Monday, September 21, 2009

A retreat from Harper megalomania

Update (9:40 p.m.) below, more on the sudden burst of H1N1 ad activity. And (9:50).

CP follows up on the story: "PM's pics pulled from economic website amid partisan flap." It took Liberals pushing the issue and national media embarrassment for this government to come to its senses and realize that plastering the Prime Minister's mug all over a government website is just not on. The fact that this point must be pushed is remarkable and testament to the dominant one-man show of the "Harper government." I noticed the website clean-up too, earlier today. The editing seems to have occurred in the dead of last night. Wonder who got the lucky late night shift. Imagine that late night scene in the Ottawa offices as they scrambled for shots of other Conservatives to get up there to quickly take the place of the 40 Harper pictures.

Details from CP:
The government of Canada website set up to promote the Conservative economic action plan had a slightly different look Monday: more than 30 photos of Prime Minister Stephen Harper had been removed.

Critics have complained that the website,, looks like a partisan promotion - complete with a Tory-blue colour scheme, glowing third-party testimonials, more than 40 photos of Harper and repeated references to "the Harper government" rather than the Government of Canada.
Rattled, are they?

The site remains infested with the "Harper government" label which is in violation of Treasury Board rules on permitted uses of "federal identity." Mr. Harper is not a fixture of the Canadian government equivalent to the official "Government of Canada" label that warrants his name being used in branding efforts. Wonder what it'll take to get them to stop that too.

Also of note in that report, the fact that it is Ontario government H1N1 ads that the federal government is now apparently running across the country. So the federal government did not invest any effort in its own national H1N1 ads but is piggybacking on the Ontario government. Lots of effort put into partisan economic action plan ads but H1N1? Gee, let's just see what Ontario's got.

Still thinking an ethics complaint or perhaps a public sector integrity complaint may be in order.

Update (9:40 p.m.): Appearing late this morning on the twitter account for Public Health Canada (@PHAC_GC): "Canada Launches Television Advertising on Infection Prevention #h1n1." If you follow the link, it takes you to a morning press release and a link to the tv ad. Amazing how these items appeared so quickly in the wake of such bad publicity.

Update (9:50 p.m.): The government has also placed the ad on the Public Health web site today. Yesterday it was not there.