Here’s a link to a CBC report from Jan. 15 about a partisan message that Julian Fantino (pictured), the federal Minister of International Cooperation, posted on the website of the government run Canadian International Development Agency in late December blasting the NDP for its criticism of the Conservative government. There’s a screen capture of the message in the CBC article, so you can read it for yourself. But the title of the message was: Dear NDP: CIDA Does Not Need Your Economic Advice.

According to Treasury Board rules government departments, when they communicate with the public about programs and services, are supposed to do so in a non-partisan way. This was a clear contravention of those rules, and it is something that Fantino, a former Toronto Chief of Police and high-ranking Ontario Provincial Police official who has been a train-wreck in several cabinet posts since being elected in a 2010 by-election, now admits was a “mistake”.

That it was. But it’s also indicative of the chronic inability of the Harper Conservatives to understand the distinction between a political party and a government. The former is free to conduct its affairs in as partisan a manner as it wishes. But once a party is entrusted with the responsibility of governing in Canada, it has an obligation bordering on the sacred to act on behalf of all citizens and in the best interests of the country as a whole. This is a concept that the Harper Conservatives, who have now been in power in both minority and majority situations for over six years now, seem woefully unable to comprehend.