A partisan government advertising campaign paid for by taxpayers raised alarms from the outset among senior public servants who serve Prime Minister Stephen Harper, The Canadian Press has learned.The quotes from people who are refusing to be named out of "fear of reprisals" are extraordinary:
The Privy Council Office, the non-partisan bureaucratic arm of the Prime Minister's Office, has never been comfortable administering the website for the Economic Action Plan -- and informed Harper of its misgivings at the time of last January's federal budget.
Those misgivings were heard, but overruled.
While the story is being denied by both PCO and PMO, the extraordinary claim originates from several sources within the famously discreet Privy Council Office.
The fact the story is being aired at all -- even under the cloak of anonymity -- suggests just how far the Conservatives are stretching the traditional boundaries of partisan behaviour in Canada's professional bureaucracy.
In interviews with past and present government insiders, The Canadian Press was told the Tories are trampling the admittedly grey area between partisanship and policy.This onslaught is pushing the limits and apparently the public servants know it. Now perhaps one of them would take the steps required to report it to the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner, whose mandate you can find, here.
More than one career bureaucrat said they've never seen anything so blatant as the current use of the office for self-promotion.
None would speak on the record, some for fear of reprisals, but many said it is a story that needs to be told.
"You have a political party that is not constrained by what conventionally would be perceived as overtly partisan actions," said one former insider.
"I can tell you every funding program across the government is being politicized," said another public servant.
"They do it for their own needs and they don't do it to help people. Welcome to Stephen Harper's world."
Disclosure of wrongdoing in the public sector is a courageous and commendable act of service.Excellent reporting from CP. The supposedly non-partisan PCO (see blog post earlier today) and its evolution under this Prime Minister's tenure is an underreported story worthy of attention.
The Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner is here to provide an external review of disclosures in a timely, equitable and confidential manner. We're also here to ensure public sector employees who make good-faith disclosures are protected from job reprisal.
(h/t to FarAndWide for CTV link above)