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Thursday, April 23, 2009

honesty is the best policy.

After reading the ridiculous/hilarious comments by Tom Olsen (Premier Ed Stelmach's Press Spokesperson) in regards to the infamous Northumberland beach photos, I was dreading that I once again felt the need to write about the importance of our elected officials and their partisan employees being responsible and mature in how they communicate with citizens.

I didn't have much of a problem with the actual photo controversy. I can imagine that after sifting through thousands of photos, it wouldn't be difficult to make that kind of a mistake. My issue was with the immediate response that came from Premier Stelmach's spokesperson. Instead of using the honesty required to defuse what amounted to a non-issue, Olsen's response was to automatically attempt to spin the issue.

Earlier tonight, I was happy to witness a rare moment in Alberta politics. In a post written by David Sands on the Government of Alberta's $25 million re-branding blog, the Public Affairs Bureau admits to the photo screw up.

While neither the Government Blog writers or the Public Affairs Bureau are composed of the individuals Albertans have elected to fulfill the responsibilities of government (and to take responsibility for the actions that occur under their watch), it's important to recognize the significance of baby steps. As much as I enjoy the sport of lambasting the shady government communicators, I give kudos to the unelected officials in the Public Affair Bureau for taking responsibility where thier political masters did not.

Honesty is the most effective way to build trust, and both honesty and trust are something that we see too little of in our politics these days.

18 comments:

eh said...

I'm sure Sands' somewhat candid remarks (and Simon's column) will soon show up on the pages of that hilarious exercise in irony that is the Alberta gov't's 'no-spin' zone website where Tom Olsen tell us the 'truth' about goings-on in Alberta.

A said...

Honesty is not always the best policy. It only works if you've got nothing to hide.

;-)

(word verification is an anagram for 'gripe.')

David Sands said...

Hi daveberta, this is David Sands.
I appreciate your postive comments, but please let me clarify that Tom Olsen asked us - PAB - for the answer to the question he was asked by The Journal. We told Tom why the picture was in the video, never thinking about our use of it as a still with 'Alberta' written on it.
We feel badly for the whole thing, and Tom ought not be taking a hit for our blunder.

eadnams said...

I really appreciate Dave and the PAB taking ownership, even if it should have been done days before it got to this point...

Anonymous said...

Hey Dave Cornoyer, question for you. You're non-partisan - why don't you do a post on Harry Chase's comments last week about how the cabinet belongs behind bars?

Anonymous said...

Daveberta is non-partisan? Since when?

"In the interests of full disclosure, I believe that it is important to inform my readership that I have accepted a short-term communications contract position with the Official Opposition Caucus at the Alberta Legislature."

Archie Maclean: "Cournoyer's blog is one of the most popular political websites in the province. It is unabashedly partisan and Cournoyer worked as the Alberta Liberal Party's communications co-ordinator from May to December of last year."

Alain Saffel said...

The whole situation is a little comical in some ways. As I commented in my blog post on this, if Alberta really wants to improve its image, it needs to clean up the oilsands.

Otherwise, the $25 million, new logo and all the effort to rebrand Alberta will be for nothing.

The new logo does look better though. :)

daveberta said...

David Sands: Thanks for commenting, David. I appreciate your response and fully understand how easy it would have been to make such a mistake (as I'm sure the person responsible had a pile of hundreds, if not thousands of photos, to go through).

My point was that the person whose job it is to speak for the Premier of Alberta should exercise a little more thought before going into spin mode. The photo's are a non-issue for me, I just wish our elected representatives and their hired PR people would resort to honesty, rather than spin, more often (this comment also stands for other party leaders, MLAs, and representatives from other levels of government).

daveberta said...

1st Anonymous: I missed Chase's comments from last week, though they sound like they weren't very helpful. Could you provide a link, or were they in Hansard?

daveberta said...

2nd Anonymous: I've always been honest about my past involvement in partisan politics (look at my bio on the side-bar) - I have worked for the Alberta Liberal Party (May 2007-Dec 2007) and Caucus (Oct 2008-Nov 2008). I currently have no partisan involvement and do not hold a membership in any party, but my lack of membership doesn't mean I don't have strong opinions about Alberta politics.

eadnams said...

I think some people are seeing partisanship where there is none.

Anonymous said...

You are right this is a complete non-issue. The GOA reaction is why it made the news. Silly.

Anonymous said...

There is nothing but partisanship on this blog.

Walter Schwabe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
eadnams said...

Easy to say anonymously.
Just because someone has problems with the system or specific people being silly, doesn't mean its partisan.
I'm speaking as someone who is non partisan, but certainly isnt afraid to call out anyone from any party who needs to be called out.
Many tend to feel its simpler to call that attitude "partisanship" rather than admit that people will screw up regardless, and the people in the spotlight (The party in power) tend to have their mistakes more visible.

Anonymous said...

http://www.assembly.ab.ca/ISYS/LADDAR_files%5Cdocs%5Chansards%5Chan%5Clegislature_27%5Csession_2%5C20090415_1330_01_han.pdf

Chase's comments:

"The government ministers
responsible for these excesses shouldn’t be in charge of selecting
new mottos for Alberta licence plates. They should be behind bars
manufacturing them."

Saying that cabinet should be in jail is way over the top.

Anonymous said...

Page 640 of that Hansard Dave.

Anonymous said...

Where's your nonpartisan comments?