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Dimitri Soudas resignation watch?

What a bunch of boneheads; both the PM for again using the international stage to criticize and try to smear a leader of the Official Opposition party (and question whether he’s Canadian, no less) and for his press secretary Dimitri Soudas for getting the supposed Ignatieff quote wrong in the first place:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has apologized to Michael Ignatieff for questioning the Liberal Leader’s support for Canadian international interests, saying he based his attack on a quote Mr. Ignatieff never uttered…During the news conference, Mr. Harper attacked Mr. Ignatieff, saying he was irresponsible for comments he allegedly made about Canada’s position within the Group of Eight industrial nations. Mr. Harper was basing his criticism on a fragmentary quote supplied to him by a staff member before the news conference began. The quote, uttered by an academic that the Mr. Ignatieff is alleged to have said that a new configuration of the world’s big powers to replace or augment the G8 might leave Canada out.

Mr. Harper’s spokesman, Dimitri Soudas, said it was he who told Mr. Harper about the quote, which he said had been forwarded to him in the early morning hours Thursday. Mr. Soudas didn’t know who the quote was attributed to, only that was an academic. “I also advised the Prime Minister, that, had he said that, it would be unacceptable,” he said. “Firstly I have to apologize to the Prime Minister for misinforming him and ill-advising him to attribute a quote to Mr. Ignatieff that is not Mr. Ignatieff’s,” he said. “Secondly, and more importantly, I have to apologize to Mr. Ignatieff.”

The dumbest part of all this? What Dimitri said in about this piece of erroneous information being forwarded to him: Warren has a bit more from a transcription he did from CTV News:

That press secretary admits he got an e-mail from the middle of the night from someone, and he passed the information on to the Prime Minister without substantiating it.

So I have to ask Dimitri, which Blogging Tory sent you that false information? 😉 Sounds like the type of cock-up one of them would do. I sincerely hope if it is one of them that they’re off your mailing list, if you still have a job to go back to come Monday.

UPDATE @ 3:01 PM: I wonder how Professor Gordon Smith, who works at the Centre For Global Studies, and the fellow that said the actual quote that Harper erroneously attacked, feels about his Prime Minister thinking he’s more or less un-Canadian for saying what he did.

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3 comments to Dimitri Soudas resignation watch?

  • I don’t know the details, but what I expect happened is this:
    The PMO subscribes to a service that provides automated transcripts of various radio and TV stations. The only human intervention in these is a manually produced summary note – probably something like “Ignatieff talks about the future of the G8”. That’s followed by a software-produced transcript of the show in which both Ignatieff and professor whatshisname make comments. But the software doesn’t know who’s talking, only what was said, so the professor’s comments are indistinguishable from Ignatieff’s in the body of the document.
    Soudas jumps to the (wrong) conclusion about who said what and the rest is history.
    Just sloppy work all around.

  • “What a bunch of boneheads”

    Succinctly put.

    I keep thinking the summer break works to Harper’s advantage. My fault for failing to consider who we’re dealing with here.

  • Joseph

    I’m glad you picked up on this, Scott. I was just marveling at the irony that not only was the quote attributed to the wrong person but also distorted to infer the complete opposite of the intent of the actual speaker (ok, no surprise there).

    The icing on the cake is that it was received via an email tip in the middle of the night, all bundled up and rushed out on stage to launch an attack at a major international news event.

    Personally, I hope they throw another several million into their “vaunted war room” if this is the crap they end up producing.

    I hope someone rushes up and whispers something totally erroneous before the next debates since Harper appears to have no impulse other than to cough up whatever is handed to him.

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