PMO responsible for anti-Trudeau protest: What were they thinking?

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

What is happening at the PMO?

On Tuesday, the Huffington Post reported that Conservative Party interns were recruited for a Justin Trudeau protest on Parliament Hill earlier this month.

HuffPost has learned the PMO assembled several Conservative party interns and staff to draw up signs mocking Trudeau after being tipped off by Twitter that the Liberal leader planned to announce new measures to increase transparency in the House of Commons outside Parliament near the Centennial Flame.

Holding signs quoting Tory attack ads, the young Conservatives stood behind Trudeau’s podium during his televised speech.

Beyond the questions of whether any taxpayer resources were use for this protest, one has to wonder what the PMO was thinking?

In what universe did they think that press gallery journalists wouldn't investigate the familiar faces they've seen on Parliament Hill and that this wouldn't become a PR nightmare?

This isn't the only questionable partisan act by the PMO in recent weeks and months.

Two weeks ago we learned that the Prime Minister's Office — not the Conservative Party — were sloppily pushing the Justin Trudeau/speaking engagement story to media outlets across the country.

[ Related: PMO caught pushing the Trudeau speaking engagement story ]

The Toronto Star's Susan Delacourt suggests that the problems with the PMO started when Nigel Wright, Stephen Harper's Chief of Staff, was forced to resign over his $90,000 'gift' to Senator Mike Duffy.

"Before Wright wrote a cheque to cover the repayment of ineligible expenses...[Wright] was praised for bringing a level of quiet professionalism to the prime minister’s operations," Delacourt wrote.

"Since Wright’s resignation on May 19, however, the Prime Minister’s Office has been veering toward overt stunts and hyper-partisanship."

With all due respect to Delacourt, maybe things were deteriorating even before Wright left the PMO? After all, Wright was the one who didn't think there was anything wrong with the prime minister's chief of staff gifting a sitting Conservative legislator $90,000.

[ Related: Is Stephen Harper a poor judge of character? ]

There are rumours, in Ottawa, that Harper will not only shakeup his cabinet this summer but that he'll reorganize his office. Last week, the Globe and Mail reported that Jenni Byrne, the Conservative's director of political operations, could be joining the PMO. Byrne is an 'ultra-partisan' but a very capable and competent administrator.

More importantly, she's not likely to make the same mistakes the other PMO staffers have been making recently.

(Photo courtesy of the Canadian Press)

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