, ,

Why is Harper so intent on controlling the narrative? One reason is that it helps bury corruption scandals, which can and have defeated previous Canadian governments.

After nine years of power, though, the Conservatives are having a tough time keeping their corruption scandals hidden. Let’s start with Senator Mike Duffy, currently on trial for fraud. The latest testimony suggests a concerted effort by the government to bury the controversy.

In the case of Mike Duffy, his expenses had been a problem that needed to be managed. Woodcock and several other figures — including Harper’s chief of staff — rolled up their sleeves on the communications plans.

Even though Duffy felt passionately he had not broken any Senate rules when claiming living expenses, the PMO did not want him to go “squirrelly” and plead his case in the media because it might hurt the overall brand of a prudent, ethical government.

“Oftentimes, when individuals are the subject of media allegations or public criticism, very often individuals in that situation feel lonely and isolated and plan unexpected or impromptu media availabilities,” Woodcock said. “My wish was to have no surprises and not to further feed a story that was already dominating the news headlines.” […]

Woodcock explained to the court why the media strategy was to give one-on-one interviews with reporters in Prince Edward Island, rather than deal with the parliamentary press gallery in Ottawa.

“You wouldn’t get as direct or as clean a story, you would end up with 18 stories all with different angles, and that wasn’t the goal,” Woodcock said. He added that otherwise, “it wouldn’t be a direct, clean story from Sen. Duffy; it would have been, ‘Sen. Duffy says he’ll repay, and Opposition MP “y” says there should be no Senate,’ along those lines.”

The Duffy story didn’t stay clean, however, and the communications strategies inside the PMO became part of the larger coverup controversy.

The HuffPo has good coverage. It’s also important to note this isn’t just Duffy on trial; Patrick Brazeau, Pamela Wallin and Mac Harb face similar charges which the Conservatives are hoping to bury.

On top of that, a former aide of Harper’s has been charged with illegal lobbying and influence peddling. And fresh off the press,

The Harper government forged a partnership with a major Canadian accounting association, formalizing it as an adviser to the Canada Revenue Agency, at the same time as the group sought to fight the CRA in court to shield the files of multimillionaires who had stashed money offshore. […]

CPA Canada represents and lobbies on behalf of most accounting firms in Canada, including KPMG, which the government was pursuing in court at the time to obtain a list of wealthy clients enrolled in an offshore tax scheme in the Isle of Man.

The agreement, signed by Canada Revenue Agency chief executive officer Andrew Treusch and CPA Canada head Kevin Dancey, called for the formation of joint committees with senior representatives from both groups — and “ensures” that the CRA will consider the accounting group’s “input” into any changes to its programs and services, according to a government news release.

Vote Conservative if you want rich corporations to dodge paying taxes. Hopefully they won’t be able to muzzle this one.