Veteran BC Liberal and federal Conservative spinner and part-time pundit Alise Mills popped up in Toronto media on Feb. 21.
Her latest gig is press secretary for embattled ex-Ontario PC leader Patrick Brown, who is mounting a comeback after being forced to resign over sexual harassment allegations. A party committee is deliberating on whether to deny Brown’s nomination for the June provincial election, which would ruin his bid to regain the leadership.
Brown was scheduled for an in-studio interview with Newstalk 1010’s conservative talkshow host Jerry Agar.
Instead of Brown, Agar got Mills.
Minutes before the interview, Agar’s producer was informed that Brown would not be coming in. He would be available instead by phone. Then that didn’t happen.
Mills called-in to apologize and to claim that it was all her fault.
“This is just an issue of confusion over the schedule, and I won’t really get into it,” Mills said.
Replied Agar: “But I’m going to stop you right there. We’ve been talking about this for several days. how confusing is it?”
Mills: “We went back and forth on a couple of days…I gather there was a couple of other people booking the schedule. I don’t want to put this on anyone else, this one’s on me Jerry, that’s why I wanted to jump on the show. I apologize profusely.”
Agar: “I don’t understand how there can be any confusion on this. We were back and forth and back and forth, we’ve promoting the heck out of it on the radio station. I’m not buying that.”
Mills: “Well you should buy it, because it’s the truth, and that’s why I’ve joined the show, Patrick is not avoiding any media today.”
Agar: “He’s avoided me, as a matter of fact… How about 11? Can he come in here at 11?”
Mills: “Jerry, I have jumped on the show today to apologize profusely. Patrick is not avoiding your show, we’ve simply had an issue around scheduling… I’m taking full responsibility for that… I wanted to apologize to you and your listeners and let you know that it was just a scheduling issue, I take full responsibility for that…”
Agar: “[Producer] Becky was checking with you even as early as this morning.”
Mills: “I, I have not spoken to Becky this morning…”
Agar: “Well we’re getting to the point here, where and I’ve tried to be a defender to the parts I thought were unfair to Patrick Brown in this whole brouhaha that’s going on… but it’s really time after time after time, everything is everybody else’s fault, and Patrick Brown isn’t responsible for anything.”
Mills: “That’s simply not true, don’t conflate a scheduling issue, a human error this morning with his character and his truth, I think that’s taking too far. At this point Patrick has defended his reputation, he has cleared his name and he will continue to refute those other allegations. I’m taking full responsibility for the scheduling confusion…”
Agar: “What’s he doing?”
Mills: “He’s, he’s in meetings this morning…”
Agar: “Is he doing other media today?”
Mills: “Um, he is going to be, we are beginning the campaigning today, Jerry, we are, Patrick is going to be on the ground meeting with members, exactly where he should be. The focus now has to shift to meeting with his many supporters, and also building support…
Agar: “I want to make a guess. You were already told he can’t run for leader and that’s why he’s decided not to come in.”
Mills: “Jerry that would be spreading fake news, that’s simply not true.”
Agar: “So you are telling me that there has been no decision made from the party.”
Mills: “No decision, you shouldn’t get your news off twitter Jerry. You should just wait for press releases.”
Agar: “I didn’t get that off twitter, I’m getting that from you because the candidate won’t show up.”
Mills: “So you have conflated my scheduling mistake with the party denying his right to run for leader and that he that he is somehow avoiding talking to you about this. I think this is why Canadians are fed up with where we are with the news media today…
Agar: “I’m not reporting, I’m trying to find out from you what’s going on, I know you can apologize and you’re not going to change your story, because it doesn’t make sense to me…”
Agar continued to grill Mills. Mills continued to defend Brown.
Mills: “This is not just a story about Patrick Brown. This is a story of democracy, civil liberties and breach of privacy, constitutional rights, all the above Jerry.
Agar: “Yeah, that’s the kind of stuff Patrick should be here saying. When’s he coming in?”
Mills: “I will talk to Becky about it, your producer.”
Agar: “Uh-huh, well she’s here right now.”
Mills: “We’re not going to negotiate or litigate this on air. That’s really unprofessional.”
Agar: “No, not showing up is unprofessional.”
Mills: “Y’know Patrick did not not show up…”
Agar: “Oh, he’s here?”
Mills: “Okay, Jerry, c’mon…”
Agar: “Thanks for doing this.”
Mills: “Thank you for thanking me.”
After the interview, Agar told his listeners that “we had it in writing” that Brown would be on the show.
Mills resorted to her familiar Trumpian tactics with Agar, accusing him of “fake news.” She also did that last August after theBreaker exclusively revealed how Darryl Plecas stood-up to Christy Clark, who then quit as leader of the BC Liberals after pledging to stay on and fight the Green-supported NDP government. In the wake of theBreaker bombshell, Plecas did an in-depth interview with the Abbotsford News. He later quit the BC Liberal caucus to become the Speaker of the B.C. Legislature.
Meanwhile, Mills’ spot on CBC Radio’s post-budget B.C. political roundtable during the Feb. 20 edition of On the Coast was filled by Amy Robichaud from the backroom of Todd Stone’s failed leadership campaign. NDP lobbyist Bill Tieleman was introduced as a media commentator, not the lobbyist that he is (for 17 clients!). Tieleman also did not disclose his lobbying activities during the segment.
When Tieleman appeared on the same show in December, after the Horgan government green-lit Site C, his work for pro-Site C unions was disclosed to listeners. But not to viewers when he later appeared with Mills on the CBC Vancouver supper hour newscast.