Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Out, out damned spokesman!

And now, a special announcement from Mount Tory. From CTV.ca:

William Stairs, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's director of communications, has been replaced about two weeks into the new government's mandate.

It's not clear whether Stairs has been terminated or whether he voluntarily left.

Now, as a reporter, I know that the person who wrote this story can't outright say what we all know. So I'll just provide a helpful translation here: He got the boot. He isn't saying anything because he is a loyal party hack but... boot. Big time.

A statement from Harper's office said Stairs will be replaced by Sandra Buckler, who served as a spokesperson for the Conservative party during the election campaign.

Stairs declined to comment when contacted late Monday.

"William played an important role in the creation of the Conservative party and the recent campaign," Harper's chief of staff Ian Brodie said in a statement.

"Sandra brings a wealth of communications experience to her new post."

Brodie also says that he is looking forward to working with Stairs as he moves on to new opportunities, CTV's Rosemary Thompson reported Monday night.

It's unclear, however, what those new opportunities entail.

"Don't worry, Billy, we'll find you some cushy lobbying job, maybe land you on a Bay Street board of directors. Want to be a consultant? All the cool kids are doing it!"

Stairs, a fluently bilingual Nova Scotia native with a PhD in political science was a longtime presence on Parliament Hill.

Read: future potential party leader. Harper is well rid of this guy, he was about two terms away from planting a knife in his dear leader's back.

e became Harper's chief spin doctor last year, and had previously held the same role for Peter MacKay under the now-defunct Progressive Conservative party.

The shake-up follows complaints that Harper has avoided the media since being sworn in as prime minister on Feb. 6.

"I think what this means is obviously that the prime minister is recognizing that they have had some communication problems in the first couple of weeks of his mandate, and that's why they are making a big change at the top of their communications staff," Thompson said.

"Hey, maybe we should have said something about that whole David Emerson fuck up? Other than that the people who were complaining were shallow? Maybe."

Several Conservative aides, including at least five from the media-relations wing of Harper's office resigned or were forced out over a period of several months last year.

In August, 2005, Stairs insisted the departures were not a sign of dissension in the ranks.

"This is a high-turnover business," he said at the time.

"When people do decide to move on, to pursue careers elsewhere, they usually choose to do it in the summer so that (new) people can move into their jobs with a minimum of disruption."

"Bitter recrimination goes down easier with cool lemonade, and after a few hours playing on the Slip & Slide, you'll hardly remember the bloody political battles that ended with you kicked from the halls of power! Hey, everybody, it's the Night of the Long Knives, Nerf-style!"

Now back to your regularly scheduled government, already in progress.

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