Author Topic: Hillier, Sr.Officials Muzzled by PMO  (Read 25073 times)

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Hillier, Sr.Officials Muzzled by PMO
« on: April 16, 2006, 06:52:51 »
 Shared in accordance with the "fair dealing" provisions, Section 29, of the Copyright Act (http://www.cb-cda.gc.ca/info/act-e.html#rid-33409) .

http://torontosun.com/News/Canada/2006/04/16/pf-1536349.html

PM muzzles Canuck military
By STEPHANIE RUBEC, SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER, Sun Media
16 Apr 06

''OTTAWA -- Prime Minister Stephen Harper has slapped a muzzle on the Canadian military, forbidding brass from speaking for fear of detracting attention from his government's top priorities.

A top military officer said the Prime Minister's Office recently reeled in Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Rick Hillier to tell him that all of his speaking engagements had to be approved and his speeches would be vetted by Harper's staff.

Hillier was also instructed to advise his top generals, admirals and commodores that the order also applies to them.

A source close to Hillier said the general hauled in military brass to a closed-door meeting and verbally relayed the instructions in an effort to avoid leaving a paper trail on the discussion.

The senior military officer who attended the meeting said Hillier told brass they were to clear all media interview requests with the PMO first. So far all requests for interviews have been turned down by the PM's staff.

"They don't want anything to detract from their five messages or lead to debate or discussion," the source said, asking for anonymity to avoid repercussions from the PMO.

Hillier also told brass that they not only would have to clear any public speaking engagements with the PMO, but also have Conservative staffers vet their speeches, the senior official said.

The military's senior officers were told they should expect it to take about four weeks for speaking notes to be edited and approved.


Harper has kept his government focused strictly on his top five priorities, starting with the tabling last Tuesday of his accountability act meant to clean up the way Ottawa does business.  ''
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Offline Inspir

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Re: Hillier, Sr.Officials Muzzled by PMO
« Reply #1 on: April 16, 2006, 07:02:16 »
Wow, if it were me I would tell the PMO where they can stick it.

But then again I'm not a General nor a politician (is there really a difference between the two anyway)

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Re: Hillier, Sr.Officials Muzzled by PMO
« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2006, 07:08:49 »
This is not surprising, certainly not shocking.  The government’s intent to focus, clearly, on its big five priorities has been clear and public since day 1.  Ditto: the fact that national defence is not one of the big five.

General Hillier, and his top level subordinates, have had a fairly loose reign since Paul Martin took office – looser, I think, than the ones held by Chrétien when Henault, Baril and De Chastelain and, especially, John Anderson, were CDS.

Some here on Army.ca will be of the view that the best interests of the CF depend upon a Conservative majority government and my readings of the recent press (e.g. yesterday’s Globe and Mail at: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20060415.wxpoll0415/BNStory/National/home ) indicates that Harper’s five priorities strategy might be the best way to get to that majority.
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Re: Hillier, Sr.Officials Muzzled by PMO
« Reply #3 on: April 16, 2006, 08:24:04 »
It is minority government politics. And probably a good strategy. Time will tell.
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Re: Hillier, Sr.Officials Muzzled by PMO
« Reply #4 on: April 16, 2006, 09:51:32 »
 >:D


Sooooo!  Any speculation on the PMO muzzling us on Army.ca?
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Re: Hillier, Sr.Officials Muzzled by PMO
« Reply #5 on: April 16, 2006, 10:16:26 »
>:D


Sooooo!  Any speculation on the PMO muzzling us on Army.ca?

     In all seriousness, it has always been the function of veterans organizations like the Royal Canadian Legion, and Army.ca (for those of us who are retired, anyway) to speak.  In many ways, where General Hiller cannot speak, retired senior officers, like Lew McKenzie have a duty to speak.  Where current service Jr officers and NCO's cannot speak about the realities of the problems they face, it is OUR duty to speak.  When we served, it was the Korean war vets and early UN mission vets who spoke up for us, as the WWII vets spoke for them.  It is for this generation to risk their lives to keep the watch, and for the last to see they are not forsaken.
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Re: Hillier, Sr.Officials Muzzled by PMO
« Reply #6 on: April 16, 2006, 10:16:47 »
Well, well. This was probably only a matter of time, particularly given the relationship issues we have heard about between CDS and MND. How very ironic that under the dreaded Liberals we enjoyed the most forthright, courageous and free-speaking CDS we have ever had, and under the Tories (supposedly the patron saints of the military...) he and our leadership are muzzled.


