Sourcing a cross-border smear
Well, here's something interesting, on ABC News in the U.S., no less.
A "source close to the Prime Minister's Office" has told ABC News who leaked some misinformation to CTV News this week about conversations between the Canadian government and Barack Obama's campaign. The alleged leaker? None other than Ian Brodie, chief of staff to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Now, Liberal foreign affairs critic Bob Rae sees this as pretty serious. He believes that the Harperites are actually trying to sink Obama's campaign.
"This is Republican International in action. The Harper government is so ideological and so tied to the Republicans that they will use any opportunity to throw a wrench into the Obama campaign," Rae says in an email sent out this afternoon. (Read the full email at the end of this blog post)
But let's also pause and look again at that ABC News item for a second. Someone close to the PMO is outing Ian Brodie as an anonymous leaker. Hope that "source's" job is secure.
And now, let's also look at what this "source close to the Prime Minister's Office" is saying about how all the misinforming happened.
Apparently, Brodie was the victim of some "exaggeration" by Canada's ambassador to the U.S., Michael Wilson. Ah yes, that notorious exaggerator, Michael Wilson, former finance minister in Brian Mulroney's government, one of the straightest, most understated cabinet members in those times. Does this sound a bit familiar? Didn't "sources" in the PMO try to blame the military for misinformation around the issue of Afghan detainees a few weeks ago? Blame that later had to be retracted? And isn't it interesting how "sources" close to this government are quick to turn on old Mulroney Conservatives when the going gets tough?
It would probably be very interesting to hear conversations going on this afternoon inside the PMO and between Ottawa and Washington. Unless we're reading the ABC News item incorrectly, someone "close to the Prime Minister's Office" has managed to smear the PMO chief of staff and Canada's ambassador to the U.S in one fell swoop.
Subject: The Harper Conservatives Are Trying to Sink Obama
Canadians are rightly enraged when foreign governments try to create mischief in the course of our political life.
Watching and reading the news over the last two nights, it is fascinating to watch Republican International at work. The Harper farm team is doing their loyal best to bring down Obama. Tom Clark at CTV is fed a story, apparently from "senior sources" that a "senior official" from Senator Obama's campaign let them know that any talk about NAFTA was just for show. He duly reports the story on the news. The story naturally causes a flurry in Ohio, where the primary is close, and where Senator Clinton and Senator Obama are into an intense battle for Democratic voters. Some Canadians might remember that changing the labour and environmental clauses in NAFTA was a big issue for us as well.
Senator Obama's campaign spends the day yesterday denying it, as does the Canadian Embassy. But CTV sticks to the story because "senior sources" in the PMO continue to confirm it. Tom Clark's original story also refers to the possibility of a McCain visit to Canada to reinforce his and Stephen Harper's love affair with free trade.
Leaks like this don't happen by chance, and they don't happen by accident. This is Republican International in action. The Harper government is so ideological and so tied to the Republicans that they will use any opportunity to throw a wrench into the Obama campaign. It isn't pretty and it isn't even smart (if Senator Obama wins he will remember this incident), but it reflects how these guys do business. Throw the ball at your head. Every time.