PMO asked staff to supply 'enemy' lists to new ministers

Ministerial staff were asked by the Prime Minister's Office to include lists of "enemy stakeholders" in transition binders prepared for new ministers, according to an email obtained by CBC News.

Information was to be part of transition binders, leaked email says

PMO's enemies list

9 years ago
Duration 3:04
An email leaked from the Prime Minister's Office is giving new cabinet ministers help by providing a list of political enemies

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's office asked staff to include a list of "friend and enemy stakeholders" in their transition binders for new ministers appointed in Monday's cabinet shuffle, according to a leaked email.

The email, obtained by CBC News and several other media outlets, was sent July 4 by Erica Furtado in the Prime Minister's Office and shows a checklist for what should be in the transition binders.

"Who to avoid: bureaucrats that can't take no (or yes) for an answer" is on the list, as well as "Who to engage or avoid: friend and enemy stakeholders."

The request for a list of problematic bureaucrats was subsequently dropped, according to another email sent a few hours later on July 4.

The person who leaked the emails said that when some staff balked at the idea of coming up with the blacklists, they were cut off from further communications about the matter.

The person also said staff were given examples of stakeholders that could go on the "enemies list" and they included environmental groups, non-profit organizations, and civic and industry associations with views different than the government's.

Transition books and briefing notes for new ministers would normally include names of key people on issues, but dividing them into "friend and enemy" categories isn't common.

The other items on the checklist were:

  • What to say in question period.
  • What to expect soon, hot issues, legal actions, complaints.
  • What to expect later, longer-term forecast.
  • What to do, status of mandate items, off-mandate items.
  • What to avoid: pet bureaucratic projects.
  • What to attend: upcoming events, meetings and FPTs.
  • Who to appoint: outstanding GiCs and hot prospects.
  • Private member's bills, lines and caucus packages.

FPTs refers to federal/provincial/territorial meetings and GiCs refers to Governor in Council appointments, people who sit on agencies, boards and commissions.

"While we don't comment on internal communications, we are collaborating with our ministers, especially new ministers, to ensure they are fully briefed so they can continue their work on behalf of Canadian taxpayers," said PMO spokesman Carl Vallée in an emailed response to a request for comment.

Harper appointed eight new MPs to his cabinet on Monday and shifted multiple ministers around to new portfolios.

PMO acting 'paranoid'

The NDP's deputy leader Megan Leslie said the instructions to provide an "enemy" list show the PMO is "paranoid" and trying to exercise control over ministers.

"But they also have this 'for you or against you' kind of attitude where unless you are toeing their line and marching to the beat of their drum you are an enemy," she said.

Leslie said it's useful for ministers to share information with each other but classifying people as enemies crosses a line.

John Bennett, executive director of the environmental group Sierra Club Canada, said based on his past experience with some ministers he likely would have wound up on the enemy list.

"I wasn't surprised but I continue to be disappointed that stakeholders like environmentalists are considered enemies rather than stakeholders who are trying to pursue important issues," he said in an interview with CBC's Rosemary Barton.

He said if some ministers were more "mature" they would understand how democracy really works and that all perspectives should be considered when making decisions.

"They don't believe in democracy the way we do, which is it's an exchange of ideas and debate and try to come up with reasonable solutions. They believe in forcing ideology and if you're forcing ideology on the Canadian public then you see people like me as an enemy and that's unfortunate," said Bennett.