A bucket of cold water to remind us that politics is still politics, politicians are still politicians, and we may not be the golden boys we thought we were.

I wonder what effect this will have on all the public speaking that has been encouraged at lower levels, and our open approach to the media, both of which were developed to rty to educate the Canadian public?

Cheers
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Re: Hillier, Sr.Officials Muzzled by PMO
« Reply #7 on: April 16, 2006, 10:36:43 »
PBI...

Depending on how much you trust the media,
http://winnipegsun.com/News/Canada/2006/04/16/1536123-sun.html

''Lower-ranking soldiers can still answer questions on their responsibilities and the programs they work in without having to seek PMO approval. ''

However, we'll have to see how that plays out at the sharp end.

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Re: Hillier, Sr.Officials Muzzled by PMO
« Reply #8 on: April 16, 2006, 10:49:09 »
milnewstbay:

Thanks for that. I hope that  our "in your own lane" policy survives, and that in due course the power brokers in the PMO are reeled in a bit to let the CDS and the senior leaders do what they were doing so well. The worst possible thing would be for us to become a silent army again, just when we were gaining traction.

Cheers
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Offline tomahawk6

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Re: Hillier, Sr.Officials Muzzled by PMO
« Reply #9 on: April 16, 2006, 10:56:06 »
I don't see this as being permanent. In the US key military leaders are asked to speak at meeting's of the chamber of commerce, veterans organizations and others. Of course the senior leadership can still address the troops after all that is who their true audience is. The PM may feel that it his purview to sell national defense to the voters and not the military.

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Re: Hillier, Sr.Officials Muzzled by PMO
« Reply #10 on: April 16, 2006, 11:49:51 »
I don't really like Harper or his team of lackies, but the practical necessity of the situation is driving this. The media is looking for anything to create a scandal and will construe any situation to reveal evidence of the elusive hidden agenda. Presumably this would include any statements by those who hold or have been permitted to continue to hold an office of any sort [such as the CDS, CMS, CAS, CLS etc., and their equivalent office holders right across the government.] Comments from Hillier are like a lightning rod for the MSM and the left,[notice they are always together!!] and he has already set an expectation of what the government has to accomplish to meet military requirements. [i.e. transport helo's by September]. In so doing the CDS has set the benchmark by which the government will fail the military, for his expectation conflicts with the Conservative electoral promises regarding the military - ice breakers and RRF forces throughout the country.     

CDS Hillier has placed the government in an awkward position, and they really had no choice but to muzzle him. Helo's by September would cost money this year, and there will be very little new money, if any, in the defence budget. In theory, the budget could even shrink - anything could happen to engineer a majority government. An increase to defence spending that would be necessary to purchase helicopters for deployment this year or even next year would be political suicide if there is to be any hope to pass a budget and set conditions to win a majority.

It was a serious mistake for Hillier to communicate those statements when clearly Harper and the MND do not share Hillier's vision of the military. There is a serious ideological purge underway of liberal appointees within the public service, and that purge is going to find its way into the military and especially NDHQ.

Prediction: look for Hillier to go silent and Ron Buck to retire and go on a public offensive against the MND.
 

 
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Re: Hillier, Sr.Officials Muzzled by PMO
« Reply #11 on: April 16, 2006, 12:37:40 »
Quote
Prediction: look for Hillier to go silent and Ron Buck to retire and go on a public offensive against the MND.

Admiral Buck announced his retirement for this year sometime ago. Too bad-  he spent more time and energy defending Maritime Helicopters than the entire Air Force combined...

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Re: Hillier, Sr.Officials Muzzled by PMO
« Reply #12 on: April 16, 2006, 16:45:24 »
You know, if I remember correctly, I think it was the year before last, a certain political party was lamenting the concentration of power in the Prime Minister's office....in fact, if I remember correctly, they were rather rude about it.... hrm, how the tables turn. Ah well.

As I said when they put a hold on those rushed contracts:
« Last Edit: April 16, 2006, 16:52:04 by couchcommander »

Offline TCBF

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Re: Hillier, Sr.Officials Muzzled by PMO
« Reply #13 on: April 16, 2006, 17:31:08 »
"However, we'll have to see how that plays out at the sharp end."

- Hey Tony, I got to 'model' a TF soldier in full WES gear getting hit by laser beams about five feet from the PM three days ago at CMTC, and I didn't feel muzzled at all!  I even had a speaking part!

As per the SOP, I suspect that if people stay in their arcs, they will be OK.

On a similar (but different) matter, Licia Corbella, writing in today's Edmonton Sun,  states "... proof positive of my theory that if you seek comment from anyone long enough, eventually they will say something really stupid."

