Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Meet the New Boss

The new OLO Chief of Staff, from two weeks ago:

In addition to his Vancouver speech, Mr. Ignatieff this week will go campaigning in the riding of New Westminster-Coquitlam, where there will be a by-election on Nov. 9, before heading off to Regina to meet high-school students and then to Thunder Bay.

"They're all essential things that an opposition leader must do, but they are not sufficient," said Mr. Donolo of the Strategic Counsel.

In addition to putting the government on the hot seat in Parliament, Mr. Donolo said, the Liberals need to create a buzz around their policy positions, in particular in Mr. Ignatieff's speeches.

"He needs to find issues that have sharp edges to them and that serve as really sharp wedges between him and the government. And he needs riskier events to do that."

Sounds good to me.

On the whole, I like this move. I can't say I know enough about Peter Donolo to know how effective a chief of staff he'll be, but what I do know is:

1. He saw the Chretien PMO in action, so he knows how a well run office operates.

2. He was also in Chretien's office during the opposition days, when things were not all peachy in Liberal land. Given that, I tend to think he won't be overwhelmed by the current situation, and might have a few ideas on how to turn things around.

3. While working at Strategic Counsel and acting as a pundit in the media, Donolo has been able to look at politics from a distance. I think it will do a lot of good to get someone in charge who has some objectivity towards Ignatieff, and can disect his strengths and weaknesses. One of the biggest problems you often see in leaders offices is an inability to see fault in the person they're serving - I don't see Donolo having that problem.

4. Donolo's background is in communications, an area of obvious weakness for the LPC in recent years.

If nothing else, this gives Ignatieff a "reset", which is what's desperately needed. It also should temporarily silence some of the criticism about Ignatieff's office, and gives him the opportunity to begin turning the narrative around.

I don't expect Peter Donolo to work miracles, and it's foolish to think the problems facing the LPC right now are all the making of Ian Davey. But Donolo strikes me as the right kind of person to have running the show at this time.



  • I just wonder whether Ignatieff is the best messenger for a Chretien recipe (I just pictured Ignatieff calling for "jahbs jahbs jahbs"). Bob Rae sure is though.

    By Blogger french wedding cat, at 10:03 p.m.  

  • I'm sure Donolo is smart enough to be calling for an Ignatieff recipe - the guy doesn't strike me as a one-trick pony with his depth of experience.

    And whether everything was Davey's fault is, sadly, not the point. What mattered was that some change was needed somewhere, somehow to give Grits the confidence to carry through on all the other changes necessary to hold the government to account as a team; one change can influence the behavior of the rest of the team. This certainly qualifies as the one change needed; letting Davey make those changes might not have.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:12 p.m.  

  • Yeah, I don't think you can run the Chretien playbook with Ignatieff (especially given the opponent he's facing).

    But, when it comes to organization and how to run an office, message, etc, there's a lot from the old playbook that probably still works.

    And I think Donolo's smart enough to recognize that. He's said in some interviews that Iggy still hasn't defined himself (which is true), so it's up to him to define the man.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 12:18 p.m.  

  • One can only hope that Donolo can clean up messes like this one.

    Such a shame.

    By Blogger Paul, at 2:54 p.m.  

  • Policy ?

    Th LPC has some policy that Iggy can highlight in edgy speeches?

    I'm hoping he promises a Unicorn for every Canadian family.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:38 p.m.  

  • PaulO: that is no where near as bad as the Tory sex offender 10%er they sent out in Bloc ridings! The difference is that Liberals actually care when they offend someone, hence the apology.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:09 p.m.  

  • Anonymous, I can understand why you don't want your name used.

    Nobody is innocent.

    But in the past few months, I have received some mighty offensive "10%'ers" with a return address of the Liberal Party Caucus Services - not even a specific MP.

    By Blogger Paul, at 4:50 a.m.  

  • I saw Iggy on 22 minutes with Geri Hall talking about the pink book. It was dreadful! Not much laughter from the audience. It was nowhere close to Rick Mercer's sleep over with Harper or Bob Rae's skinny dip. Iggy really has a personality deficit.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:59 p.m.  

  • By Blogger love, at 10:54 p.m.  

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