Stop the Presses! Website changes!

Today’s non-story from the breathless Ottawa press comes from Bruce Cheadle of Canadian Press who writes this National Newswatch headlining story,

“Harper photos removed from government website”

The background from this story is that the opposition has been complaining about the nature of the government’s advertising of their “Economic Action Plan” and have described the website of the plan as overtly partisan describing “Harper’s government” and taglines allegedly promoting the longevity of the government, “we can’t stop now”.

In this frame, Mr. Cheadle determines that the Economic Action Plan website is missing 20 photos of the Prime Minister. The Action Plan website contains about 34,500 pages. And, the significance of 20 “removed” photos? According to Cheadle, this may show a reaction to criticism and an acknowledgement of a guilty “Harper government” partisan conscience.

This website here at, and many websites created after 2003 change on a regular basis. When I write a new post on this blog, content appears on the top and then drops off the bottom and is archived. I do not remove the content, but the website changes.

But goodness, 20 photos are suddenly not visible in the same way as the day before? This must be indicative of a vast conspiratorial government cover-up.

On the main homepage of the Economic Action Plan there is a timeline of “real actions” which features a series of photos that link to news stories about the government’s economic stimulus under the plan. One presumes Cheadle is talking about this timeline slideshow because the Prime Minister is still visible in 75% of the photos under the “Action plan highlights” section which dominates the top third of the homepage. Further, photos on press releases and other pages seem to remain in place.

As for the timeline, these photos link to news releases describing the stimulus underway. This timeline updates, ahem, over time and when new content becomes available — or is highlighted — old content is archived. In fact, a Google search shows 421 news releases available on the Action Plan website. Since a showcase of 421 news releases wouldn’t in fact be a “showcase”, a select number is highlighted. The controversy here is that this timeline has changed over time. Does the showcase timeline today reflect less of Stephen Harper’s happy face? Possibly. But fret not, tomorrow we may see more of it!

And to top it all off, a late breaking update of the wire story shows us that the bureaucrats (non-political staff) at PCO deny that the PM’s pictures were removed! (The conspiracy goes deep…)

Monday evening, the same PCO spokeswoman called The Canadian Press with a single talking point that can in no way be reconciled with the altered appearance of the site:

“We have not removed any pictures of the PM,” said Myriam Massabki.

“Single talking point” and “can in no way be reconciled”? Sounds like it’s the government of Canada’s word against Bruce Cheadle, amateur web surfer. In fairness, I’m glad Cheadle updated the story to include the quote even though he shows us that he doesn’t believe a word of it.

The point? The site changed because that’s what sites do over time. Content was not removed, it is still available on the government’s server. In fact, all of the non-removed Action Plan news releases (with pictures) can be viewed here.

You can judge for yourself:
Here is Economic Action plan as it appears today
Here is the same site as cached by Google on September 16th

Finally, let’s consider what this is all about. The criticism is that Prime Minister is a partisan advertisement for the implementation of government policy. Isn’t this argument absurd?

ASIDE: Another criticism highlighted in the CP story is that the latest round of Economic Action Plan ads cost the government $5 million compared to $2 million spent on H1N1 ads.

Here are two issues that have a psychological component.

For economic stimulus, a large part of its purpose and success is affecting consumer confidence. As for H1N1, handwashing and vaccine readiness helps but fueling hysteria does not.

UPDATE 7:43pm: The Prime Minister’s office has just put out the following,


Canadian Press reporter Bruce Cheadle has falsely reported that photographs of the Prime Minister have been removed from .

These reports are not true. Here are the facts:

* No photographs of the Prime Minister have been removed from the Action Plan website;

* Canadians have a right to know where and how the Government’s stimulus is being spent, and the Action Plan website helps provide this accountability;

* In addition, the website contains important information for Canadians on certain stimulus measures like the Home Renovation Tax Credit that are only available for a limited time.



  • Bec

    The Economic Action Plan details, can be complicated for seniors,students, first time home buyers, the list goes on and not all of these folks are computer savvy enough to navigate the information tools available on the net. I personally have provided pertinent links to at least a dozen people or printed out details of applicable programs.

    It has driven consumer confidence, Stephen, I would wholeheartedly agree. The ads in fact are sometimes the little trigger that gets someone saying, “oh wow, I should look into that and see if it applies to me”.

    As for the H1N1, I think the Provinces are doing an incredible job managing this situation. If we had constant ads reminding us of God knows what, would our streets empty, our malls die, our grocery store shoppers, masked? It is a fearful situation but being reminded of the exact things that we do anyway, seems counter productive.

    These silly little tirades lately simply make those delivering them look far to unproductive….as in, to much time on their hands.

  • albertagirl

    Um, Bruce, sweetie, if you are reading this – he is the PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA….don't you think his photo would be on the government website.

    And they wonder why we Conservatives call them biased.

  • joannetb

    Perhaps they're trying to draw attention away from Outremont.

