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Jay Currie

One Damn Thing After Another

4/22/2004

On Influence

I just spent an hour watching first the CBC and then CTV's coverage of Cowboy Chuck. The thick, damp fog swirled as various MPs demonstrated that they had not the first clue about how to ask a direct question and then follow up. (Peter McKay being a notable exception.) Chuck's story is that he broke no rules, refused to allow Ministers to interfere, took political direction but baulked at political interference, kept perfect records which were lost (perhaps eaten by a whistleblower who worked late but left sensitive files lying on his desk to be found in the morning) and met with Ministers rather more often than they cared to remember. He took a run at the heaviliy tweeded Ms. Fraser and he pissed in Martin's beer by bringing up a 1995 no bid contract.

The bright lights of Canada's media noted the fact the Opposition members of the Public Accounts Committee believed nothing Chuck said until he slagged Martin. The media brights were more or less silent on the Liberals' performance as it was not clear - other than Dennis Mills stab at fatuous question of the year glory with "Did you break any rules Mr. Guite?" - what position would be politically advantageous for the Liberal members to take.

Cowboy Chuck may well believe he didn't break any rules. Which suggests the depth of the rot. What Chuck knew was which ad agencies in Quebec were bleu and which rouge. And, at a guess, as the returns came in, Chuck was alreay mentally substituting one agency for another so as to be able to correctly brief the incoming Minister.

Influence? There was no need. Chuck would brief and would retain without the slightest need for political direction and with no serious need for competitive bidding. After all, at a certain level one ad agency can execute as well as another. Beyond that it was pure politics and lots of lovely money. I supect Chuck ate quite well.