Sunday, April 11, 2010

Soudas promoted

"Harper names Soudas as communications director."
Soudas has been at Harper's side since he became leader of the Canadian Alliance and is one the prime minister's most trusted media advisers.
Some Dimitri highlights are in order then...

At Copenhagen, Soudas incorrectly accused, in a government communique and in a publicly recorded incident, a Quebec environmentalist and group of being behind an internet hoax that embarrassed the Harper government:
Quelques minutes plus tard, les journalistes reçoivent un communiqué signé cette fois de Dimitri Soudas, l'attaché de presse du premier ministre Stephen Harper. Ce dernier envoie copie du faux communiqué à tous en disant qu'il s'agit du «communiqué de presse envoyé par Steven Guilbeault d'Équiterre». Nouveau coup de téléphone à l'écologiste bien connu qui s'étrangle littéralement au téléphone en apprenant la nouvelle.

Après une vive altercation avec Dimitri Soudas dans les corridors, Steven Guilbeault réclamera, ainsi qu'Équiterre le fera en fin de journée, des excuses publiques pour atteinte à sa réputation et affirme que ni lui ni Équiterre n'ont quoi que ce soit à voir avec le canular, qui, dit-il, dépasse les moyens techniques de son groupe.
At the G8 in Italy last summer, Harper was forced to publicly apologize to Michael Ignatieff for an attack he launched on Ignatieff in the closing press conference, in reliance upon mistaken information provided to him by Soudas:

The prime minister's press secretary Dimitri Soudas told reporters he apologized publicly to the prime minister for advising him to make the partisan comments that were not based in fact, and he apologized publicly as well to Ignatieff.

Soudas said "I am upset," and he added later that the prime minister was "clearly, clearly not happy with the fact that he was put in that situation by one of his advisors.

"The prime minister is very bothered by the fact that his press secretary mis-informed him, and mis-briefed him and hence he obviously made an accusation."

Two months ago, Soudas calmly handled a protest situation in Vancouver by furiously sending out emails to media creating a simply unbelievable crisis atmosphere surrounding a Prime Ministerial visit, in the course of it blaming an NDP MP for instigating a rowdy protest, which she denied, all the while the event seems to have gone off just fine.

Despite all of the above, it's not really a surprising promotion, is it? Soudas seems to speak for the government, frequently in place of ministers, on all issues, reinforcing the centrality of the PMO above all other departments in the Harper government.

Given the number of communications directors Harper has had (Williamson, Teneycke, Buckler, in all five in four years), this looks like the final choice. There's no removing Soudas, is there?

As to whether the choice of Soudas constitutes the appropriate level of professionalism and judgment you want in the person handling the Prime Minister's communications, this Prime Minister has said yes.