Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Announcing: Jim Had His Chance.ca



Now that we have that budget thingy out of the way and Jim's latest exercise in Trusting Flaherty Spells Anguish (TFSA), we can get down to the real business of Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, which is to assure the citizens of Whitby-Oshawa that they know all that there is to know about their Member of Parliament.

To facilitate that process, we have begun rolling out a series of billboards in Jim's own back yard dealing with a diverse range of topics that ordinarily fall under a Finance Minister's broad mandate.

Issues ranging from "I don't fix potholes" to "it's not my fault" are the topics of but two of these boards.

Then of course there is the website itself entitled Jim Had His Chance.ca

Depending in how well this works out, we have also reserved the URL entitled

SteveHadHisChance.ca

If you have any catchy suggestions or particularly irritating topics for upcoming billboards in Jim's riding, please post your comments below or e-mail us at suggestions@JimHadHisChance.ca

Remember, you only get one chance. Make it a memorable one. Just like Jim himself.


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33 comments:

Once an Old Tory Always a Fool said...

Jim Barker Flaherty announces the Canadian tax game for the 21st-century!

The Tax is Right!!!

With two Showcase Doors!!!!!!

For Canadians, $5,000 tax-free investments!

For foreigner investor$, trillion$ and trillion$ of tax-free investments!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Dr Mike said...

Picture of our pals Jimmy & Mark heading out trick or treating--hand in hand--bandanas over their faces , in highwayman costume arriving at the old folk trust investor`s door , yelling only "Trick".

Mike.

Robert Gibbs said...

"I am not a crook."

Jim Flaherty qotes Richard Nixon.

Robert Gibbs said...

For those who may wish to assist in the anti-CON Party cause by forwarding/e-mailing to others various excerpts and/or edits of on-line news articles that are critical of or embarrassing to the CONS in a sort of e-mail viral marketing program, please find below a number of such recent articles.

Robert Gibbs said...

Conservatives Tried To Illegally Bribe Dying MP

GLORIA GALLOWAY AND BRIAN LAGHI
Globe and Mail Edit

February 27, 2008 at 9:48 PM EST

OTTAWA —

The widow of former B.C. MP Chuck Cadman says two Conservative Party officials illegally offered her husband a million-dollar life insurance policy in exchange for his vote to bring down the Liberal government in May of 2005.

The offer, which was summarily rejected by the dying man, is outlined in a biography of Mr. Cadman by Vancouver journalist Tom Zytaruk that is to be released on March 14. A copy of the manuscript has been obtained by The Globe and Mail.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is quoted in the book, Like a Rock: The Chuck Cadman Story, as confirming that a visit took place, and that officials were representing the Conservative Party.

The men arrived at Mr. Cadman's Ottawa office two days before the vote on the Liberal budget. It was apparent at that time that the House of Commons was evenly split on the money bill and the nod of the then-Independent MP would decide whether Mr. Martin's Liberal government would survive. "The Tories actually walked in with a list of offers written down on a piece of paper. Included in their proposal was a $1-million life insurance policy — no small carrot for a man with advanced cancer," the book states.

Dona Cadman was not in the office at the time. But she says her husband was furious when he returned to their apartment. "Chuck was really insulted," she said in a telephone interview with The Globe Wednesday. "He was quite mad about it, thinking they could bribe him with that."

Mr. Cadman died less than two months after the vote.

Ms. Cadman, who has read and approved the manuscript for the book, said she has "no idea" where the money for the life insurance was supposed to come from. "They had the form there. Chuck just had to sign."

Ms. Cadman also said her husband never told her the names of the two officials. "He did know them but he said, no, he wouldn't say who they were. I imagine they were up there somewhere along the line."

Mr. Zytaruk writes that the only person in the office at the time of the visit by the officials was Mr. Cadman's legislative assistant, Dan Wallace.

When Mr. Zytaruk broached the subject with Mr. Wallace, he writes, "he recoiled," but said: "I believe Dona Cadman as the day is long. She has no interest in fabricating anything."

The Globe was unable to find Mr. Wallace Wednesday.

After Mr. Cadman's death, Mr. Zytaruk heard that Mr. Harper, who was then leader of the opposition, was paying a personal visit to the Cadman residence. Mr. Zytaruk rushed over and interviewed Mr. Harper in the driveway.

"Of the offer to Chuck," he quotes Mr. Harper as saying, "it was to replace financial considerations he might lose due to an election, okay. That's my understanding of what they were talking about."

