Stay Out of the Story

One of the first rules in political issues management is to never be part of the story.

Issues management works in the background, monitoring the news, briefing key staff on unfolding events, offering up counter-attack points and coordinating with communications staff as needed. The aim is to present your boss, in this case the Prime Minister, in the best light to the media and public.

This brings us to the Duffy trial. Why would anyone send the present Director of Issues Management, Nick Koolsbergen, to sit and watch the trial in person? Yes, I know he is supposed to be on leave for the campaign, but if all you wanted to do was watch, listen in an adjoining room and then write a briefing note or report back to the campaign, why be there in person?

Every word was pretty much available from several different reporters who were tweeting the questions and answers as the trial progressed. It could have and should have been followed from inside their campaign office. Doing it that way they would have received all the information they needed without becoming part of the story themselves and without offering the media yet another chance to go at the PM from a different angle on the Duffy trial.

To make matters worse, Koolsbergen was seen talking to one of the witnesses on a break. Really guys? It doesn’t matter that you worked together at one time or that you could be friends. Did no one stop and think about how this might look on the TV screens of the nation?

This little chit chat has given new legs to the story and considering much of the trial has been about scripting people with what they are to say to the media, did they not think the media and through them the public IE voters would be wondering just what was said and if there wasn’t some scripting going on?

Sometimes you just shake your head at how they operate. Is no one there thinking about potential repercussions or perceptions? Who is asking the “what if” questions? Such as what if you are seen talking to a witness, how will the media react or if seen talking to a witness, could the PM get questions on that or if seen would it reflect negatively on the campaign etc.

Remember, your job is to stay out of the story. Becoming the issue in the story doesn’t help your boss and only opens him up to further attacks, the exact opposite of what your job is all about.



According to media reports, which first appeared on the 20th, the Green Party’s anticipated candidate in Peterborough-Kawartha plans to ask his supporters to vote for the NDP. Both the Globe and Mail and HuffPostCanada indicate that all of this is supposed to happen once it is too late to take the candidate’s name off of the ballot. In the meantime the plan appears to be to attend debates while pointing out how it’s better to vote NDP because “some” of their positions are similar.

Either you represent your party or you don’t? A lot of voters are away or won’t catch these stories; they will believe they have a legitimate Green candidate. If this is allowed to happen, isn’t this deceiving and misleading voters?

This story has been out there since August 20th. It is now the 23rd and so far the Green Party is still looking into it. Are they that slow to act or does the leadership agree with the position taken in Peterborough?

This type of nonsense hurts the party not only in Peterborough, but across the country as many voters will now wonder what their Green candidate might end up doing or for that matter what Ms. May might suggest in the dying days of the campaign.

With many polls suggesting the possibility of a minority government, shouldn’t the Greens be trying to elect a rump of MPs who can possibly hold the balance of power in parliament and the influence that would give them? No one expects them to win huge numbers in this election, but they do represent a legitimate option. Their ultimate aim this time around should be full party status in the House of Commons. The extra resources and exposure would place them in a better position leading up to the election after this one.

It is rather defeatist at this early stage to suggest your voters go elsewhere. Who would have predicted the Orange Wave in Quebec last election? There are a lot of undecided Canadian voters and Ms. May gave a credible performance in the leader’s debate that impressed many of them.

It is understandable that from a PR point of view May doesn’t want to get involved in removing a candidate or blocking their nomination, understandable that she wants to appear to be different to other leaders out there. But the reality is that she needs party officials who will take action.

It is now four days and counting to see what Ms. May and the officials in the party will do in Peterborough-Kawartha. What gives?


An Open Letter to Justin Trudeau

Justin Trudeau


Liberal Party of Canada


Dear Justin:

I was thrilled to see today that you are a fan of open letters, IE your one today demanding answers from Stephen Harper. I know then that you will appreciate this one.

As the Leader of your party you have repeatedly expressed your concern and interest in being more open and accountable. Will you then:

  1. Commit as the new Liberal leader to get to the bottom of where the missing $40 million from the sponsorship scandal has gone? To all of us middle class Canadians, that is a lot of money. Can you assure us that you will be diligent in tracking it down and returning it to government coffers?
  2. Will you also suggest to the Prime Minister that the $40 million not go into general revenue, but instead go to the Veterans Affairs Department to help our needy vets?
  3. You seem fascinated by email exchanges between staff. As you know when running for the leadership you promised not to interfere in the local riding association nomination process. However there have been some where it is not so clear that either you or your office didn’t meddle or block certain candidates from seeking the nomination. Will you in the same spirit of openness and accountability (that you demand of Harper and his staff) agree to release in the next 48 hours all of the emails between yourself, staff (present or past) and party officials (present or past) concerning the controversial nominations or simply ones where candidates were rejected or blocked.
  4. I have noted your stated concern for the burden that middle class Canadians carry. Would you promise today not to bring in any new programs or expand existing ones that will increase the tax burden we middle class Canadians carry.
  5. I remember that you promised to never use negative ads. As some of the money comes from taxpayers (through the vote subsidy that previously existed) I would like to see you reaffirm that commitment.
  6. By the way if your open letter doesn’t do as well as expected, will you fire not only the advisor who suggested you write it, but also all of the staff working for that person.


In conclusion, I hope you are enjoying the campaign, the fun has just begun.


A concerned taxpayer


What Goes Around, Comes Around

Don’t you just love this man’s high standards?

"Stephen Harper picked these people, he hired them, he promoted them, he protected them, and he's keeping them on the public payroll while they run his election campaign even though he knows full well everything that they did," Trudeau said (Referring of course to the staffers in the PMO and the Duffy trial). (CTV News, 15 August 2015)

Very impressive rhetoric. Great sound bite for CTV.

Of course what goes around also comes around. Young Trudeau has now set a very high bar for himself as well. One that he will have to measure up to for decades to come, assuming he lasts that long as Liberal leader.

Every political leader at one time or another will have staff who screw up and that includes Justin. Remember General Leslie and his moving expenses.

I will predict now that there will be plenty of missteps by all of the parties before this election is over; missteps that can be blamed on advice or actions of a senior advisor. And there will be screw ups in all of the leader’s offices after the election is done. No one leader is immune. So how does Trudeau plan to handle mistakes that his senior advisors make! Harper fired the man in charge. According to Trudeau the new standard is that you must also fire all of the assistants to the senior advisor who made a mistake? If I worked on Trudeau’s staff I would be getting nervous when blanket firing is the thing to do.

Not only that, but he is jumping to conclusions before a final verdict is in, simply reacting to a few days events without knowing the whole situation. That does not bode well for someone who wants to be Prime Minister, especially if he is willing to act before all the facts are in. Maybe that explains his comments "that the budget will balance itself" or his Care Bear comments on growing the economy “from the heart”!

In the past Justin has made some very serious mistakes, including the two above, often acting on his own, without the advice of his staff. How does he fire himself?

Enjoy the weekend folks!


Interview with CBC This house