View From the Hill by Keith Beardsley – Latest Duffy Bomb on Harper Government Oct 29, 2013

View From the Hill by Keith Beardsley – Latest Duffy Bomb on Harper Government Oct 29, 2013

388px-Mike_DuffyCFN – The explosion you heard in Ottawa yesterday was the latest bomb Mike Duffy lobbed into Ottawa’s political circus. Duffy certainly got everyone’s attention, not only in the Senate chamber, but across the country. Whether you like him or not, it was a powerful presentation from a skilled speaker.

With the Senate scandal continuing unabated, there is tremendous wear and tear on everyone involved. These scandals tend to take over your entire day, you become buried in the muck, either throwing it or slipping deeper into it. A political crisis of this magnitude wears staff down and it always impacts on the man at the top.

Every now and then you have to step back, step away from it and re-evaluate your position; otherwise you develop a bunker mentality with a tunnel vision that focuses on winning small points instead of the big picture. When that happens it’s time to pause and reflect before committing yourself to the next action.

At this late stage in the game, the one organization that should have been fully prepared for anything that Duffy would throw at them should have been the Prime Minister’s Office.  If they weren’t then that is another issue for the Prime Minister to deal with, but I assume they were. By now those in charge should have gathered all of the relevant information, emails, copies of memos etc. They should know who knew what, when, what actions were taken by individuals etc. They should have been prepared for anything that Duffy could lob at them. They should also know what else he has in reserve and he certainly hinted that he had more to release.

It gets lonely at the top, whose advice do you listen to? Who do you trust? Who do you have on staff that can set aside blind partisanship and speak truth to power?  The distractions are innumerable, even Finance Minister Flaherty referenced the impact the scandal was having on the economic agenda.

It is time for the Prime Minister to pause and reflect as well. Is his current course of action the best one? Are there alternatives? Is he well briefed? Does he have the right staff in place to handle the crisis? Are there people he can seek advice from outside of government, former Prime Minister’s, ministers etc.?

In the short term this scandal isn’t going away, for now it will chip away at the strength of the Conservative brand that Harper has built up since 2003. However, the Prime Minister has to keep his focus on the long game. The three senators are today’s issue; he has to focus on 2015. He has to pause and reflect then take action and move forward.

Keith Beardsley is a senior strategist for True North Public Affairs in Ottawa, as well as a blogger and political analyst. He can often be found running or cycling on his favorite bike trails. To sponsor this column please  email!

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