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Lessons in Crisis Comms

May 21st, 2016 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Work

This week an incident took place on the floor of the House of Commons. I wrote some thoughts about the whole thing here, but I’m assuming everyone knows to what I am referring.

In the aftermath both opposition parties have commented multiple times, including a rare appearance in front of the media together by the respective House Leaders.

It was odd. The whole thing was odd. And then it went from strange event breakdowns and who saw what when to accusations. The NDP’s Niki Ashton told media then that what had happened was akin to violence against women and that female MPs would no longer feel safe in their workplace.

I do not know whether Ashton was speaking for herself or with guidance and talking points from the party’s central office but the judgment behind the comments was severely lacking. Rather than letting the story happen and letting the PM wear his bad judgment, the story became about the over the top reaction by the NDP. If the messaging did come from the NDP’s central office – the leader’s office – I’d have to ask myself whether they are trying to sink any chance Ashton has if she decides to run for leader.

The Liberal leader and the PMO were facing a very bad day in the media. The PM demonstrated poor judgment and a bad temper. The NDP then became the story. Rather than Trudeau facing questions about his judgment the fact that he walked across the house onto the opposition side and took hold of an opposition member which he had no right nor need to do – with the opposition member telling him, it’s been reported, ‘let go of me.’

The NDP has become the story where they had no need to react at all, beyond Ruth Ellen Brosseau confirming that yes, indeed, she’d been caught in the crossfire and hurt.

And now, because she is the only woman involved in the incident, Brosseau is facing nasty backlash online from people who believe she “took a dive,” because it can’t have hurt that much, because she shouldn’t have been there in the first place – either she should have been at her desk, or maybe, as a woman, she should never have been in the House of Commons at all.

Further reading:

Associating elbowgate with violence against women is an insult to victim

What was Justin Trudeau thinking? He wasn’t

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