The Office of the Prime Minister
The Office of the Prime Minister (PMO) 2015 committee concerns the re-election of the current Canadian federal government. Delegates collaborate on domestic economic issues, foreign policy, and media strategies to ensure that the incumbent government remains in office. The committee runs its sessions based on a hypothetical year-long timeline with different subjects of debate each month. As explained by Max Seltzer, the chair of the committee, delegates are concerned with both selecting the most effective policies and determining how to promote those policies in a politically expedient manner. Looking around the committee room, one can see several samples of the Conservative propaganda. One poster pointed to some of Justin Trudeau’s more questionable quotes, “No matter which hat he wears, he’s not cut out to be the Prime Minister of Canada.” Other posters pointed to Harper’s amicable diplomatic relationship with President Obama and his confidence in tackling global issues and addressing corrupt world leaders.
The government’s year got off to a rocky start. With some early setbacks (e.g. unsuccessful attempts to nationalize the diamond industry), polling numbers plummeted. However, the government has since bounced back due to their effective approach to economically-focused issues. Their most notable proposal is to reduce taxes on small businesses. Another proposal required that Public Works and Government Services Canada reviews every project with over $100 million CDN of estimated budget for cost benefit analysis.
Though most proposals passed successfully, some proposals resulted in unfavourable outcomes. For example, one proposal sought to implement a systematic shift of energy sourcing from nuclear power to wind turbines. Once it was pointed out that this shift would require the total annual revenue of the Canadian federal budget, the initiative was dropped.
Another major objective for the incumbent party is to rebrand itself. Currently, there are ongoing discussions on how to portray Prime Minister Stephen Harper as more forthright in the media and within the Conservative Party. The ruling government believes that it would be beneficial for Harper to campaign as the Prime Minister, rather than as the leader of Conservative Party.
Additionally, the government seeks to draw attention to the weaknesses of the Liberal party while highlighting Conservative party’s strengths. For example, the Liberal budget comes with a price tag of close to $1.6 billion; the Conservatives emphasizes that this less than ideal budget. As debates persisted throughout April, the members of the government discussed the importance of security and publicity for the Pan-Am Games. A common point of debate was the degree to which publicity should be focused on the Prime Minister’s attendance and involvement. Another disputed factor was the importance of the Ontario voting demographic. With a recently elected majority Liberal provincial government, government officials stressed the importance of working with Ontario residents to avoid alienating such an important province.
In midst of these debates, the Conservatives were informed of a press release which came from the Liberal government. The press release claimed that the Conservative party was hurting the middle class through tax cuts. However, as the Honourable Ed Fast pointed out, 69% of Canadians are employed by small businesses. Therefore, the tax cut for small businesses would, in fact, help the middle class. After some debate about whether or not it would be worthwhile to respond to the press release, it was ultimately decided that the government would release a brief statement pointing out the inaccuracies in the Liberals’ statement to illustrate their flawed understanding of Canadian business.
As debates drew to a close for the month of April, the Conservatives received a surprise: the government was presented with a video of the deposition of Nigel Wright regarding the Mike Duffy scandal of April 2013. In the video, a clearly uncomfortable Wright reluctantly admits that Prime Minister Stephen Harper had given him the order to write the $90,000 cheque to Duffy. How the Conservatives will respond to this latest evidence is yet to be seen.