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Publc Affairs Bureau Politicization 4

Publc Affairs Bureau Politicization 4

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Published by Charles Rusnell
This story describes how the head of PAB worked on the Tory's election campaign on public time, along with advertising execs who did business with the govt.
This story describes how the head of PAB worked on the Tory's election campaign on public time, along with advertising execs who did business with the govt.

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Published by: Charles Rusnell on Mar 03, 2013
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12/12/2013

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Klein volunteers do gov't business; Electionstrategy committee includes public servant andadvertising executives; ALBERTA ELECTION'97
The Edmonton JournalSat Feb 22 1997Page: A4Section: AlbertaByline: JACK DANYLCHUK; CHARLES
RUSNELL
, Journal Staff WritersDateline: EdmontonSource: THE EDMONTON JOURNAL
Volunteers working to re-elect Premier Ralph Klein include a high-rankingpublic servant and executives of communications companies that dogovernment business.
 
Despite the close connection between their businesses, careers andvolunteer efforts, there is no conflict of interest and there should be nopublic perception of conflicting interest, say members of the volunteer communications strategy committee.``I am not doing any work other than on my own time,'' said GerryBourdeau, director of the
Public Affairs Bureau
, the agency responsiblefor co-ordinating all Alberta government communications. A committee member since before the 1993 election, Bourdeau helpeddevelop and execute the current Conservative media campaign that hasplaced the premier's face in newspaper ads and on billboards across theprovince.Kevin Taft, author of the best-selling book Shredding the Public Interest,said in an interview that Bourdeau's presence on the party committeesupports his contention that the
Public Affairs Bureau
has become theConservative party's ``marketing department'' under Klein.In his book, Taft writes: ``Paid for by the taxpayer, its function is to sell theProgressive Conservative government to the voter. Its staff defend, deflectand deny criticism. They work to gain sympathetic coverage from themedia. They counsel cabinet ministers and department staff on what is
 
politically acceptable to say.''Bureau employees are civil servants and are supposed to be non-partisan,providing the public with objective information about the government andits programs. But several bureau spokespersons sometimes make publicpolitical statements for ministers.Bourdeau, who reports directly to Klein, rejected Taft's view that thebureau has become enmeshed in party politics. He declined to elaboratebecause he has not read Taft's book. ``What I'm doing on my personaltime is my personal business,'' said Bourdeau, who has not taken a leaveof absence from his post.``The code of ethics of the government is veryclear on that. You can do it.``Public servants have the ability to work on party campaigns as they seefit on their own time. The rules are very plain.``If they expect to do any work on government time they have to take aleave.''The Conservative communications committee regularly meets to plan andcarry out the party's media strategy during the election.Chaired by Brian Stecyk, president of Rose Country Communications, thecommittee includes Jim Dau, the premier's communications director, BarryStyles, president of Highwood Communications, Derek Coke-Kerr, head of an Edmonton advertising agency, and Jim Ford, a retired ad agencyexecutive.``I do so little work for the government I don't think there's any (conflict of interest),'' said Stecyk, whose company was paid $15,775 for governmentwork in 1995-96.Stecyk was in the news earlier this week when it was revealed he hadauthored a pamphlet on health care that is being distributed by severalConservative candidates.They claimed it was independently produced. Liberals characterized thepamphlet, which contain a number of assertions that mirror official Torypolicy, as ``simplistic and slanted.''Stecyk said he did not produce the pamphlet as campaign material. Hedecided that a ``plain-talk'' explanation of health-care changes wasneeded. He had hoped to sell the pamphlet to health authorities but someTory candidates bought copies.

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