Friday, April 24, 2009
Lara Dauphinee. Sometimes the story is in the silence
"The premier must lead by example. His office must lead by example."
- Premier Gordon Campbell, speaking to the BC Legislature, May 1999.
"I'm sad to say that when it comes to secrecy, this Premier certainly has led by example."
- Carole James, Leader of the BC Opposition, speaking to the Legislature, May 2007.
We have heard the rumours. We have heard the denials. Who is Lara Dauphinee? What does she do in one of the top jobs in the government of British Columbia? Hers might be a story of inspiration to all young women ... if only we knew her story.
Like most others, I had shrugged off the rumours as "Gordo's private life". Perhaps that's what prevented most of us from asking about the Deputy Chief of Staff in the premier's office. Somebody's private life.
That changed last week when I heard about the 2001 letter of referral which brought Bobby Virk into the B.C. history books as Aide to the Minister of Transportation ... a letter by Gordon Campbell and Lara Dauphinee.
Private life, my elbow.
So who is Laura Dauphinee? What does she do for British Columbia that earns her an estimated $299,215. a year plus expenses to travel the world at the premier's side? How exactly does she help us by guiding every hour (they say) of the premier's day?
Who better to explain the basics, than Gordo himself in this Hansard record of Legislature Debates 2007. It's a start.
May 28, 2007 pm
C. James [Leader of the B.C. Opposition]: ... I'll take that as a yes — that the Premier and any MLAs will testify, if they are called to, in the [Basi Virk Basi] court case.
I'd now like to move on to the Premier's staff and the Premier's office itself and take a look at the budget for the office, at specific staff, at the roles of specific staff ... My question to the Premier would be: what's your office using that money for?
Hon. G. Campbell [Premier]: Could the Leader of the Opposition just repeat the budget amount that she's concerned about?
C. James: It's $7.67 million for executive and support services.
Hon. G. Campbell: I take the question to be effectively: what is the Premier's office spending its money on?
The Premier serves as the president of the executive council of cabinet with the government of British Columbia. I head cabinet. My office is responsible for coordinating activities amongst ministers, ministries, agencies of government. The Office of the Premier provides advice and support to the Premier and the cabinet to facilitate effective and integrated operations in the government of British Columbia, and it leads the public service to achieve the government's directions.
We have highlighted three specific core areas of activity. First, the Intergovernmental Relations Secretariat. The secretariat works with all ministries and Crown agencies to ensure that relations between the federal, provincial and international governments advance British Columbia's interests.
Second, the deputy ministers policy secretariat is under our vote. The deputy ministers policy secretariat is a corporate resource for ministries and deputy ministers. It works with line ministries, the deputy ministers committee on natural resources and the economy, the deputy ministers committee on social development and agencies to provide leadership and assist in advancing key policy issues in an integrated fashion horizontally across government. The secretariat provides leadership in policy, program development and performance planning for all ministries.
Third, the executive and support services — the Premier's office and executive operations. The deputy minister to the Premier leads the public service, coordinates activities of all ministries and Crown agencies. They manage key relationships on behalf of the Premier and provide strategic advice, media relations, issues management support directly to the Premier and cabinet. Executive operations includes cabinet operations, which provide administrative support and services for cabinet decision-making processes, documentation and serving the needs of cabinet on an ongoing basis as well as cabinet committees and government caucus committees.
C. James: Continuing on with some clarification questions before we get into the specifics around the individual staff in the Premier's office and what those staff do, how much of this budget is directed to media monitoring and issues management?
Hon. G. Campbell: The specific amount is not broken out for those various activities, but as the Leader of the Opposition knows, there are components of the Premier's office which are currently engaged in media monitoring and communications. I would be glad to discuss those activities if she thinks that would be beneficial.
C. James: Yes, I would. If the Premier could describe what activities he would include in his office in media-monitoring issues management — what would be staff, what would be other resources and how those would be divided up.
Hon. G. Campbell: I think the Leader of the Opposition will have an organization chart to highlight some of the positions that take place. Of course, there is the chief of staff. There's the deputy chief of staff and the executive assistant to the Premier. [Lara Dauphinee. - BC Mary] She is responsible for the Premier's communication branch, the Premier's scheduling branch, the Premier's correspondence branch.
