Where'd that post go?
Several people have asked today why I pulled down a post from last night, which tried to unravel the mess behind the replacement of the chief of staff in Michael Ignatieff's office.
Here's the story. Many Liberals, and several members of the media, learned that Ian Davey was out as chief of staff -- before Ian Davey knew, and before the communications director, Jill Fairbrother, also knew. Fairbrother, it should be noted, is also Davey's partner, which made this situation muddier. The general understanding, among those in the (sort-of) know, was that Peter Donolo was going to join the office in some fashion, perhaps in the same way that Mitchell Sharp served Jean Chretien, as a $1-a-year adviser -- sage, counsel. That's why we got the initial wave of denials. But in the past few days, unknown to most folks inside the Opposition Leader's Office, Ignatieff made the decision to oust Davey and offer Donolo the chief of staff's job.
The fact that Davey and Fairbrother were in the dark about the announcement, even as senior MPs were being told at a late-afternoon meeting, does not speak well to the handling of this situation.
Speculation was floated last night -- not just by one person -- that the word may have leaked out through John Manley, former deputy prime minister and the new head of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives. I talked to Manley today via email. He said, in quite good-sport fashion: "It's a long time since I could influence the OLO." (That's Opposition Leader's Office, for those unfamiliar with the acronym.)
On a normal day, had I been sitting in front of my computer, I would have revised the blog post today with Manley's comments front and centre. Instead, in deference to Mr. Manley, always decent and honourable with me, I pulled down the whole post. (More correctly, I asked my colleague Chris Carter to do it for me, since I was wandering around Carleton University.)
I have a few theories about why people were trying to make the link with Manley last night. But one of them is simple: there was a reception on Monday night for the CCCE, to honour the departure of Tom D'Aquino and the arrival of Manley in the job. Manley also appeared on CBC's new show on Monday night; the next night, CBC had the story of changes in the OLO. People who were at the Manley party seemed to know that Donolo was in; Davey was out. One person floated a theory, that person told two friends, and so on. It was the accepted wisdom out there last night, as Liberals were desperately searching for a way to explain why everyone except the people closest to Ignatieff knew that he was firing Ian Davey.
So that's why the post went up and that's why the post went down. Blogs are journalism on the run; often a first draft. This is the second draft.
I do want to re-instate one part of last night's post, which comes from me, not Liberal sources. It is the paragraph below:
And I will say, as a coda, but not an insignificant one, that I always found Davey and Fairbrother to be enormously decent people. They didn't lie. They believed the best of people. They didn't hate people who asked them questions. They didn't seem to hate anyone, actually. My hope is that what happened today isn't a rejection of those working principles. Just because that's rare here, it doesn't mean it was unwelcome.