Friday, August 14, 2015

What Those Emails Tell Us


When the Duffy trial re-opened this week, a 426 page binder of emails was introduced into evidence. Doanld Savoie writes that what they tell us is that:

Staffers from the Prime Minister’s Office roamed the corridors of the Senate as if it were an extension of their office. Audit reports were regarded as little more than briefing notes to be carefully managed by the centre. What truly matters in government now is the ability to manage the “blame game,” and it seems that only those operating at the centre have the required political clout to dictate how it should be managed. If PMO staffers think that they are free to tell the Senate how it should go about its work, one can only imagine what it must be like for ministers, their staffs and senior public servants whose careers are tied directly to the wishes of the prime minister.

The concentration of power in the Prime Minister's Office isn't new. It began with Pierre Trudeau. However, under Stephen Harper:

We have created a two-tier system of government in Ottawa, or an upstairs-downstairs to governing. More to the point, governing from the centre has created a fault line in the government where things that matter to the prime minister and his immediate advisers are brought above the line and dealt with quickly and effectively. Only the prime minister and his advisers will decide what belongs above the fault line. It can be anything from a decision to go to war while not consulting the relevant ministers – let alone the cabinet – down to a $90,000 problem considered sufficiently important to generate 450+ pages of e-mails. Under these circumstances, why would anyone other than a career politician want to run for Parliament?

The e-mails are revealing in many ways. There is no evidence that the bureaucracy from the Privy Council Office, the Canada Revenue Agency or other departments was involved or even consulted. One would think, for example, that the CRA could have provided some advice on residence status under the Income Tax Act.

What does not matter to the prime minister and his advisers is pushed down below the fault line. Here, ministers and departments are expected to run on their tracks and not create fodder for the blame game. Here, public servants are also expected to attend countless meetings and deal with a growing array of oversight bodies that would not be tolerated in any other sector.

With Parliament losing relevance, with regional ministers no longer enjoying standing either inside government or in their region, with nothing of substance belonging to line ministers and their departments any more and with the concentration of political power at the centre, governing has become a process of political and economic elites talking to other political elites. This is where the public interest now takes shape, not through evidence-based policy advice.

Stephen Harper boasted that we wouldn't recognize Canada when he was through with it. Donald Savoie believes that it is barely recognizable now. If Mr. Harper is re-elected, it will be beyond repair.


Lorne said...

It seems to me, Owen, that whether or not a smoking gun is ever uncovered, Wright's testimony and the array of emails introduced in court attest to an administration presided over by Harper that is mired in corruption, where 'optics' are everything and the public good accounts for nothing. All Canadians should feel diminished by such a reality.

Owen Gray said...

What infuriates me, Lorne, is the clear impression that the personnel in the Prime Minister's Office are expected to lie. However, the word lie is never used. Instead the lie is called a "media line."

Mogs Moglio said...

Well now the man who would be king/dictator if everything went his way is in trouble not just from the 'Duffy affair' but his royal highness has a new obstacle thrown in front of his royal election chariot. From Jeremy J. Nuttall over at The Tyee:

"Former PCs Aim to Oust Conservatives Via Vote Siphoning

Unhappy with Harper, 'Progressive Canadian Party' targets sensitive ridings to help Libs, NDP.

A centre-right political party says it has had enough of Stephen Harper and will run candidates this election in ridings where a Conservative candidate barely won in 2011, in hopes of siphoning off enough votes to allow for a Liberal or NDP win.

The Progressive Canadian Party was started in 2004 by former Progressive Conservative party members who were upset at their party's merger with the Canadian Alliance to form the modern Conservative Party of Canada in 2003."

Well harper the ghosts of the past are coming to haunt you yes steve you know all those real Progressive Conservatives that were stunned and shunned when you and helicopter Mackay decided to dis David Orchard who made an agreement with mr helicopter never to merge with the chinese [Canadian] alliance party? Well their back:

For the first time Owen I see light at the end of the long and despicable dark tunnel that is steve joe harper. Together this and the 'Duff' trial should derail the man who has deep dark designs for our Canada.

Good riddance steve...

Something to cheer about;)

Dana said...

"All Canadians"?

According to a Mainstreet/Postmedia poll released today the Harperians still have 31% of Canadians in a trance, somehow. These Canadians don't feel diminished. These Canadians have no issue with or are blind to corruption and don't care a flying fig for the so called public good - in fact, like Maggie Thatcher, the grocer's girl, they may not even believe such a thing exists.

These people are your neighbours. They may be friends and acquaintances. We might shop at their stores, buy their services. We may be enabling their livelihoods.

We have to discover who they are and shun them utterly.

Owen Gray said...

In my neighbourhood, the Conservative signs are beginning to pop up in lots of places, Dana. To add insult to injury, the Conservative candidate here ran for the NDP back in 1997.

