Harper’s ‘Seal Team 6’ hits the B.C. beachPosted by Tom Fletcher
Here’s Sara McIntyre (right), directing traffic at Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s campaign stop in Vancouver last May. McIntyre, a former B.C. director of the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation, has left her job as Harper’s press secretary to return to Victoria as communications director for Premier Christy Clark.
She is the first hire by Clark’s new chief of staff, Ken Boessenkool, who arrived last week and began a housecleaning in a premier’s office that has been floundering in recent months. Out is Chris Olsen, the former CTV and CKNW reporter whose brief turn as Clark’s press secretary was notable for its lack of effectiveness.
Boessenkool was briefly appointed as co-chair of Clark’s leadership bid last year, but Harper quickly reeled him back in to tend to his election needs full time. Boessenkool, McIntyre and former Harper aide Dmitri Soudas ran a precision campaign that ruthlessly controlled the message and delivered the majority. The latest moves in B.C. are a further signal that B.C. is in for a 15-month ground campaign.
Boessenkool was an advisor to Preston Manning and Stockwell Day, and then worked for blue chip government relations firm Hill and Knowlton where he represented the likes of pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline and oil pipeline proponent Enbridge.
The latter connection prompted one B.C. political observer to lock and load on Twitter: “Looks like the PMO’s Seal Team 6 has a beachhead in Victoria. Their mission: Get the Premier elected and secure the Gateway Pipeline.”
He’s right about the re-election part. John Cummins and his group of retired or disaffected Reform geezers are on track to divide the B.C. Liberal-weary electorate and deliver another NDP government, which stands ready to apply its 1970s world view to the fast-changing global environment in which B.C. must navigate.
But whoever wins the 2013 election, B.C. is in no position to disrupt the hearings into the Enbridge pipeline proposal to bring oil sands crude to port at Kitimat, an effort that continues to run into strong opposition.