Harperized: Rebranding the federal government

Documents revealed by Canadian Press talk of news releases that are "Harperized" with bureaucrats expressing what they call "mild distress" at what they have been "instructed" to do. And now seasoned journalists on Parliament Hill are questioning the politicization of the public service. Today, the argument and the push-back, Jennifer Ditchburn, Lawrence Martin and Conservative MP Deal Del Mastro speak to the issue.

Part One of The Current


It's Wednesday, November 30th.

New documents show federal bureaucrats were ordered to use the term "Harper government" instead of "Government of Canada" in their communications.

Currently, the same documents suggest it would save taxpayers a lot on stationery if Harper just stayed in power forever.

This is The Current.

Harperized: Rebranding the federal government

We started this segment with a Liberal MP Joyce Murray speaking during yesterday's Question Period. And that quote she was reading was from documents that came to light in a news report yesterday. Those documents suggest the Privy Council Office ordered federal bureaucrats to refer to the Government of Canada as the Harper Government.

For months, the Prime Minister's office has denied any such order exists. Yesterday, President of the Treasury Board, Tony Clement, responded to MP Joyce Murray by saying this kind of political branding happens all the time. We heard from Tony Clement explaining how the Government of Canada became the 'Harper government.'

But others offer a different reason for the rebranding of the federal government. They say it's all part of an unprecedented politicization of the bureaucracy and control over departmental messaging.

We were joined by three guests today. Jennifer Ditchburn is one of the Canadian Press reporters whose story inspired the exchange we heard off the top. Lawrence Martin is a columnist with the Globe and Mail and author of Harperland: The Politics of Control. And Conservative Dean Del Mastro is the MP for Peterborough and the parliamentary secretary to Prime Minister Stephen Harper. They were all in Ottawa.

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