Stupid sells newspapers.  Unfortunately, it also gets us soldiers more attention than we like.  Most of the media at the pointy end are hard working and worthy of our respect ( if the CBC gave out tour medals like the CF did, Nalah Ayed would have more than most of us).  As well, although their primary mission is NOT to protect us from our own stupidity once we open our mouths, they have been known to do just that.  Back in the corporate newsroom, however, journalistic and 'other' politics mixed with careerism and professional jealosy (the hallmarks of any bureaucracy) tend to warp the pointy end product and slam it into pre-ordained packaging.

What other branch of the public service allows it's pointy end to talk to the press about their jobs?  Anybody see Mr. Gagliano's executive assistant on Newsworld?  How about some of Mr. Radwanski's alledgedly 'abused' subordinates? What about the Justice flunky who had to write a letter stating that  the Mini 14 rifle would NOT be Prohibited - yet - after his boss, Irwin Cotler,  had said it would be? Catch the W5 on his feelings on why his boss could not withdraw his own letter?  Me niether.  Hear an interview of any prison guards or immigration board members lately?

Nope.

Tom


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Offline Centurian1985

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Re: Hillier, Sr.Officials Muzzled by PMO
« Reply #14 on: April 16, 2006, 17:48:16 »
Unfortunately even when our soldiers speak, the lower rank of the speakers is given the respect that many politicians in Ottawa believe it deserves - nothing.

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Re: Hillier, Sr.Officials Muzzled by PMO
« Reply #15 on: April 16, 2006, 17:54:27 »
Centurian1985

Still, it beats not hearing Tommy Atkins' voice at all.

TBCF is right about most gov't departments being VERY keen on front-liners not being the voice that's heard without context or big picture.  I know, as someone whose bureaucratic day job it is, in part, to make sure the media hears the right messages from the Gov't of Canada.  Now, whether they USE them or not is another story.... ;D

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Re: Hillier, Sr.Officials Muzzled by PMO
« Reply #16 on: April 16, 2006, 18:01:44 »
I'm the first to admit that I'm not very politically savvy at all, but, wasn't there a bunch of bluster about Government being, "transparent", I believe was the word used?  Seems to me that we were sold a cat in a bag, and the cone of silence has been lowered over the whole hill.  If I'm wrong, please enlighten me.
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Re: Hillier, Sr.Officials Muzzled by PMO
« Reply #17 on: April 16, 2006, 20:36:10 »
Quote
have Conservative staffers vet their speeches

That would be the friggin' day...they'd get my walking papers first.

The military is not the public service and does not exist to prop up this or that Government politically.  For too long, the CF has avoided engaging Canadians because "it might 'embarrass' the Minister", to the detriment of operational effectiveness and to the creation of a profound misunderstanding amongst the public of what we do.  While the military of course has to take direction from the elected leadership, and to be seen to be "soldiering on" once that direction has been issued, this goes beyond the pale - if correct.

Somehow, though, I'm not surprised.  Most of the Conservatives' "ideas" on defence are profoundly stupid; they're afraid that someone might actually say so...
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Re: Hillier, Sr.Officials Muzzled by PMO
« Reply #18 on: April 16, 2006, 20:40:41 »
Quote,
Somehow, though, I'm not surprised.  Most of the Conservatives' "ideas" on defence are profoundly stupid; they're afraid that someone might actually say so...

I totally agree, can someone give me one good IDEA that has come out in the last year from the Tories?
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Re: Hillier, Sr.Officials Muzzled by PMO
« Reply #19 on: April 16, 2006, 20:52:07 »
I'll admit I am inclined to give these guys the benefit of the doubt. I did vote the other guys out and these guys in.  So I might be more than usually pollyanna-ish.

One of the problems the "system" generally has had is that the question of to whom the government is accountable and to whom the government should be transparent.  Ultimately it is the people.  That is true enough.  But is the press that is supposed to hold the government accountable or Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition in Parliament -not to mention all the non-government back-benchers on the government's side of the house.

In the past it was common for an opposition MP to preface his/her questions with "I see today in the Post/Globe/Star....." because the mechanisms in the House available to them to conduct research on government initiatives was so weak. No money. No bodies.  Harper appears to be a parliamentarian, in that he believes/believed that parliament and the MPs are the arbiters of democracy in Canada.  The people there are hired to make policy and question policy on our behalf.

The media can and should act as a further mechanism, and many reporters believe that they are acting from the best possible motives.  But.  Ultimately they are being paid not to save Canada but to sell papers and advertising.

