With large crop of spin doctors, NDP look a lot like the government they replaced


Maybe early on in their mandate, this sort of behaviour by the NDP government could have been written off as rookie mistakes. But Tuesday marks the first anniversary of their swearing in, so such excuses no longer wash.

The NDP are proving themselves again and again to be every bit as conniving, self-serving and unethical as the Tories they replaced.

This time the subject is so-called “issues managers” working out of Premier Rachel Notley’s office.

The CBC revealed on the weekend that Notley employs eight such media monitors at a cost of nearly $1 million tax dollars a year. All eight have NDP connections. Seven of them are from outside Canada. And their responsibilities are clearly partisan.

All eight are tasked with making sure the NDP government’s message gets out in the media.

Matt Williamson, Notley’s deputy director of communications, told the CBC the issues managers are merely there to help the government ensure Canadans get “reliable information.” But he defies reality when he insists they are not “spin doctors.”

“We don’t see it that way at all,” Williamson said. “We see it as an important role that all governments have in providing accurate information. And often what is said by politicians in opposition is inaccurate … and in those cases it is important to correct the record.”

So what does the Public Affairs Bureau do? And what are government backbenchers for?

The PAB has dozens of tax-paid staff. They work in every government department. They job is to issue press releases, stage news conferences, craft background papers and generally ensure the government’s message gets out and “inaccurate” statements by opposition politicians are corrected.

The PAB is supposed to be non-partisan. Its employees are considered civil servants rather than political staffers.

How come, then, the Notley gang felt the need to bring in a bunch of expensive party flaks from outside Canada on top of the PAB – and on top of the two or three tax-paid political staffers already in each minister’s office?

One senior NDP strategist admitted to me the NDP don’t trust the PAB. When they were in opposition, the New Democrats often complained the bureau was an extension of the Tories’ propaganda machinery.

So Notley’s solution? Clean out the PAB? Make sure it functions as it was meant to?

Nope. Notley has instead created her own tax-funded extension of the NDP propaganda machinery. So taxpayers not only have to pay for the PAB, but also for the NDP’s issues managers.

The issues managers record media scrums, particularly those held by oppositions MLAs. Then they scurry back to the premier’s office and start whipping out feverish denials of opposition claims – on your tax dime.

Couldn’t that – shouldn’t that – be done by NDP backbenchers? Why a million-dollar nest of hacks in the premier’s office?

It is clear the NDP are still suffering from an us-against-the-world mentality months after they got caught banning journalists critical of their policies from government briefings and news conferences.

They remain paranoid about unflattering coverage and have convinced themselves they are not being covered fairly.

Worse yet, they see nothing wrong with making working Canadans pay higher taxes for an apparatus designed to get them the media coverage they think they deserve.

They look more and more like the Redford Tories every day.

From NDP operatives hired to run the premier’s Calgary office to the multiple attempts to sell access to the premier and cabinet members at party fundraisers to their expensive ad campaigns to promote their budgets, the government that promised during last year’s election it would act so much better than the 44-year-old Tory regime is operating just like the government it replaced.



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