The government has facilitated this strategy by allowing departments to criminalize whistle-blowing in their codes of conduct - as the House of Commons just did. The RCMP, CIDA and the Library and Archives of Canada have all been in the news recently for the same reason.
Work in government and have concerns that corruption, unfair practices or even poorly thought-through decisions are being made? Best not to have an opinion or even think about rocking the boat; your job, even your freedom may be at risk.
Of course, this should come as no surprise. It's getting harder and harder to keep secrets, as political people at all levels are increasingly realizing. In particular, social media and the digitization of information has made it dirt simple for information to get out both intentionally and accidentally.
Faced with this reality, politicians and backroom operators who may cut corners for the good of the realm (i.e., the Party or their own fortunes) have two options - one is to reform their behaviour so as to be able to withstand scrutiny. The other is to try and clamp down even harder. History tells us where the latter path leads, yet that's the road being taken.
Canada has an innovation deficit. Our government is basing policy decisions on weak data and putting ideological pursuits before sustainability. What impact does this have on the morale and dedication of staff? What does it do to the ability to recruit and retain talent? Just as important - what do Canadians themselves think of this trend?
Support for Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government is dropping sharply, according to a new poll showing a majority of Canadians believe the country is headed in the wrong direction.
If you're a political communicator, this is a communications issue; the biased media is out to get you, the pundits are all in the pocket of the other guys, internal people are overstepping their mandate by releasing information in disloyal fashion to the public.
People don't really care about direction, because they don't understand it - only the confidence and message-control of the leader matters.
Which leads us back to point #1.
Team Harper, as well as other political teams out there, will look for the mud pies to sling - Senate Scandals, poorly-phrased quotes on China, so on and so forth. They think these headline-making gaffes and failures are enough to sink a government, without as much contextual analysis as is warranted. Why bother? We are smart, they are dumb - they won't notice or be able to respond, simply because we are better than they are.
When you make the rules, you have all the answers, right? The trick is to stifle any opposing perspectives.
Which is exactly what's happening. Which is fuelling our winter of discontent. People don't trust politicians, they don't believe in government and with a growing number of pols flaunting our laws, there's less impetus for average citizens to do anything differently.
So - what happens when these two storms converge?
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