Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Soudas departing

The Globe headline this aft as news comes that one of Harper's most committed partisans is leaving: "Harper loyalist Dimitri Soudas stepping down as PMO spokesman." Termed a loyalist in a headline of the national paper. It sounds quite honourable at a glance. Marjory LeBreton is consulted:
Senator Marjory LeBreton said she will miss Mr. Soudas.

“He's been an outstanding, hard-working colleague,” Ms. LeBreton said.

“I have nothing but admiration for his hard work and devotion to the Prime Minister.”
Further on, they do touch on some of the controversies involving Soudas' tenure such as ignoring some journalists, Soudas' involvement with the pre-determined journo question list, his "sway" in Quebec that was probably inordinate given his position as a young spokesperson. But it's done in a general way.

Not mentioned in the Globe, however, that very recent and significant controversy involving allegations of interference by Soudas in the Montreal Port Authority's board. A conflict between sworn testimony he gave to the House of Commons Operations Committee in 2008 and recent evidence from board members raised questions about Soudas' testimony. That glaring loose end likely would have been pursued at the Operations committee that New Democrat Pat Martin may end up chairing. But now Soudas is leaving.

Canadian Press, of course, included the appropriate factual context with a different headline: "Harper loses fifth communications director in six years as Soudas set to resign."
"His most recent brush with trouble came during this spring's election campaign, when Soudas was named as the "real boss of Quebec" in a phone conversation between two purported Montreal construction industry bosses negotiating how to get allies appointed to the Montreal Port Authority."
CBC also went big on the Soudas hagiography, surprisingly.

But, there are many other Soudas controversies you aren't hearing about today. It was not all hail fellow, well met stuff. The tone that Soudas brought to the job was destructive to civility in Ottawa. It has to be noted along with all the good will being expressed as news of his coming departure breaks.

Whether this will usher in a new era of civility...it hasn't been there during five years of Harper government. There is little reason to expect it going forward.