As an end of the term gift to the class, my Public Affairs teacher managed to get Ian Brodie, the Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister to come in and give a little talk. From the perspective of someone who entertains thoughts of going into a political career, having the God of Hacks come in was particularly interesting.
The first half of his talk was basically non-partisan, as Brodie discussed mainly the challenges any new government faces, particularly one of a party which has not seen government in over a decade. He focused mainly on Canada-US relations as a main priority for the government coming into power, and how that relationship affects almost every other policy area for the government. Brodie was openly critical of what he saw as lackluster performance of the Bush Administration, being particularly harsh on The Department of Homeland Security, criticizing the higher levels of that department for incompetence. I asked him if the Democratic takeover of Congress had changed the working relationship between the PMO and the White House, and Brodie said that it had actually been a good thing, as the Democrats grilled many Homeland Security higher-up's who Brodie had trouble with. Also, he mentioned, The Prime Minister has 2 personal washrooms too, apparently, one of which has a full shower.
It was when questions came from the class that Brodie started to get partisan. He lauded the child care benefit as if it came down from heaven, and dropped hints that the defense of this program will be a big part of Conservative strategy in the next election, and that the Conservatives will want to establish Dion before he gets a chance to establish himself, so we can expect a full wave of negative attack ads right from the word go.
Another standard Conservative line was that Conservative supporters are "hard working, honest, busy Canadians" and letting his mask slip for a moment by dismissing Liberal supporters as mostly "singles, young people with no particular responsibilities" as well as openly admitting the Conservatives were writing off urban centres and ethnic communities. Being from Mississauga, I found this part particularly relevant, and I can only imagine what shade of red Hazel McCallion would have turned if she had heard Brodie, with a literal wave of the hand, dismiss the complaints of urban mayors about infrastructure concerns. I was somewhat taken back at his remark about "young people with no particular responsibilities" considering he was talking to a group of very political active and aware students, perhaps he was thinking that most of the youth wouldn't vote Conservative anyway, so no point in acknowledging them.
Also of note is that Brodie's young child was used as the poster child on all the child-care related Conservative literature.