Another senior bureaucrat leaves government to join Ignatieff

UPDATE: Ms. Beckton emailed me insisting that this story is absolutely not true and that she plans to take her retirement in a politically neutral manner. I put in a call to a friend in Mr. Ignatieff’s office and the Liberal leader’s office has no knowledge of Ms. Beckton’s plans. I called Ms. Beckton and she informed me that this has been a nasty rumour that has been spreading on the Hill for about ten days concerning her retirement from public service and it probably stems from her letter of retirement to Minister Moore. The rumour was likely constructed by other partisan actors and spread as truth (thus despite my double and triple sourcing of this story in various departments). I foolishly was perplexed by this, “How can this be untrue when everyone else talks about this as fact?” The first person I should have called – despite their senior rank in the government – should have been Ms. Beckton. I apologized to Ms. Beckton and she was too kind. I wish her the best in her retirement. My hope is that this blog has developed a new threshold and sensitivity between unconfirmed rumour and fact and that it will remain accountable to you, the reader.

ORIGINAL POST: I’ve learned that Clare Beckton, the head bureaucrat and the coordinator of Status of Women Canada – the department headed up by Conservative Minister of State Helena Guergis – will leave the public service to join Michael Ignatieff’s office.

Ms. Beckton has received a letter of offer from the office of the leader of the opposition and the political department at SWC is shocked to learn of her departure.

This poaching of a senior bureaucrat comes months after Ignatieff was able to draw another highly placed public official to turn to politics. Kevin Chan, the executive assistant to former Clerk Kevin Lynch, was a student at Harvard when Dr. Ignatieff was there as a professor.

Like Chan, Beckton has a connection to Harvard. A source close to Beckton suggested that she’s an old Harvard friend of the Liberal leader. Her bio at the SWC website confirms her attendance at Harvard, earning an MPA in 2005.

An official in Stephen Harper’s government when asked about the news explained that the government had no knowledge or insight as to how long Ms. Beckton had been planning the move. Further, Beckton plans to move to Ignatieff’s office in three weeks time, while holding a position overseeing government files and the minister’s strategic direction for the department.

BC Hookers get media training for Olympics, paid for by the taxpayer?

According to the Times & Transcript,

VANCOUVER – Vancouver sex trade workers need to know their rights when dealing with cameras and reporters and will be offered media training leading up to the 2010 Olympic Games, an advocacy group said.

The Prostitution Alternatives Counselling and Education Society (PACE) will hold the session in November.

“We just want our members to feel safe in the neighbourhood in which they live and safe to work in the neighbourhood in which they live,” said spokeswoman Kerry Porth.

“We find sometimes that media attention to the area can be a little less than compassionate and we don’t want them to feel like animals in a zoo during that time.”

Kevin Gaudet of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation asks on Twitter, “Hookers get media training for Olympics. Are taxpayers paying for this?” and provides a link to the T&T article.

Kevin, the answer is probably yes.

Liveblogging the cabinet shuffle

9:52AM: Rob Nicholson, Gail Shea, Leona Aglukkaq, Peter Kent and Peter van Loan, Chuck Strahl show up to Rideau Hall

9:52AM: And Christian Paradis, Jim Prentice. CTV has speculated Prentice to environment.

9:54AM: John Baird has arrived.

9:55AM: Some MPs showing up in Blue Line cabs, some in airport cabs, some in their own cars.

9:55AM: Rona Ambrose shows up. Rumour is she’ll move to HRSDC.

10:00AM: Lynne Yelich is at Rideau Hall and Stockwell Day

10:01AM: James Moore arrives

10:03AM: Rahim Jaffer has shown up. Probably to support his newlywed wife Helena Guergis.

10:06AM: Jim Flaherty arrives with wife Christine Elliot.

10:08AM: The Prime Minister’s motorcade makes its way up to Rideau Hall.

10:16AM: Rumour is that Jason Kenney is moving to Citizenship and Immigration. You heard it here first.

10:25AM: Cabinet embargo about to end. Should have the list up soon.

10:31AM: Other MPs at Rideau Hall: Bev Oda, Peter MacKay, Keith Ashfield, Gary Lunn, Chuck Strahl, Gordon O’Conner, Tony Clement, Gerry Ritz, Stephen Fletcher, and Lawrence Cannon.

10:40AM: Here we go. Here comes cabinet into the hall.

10:44AM: Nicholson stays in Justice, no surprise there.

10:45AM: Greg Thompson at Veterans Affairs, Chuck Strahl at INAC, Vic Toews at Treasury Board

10:48AM: Bev Oda at CIDA, Flaherty at Finance, Gerry Ritz at Agriculture

10:50AM: Jean-Pierre Blackburn to Revenue. Aglukkaq to Health. Finley to HRSRC.

10:55AM: Raitt to NRCan, Day to International Trade and Asia-Pacific Gateway.

10:55AM: Ambrose to Labour.

10:58AM: Prentice to environment. The could be to negotiate new regs with the provinces when it comes to GHG emissions. Alberta will need to sit down with the federal government soon to finalize the new regulations for the oil and gas sector.

11:00AM: Baird goes to Transport/Infrastructure.

11:01AM: Cannon goes to Foreign Affairs.

11:02AM: Tony Clement goes to Industry.

11:05AM: Josee Verner to intergovernmental affairs.

11:05AM: Jay Hill to House Leader.

11:05AM: PVL to Public Safety.

11:07AM: Jason Kenney to Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism.

11:08AM: Christian Paradis to Public Works.

11:09AM: James Moore to Heritage and Official Languages.

11:14AM: Gail Shea to Fisheries.

11:16AM: Gary Lunn to Sport.

11:17AM: Gordon O’Connor to Government Whip.

11:18AM: Helena Guergis to Status of Women.

11:19AM: Diane Ablonczy stays at Small Business.

11:20AM: Rob Merrifield to Minister of State (Transport).

11:22AM: Lynne Yelich to Western Economic Diversification.

11:24AM: Steven Fletcher to Democratic Reform.

11:27AM: Gary Goodyear to Minister of State for Science and Technology. Goodyear will work closely with Minister of Industry Tony Clement.

11:29AM: Denis Lebel to economic development for Quebec. Lebel will be the cash man for Quebec and this will help him electorally.

11:31AM: Keith Ashfield to ACOA.

11:32AM: Peter Kent to Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Americas).