"I don't know the details," he said. "I can tell you that I had told the individuals — I mean, they wanted to do it — but I told them they were wasting their time. I said Chuck had made up his mind he was going to vote with the Liberals. I knew why, and I respected the decision, but they were just, they were convinced there was, there was financial issues and, there may or may not."

"They were representing the party," Mr. Harper confirmed. "I said 'Don't press him, I mean, you have this theory that it's, you know, financial insecurity, and you know, just, you know, if that's what you say make the case,' but I said 'Don't press it.'."

Mr. Zytaruk said he saved the tapes of all of his interviews.

Robert Gibbs said...

Harper's Conservative Government Surreptitiously Funding Partisan Military Propaganda

Commentary

When Conservative Government-Funded Think Tanks Produce Propaganda

At the very least, credible public intellectuals should disclose the source of their funding

AMIR ATTARAN
From Thursday's Globe and Mail
February 21, 2008 at 5:48 AM EST

The war in Afghanistan is one of ideas and ideologies. Ideologies, in that the Pashtun extremist worldview is far from our own. Ideas, in that our society is likely to prevail only if it makes wiser and cleverer decisions than theirs. That is why, when one adds up Canada's advantages in this war, there is none greater than our values of inquiry and debate.

But recently, a new threat has emerged. The Department of National Defence is intruding on academic financing, spending millions of dollars sponsoring think tanks and scholars to offer up agreeable commentary. When these intellectuals comment, they are not always quick to disclose that the military funds them.

Take the Conference of Defence Associations, a think tank that got $500,000 from DND last year. That money comes not with strings, but with an entire leash. A current DND policy reads that to receive money, CDA must "support activities that give evidence of contributing to Canada's national policies." Apparently, if CDA's activities were neutral and unbiased, or even-handedly supported and questioned government policy, DND would refuse to pay!

Attendees at CDA's annual conference, which begins today, will hear speeches by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Defence Minister Peter MacKay and MP Laurie Hawn, a retired lieutenant-colonel. Curiously for an organization that calls itself "non-partisan," no opposition politicians will speak. Chief of the Defence Staff Rick Hillier will lecture, as will NATO's military head, General Ray Henault. The agenda includes a session titled "Contemporary Security Concerns" -- a discussion on Russia and Iran.

Now consider: If the Prime Minister staged a government event and declared Russia and Iran "contemporary security concerns," some Canadians would be made uneasy by the signal that sends. But if the government finances CDA, which stages an "independent" event where the Prime Minister rubs shoulders with military officers, weapons company executives and intellectuals addressing those same security concerns, it might just pass without Canadians noticing. CDA gets away with shilling because it is so discreet. Nowhere on its website does CDA disclose its half-million dollars of DND sponsorship.

The Harper government knows what the money is for, because cabinet reviewed the funding agreement between DND and CDA, and it has been secret ever since. Nonetheless, Maclean's got CDA's executive director, Colonel Alain Pellerin, to admit that the contract obliges it "to write a number of op-eds to the press" -- propaganda paid for by you and me.

More disturbing still is the manner in which DND spends money to elicit friendly comment by Canadian scholars.

Most people would find it strange that DND sponsors the salaries, research, travel and tuition of dozens of professors, postdoctoral fellows and graduate students. But DND's Security and Defence Forum does exactly this. The list of Canadian universities getting over half a million dollars of SDF money is extensive: York University ($580,000), UQAM ($630,000), Wilfrid Laurier University ($630,000), Université Laval ($655,000), McGill ($680,000), UBC ($680,000), University of Manitoba ($680,000), UNB ($680,000), Carleton University ($780,000), Dalhousie University ($780,000), University of Calgary ($780,000) and Queen's University ($1,480,000).

What's the money for? It's not for the technical work that militaries obviously require -- building better airplanes, for example. Instead, it sponsors policy scholars, who create the ideas, news and views that shape Canadians' perception of the military and the war. And the evidence suggests that the military and government have politicized some SDF grants. The same bureaucrat who administers SDF grants to scholars also manages DND's liaison with cabinet and Parliament. When DND needs a kind word in Parliament or the media -- presto! -- an SDF-sponsored scholar often appears, without disclosing his or her financial link.

There is one Canadian professor who received an $825,000 SDF grant. For that money, DND expects the professor to "conduct outreach activities with the Canadian public ... and Parliament about security and defence issues." And reach out he does -- eloquently, but not always disclosing that he is funded by DND. He made no disclosure when he testified to Parliament that the government's Afghanistan policy "is the right mission for Canada and the right mission for the Afghan people." He also made no disclosure in a published op-ed where he praised former Conservative defence minister Gordon O'Connor as "an outstanding success," and assailed "years of Liberal [party] neglect of ... defence policy and the Canadian Forces."

