Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Ari Fleischer writing the PM's talking points

To supplement the blogging from last night on Harper employee Ari Fleischer's payment disclosure, just wanted to emphasize one part of this reporting that is quite revealing. Ari Fleischer was helping to write talking points for the Canadian Prime Minister:
The disclosure documents from Ari Fleischer Communications Inc. say the company performed four main tasks — none of which involved lobbying the current U.S. administration.

The tasks included helping Mr. Harper develop statements and talking points; advising the PMO on media appearances; arranging interviews with American TV and print media; and helping brief Mr. Harper for his interviews.

Mr. Fleischer helped Canada communicate its position for the G20 economic summit, which began April 2 in London.

“The means to be employed are to educate and inform the U.S. public about the views and positions of the Prime Minister of Canada with regard to these and related issues,” says the document.
Same point, from Canwest:
As part of a comprehensive plan to help Harper "educate and inform" Americans about Canada, Fleischer reported the scope of his work included helping write the prime minister's talking points and booking interviews with U.S.-based media before the April 2 summit in London.

"The purpose of the services is to articulate the position of the Government of Canada . . . to a broad variety of audiences, to promote Canada's international objectives," Fleischer wrote in the filing, which is required when U.S. consultants are hired by a foreign government.

"The services will include advising the Office of the Prime Minister with respect to development of statements and talking points; advising with respect to media appearances and interviews; arranging and booking such media appearances for the prime minister; and participating as appropriate in briefings of the prime minister and his staff in preparation for such media appearances and interviews." (emphasis added)
Much more damaging than the financial cost of this questionable retainer, it's the spectacle of a Canadian Prime Minister being scripted by Americans. And outsourcing something he shouldn't be doing in the first place to a member of the discredited Bush Republican administration, Ari Fleischer. The early word on this contract was that it was about booking arrangements and Fleischer (and Mike McCurry) using their contacts to help Harper land interviews. But writing media talking points for Harper? That's a whole new ballgame for Canadian Prime Ministers. How embarrassing that is. No wonder we have to count on American disclosure to find it out.

P.S. To any American friends who are reading, this is not intended whatsoever to be an anti-American post. It is about Canadians having a government that can't speak for itself.