She's responsible for the recruitment and hiring of administrative coordinators and support staff in the Victoria minister's office. She's responsible for operations of the Premier's Vancouver and Victoria offices, including recruitment, hiring and ongoing review of administrative coordinators and support staff. She is responsible for the Premier's tour and special events. She is the lead liaison with the protection detail. She organizes the Premier's travel and meetings and events, and she ensures that follow-up takes place.
There is a deputy chief of staff for policy coordination and issues management, who reports to the chief of staff. He coordinates issues management for the Premier and the chief of staff across government and provides strategic advice for the government's policy and legislative objectives. He has a number of key responsibilities: to provide issues management and policy advice to the Premier, as I mentioned; to coordinate issues management activities of the government vis-à-vis the ministerial offices; to provide the Premier with all issues management briefing materials necessary for preparation for announcements, events, legislative sessions.
Under the direction of the chief of staff, they are jointly responsible for human resources, for HR management with ministerial assistants and executive assistants. They're responsible for research and legislative support for the Premier, including oversight of House business.
There is also a director for policy coordination who works with the deputy chief of staff for policy coordination and issues management and who also provides political advice to the Premier. He compiles and coordinates briefing materials on current and emerging political matters. He provides advice and support to ministerial assistants. He coordinates research and information in support of the activities of the Premier.
There is a press secretary to the Premier whose overall responsibility is to maintain and enhance the working relationship between the Office of the Premier and members of the legislative press gallery and other provincial media. He is responsible for working with the executive director of communications and other public affairs staff to ensure that all information that relates to the Office of the Premier is coordinated and communicated in the appropriate manner.
He's responsible for keeping the Office of the Premier apprised of emerging issues and events that are of potential interest to the provincial media. He is responsible for the timely distribution of media advisories, press releases and communiqués to the provincial media that are in the name of the Premier.
The executive assistant to the chief of staff is also a manager of human resources and carries out those responsibilities with ministerial assistants and executive assistants. She coordinates ministerial assistants' and executive assistants' performance and planning evaluations, among other things. She is responsible for keeping the chief of staff informed of major projects as they arise, and she attends and coordinates meetings on behalf of the chief of staff and in place of the chief of staff as required.
There is a director of communications who reports, as I mentioned earlier, to the deputy chief of staff and executive assistant for the Premier [that is, to Lara Dauphinee. - BC Mary]. His task is to ensure coordination of communications in support of the Premier and the Premier's office, to coordinate news releases and backgrounders, op-eds, regional editorials, speech notes, etc. He is also involved in the media relations. He supervises the media monitoring manager, the producer of audiovisual media and the senior coordinator for website and direct media.
The manager for media monitoring reports directly to the director of communications. He monitors all major provincial, regional, national and multicultural media on a real-time basis. His key responsibilities are to keep all staff in the Premier's office apprised of ongoing developments in the media on a real-time basis.
There is a senior coordinator of website and direct media who is responsible for the development and implementation of communication strategies related to the website, on-line media, the Internet and e-mail communications — with key responsibilities being the development, design and coordination of websites and on-line media; graphic design as needed; and the development and implementation of the use of e-newsletters.
There is a producer of audiovisual material who, again, is primarily responsible for producing Premier's videos from concept to distribution. It includes filming and editing. She is also a strong advocate for a governmentwide use of audiovisual media in terms of the communications strategies that we develop.
C. James: One more clarification question before we get into the specific staff. The budget amount in the Premier's office has gone up, but the number of people in the Premier's office has gone down. Is that correct?
Hon. G. Campbell: Just so the Leader of the Opposition…. She may not have heard this, but the government has realigned the budgets and related costs for shared services for human resources, information and technology services and rent costs so that ministries receiving the services show those costs in their budgets.
In the Office of the Premier, that amounted to $810,000. There was also a negotiated wage increase that increased the budget in the Office of the Premier. That amount was $227,000, so the budget for the Office of the Premier is up approximately a million dollars.
At the time of posting, no photo of Lara Dauphinee has been found. This is a remarkable situation when the premier's office exercises strong control over media, as may be seen in the premier's own description in the Legislature.
