Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Should managers be judged by those they promote to high office?

The latest reason for opposition parties’ mock outrage makes me wonder about the values of young professionals working for the federal government. Tape recorders may not be  nearly as expensive as they once were, however, I would not have thought they were so cheap one would leave one laying around and neglect to pick it up for several months.

Soon after a trip to Victoria, Ms. Jasmine MacDonnell—former aide to Natural Resources Minister Lisa Raitt—misplaced a voice recorder in the press gallery in Ottawa and asked The Chronicle Herald to hold it for her until she could collect it. According to reports, five months later she had not picked it up.

This incident puts substance to the recent dismissal of Ms. MacDonnell from her $120,000 a year job as communications director for the federal Natural Resources Minister. Her habit of misplacing sensitive items and failing to retrieve them says volumes about her suitability for such major responsibilities.

Perhaps it says even more about the political and personal judgment of the senior government official who promoted her into the job. The last time I looked, $120,000 a year was considered quite a substantial salary. In most businesses, you’d be in senior middle-management to earn such a sum. Makes me wonder about other senior staffers on the Lisa Raitt team.

As to the contents of the tape recording—much ado about nothing. Think about senior Grit John McCallum:

Back in April, McCallum was asked what make of car he drove. He stammered and replied: “I drive a North American-made car.” When asked to be more specific, he said: “I drive a General Motors car.” Pressed again, he claimed it was “a Chevrolet.” Which, as we now know were all lies.

About an hour after lying to the media, McCallum phoned The Windsor Star to retract his earlier comments: “I said the wrong thing without thinking. The fact of the matter is that I do not own a North American-made car.” This was in a voice-mail message. He followed up with an e-mail that read: “To confirm message I left on your voicemail, to clarify, I do not own a North American made vehicle.”

McCallum remains a darling of the mainstream media.

Minister Lisa Raitt’s new controversy pales when compared to McCallum’s outright lie, but if I were PM, I’d certainly have her on my watch list. I do hope her political career has not been a case of too much too soon. That would be a pity—I had great expectations for her when she knocked off Garth Turner.

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© 2009 Russell G. Campbell
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  1. Was it a North American voice recorder?

  2. Why did this aide leave sensitive documents at CTV?
    Why did this aide secretly tape casual conversations with a Minister of the Crown and then leave the recorder with the press?
    Is there any possiblilty that this person is an opposition plant????