The "Shoe Store Project," as it was dubbed by the Privy Council Office, was a plan to establish a new "dedicated press facility" in a now vacant shoe store adjacent to buildings that house the Prime Minister's Office and his PCO. The project would have supplanted the current National Press Theatre, just a block away.
The decision to shelve the project was "a PCO decision," a spokesperson said yesterday. But it is not clear when that decision was made, by whom, or why.
In response to a request by the Star last October, PCO released a package of documents, received Thursday evening, almost a year later, which showed planning was underway, and the cost estimated to be $2 million.
None of the documents indicated the project had been shelved.
However, Harper's communications director Sandra Buckler said in an email yesterday it was a no-go.
"The government has no plans to pursue this issue. As PCO is the lead, you can contact them for answers to your questions," she wrote.
Please note how Buckler has tried to deflect things from the PMO to the Privy Council Office. While the membership of the Privy Council is quite broad, only four members are required for a meeting to have quorum. It is similarly important to recognize that Government Whip Jay Hill is among the members of the Privy Council - along with a sizable number of Mulroney appointees and one or two that PMSH has added himself...not to mention Harper's current cabinet. (I'm sure finding four sycophants to rubber stamp PMSH's whim here would be easily found)
Sorry, Sandra, but that little bit of deflection doesn't work here. The PMO was in the thick of it - and would be in any event - as the Privy Council Office is ultimately adjunct to the PMO itself.
As if to further reinforce the notion that the HarperCon$ are trying desperately to mangle the message and control all aspects of messaging we find that the party has created their own spin section for supporters to use.
On issues from Arctic sovereignty, health, the environment and law and order, party backers can log on to the official Tory website to get a list of contacts for local newspapers and call-in shows to push the right-wing message.
"Tired of hearing the vested interests of the Liberals and the special interests of the NDP get their messages out via the media?" reads the website. "Call in to a show yourself and fight back with the facts!"
In the last election, Liberals were outed for writing letters to newspapers critical of Conservative policy without identifying themselves as party operatives.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, then the opposition leader, condemned the practice at the time.
What a hypocrite!