Thursday, July 12, 2012

Peter MacKay and the “Announceables”

No, it's not a band name, it's how MacKay is spending his summer.
Defence Minister Peter MacKay has been racking up the air mile points with his series of announcements this summer. And there’s more to come, Defence Watch has learned. In June the word went out to DND and Canadian Forces organizations that MacKay’s staff was looking for “announceables” for the summer months.
The criteria were lax and almost any project – equipment or infrastructure – that he could announce, no matter what the dollar amount, would be accepted. Even announcements that had been made before would qualify. So you are now seeing the results.
Earlier this week MacKay travelled to CFB Suffield to “re-announce” the construction of a couple of buildings there. But as a local journalist pointed out most of the money for the buildings was coming from the British government, whose troops train at the base. Besides that, the details about the buildings had already been announced in January and in February of this year. (the buildings will be complete in August/Sept.)
Military officers point out that the Harper government has also taken to announcing minor sub-contracts for various equipment projects, complete with a press conference/visit to the company in question from a minister or local MP….something previous governments – both Liberal and Conservative – hadn’t done (a couple of these subcontracts have already been announced for the LAV-lll upgrade, including one this week).
Such big projects like LAV-lll upgrade or the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy will be able to provide hundreds of minor “announceables” over the years.
Just a few observations...the military seem to have no qualms in providing the background to what MacKay's transparent re-announce-arama is all about. Doesn't exactly make MacKay look good so maybe some folks want to ensure he is ushered out the door from Defence whenever that bigger shuffle Harper has in mind occurs.

And how remarkable is it that this kind of politics is viewed as what works, even in this era. It's so 1950s à la Duplessis but with a decidedly Harperesque p.r. emphasis. Announcing things many times over, breaking major announcements down into as many as they possibly can...they're not just a government, they're also the nation's busiest public relations firm.