I am not too bothered that the press is bothered.  I am fairly heartened by the Accountability Act which puts power into the hands of the parliamentarians.  We'll have to watch them play by the new rules for a season or two before I decide if the changes have improved "the game".

If things go the way that I would like to see them go the media will be printing headlines like "Opposition MP exposes shocking new scandal using information obtained from Auditor General and the Parliamentary Library...".  (OK so I only want to see that headline if the Liberals or NDP make it into government but I am sure you get the drift :) ).

I would like to see parliament (government and opposition) driving the nation's agenda and not the Globe/Post/Star/Macleans/CBC/CTV.

I am going to wait out a while longer before deciding I screwed up by electing these guys.

Cheers.
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Offline FSTO

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Re: Hillier, Sr.Officials Muzzled by PMO
« Reply #20 on: April 17, 2006, 01:11:32 »
I always love the guys named "Un-named". With that word you can say any damn thing you want. But, if the story is true then we shouldn't see any speeches from NDHQ for the next 4 to six weeks, (which co-incides with the tabling of the budget  :o), so we'll just have to wait.

As for the reaction from the Directing Staff of Army.ca, you guys should maybe hold-fire until you see the whites of their eyes. Has the government announced the creation of the RRF at Goose Bay? No, all they have announced is the re-establishment of the weather station there and at Gander.

Now I agree with you that some of the other ideas are fairly out there (Navy Icebreakers, where the Coast Guard would be better employed). But why don't we wait until the budget before you let loose. (Maybe the Tories are in the process of gutting PWGSC, which would decrease procurement time by about 99.9999%)

Now after this rambling response, I hope that I don't get disciplined. :salute:

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Re: Hillier, Sr.Officials Muzzled by PMO
« Reply #21 on: April 17, 2006, 01:18:13 »
Quote
As for the reaction from the Directing Staff of Army.ca, you guys should maybe hold-fire until you see the whites of their eyes. Has the government announced the creation of the RRF at Goose Bay? No, all they have announced is the re-establishment of the weather station there and at Gander.

No, but the Minister said here in Edmonton last month that the four "new" battalions (Airborne, Comox, Bagotville, and Goose Bay) were still part of the overall Tory defence plan.  I agree, though, the proof of the pudding will be in the eating; we'll have to wait and see...
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Re: Hillier, Sr.Officials Muzzled by PMO
« Reply #22 on: April 17, 2006, 02:00:06 »
"I would like to see parliament (government and opposition) driving the nation's agenda and not the Globe/Post/Star/Macleans/CBC/CTV."

- I don't mind the media - in fact I WANT them to be troublemakers - but good ones, not lazy ones.  Truth to tell, if anyone thinks they are the new royal family, it's the Supreme Court.  Any one joking that "Boys From Brazil" might be happening in a sub-arctic banana republic, rather than a South American country?

"Somehow, though, I'm not surprised.  Most of the Conservatives' "ideas" on defence are profoundly stupid; they're afraid that someone might actually say so..."

- I disagree.  I thought 'Voting out the crooks who were stealing our money so we could actually use that money for DND and other good projects rather than for paying bribes" was - and remains - an excellent idea on defence.

Tom
"Disarming the Canadian public is part of the new humanitarian social agenda."   - Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axeworthy at a Gun Control conference in Oslo, Norway in 1998.


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Offline TCBF

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Re: Hillier, Sr.Officials Muzzled by PMO
« Reply #23 on: April 17, 2006, 02:49:28 »
The military is not the public service and does not exist to prop up this or that Government politically. 

- Which begs the questions:
1. Does the public service exist to prop up this or that Government politically?
2. Is DND - with or without the Canadian Armed Forces - part of the public service?
3. What year did the professional officer corps stop becoming a separate 'profession' if you will, and begin to be administered (pay and benefits package, etc) like public servants?

Tom

 
"Disarming the Canadian public is part of the new humanitarian social agenda."   - Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axeworthy at a Gun Control conference in Oslo, Norway in 1998.


"I didn’t feel that it was an act of violence; you know, I felt that it was an act of liberation, that’s how I felt you know." - Ann Hansen, Canadian 'Urban Guerrilla'(one of the "Squamish Five")

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Re: Hillier, Sr.Officials Muzzled by PMO
« Reply #24 on: April 17, 2006, 02:51:05 »
Tom -

I don't mind the media either, nor the fact that they stir up trouble.  I am just inclined to think that Parliament is where the hard work should be being done.

Cheers. :)
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