To be continued. - BC Mary
I have occasionally poked about for Lara D., mostly because she is so invisible...but still there as you've noted. It would bug me. This morning I had success...I think. Not having ever met the woman I can't be sure and somehow I always imagined her a blonde. But everyone belongs to FaceBook.
NEXT LINES REMOVED FOR LEGAL REASONS.
Hope this helps and that it really is her picture.
Anonymous Grumps / Geo,
Thanks for the good try.
We've looked at the Facebook photo which says it is Laura Dauphinee but nobody so far can confirm that it's her.
Here's the test I applied:
If a high-profile person has made a great effort to preserve anonymity, is it reasonable to assume that she would then seek attention in Facebook?
I think it's highly unlikely. I wonder if others recognize her?
Here's another thought, tying back to the roots of this Premiership and its culture of looking the other way....another rumour was that on that rainy night in Maui, the Premier hadn't been alone at Fred and Kathy's....
All of this would be less disconcerting if I didn't remember Fotheringham's Miniwac-era columns about the consolidation of power in the Premier's Office, with a restructuring that saw Deputy Ministers report directly to the Premier's Chief of Staff, doing an end run around cabinet ministers, who really were really only left to be excuse-makers and, if need be, fall guys; "concentration of power" is how Dr. Foth put it.
What tangles this up all the more is, as far as the public interest goes (not the salacious public interest), who is this person who apparently consults the Premier on a host of matters, including privatization deals and outsourcing of government services. Shouldn't information on such a high-ranking political operative in the government, i.e. on the public payroll, shouldn't disclosure apply to her as well as the elected official she serves? And does her name turn up in any of the evidentiary papers associated with Basi-Virk/Railgate??
Thanks for your comments, some of which I removed because, as we all know, these are deep waters.
One point: Lara is Gordo's Deputy Chief of Staff, and Martyn Brown was his Chief of Staff, an interesting figure too. Martyn used to be a big man in REFORM.
2nd Point, a small example: Some internal memos dated May 2002 do show Lara Dauphinee setting up meetings with Pat Broe and the premier, with OmniTRAX wanting to talk about BCRail and the New Era.
She was on a first-name basis with Brian Kierans, lobbyist for OmniTRAX as they made plans for OmniTRAX officials to meet with Gordo. So yes, her name shows up in the records surrounding the sale of BCRail.
This in no way suggests culpability, of course. I hope everyone understands that.
"All of this would be less disconcerting if I didn't remember Fotheringham's Miniwac-era columns about the consolidation of power in the Premier's Office, with a restructuring that saw Deputy Ministers report directly to the Premier's Chief of Staff, doing an end run around cabinet ministers, who really were really only left to be excuse-makers and, if need be, fall guys; "concentration of power" is how Dr. Foth put it."Dr. Foth puts the present Canwest spinners to shame - he presently writes syndicated columns with his continuing astute, witty political scalpel. Campbell & gang would be toast if his columns reached out west. WE NEED YOU DR. FOTH!
. . . . "the consolidation of power in the Premier's Office, with a restructuring that saw Deputy Ministers report directly to the Premier's Chief of Staff, doing an end run around cabinet ministers. . ."
That game coninued & expanded under he Zalm's era of chaos, as he resigned in disgrace . . . leaving the Government in tatters.
BC Mary, good point re: Martyn Brown's links to the Zalm & Reform- Campbell's regime is only Liberal in sheep's wool!
The same bunch of bagmen, fixers insiders that were knit together with Vandersludge are in bed with Campbell . . . .
. . . . .therein lies British Columbians problem and the corruption that reigns supreme.
After reading Mary's most illuminating post now see the three amigos' point.
Clearly, Ms. James should instead refer to it as the "Government of Gordon Campbell and The Very Well-Paid Special Members Of His Very Close-Knit, Highly Centralized, 24/7 Media Monitoring/Issues Managing Office".
Or some such thing.
Sloppy Live-Blogged Details of yesterday's discussion between Mess'rs Good, Baldrey and Palmer (the last one I will ever listen to) can be found here.
Which reminds me, Gazetteer ...
Somewhere (and I forget where) in recent research, I came across this ...
Apparently the Gordo Gang avoided using the formal forms of address in parliamentary debate.
