies to mail on various issues — from “abortion” to “auction requests” to “the Can. Human Rights Comm.,  Macleans magazine.” Really — copyright, gas prices ‘including accusations of “gouging”‘ , Omar Khadr and the seal hunt — it’s all there, as far as issues most likely to come up in letters to the Prime Minister. Even some of the filenames are intriguing: “NoNukes_1.E02” for correspondence related to nuclear disarmament; “Sweatshop_1.E03” for “labour conditions in the textile industry”.

Anyway, since I’m already going back through the binders in preparation for next week, I figured I’d post a few of the more offbeat documents that have surfaced throughout the course of the public hearings so far, starting with this one. Enjoy!