Stephen Harper’s control over his caucus (or rather, the Prime Minister’s Office’s control over the caucus) is now legendary. After five years, not only the MPs themselves but, more disturbingly, the Ottawa media have largely come to accept the new political reality that every single public moment is carefully planned out by agents in the PMO. As a country we will eventually suffer very serious consequences of this affront to democracy, if it takes root in the institutional culture rather than being an aberration, peculiar only to this particular manic bunch of secretive managers.
In the meantime, I was sifting through my archive of old Wikileaks material when I came across a superb example of this disturbing trend. Wikileaks received a “Constituency Week Caucus Package” sent to Conservative MPs in May 2009, with the theme “Protecting Canada’s Future.” As usual the document is a masterpiece of vague flimflam: the implication is that Canada’s future is under threat, though nowhere is there an indication of what this threat is. The bulk of the package is a “May Constituency Week Stump Speech,” which is not merely a list of key party talking points (that I might expect) but in fact a word-for-word speech which Harper apparently wanted every single riding in Canada to receive. Note the pathetic attempt to make the speech sound “local”: (more…)Tweet