ABC Well Underway

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So says apparent leak within PC caucus

In a media scrum on Friday, Premier Danny Williams said the ABC (Anything But Conservative) campaign will not start until the federal election starts.

When the Prime Minister does call the election, "the writ will drop and the shoe will drop, and we'll commence ABC," he said.

However, at least one member of the Danny Williams team says otherwise.

Steve Outhouse, the director of communications for DFO Minister Loyola Hearn, says he has been told by someone inside the Williams Government that the campaign is well underway, behind closed doors.

"We were contacted late last week by a member of the provincial PC caucus, who told us that they were contacted by someone in the premier's office, asking all ministers and MHAs to find at least four people in their ridings who they can call upon to put their names to letters to the editor, or to put calls in to Open Line shows, to give the appearance that the ABC campaign is away more grass roots' than perhaps what it is. These calls are happening during business hours from someone in the premier's office, though I won't get into who."

Outhouse said that, despite the premier's assurance on Friday that ABC would not begin until the election is called, there are already people on the public payroll implementing the campaign at taxpayers' expense and directly through the premier's office.

"This member of caucus wasn't very happy about what they were being asked to do, and I think there are several within caucus who aren't pleased about it," Outhouse said. "At the same time, I think everyone knows that their career prospects under Premier Williams will be limited based on how they perform with this campaign So we are fully expecting to see all 40-plus members of caucus out attacking us on this campaign, even though not all them will have their hearts in it."

Outhouse said that caucus members will likely be provided with rough templates or talking points that can be used for call-in shows or letters to the editor. "So from the editor's perspective of the 17 Transcontinental papers, they will get letters to the editor that look virtually the same It will be an attempt to get around the checks and balances that editors have in place to avoid publishing (form) letters."

I reminded Outhouse that the Conservative Party of Canada has on its web site a section of talking points that party supporters can reference, when calling talk radio or writing letters to newspapers. I asked how this is different from what the premier's office is doing.

"From our perspective, the difference is this. We have tools that are available that we can communicate with our members, with people who are interested in doing those types of things. If someone is feeling motivated, if they want to give a point of view or perspective on an issue, it is available for them to go in, log on and use it. There is no coordinated approach. I remember when I first took this job, people would say that Danny's guys stack the open line shows and we should do the same thing, but we tell them no, we're not going to run a communications strategy like that.

"Certainly, every party has talking points. But at the same time, that is different from calling through all 40-plus members of your caucus and making it a responsibility for them to provide a minimum of four names into a centralized co-ordinator, so that materials can be sent for them to sign and send to a local newspaper. That's a very significant difference."

In my view, what's most significant about this story is the fact that, despite the premier's reputation for running a tight ship, one of his caucus members is calling the enemy' to leak information.

And you know what they say about leaks. Once started, they just keep getting bigger.

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  • Peter
    July 27, 2010 - 14:53

    Geoff:

    In my view, what's most significant about this story is the fact that, despite the premier's reputation for running a tight ship, one of his caucus members is calling the enemy' to leak information. - Was there really a leak, or are you falling for the counter spin of a paid Conservative fixer.

    Geoff, Mr. Outhouse is engaging in the old poison pill trick designed to create paranoia in the ranks. It is the type of tripe the Conservatives are famous for. They hope that some poor sod who may have said at some point in a caucus meeting that the war has to end becomes the victim of a whisper campaign. That the Provincial Progressive Conservatives will start looking inward for traitors as opposed to putting all of their energies into the ABC.

    I'll give you an example. In 2004, the opposition liberals revealed a number of issues that indicated that they had a well placed leak in the new government. The issues were sensitive and only a handful of senior bureaucrats in the Rural Secretariat, the Department of Innovation , Trade and Development and the Premier's Office should have been privy to the information. The government went looking for the mole. The hunt hurt morale, everyone was looking over their shoulders and paranoia set in. The leaks kept happening.

    The reality was that there was no deep throat just a person on a cc e-mail list who happened to share the same last name and first initial with someone else. Each time the information to this group was resend or responded to the libs got it.

    Outhouse just took a page from their own Run IT TIGHT OUT OF THE PMO Handbook and credited it to the Williams Premier's office to try and sow some distrust in the ranks of the local PC's. The leak is a fabrication and the source has no credibility. He works for Hearn and reports to the PMO! As well he will be out of a job if the Conservatives loose.

    Today he was whining that the Premier's has already started his ABC campaign and the writ has not been dropped. I thought the ABC campaign began in earnest in the spring of 2007. I have seen no evidence of a cease fire over the past year and half. The Premier basicly said, you ahev not seen anything yet, wait until the writ is droped.

    Steve Outhouse says, we have friends in the government (I seem to remember Hearn saying something like that last spring, only he indicated he knew what was going on in the Caucus before the Premier did) an MHA to be precise, who he could not name of course! Really! That should have been enough to discount his spin.

    Outhouse wanted you to do his work for him. He wanted you to say In my view, what's most significant about this story is the fact that, despite the premier's reputation for running a tight ship, one of his caucus members is calling the enemy' to leak information.

    As for the question of the allegation that politcal staff here are already people on the public payroll implementing the campaign at taxpayers' expense and directly through the premier's office. , can you explain to me why it is alright for the Director of Communications in the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to be using Federal Government tax dollars and time to promote partisan Conservative spin, rumor, gossip and all out lies but it is a problem if the Premier's politcal people are preparing for battle as well?

    Geoff, I have an idea. Why not call Paula Hayes, the Executive Director of the Provincial PC Party and ask her for a list of the executive members of the local PC Associations in the three seats on the Avalon. Than call Mr. Outhouse and ask him for a list of all of their polling captains from the last federal election for the three seats on the Avalon. Call them all and do a poll, see where the grass roots organizers really stand on the eve of this election.