FloorCrossWatch: Uh, guys? It’s supposed to be the Liberals who can’t get their stories straight on this one

Way to step all over what turns out to have been your own agitprop, gang:

The Prime Minister’s Office sought Tuesday to distance itself from reports coming from Immigration Minister Jason Kenney’s office about possible defections of Liberal MPs to the Conservatives.

Dimitri Soudas, a PMO spokesperson, said there was no truth to claims made to the Star by Kenney’s communications director, Alykhan Velshi, about three Liberal MPs interested in crossing the floor to the Conservatives.

Outside the main entrance to the Parliament buildings, Soudas called out to a Star reporter that Velshi’s information was “bulls—.”

He then in a conversation with the reporter could not explain why the communications director to the immigration minister would tell the Star about the potential floor-crossers if they didn’t exist.

Nor could Soudas explain why he was “outing” Velshi on Tuesday afternoon as the source of the tip to the Star. Soudas went on to explain that only the PMO knows certain information and Velshi wouldn’t have had the kind of facts the Star was seeking. […]

It’s hard to see why the prime minister’s chief spokesperson would shut down what was turning out to be a surprisingly effective whisper campaign. The fact that it didn’t happen to be true is, of course, neither here nor there — honestly, when has that ever stopped them from allowing a rumour damaging to the Liberals to flourish and thrive in the hothouse that is the Hill?

ITQ’s bet, for what it’s worth and based on nothing more than her own observations, is that this was a turf war, pure and simple — as far as PMO communications, or at least Dimitri Soudas, is concerned, they’re the only ones who should be planting stories under the rubric of the unnamed government official.  Of course, now that he’s made it fair game for another government official to publicly name said source if one of those stories turns out to be untrue, he’s going to want to be careful when and if — wait, scratch that ‘if —  he does so in future. Particularly since this whole episode has likely earned him the quiet but fierce enmity of any number of ministerial staffers who would see his actions yesterday as not quite cricket, to put it mildly.

(And yes, we-the-media ought to be just as careful about taking  anything he — or any other shy but oddly helpful Conservative operative — says at face value unless they’re willing to do so on the record, but for the most part, we already knew that, right?)

Oh, and possibly the saddest unintended consequence of all: Y’all wouldn’t believe how many Conservatives were popping the champagne corks and readying the red blue carpet for three new caucus colleagues who, as it turns out, were never actually going to show up. It’s all well and good to wreak psychological torture on your opponents, but whipping your own people into a frenzy of excitement like that is just mean.