  • wilson

    Or this ,

    ''…..according to an exclusive advance copy of a Nanos Research poll to be released later this week.
    The poll suggests two-thirds of Canadians are still nervous about economic recovery and favour continued stimulus spending.
    But when they were asked which of the party leaders they would trust to manage the economy, 40.5% said Mr. Harper,
    against 26.8% who said Mr. Ignatieff and 10.1% who opted for Jack Layton, the NDP leader.

    As worrying for the Liberal leader was the response that Mr. Harper is more trusted to manage tax policy (40.1% against 24.2%);
    the environment (21.6% versus 16.8%);
    and healthcare (28.9% versus 21.5%).

  • Paul M

    National Newswatch carrying a anti-Conservative story? I DON’T believe it!

  • hollinm

    It really is disgusting watching the media in this country. If they are counting photos on the government website then the country must be in good hands. Such a trivial matter would require two news stories shows the sorry state that the Canadian Press finds itself in. I have written them on a number occasions and initially they denied they were biased but their news reports certainly belie that fact.

  • hollinm

    God forbid that Stephen Harper gets credit for anything. If he does those Liberals may not get elected any time soon. This type of news column etc. shows how petty the Ottawa media has become and shows the degree to which the media will go to malign the prime minister of the country.

  • stephen. reeves

    We have been bombarded with facts about H1N1 all summer, there are posters on the subway, and I received a leaflet in the mail, ( I assume by the Provincial Government, is this not their responsibility?), so what more info do we need other than wash our hands, stay home if sick ,don’t sneeze over everyone and get your jab.

  • gar

    You can tell the Liberals are getting desperate they almost are ready to start those Show trial the old soviet Union had. These guys know they will lose the next election and Harper will get a majority. he is no longer scary as they would like. he is a good statesman and smart.McGuinty trying to ramble rouse about global warming looked like a complete fool.He wants Canada to suffer with carbon taxes and higher commodity costs so our 33 million people can allow China with its 3.5 billion and India with its 1 billion bury us in a few years.They had 10 years in office to do something about globsl warming and did nothing and if they ever got back in power they would do nothing .all this is to try and regain power with phony Liberal promises of which we are much wiser

  • ferrethouse

    Big surprise that National Newswatch gives this top billing. Why any conservative visits that aggregator is beyond me.

  • joannetb

    Well to be fair, NNW is usually on the ball.

    I do prefer Canadian News Reader though. ;)

  • terry1

    mervin, I hear your favorite is now going to be known as donut boy. I also note you haven;t commented on the disgusting stuff of using reformatory party stuff for governments instead of letting canadians judge for themselves on the stimulus stuff. I also hope there is no nih1 outbreak due to a lack of ads from the feds.


  • terry1

    Or maybe the reformatorts are trying to take away the smell of the partisan garbage they call government

  • terry1

    Mervin, maybe its baout your government spending your tax money to promote their party. Sick bunch!!!

  • hollinm

    parnel…you look so desperate. Pay attention to Nik's polling as well as Ekos poll results for the CBC. Nobody is listening to you guys any more.
    Whether Harper's pictures are on or off the site is inmaterial. Anybody who looks at the sight knows it is the Harper government and knows he is PM. So whether his picture appears or doesn't the message is still that the government is working for you (the citizen). Would you siggest that the government not inform the country what it is doing during these tough economic times.
    I know it drives people like you crazy but I recall Chretien was accused of doing the same thing.
    I would suggest to you that Canadians will probably appreciate the fact that the PM would welcome Tim Hortons back to Canada versus watching the inept United Nations having dictators speak. I suspect Harper had already told Obama when they met that he was not going to be there. Your guy is looking more foolish every day. He should keep up the good work.

  • hollinm

    Parnel….sorry but you guys are on the outside looking in. The public is not listening to the Liberal party any longer. The more Iggy speaks the more his poll numbers go south. When he appears on TV he sure does look like Ignegative. Whine…whine…whine. His arguments are specious and not in keeping with reality.

    In fact I am just watching Ignegative in a news conference he starts off by saying…..we are in this field to do our jobs…….What in the hell does that mean? He is no retail politician thats for sure. You guys have picked the wrong saviour again.

  • Omanator

    You must remember the smell of the Liberal Garbage, particular the missing 40 million.

  • Omanator

    Stephen, I wonder if this whole thing is not overblown. Considering that it came from the World Health Oranization makes it suspect.

  • DAve

    Does this matter?

  • mfarney

    Children are being killed everyday, that nice old lady that lives around the corner is being mugged and God knows what other horrible things happen while we wonder where did those 20 photos have gone to? Is that really the most important thing we have scheduled for today?
    Mathew Farney – Web Hosting

  • mfarney

    Children are being killed everyday, that nice old lady that lives around the corner is being mugged and God knows what other horrible things happen while we wonder where did those 20 photos have gone to? Is that really the most important thing we have scheduled for today?
    Mathew Farney – Web Hosting