Friday, November 20, 2009


Two weeks ago I gave Premier Dalton McGuinty strategic communications props for not running from the spectre – which he floated himself originally – of so-called “Dalton Days” or the potential of forcing members of the broader public sector to take unpaid time off to help trim the public payroll in the name of deficit reduction. He has been consistently letting that one simmer out there, in what sure looks like a ground-softening exercise. But here’s the thing about strategic spin: you can’t have it both ways. And that’s where the Premier dropped the ball this week, when he seemed to suggest that the media were solely responsible for creating the idea in the first place and then keeping it alive. He has left everything on the table throughout the deficit debate, and joked just two weeks ago he said he “liked the alliteration,” adding that the government would have to “sit down with our public sector partners” and talk about various belt-tightening solutions. But this week, it was a different tack: “I never said we were going to do that,” he said, and when pressed to rule it out added “Why should I now say that I’m not going to do something when I never said I was going to do it?” Trial balloons are tough things to steer sometimes, to be sure – but you can’t be happy letting one bob around in the breeze for weeks, and then get testy with the press once it starts gaining some serious altitude.

No comments: