Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Teneycke departs

Update (5:30 p.m.) below. And (8:50 p.m.).

CTV reports, we analyze:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper's director of communications, Kory Teneycke, has confirmed that he is planning to step down from his post, just as speculation ratchets up about a possible fall election.

It is not clear exactly when Teneycke will vacate his post, but it will be "very soon," according to CTV News Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife.
Fife said Teneycke has a young family and so would like to find a job that is less demanding on his time.
He's been the director of communications for just over a year, which would seem like not very long for a young tyke. This must surely have been the uber-job for someone who came from the wilds of ethanol industry-spokesdom. So do we buy the family explanation? Ummmm....let's think....no. Nor do others. Here's some recent goings on that it may have to do with...

Recall this headline: "Tories call AECL '$30 billion sinkhole,' no more cash for new reactor." Who was doing the "calling?" Teneycke, and loudly so:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper's chief spokesman says Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., is a "dysfunctional," $30-billion "sinkhole" that will not get any more funding for a new research reactor.
"The government has put $30 billion into AECL over its history and it's been one of the largest sinkholes of government money probably in the history of the government of Canada," Teneycke told The Canadian Press.

"So I don't think describing it as an unmitigated success is accurate."

Teneycke added there's been "some pretty well-founded, sharp criticism of the history of AECL . . . . I don't think we're going out on a limb to say it has been a fairly dysfunctional place."
These statements from the PM's chief spokesperson came at the same time that the Harper government, as we know, is trying to sell AECL. So it was all very strange. The comments were likely motivated by the growing backlash in the scientific community about the government's announcement that it was getting out of the isotope business and the stories about the brain drain that this would likely cause for Canada, the decimation of the nuclear research industry and all that other nice stuff that we've been hearing. So Teneycke, in attempting to address those concerns, overshot and in the end, withdrew his remarks.

A few weeks after Teneycke's remarks on AECL, Premier McGuinty halted the Ontario government's reactor purchases from AECL. McGuinty's team did so due to uncertainty over the future of AECL.

So, make of all that what you will. Just the facts, as reported this summer.

Also interesting, this move comes on the heels of the "great summer chief of staff shake-up of 2009" going on all over Ottawa too. Apparently in the Harper government, a minister can't choose their own chief of staff. One of the most important working relationships you'd think that a minister would want some say in. But such human considerations apparently not operative in controlling PMO land. Can't let the ministers get too comfortable, I guess.

Oh well, no more spokesthingy to kick around anymore...next?

Update (5:30 p.m.): Family, family, family...and did he mention, family?

Update (8:50 p.m.): Dave at Galloping Beaver thinks Kory's seen the electoral writing on the wall...also quite plausible.

Further (8:55 p.m.): And in case it wasn't crystal clear in the post, once McGuinty halted the purchase from AECL, AECL's resale value went *poof.* Spokesthingy opened the door, Dalton walked right on thru.

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