Government officials have distanced themselves from Harris's unofficial appointment of Smith as the riding representative in Ottawa.Needless to say, the attempt to blame the whole matter on Harris looks to be a poor diversion at best (as the Cons are themselves tacitly admitting by not apparently taking any action against him). At the very least, the "go-to people" themselves have to be seen as willing participants in the scheme - and while Harris' B.C. role might conceivably be extended as far as the Northwest Territories, it's a good ways beyond plausibility to suggest that he's also personally in charge of extra-democratic appointments for Toronto Centre.
"He just kind of did that himself," government spokesman Ryan Sparrow said of Harris's move.
"(Smith) is the Conservative candidate in the next election. That's her only official capacity."
Moreover, there's little reason to think that this is one of the rare cases where the Cons are exercising something less than complete central command. Which means that while the Cons can obviously recognize a serious enough scandal to justify offering up someone's head on a platter, there's no justification for taking their word as to who's responsible - and every reason to keep investigating to see just how far up the chain the Pod Person strategy goes.
Update: As CC rightly notes, Toronto Centre is out as an example of the Pod People strategy. But the wider picture doesn't change: the scandal still figures to go far beyond Harris alone.