I don't ever want this professor to stop saying and writing what he believes. But I do want Canadians who encounter his interventions to know how he has been funded.

That is why, at the very least, credible public intellectuals owe disclosure to their public.

But the government, too, should know better. Rather than have DND dole out cash to public intellectuals -- and risk tainting their scholarship and their conferences -- it should give the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council that money, to award grants on an arm's-length basis. This is how other public intellectuals in Canada get funded.

Parliament, the Auditor-General and journalists need a watching brief on this file. As the war in Afghanistan becomes bigger and longer, it will prove dangerous to let DND sponsor intellectuals. Canada needs fresh ideas - not groupthink - to win.

Amir Attaran, Canada Research Chair in Law, Population Health and Global Development Policy at the University of Ottawa is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and not by DND.

Robert Gibbs said...

EDITORIAL
TheStar.com

Flaherty vs. McGuinty

Feb 22, 2008 04:30 AM

In the court of public opinion, Ontarians are the jury that will ultimately decide the case of Flaherty versus McGuinty: the No. 1political who-done-it of the current budget season.

In a speech this week that laid out the federal case against Premier Dalton McGuinty, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty set aside all the diplomatic niceties dictated by Prime Minister Stephen Harper's promise of federal-provincial harmony and delivered a blistering partisan rant that blamed all of Ontario's economic woes on McGuinty's failure to adopt the cure-all of corporate income tax cuts.

Flaherty intimated that Ontario's economic boom under the Mike Harris government (in which Flaherty held key cabinet posts, including finance minister) only petered out after McGuinty came to power and started focusing on things other than corporate tax cuts.

Unfortunately, prosecutor Flaherty suppressed some key evidence of significant relevance to this case.

First, he forgot to mention that the Canadian dollar was low under Harris and only started soaring after McGuinty took over, thanks primarily to the Alberta oil boom and Bank of Canada policy. It's the rise in the dollar, far more than tax rates in Ontario, that dealt such a massive blow to the province's all-important manufacturing sector.

Second, he failed to mention that the troubles in the auto sector are North-America-wide, and have almost nothing to do with tax rates in Michigan, or for that matter, Ontario.

Third, Flaherty seems to have suffered amnesia when it comes to the state in which the government he represented left the province after losing power. Thanks to all the Harris tax cuts, the education system was in tatters after being starved of funds for nearly a decade. The health-care system was stretched to the limit. Cities were on the verge of collapse as a result of all the costs the Harris government had downloaded on them. Colleges and universities were seriously underfunded. And the Tories also left McGuinty saddled with – dare we mention that word, which Flaherty finds so offensive today – a $5.6 billion deficit.

That McGuinty chose to repair all that damage instead of cutting taxes hardly seems to be the crime Flaherty would have you believe.

So what is McGuinty's crime? Apparently, it is having the audacity to ask Ottawa to join the province in ensuring that Ontario gets its fair share of the limited North American investment that the hard-pressed auto companies are prepared to make over the next few years. Also, McGuinty is asking Ottawa to provide a bit of relief to the province sure to be hardest hit by the recession brewing in the United States by increasing spending on infrastructure and providing support for the auto industry.

Ontario has long contributed more than its share to federal programs like equalization and employment insurance to help Canadians in other regions. Is it wrong for Ontario's premier to ask Ottawa to help him meet the challenges his province now faces? Or is it wrong for the minister of finance for all Canadians to tell Ontarians facing tough times that as far as he is concerned they are on their own?

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, who is the guilty party here?

Robert Gibbs said...

Harper's Conservative Government's Manifest Disregard For Science

UNNATI GANDHI
Globe and Mail Update

February 22, 2008 at 12:27 AM EST

One of the world's most respected journals has severely criticized Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservative government's “manifest disregard for science.”

In a strongly worded editorial, entitled Science in Retreat and published in Thursday's issue, the British journal Nature wrote that while Canada's researchers consistently rank among the world's finest, the same cannot be said for the Conservative government's position on science and research.

“Science has long faced an uphill battle for recognition in Canada, but the slope became steeper when the Conservative government was elected in 2006,” the editorial says.

It goes on to list the Conservatives' skepticism on the science of climate change and its retreat from Canada's Kyoto commitment.

