This guy acts just like the Bush cabal.. any reporters he can't control, or any that ask questions that aren't scripted he gets pissed off at, and unleashes his impotent fury on his cabinet.

Nice guy, eh?

William Stairs held post just 2 weeks

PM dogged by bad press, tense relations
Feb. 21, 2006. 09:18 AM
SUSAN DELACOURT AND SEAN GORDON
OTTAWA BUREAU


OTTAWA—Prime Minister Stephen Harper has replaced his communications chief just two weeks after taking office, in what will be seen as a blunt acknowledgement of the bad public-relations tone set by his first days in power.

The Prime Minister's Office issued a terse statement late last night, announcing that the new communications director was Sandra Buckler, who was the lead person in the Conservatives' "war room" during the election campaign.

Buckler abruptly displaces William Stairs, who had been confirmed in the communications post less than two weeks ago.

The PMO statement praised Buckler, 40, as a communications expert.

"Sandra brings a wealth of communications experience to her new post," chief of staff Ian Brodie is quoted as saying in the release. "She has advised national and international companies and agencies on communications matters for several years. Before that, she worked as a communications advisor to several cabinet ministers."

Stairs, meanwhile, is discussed in the past tense in the release, which says only that he is moving on to "new opportunities." In political-workplace lexicon, this The phrase is a polite way of saying that Stairs' departure was not voluntary.

The 49-year-old Nova Scotian was formerly director of communications for Peter MacKay when the latter was leader of the now-defunct Progressive Conservatives.

Around Ottawa last night, there was shock and surprise that Harper had tried to dispatch his communications problems so bloodlessly and quickly. It is almost unheard-of for a Prime Minister to send a top official packing so soon into a new regime.

Sources said Stairs was called into Brodie's office yesterday afternoon where he was summarily dismissed, a move that clearly caught many staffers — including Stairs — by surprise.

Harper's first days in office have been characterized by an unusual degree of bad press and hostile relations between reporters and the PMO. His controversial decisions to put Liberal defector David Emerson into the cabinet and the unelected, backroom Tory Michael Fortier into the Senate and as Public Works Minister have generated public anger that doesn't seem to be dissipating.

Harper was said to have been dissatisfied with the way his team handled the first week of the new Tory cabinet and the attendant controversies with Emerson and Fortier.

Stairs, however, was not blamed — at least externally — for the communications problems. He was seen more as the messenger of dubious news and the man who had to manage an almost-impossible relationship between the press and a Prime Minister who has made it clear he resents media criticism.

The communications problems have been demonstrated by Harper's press secretary, Carolyn Stewart-Olsen, who has gone to unusual lengths of holding down reporters' hands when they've tried to ask questions or shouting at journalists who don't abide by her rules for press dealings. The fact that Harper chose to keep Stewart-Olsen and eject Stairs was seen last night as largely a cosmetic answer to the deeper issue of his public-relations problems and Harper's distrust of anything related to the media.

A long time Tory activist, Buckler worked as a consultant for Bombardier and moved to Ottawa in 2004 to work as a lobbyist in Ottawa.

She has close ties to the Ontario Progressive Conservative party and was a staffer at Queen's Park during premier Mike Harris's era.