Thursday, June 11, 2009

Trying to change the channel

Minister Raitt is tanking. If you didn't see the CTV report last night, there's an incredible bit of throwing her under the bus by the PMO that's reported in the last minute. It's hard to see how a minister carries on after a PMO official has put it out to the media that they actually wanted her to apologize on Tuesday but she missed a strategy meeting and was "crying in her office feeling sorry for herself."

The reaction to her taped remarks has been disastrous. Lawrence Martin zeroes in on what's so wrong here:
The issue, as it has been since Day 1 with this government, is one of character. Nothing matters except the political calculus. This time, they got caught because you can't be seen to be mixing political calculus with the treatment of cancer patients.
Speaking of political calculus, what was Mr. Harper's contribution to the effort yesterday? Bringing the "Stephen Harper: Leadership" mojo, of course, in the form of shrugging his shoulders and sending the message to Canadians that, you know, we're getting out of the medical isotope business anyway. It's just too darn hard. Not so brilliant messaging and not terribly reassuring to Canadians who are looking for solutions. The empathy chip is missing.

So in a bit of desperation then, the PMO seems to be looking to quickly change the channel by staging a show of its own. Get ready for a big honking contemptuous display of political propaganda by the Harper government today in the form of their made-for-TV presentation of the government's "quarterly performance report." That report is supposed to be a substantive matter, with information supposed to educate Canadians about the government's actions during the recession. Yet all indications from the aforementioned CP report suggest that the government will instead engage us in a sunny infomercial of some sort. It's "...a good report, yes," chimed in Deficit Jim. And it will be delivered in a showy feel-good tv atmosphere replete with Senator Mike Duffy moderating the event:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper is expected to present a rosy picture of his Conservative government's handling of the recession Thursday in a slick made-for-TV presentation designed to forestall a quick summer election.

The presentation will be moderated by Senator Mike Duffy, a former television journalist, and feature Harper, flanked by Human Resources Minister Diane Finley and Gary Goodyear, the local MP and Minister of State for Science. It will include a staged interview segment between Harper and Duffy.
That would be Senator Mike Duffy, the former CTV journalist who was very recently rebuked by the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council for ethical breaches. The ink is barely dry on that dressing down. Not a trace of thought apparently given to that consideration by the PMO and what it might look like.

We have the right to expect certain minimums from our government. First and foremost, that our government does its legislative job in an impartial forum, free from partisan taint. This is not just another speech the PM is giving. This report is going to be voted upon as a confidence matter and it should be introduced in the neutral governing forum, the House of Commons. They're clearly making a mockery of the opposition's request for performance reports. This stage managed event screams of contempt and urgent channel changing.

More here, here and here.

For more on this topic, see: Blog Post Index: Medical Isotope crisis & Chalk River shutdown.