Owen Gray said...

Let's hope there is light at the end of the tunnel, Mogs.

ron wilton said...

Funny how things roll around.

For years we have been warned by the NDP and the Liberal parties that a vote for the other or a Green would scatter the vote and open the door for the harpercons to slither in and steal the election.

Now with public interest being aroused by the Duffy/harper trial revelations which may result in a greater voter turnout and the close polling numbers of the big three, I can see the harpercon spinmeisters warning us that a vote for any party other than theirs will result in vote splitting that would open the door for one or other of the bad guys to swoop in and oust the 'natural' ruling party.

Owen Gray said...

I think you can count on that "media line," Ron. But, as the emails at the Duffy trial prove, that phrase is just a euphemism for "lie."

Pamela Mac Neil said...

Watching the Harper campaign and now reading the Con emails from the duffy trial is truly jaw dropping Owen. In the Harper campaign everything that is coming out of his mouth is a lie and everything that is said in the emails is to cover up lies. So in the present we have chronic lying and in the past, as the emails reveal, there was chronic lying. This level of deceit, perpetrated by Harper and his thugs, on the Canadian people has no equal in Canadian history.They are first and foremost criminals and should be treated as such. I find that there being even a small chance that Harper could be reelected truly frightning. This is a criminal cabal, not a government.

Owen Gray said...

It appears that Bayne will try to bring Harper into the mess by painting Ray Novak as the link between Harper and Wright. If Bayne is successful, Pam, the whole house of cards could fall.

Pamela Mac Neil said...

I hope so Owen. I and I guess many others are getting really tired of Harper getting a pass on his past and present corrupt behaviour. I'm really impressed with Bayne and just maybe in the process of him trying to get Duffy off, he will cause, as you say the whole House of cards involving Harper and his thugs to fall.

Owen Gray said...

It's clear from Wright's testimony, Pam, that the prime directive at the PMO was to protect the prime minister. That did not mean, however, that Harper did not know what was going on. If Bayne can prove that Harper did know what was happening, Mr. Harper won't have a leg to stand on.

the salamander said...

.. thanks for that excellent link.. I missed that article amidst the small blizzard of mainstream media piling onto Nigel, Novak, Harper et al .. and good comments from your readership as well. If Nigel invoked Matthew, I'll invoke Peter.. The Peter Principle that is.. alive and thriving under the truly twisted 'leadership' of Stevie/Ray .. the two most 'powerful' public servants in Canada. And lets not leave out Jenni Byrne, so far left out of the Duffy Chronicles.. and Arthur 500 per hour 'he owns my next breath' Hamilton - an upstanding evangelical christian creep.
Goodness.. Having read almost all of Emily Dee's enlightened research in Pushed to the Left & Loving it I'm only surprised how the Harper loutpack exceeds her warnings of dire & disgusting behavior to come.

Well, it seems mainstream media has the blood scent now.. the black swans are overhead. Of course Harper is of tremendous intellect & seems to hold some strange magnetism to quite a motley faction. Perhaps its explainable, perhaps not.. after all, lemming will plunge off a cliff in mass agreement, quislings surface in every era, and lamprey eels and other parasites keep finding suitable victims.. or volunteers

Owen Gray said...

It's become clear this week, salamander, that Harper's PMO is a "Fib Shop," whose chief function is to craft "media lines" -- a euphemism for lies. Ultimately, that's what those emails tell us. And, when people and the press discover that they have been deliberately lied to, they will have someone's blood. The basic question now is: Will it be Harper's?

The Mound of Sound said...

The emails are a scent trail, Owen, but it will be when the hound runs down his prey, the main Crown witnesses, that we'll get a look into the dark innards of Harper and his High Priests. Those emails, while disturbing, are only foundational to the greater story still to emerge.

Owen Gray said...

There is a greater story, Mound. And it will test the nation's constitutional infrastructure. However, you can bet that Harper's protectors will do everything they can to keep it under warps.

The Mound of Sound said...

I think it's too late to circle the wagons, Owen. They lost control of the narrative. The documents are out in the public eye, most of them anyway. Those emails alone put the lie to Harper's always wobbly denials. The only way to reconcile those emails with Harper's insistent statements is to conclude that he's lying and he knew everything all along.

Harper insists he was in the dark until it all broke out in public and he then fired Wright on the spot. Yet he then promoted Novak to Chief of Staff even though Novak, his lap dog, also must have betrayed Harper by saying nothing even though he was in on Wright's scheme. So Harper takes another conspirator who betrayed him and punishes him with a promotion to become his closest aide.

"I - did - not - have - sex - with - that - woman." Sure, okay.

Owen Gray said...

Interesting, isn't it, Mound, that both Clinton and Harper could lie so earnestly?