They play rough in the premier’s office. At least that’s the way it looks from a series of emails following Sara MacIntyre’s firing as communications director in October.
Vaughn Palmer wrote about the emails this week.
MacIntyre seemed “blindsided and bereft” at her firing after eight months in the job, Palmer notes. She had apparently given up a pretty good gig as press secretary to Stephen Harper to join Christy Clark’s team.
The hiring might not have worked out. Certainly MacIntyre messed up in one notable exchange with the media - the video is here - that came to define her in a negative way.
But the firing, based on the email exchange, was brutal and unprofessional.
MacIntyre was called in for a morning meeting with Dan Doyle, Clark’s new chief of staff and told she was out of the job and would be dispatched to a undefined role in the government communications and public engagement office. (The PR shop.)
Later that day. MacIntyre tried to find out what the new job would be, what she would be paid and what her options were. That’s reasonable. That kind of downward move is a firing. The person involved - MacIntyre - has to consider whether to opt for severance rather than the new, lesser job.
So she emailed Lynda Tarras, head of HR for the government.
“I would like to request some sort of written job description with duties and obligations, reporting structure and terms of employment as well,” wrote MacIntyre.
Tarras said pay and benefits would be unchanged and MacIntyre woud find out what her duties were when she reported to work for her new boss the next morning. No job description was provided.
As a former corporate guy, I have some experience in pushing people from jobs.
And MacIntyre’s shift was not good HR practice. She should have been given information about the new role, a couple of days to consider her options - and see a lawyer - and respect as an employee.
It’s particularly brutal from the office of a premier who professes to be interested in a different way of doing things. (Though perhaps explained by a desperate desire to avoid paying still more severance to political appointments shown the door.)
I dealt with MacIntyre in her Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation days and found her professional, good at communications and always helpful.
Which doesn’t mean she was the right person for the communications’ director job, of course. And at that level of political job - it paid something like $125,000 - the risk of dismissal is always present.
But the emails suggest a basic disrespect and lack of professionalism.
Palmer notes another interesting aspect to this. The NDP used an FOI request to get the emails, which show HR head Tarras was communicating with MacIntyre in writing. But in ousting Clark's chief of staff Ken Boessenkool a month later after an incident in a Victoria bar with a female staffer, Tarras committed not one single word to paper about her investigation or the departure.
That too shows either poor HR practice, or a desire to avoid FOI accountability.