Who Spilled the Beans?

There was a noteworthy discrepancy in how our two national newspapers covered the $64-billion leak.

The secondary headline printed in yesterday’s Globe and Mail began, “Finance Department’s deliberate leak . . .” While the story’s text identifies the leaker only as “a senior government official,” a pull-out quote in the print edition identified him or her as a “Finance Department official.”

By contrast, The National Post’s secondary headline was “PMO releases tally before budget tabled.” Its story identifies the leaker as “an official from the Prime Minister’s Office” and reports that an oblivious “Finance spokesman said last night it was department policy not to discuss budget items until the document is released.”

Other CanWest papers corroborate this version of events, identifying “A senior official with the Prime Minister’s Office” and reporting, “The release of the figures also appeared to catch many top Finance Department officials off-guard, including some in Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s office.”

Either way, the main issue is the (in)appropriateness of leaking budget numbers before budget day. But another interesting question is whether the Conservatives had the Finance Department do the leaking or whether they bypassed Finance altogether.

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