Well, let’s just cut to the chase, shall we?

Where is the evidence that Guy Giorno is a competent prime ministerial chief of staff?

He arrived in July. Minister’s offices since then have been in a constant state of Langevin-directed chaos. Constant staffing changes are being driven by unseen gnomes at the centre countermanding the preferences of ministers who know their own employees and staffers who know their own competences. I know more than one case where staffers have been given to understand their continued employment with the government depended on accepting a change of assignment they found entirely unpalatable. What kind of Kafkaesque desk general thinks those people will do their best work at the new gig?

Immediately in mid-summer the prime minister started heaving from pillar to post about the timing and circumstance of the next election. His explanation for abandoning fixed election dates was risible. His stated goal was to reach a calmer post-election phase where a serious government could get serious work done. How’s that going?

The Harper Conservatives did make real gains in the election. They did this thanks to outreach work that began in 2006; and to Stéphane Dion’s tireless campaign to split the Liberal vote by legitimizing the Greens and demoralize Liberal campaign workers through confusion and mismanagement. What part of all this triumph was Giorno in charge of? Politicizing cuts to arts funding. Merci, Guy!

Long-term work paid off in the campaign; short-term work — let’s expand the economic portion of the leaders’ debate and show up with nothing to say about the economy! — not so much. And since the election, it’s the short-term work by profoundly short-term thinkers that has prevailed. Pillar-to-post messaging: That’s Harper in Peru with odes to Keynesianism, followed by Flaherty in the Commons with pointless, asinine provocation of parties who have the government outnumbered. A preference for picking fights over winning them — or even avoiding fights so you can govern instead — well, that’s been the theme of every week since July.

Kory Teneycke, it should be said, has been an excellent choice for communications director. On some days he looks a little harried. It is not an easy government to communicate for.

Fun fact: Giorno became Mike Harris’s chief of staff in August, 2000. Who believes the Ontario Conservatives’ fortunes improved after that date?

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.