L.Ian Macdonald thinks the PMO is in very good hands. I agree. Once again welcome Nigel Wright!
This week, the PMO comes under new management
Harper's office is in good hands with the arrival of chief of staff Nigel Wright
By L. IAN MACDONALD, Freelance January 4, 2011 3:06 AM
The Prime Minister's Office is under new management this week with the arrival of Nigel Wright as the chief of staff, succeeding Guy Giorno.
Every time there's a change at the top in the PMO, there's an opportunity for a fresh start by the PM in the company town called Ottawa - from the public service to his own caucus, from the wise owls of the consulting class to the wise guys of the media.
Wright is Stephen Harper's third chief in just under five years, which is not unusual in the most demanding burnout job in the capital. His predecessors, Giorno and the cerebral Ian Brodie, were there for just under two and a half years each, about average tenure. (Brian Mulroney had five chiefs of staff in nine years.)
There is an opportunity for a new beginning in tone, but also, more importantly, in substance. In tonal terms, the Giorno PMO was a hunkered-down and narrowly focused operation. In substantial terms, it was consumed by tactics, to the detriment of strategy.
The Giorno PMO was excellent at process management. Important and complex files -the H1N1 vaccine rollout in 2008, the GM bailout in 2009, Haitian earthquake relief in 2010 -were impressively managed.
But the decision to end party campaign subsidies that triggered the parliamentary crisis of 2008, the prorogation uproar of 2009 and the long-form-census controversy of 2010 were all self-inflicted wounds by Harper and the Giorno PMO. Every one of these events contributed to Harper's trust deficit, and every one of them was an important policy decision announced without any communications plan or narrative to support it.