Every time Statistics Canada reports a dip in the unemployment rate, it’s tempting to think that the recently unemployed have been hired on as senior government officials.

Senior government officials are the chatty Cathys of journalism: they always talk. In the past week, they have told The Canadian Press that today’s throne speech “will reference the government’s quest for Senate reform only in passing,” while a senior government source told The Globe and Mail that the government “will focus on growing the economy.” The officials have told the National Post that a $2-billion military procurement is still on track, and they confirmed to the Montreal Gazette that several government members and ministers will hold a “special meeting.”

These leaks and quotes are only notable for how pedestrian they all are. There’s nothing in the above paragraph that could damage a government’s credibility or popularity, except possibly among the small slice of the electorate who were paying really close attention to that military procurement and wished the government would cancel it.

There is a place for anonymous sources—perhaps in claims that a public official has grappled with substance abuse, or in breaking stories related to the sponsorship scandal. They are, despite the constant controversy around them, occasionally a valuable tool.

Senior government officials, however, are not so valuable. Their use is merely spin by another name, and it smells just as bad.

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