9. Red Flags

Susan Delacourt had been copying her managing editor Jane Davenport back in Toronto on all correspondence with Stephen Lecce. “This was unusual that the PMO was asking us to do this and I had some reservations about going along with it,” Delacourte says. She did her best to have a real conversation with Lecce about why the situation made her […]

8. The day

On June 16, 2013, Susan Delacourt published a piece in the Toronto Star describing Trudeau’s pledge to repay any organization that felt dissatisfied with his speaking services. The following  morning, she received an unusual phone call from Stephen Lecce, the PMO’s Deputy Director of Communications at the time. Lecce told her he had some information about Justin Trudeau — […]

7. Justin Trudeau’s speaking fees and the media

As the son of an iconic former prime minister, current Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau has been closely involved with the party for much of his life, but especially since winning his Papineau seat in the 2008 federal election. Before he was elected MP, Trudeau was part of the Canadian public speaking circuit and accepted numerous speaking fees […]

6. “The whole off-the-record-thing”

One of journalism’s larger ethical dilemmas is whether to grant the condition of anonymity to sources. Anonymity gives reporters the ability to publish information or quotes while withholding the name of the source, a precaution meant to keep a source non-identifiable, unreachable, or untraceable. [1] Most journalists adhere to the tradition of granting anonymity only in […]

5. The PMO vs. the press gallery

“The PMO is the gatekeeper to all the information,” says the Star‘s Delacourt. “The PMO chooses which Conservatives are on political television shows at the end of the day. Nobody is allowed to speak until they get the blessing from the PMO.” When Prime Minister Harper assumed office he wanted to fundamentally change the way […]

4. The Gomery Commission and federal accountability

In 2004, retired Justice John Gomery’s Commission of Inquiry into the Sponsorship Program and Advertising Activities began looking into allegations of corruption and conflicts of interest in the PMO. The inquiry found that the PMO under former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien had mismanaged government sponsorship contracts. For example, Groupaction Marketing, Inc., a Montreal-based advertising firm, had been paid $550,000 […]

3. The PMO: Partisan or no?

The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) is a central government agency made up of the top political staff of the prime minister. Typically partisan loyalists, PMO employees change with every new leader, as opposed to the full-time civil servant staff of the Privy Council Office (PCO). In the past, the PMO had a relatively weaker role […]

2. Political leaks

The chief of staff to former Alberta premier Ralph Klein, Rod Love, once said: “Leaks are political currency, because in any political environment where information is power, the transmission of that information is an exercise in power.” To be a successful political watchdog, the press must have knowledge of what our politicians and government agencies […]

1. Watchdog role: then and now

“Ministerial supporters are fond of lauding the service rendered to their party by the present Prime Minister,” reads an article in a November 4, 1873 copy of The Globe, a publication which would later become the Globe and Mail. “The ground of this presumed obligation is not very intelligible in any other sense than that Sir John […]