PMO scuttlebutt... Events kind of overtook us last week, and I'm afraid I don't have the full scoop that I promised to dig up last week on Marianne Goodwin's departure as press secretary. The gossip is still that Ms. Goodwin and Communications Director Francie Ducros were just too strong-willed to hit it off and grated each other like nails on a chalkboard, but Ms. Ducros flatly denies that and Ms. Goodwin did not return calls. The best I can offer is that deputy press secretary Duncan Fulton is expected to take over Ms. Goodwin's role, with Francie's blessing, and there are rumours that Paul Martin's former press secretary Nathalie Gauthier is headed for the PMO press room. PRIME MINISTER DOESN'T TAKE KINDLY TO BEING SCOOPED Loose lips sink Tobin ship?... The talk in Newfoundland after Brian Tobin's shock resignation was that the final straw that pushed him over the edge was being reprimanded for being a blabbermouth. According to the story -- which is treated pretty much as gospel on The Rock -- is that Mr. Tobin leaked information to the province's Deputy Premier Beaton Tulk several weeks ago that Gander MP George Baker was soon to be appointed to the Senate. Mr. Tulk is a Tobin man, and perhaps the Tobinator thought it would be handy to have him in caucus and decided to give him a heads up about a looming job opening. Indeed, Mr. Tulk, apparently a bit flappy in the gums department himself, promptly staked out his tent by telling reporters that he was considering running for the seat that was about to be vacated by the Senate-bound Mr. Baker. If Brian did blab to Mr. Beaton, and the PM really is planning to send Mr. Baker to the Red Chamber, there likely would have been a reprimand of some sort. The Prime Minister does not take kindly to being scooped. For that matter, Mr. Baker might not have been too thrilled either, given that he was bumped out of cabinet before the last election solely to open up a seat for Mr. Tobin before the last election when he made a prodigal return to Ottawa. The idea that such a reprimand would have been the catalyst behind Mr. Tobin's departure doesn't wash. Mind you, add it to his humiliation at the hands of Paul Martin in last month's budget, the PM's anointing of John Manley as golden boy, and problems building up support at the grassroots level, and I don't suppose it would have improved Mr. Tobin's mood any. What did he mean by that? That's the problem with news stories -- the printed word doe not pass on the inflections and emphasis that give so much meaning to our language. So what are we to make of the quote in Sheldon Alberts' National Post story last Tuesday which looked at the fate of the aides Brian Tobin has gathered around him for the leadership challenge that is no more. "He is going to be earning money for the first time in his life," senior organizer David MacInnis is quoted as saying. Taken literally, this would seem to be saying Mr. Tobin has been freeloading off the taxpayers for his 22 years in politics and now he will have to get a real job. But perhaps the emphasis was spoken on the word money, with the meaning being that now he will get around to earning the big bucks. On the other hand, Mr. MacInnis gave up a great gig in Calgary as VP of communications for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers to come work for Captain Canada late last year, and is now left in the lurch, So perhaps it was meant literally. LEADERSHIP CONTENDER ROCK MUST BE A HAPPY CAMPER Out of the bedpan into the fire... Well, Allan Rock certainly had me convinced last Tuesday morning that he was thrilled and delighted with his move from the Health portfolio to Industry. And most pundits seem to view it positively. But a well-placed little birdie tells me he was not so happy during the witching hours the night before. Mr. Rock's circle of confidantes were almost unanimously in favour of the move, but apparently had quite a job convincing the minister to cheer. Something about media having reported that he wanted to stay in Health. And hey, Paul Martin was staying put. And John Manley was getting the Deputy PM's job and some real clout. And what about all those health groups, and the anti-tobacco lobby in particular, he had rallied around him? Would they still remember come a leadership race? Mr. Rock need not have worried -- the media didn't beat up on him at all really. As Industry Minister he will have a high-profile lead in the government's innovation and skills-and-learning agenda if it gets off the ground. MCLELLAN TOLD THE HILL TIMES SHE WANTED HEALTH And out of the fire into the bedpan... The call may have come late on Monday to Anne McLellan, and until it did she may have been hoping to stay put in Justice, but her move out of the gun-lobby's cross-hairs and to the messy state of affairs in health care could not have come as a real surprise. Ms. McLellan mused as far back as last August to The Hill Times that a move to Health might be on the cards and that she would find the beat a fascinating challenge. It is not hard to see the Prime Minister's thinking behind this. If Edmonton Annie could serve as a Liberal federal justice minister from Alberta and actually get reelected, then maybe she has what it takes to negotiate the health-care minefield that lies ahead. Ms. McLellan's job will be to broker a deal that accepts some of the ideas being fronted by Alberta for private-sector involvement while maintaining public control of medicare. The springboard will be Roy Romanow's final report to Ottawa at the end of this year, which you can be sure will echo at least some of the pro-private involvement messages Don Mazankowski delivered to the Alberta government earlier this month.