They would address the NDP members as "Dave" rather than Mr Premier, etc.,
well knowing the subtle harm it caused.
I think Carole James is correct: the "Campbell Government" is something quite unique and horrid in the annals of democratic governments.
The mystery is: how does Gordo get away with it, and have 3 media guys applauding?
Good, Palmer and Baldrey should be making the same complaint about the Public Affairs Bureau moles and "Gordo fans" who use the phrase in their Wikipedia hype-write-ups. I've taken a lot out in the last weeks, but there's still a lot there; in some articles, including his main bio, it was used ad nauseam, sometimes twice in the same sentence, and always in pro-Campbell contexts.
Apparently this is another manifestation of the "one rule for the Libs, another rule for everybody else".
And that's the real story, which the Ledgies completely ignored.
They also could very easily have talked about that the reality which is that with the total centralization of power/decision making/media massaging in Mr. Campbell's office it literally is the government of Gordon Campbell (and, as Mary has pointed out here, his inner circle).
I think maybe Vaughnie has reached the limit of his vast capacity to excuse the leader...Not sure if you all saw his column in the Sun yesterday but it's certainly worth a read..
I'll just post what seems to me to be the money quote and let readers search out the whole thing for themselves....
Still the question remains about what degree of misconduct would lead the Liberals to disallow a candidate.
But the party has already provided the answer.
Earlier this year Joe Cardoso was nominated to represent the Liberals in Boundary-Similkameen. Later Cardoso (who has since surfaced as a candidate for the Conservatives) was dropped for a supposed failure to be upfront with the party during the nomination process.
His sin? Four years ago, he sent a letter to the Oliver Chronicle newspaper denouncing the Campbell government for its botched handling of a labour dispute involving the teachers' union.
"So much for Campbell's promised 'new era,'" it read in part.
"Incredibly, just as B.C. is about to show the world that B.C. is 'The best place on Earth' at the 2010 Olympics, Campbell decides to showcase labour unrest, archaic negotiating tactics, and lawlessness... To borrow the words of a popular TV billionaire: 'Gordon Campbell, you're fired!'"
So there you have it. Dangerous, even drunken driving is one thing.
Ditto being the target of a major police investigation or the author of a disturbing comparison regarding a persecuted minority.
But if you've ever gone on record as questioning the leader, well, that is beyond the pale. In Gordon Campbell's party, some things are truly unforgivable.
I do remember when Garry Collins was asked abut Basi. Heck Collins hardly knew who the guy was. About that time, a picture showed up in the local press showing Collins and Basi trotting down the hallway in the Ledg. togheter Hardly knew who the guy was! Sure Garry
And I think Mary's wrong about the Facebook image NOT being her; there are no other Lara Dauphinees in any search; I tried to see her friends list but it's hidden from public browsing (unlike most).
Kinda scary in a Nurse Ratchet kind of way. That ice-white suit, the horn-rim glasses......a neo-con temptress in style/taste anyway....a siren-queen of the power elite, in sensible shoes no less....I wonder if she dresses like that at the beach?
Why do the words "Grigory Rasputin" keep on circulating through my head when I think of this subject?
I'll be back about Mulgrew's column on MacDonald later.....but doesn't it strike all of us as odd that the RCMP would launch criminal investigations on political figures that came to naught (Clark, Goodale) when they're so recalcitrant to proceed with a public complaint (Krog's) about clear evidence of criminal wrongdoing? And isn't it strange that the Supreme Court of Canada would defer a decision on something so important as this case, given its relationship to an impending election? Would their logic be that rendering a verdict would impact the election? And why is that a bad thing?
I saw a thing last night on John Stewart from a guy from something called the Centre for the Defense of Democracy....they were talking about waterboarding but, once again, my interest is pique about using international exposure to "out" the political and constitutional malfeasance now so glaringly underway (but really in progress for a number of years now....)
The True North, Strong and heavily suppressed....
Don't you think?
It's blocked ('natch) but it is illuminating to see that among the few politicians and minor celebrities she's following are Campbell's two sons and their wives. Seems pretty cosy to me - probably will help when she's their new stepmom after 2017 or whenever Gordo's done and doesn't have to pretend anymore.