Plummeting oil prices have pushed Prime Minister Stephen Harper off his important pre-election budget strategy and last week a disconnect emerged publicly between the PMO and Cabinet
communications, but Mr. Harper and his Cabinet will have to stick to a disciplined, well-coordinated PMO communications strategy as the opposition parties will try to score political points on any government vulnerabilities, say former advisers to the Prime Minister.
“That’s a perfect sign of a disconnect when they don’t get everything coordinated,” said Mr. Beardsley.
A disconnect between the PMO and Cabinet? How about a disconnect between the PMO and the civil service on the whole? The Harper government has made it clear that they are in charge, that their partisan interests reign and that the job of the entire machinery of government is to back them up.
You don't resolve a disconnect by stamping out dissent. That's not communication, that's stifling, discrediting or removing all oppositional voices.
All this talk of "communications strategy" completely misses the fundamental truth of communication, which is that it's something that exists between to or more parties. Messaging isn't communication, any more than messaging is consultation.
What's being touted these days as "communications plans" are really marketing strategies, finding the right way to pitch a message to the masses.
How is it playing with various interest groups? How is it playing with focus groups? It gives you a good opportunity to test on an issue on which at the moment, the government has problems with,” said Mr. Beardsley.
How does our message play? Who can we count on as our target audience - then which oppositional groups do we pick fights with to ensure our block solidifies and comes out?
All Parties are doing this. The idea of real communication and co-designed policy is taken no more seriously than Parliament. Everything is being designed and tailored towards political wins.
Canada weathered the previous recession because, at some point not that long ago, there were people around the Hill though thought more of the country's fortunes than they did their own.
Now we have overconfident partisans who see themselves as demi-gods, waging war against each other on the battlefield of mere mortal voters/taxpayers.
And our problems begin to grow. Economic eggs in one basket of which the bottom is coming out. Harper's "tough on crime" rhetoric is turning should-be mental health patients into indoctrinated terrorists, attacking us on our own soil. Neglect to infrastructure is starting to weigh. Neglect to social services is starting to weigh. Neglect of science and R&D is slowly starving our future opportunities to support the message track of the present.
People aren't happy. They're scared, bitter, faithless in the politicians and looking for someone to blame. Partisans are all too happy to point at each other, at each other's core supporters and to undermine the media in the process. What's emerging is a fog of war that keeps people anxious and keeps the focus on blame rather than solutions.
It's going to get far uglier before it gets better.
Yet what this is all about is something we have seen before; the way forward will be the same as it was with Magna Carta, with the Peaceable Revolution.
You don't know what your doing, elites; you're too far from our reality, your decisions are hampering us. We don't want less system between you and us; that only removes you from the grassroots even further. It's time for more power to rest closer to the ground.
That's the message coming from the ground, and gaining in strength. Too bad history's actors have forgotten how to listen.