Stephen Harper should take crisis management lessons from NJ Gov. Chris Christie

Andy Radia

Stephen Harper take note: that's how you handle a political crisis.

On Thursday morning, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie responded to email evidence that a top aide arranged massive traffic jams, in September, to punish the mayor of Fort Lee for not endorsing his re-election bid.

As explained by the New York Daily News, Christie — who was considered a front-runner for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination — fired two key-staffers and apologized for the major maleficence which has made headlines across the United States.

"I come out here to today to apologize to the people of New Jersey," Christie said.

"I apologize to the people of Fort Lee. I am embarrassed and humiliated by the conduct of some of the people on my team.

"I had no knowledge and involvement in this issue, in its planning and its execution. And I am stunned at the abject stupidity that was shown here ... This was handled in a callous way."

[ Related: Christie Fires Aide, Apologizes for Traffic Jams ]

In some ways, there are similarities between Christie's and Harper's responses to their respective scandals. Like Harper and the Senate scandal, Christie is blaming his staff insisting that he didn't know what had happened.

In other ways, however, Christie's response makes the Harper government communications team look like a bunch of amateurs when it comes to their crisis management tactics.

'Don't say you're sorry, blame others, attack the media and don't answer questions directly' seems to be their modus operandi when trouble finds them.

Yes — Nigel Wright resigned (or was he dismissed?) for allegedly gifting a sitting legislator $90,000, but you'll recall that only happened after the Tories' tried to tell the public that his actions were "honourable."

[ Related: RCMP focus on possible criminal charges could let Wright off legal hook: experts ]

Christie has acted quicker and has gone a lot further.

He said he's sorry, he fired his top officials (right away) and said he'll continue to investigate. And here's the real kicker — he took questions from the media and actually answered them.

Canadian politicos and pundits seemed to be in a bit of shock on Twitter.

Political communications consultant Marcel Wieder was also impressed with Christie's response.

"What we saw today in Gov. Christie's press conference is a strong response of executive responsibility. A contrite and apologetic Governor fired top aides and is travelling to the community that was affected by his staff's actions, Wieder, CEO of Aurora Strategy Group, told Yahoo Canada News.

"In contrast we saw Harper stonewalling and deflecting blame on the Senate scandal. When that strategy didn't work he tossed his most trusted aide under the bus.

"Trust is the most precious commodity a politician has. If people see you make a mistake but take responsibility they may be mad but they can still trust you to do the right thing. When a politician avoids responsibility people start questioning whether they can trust that person to do the right thing. I believe that Harper is starting to lose the trust of Canadians on the Senate scandal and as a result it does not auger well for the Conservative's reelection prospects."

Certainly Christie and Harper have very different personalities: the former wears his emotions on his sleeves and can be little brash whereas the prime minister is more controlled and calculating.

In spite of those differences, I think Canadians would have liked to seen Harper react to Senate-gate the way Christie responded to Bridge-gate: swiftly, directly and with remorse.

Are you a politics junkie?
Follow @politicalpoints on Twitter!