In particular, the editorial lambastes the government's decision to move the office of chemist Arthur Carty – appointed in 2004 by then-prime-minister Paul Martin as Canada's independent national science adviser – away from the Prime Minister's Office to Industry Canada. Mr. Harper's government, the editorial says, set the office up to “fail” by giving it an “abysmal” budget and a “vague” mandate. The government then told Dr. Carty he was no longer needed as science adviser, and Dr. Carty was let go.

Reached at his Ottawa home last night, Dr. Carty told The Globe and Mail he believes that the Conservative government needs to put a lot more effort into supporting science in Canada.

“The editorial is factual. I don't have much more to say, other than I think the facts are pretty right.”

Robert Gibbs said...

$90,000 Payment Contradicts Conservative Ex-Mulroney Aide's Testimony: Documents

Last Updated: Thursday, February 14, 2008 | 1:31 PM ET

CBC News

Documents revealing that a former senior adviser to Brian Mulroney received $90,000 from a company controlled by Karlheinz Schreiber in 1988 appear to contradict sworn testimony he gave earlier this week.

Copies of invoices and cheques obtained by The Fifth Estate show that Fred Doucet received the money less than three months after he left the Conservative government and before he registered as a lobbyist for the German-Canadian businessman.

It is unclear what services Doucet, who formally advised Mulroney from 1983 to 1987 but stayed in close touch with him afterward, provided for the money.

Doucet was contacted by The Fifth Estate Wednesday night, and when told the CBC had the invoice he sent to Schreiber for the $90,000, Doucet replied, "Why do you have that? What right do you have to have that?"

Although Doucet agreed to review the invoices and provide CBC News with a comment on Wednesday night, he did not reply.

The documents obtained by The Fifth Estate originated from sources in Germany, where more than a decade ago authorities raided Schreiber's business and residences just outside of Munich.
Doucet had testified to the federal ethics committee investigating the dealings between Mulroney and Schreiber that he first met Schreiber in the fall of 1988 and later registered as a lobbyist for Schreiber's company in the fall of 1989.

Lobby registry documents show that Doucet did register as a lobbyist for Schreiber's company Bitucan on Oct. 10, 1989.

Doucet also testified that he began working for Schreiber in the winter of 1990.

"I believe I got on the payroll in February of '90," Doucet told the committee.

But the invoice obtained by The Fifth Estate shows that Doucet's lobbying company, FDCI, billed Schreiber's company Bitucan "for professional services" on Nov. 2, 1988, for $90,000.

The money Doucet apparently received matches the same amount paid to four other lobbyists the same month.

On Nov. 15, 1988, Bitucan Holdings wrote cheques to: former Newfoundland premier Frank Moores, Gerry Doucet, Fred Doucet's brother, and Gary Ouellet, a former chief of staff to a Conservative transport minister.

The lobby firm Government Consultants International, GCI also received $250,000 from Bitucan on the same day.

Robert Gibbs said...

Conservatives Caught In Ignoble (Dishonorable, Disgraceful) Moment

Stephen Harper ignores Parliament Hill tribute for scientists who won Nobel Prize

Don Martin, National Post (Edit)

Published: Thursday, February 14, 2008

OTTAWA -For ethnic or religious minorities, Prime Minister Stephen Harper wants to send you a special holiday greeting card. Anyone turning 100 can request and receive a signed birthday card. If you donate 10 bucks to the Conservative party, it'll mail back a calendar lovingly plastered with photos of the party leader in monthly poses.

But if you're a leading Canadian scientist who has just won the Nobel Peace Prize for documenting the impact of the greenhouse gas buildup on climate change, this government gives you...nothing. No card, no call, no certificate--no official or unofficial acknowledgment of any kind.

And when all other federal party leaders unite to salute your heady accomplishment in a committee room a mere 'seven-iron golf shot' from the Prime Minister's Office on Parliament Hill, the Conservative government responds with...a boycott.

Incredibly, the Conservatives refused to participate in an afternoon reception yesterday saluting Canadian scientists who shared last year's Nobel Prize with former U.S. vice-president Al Gore for their role in researching and writing the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's massive final report.

University of Victoria research chairman Andrew Weaver, one of the winning scientists, declined to attend the reception because of the "deeply disturbing" Conservative government no-show.

"It's almost like a war on science is going on in this government, which is very sad," he told me. "There's a disrespect and distrust for science."

Robert Gibbs said...

CBC-Globe Report Finds No Evidence To Back Up Mulroney Testimony

Former Thyssen board member calls Mulroney claim "absolute nonsense."

Canada's former ambassador to China says: "I just find it very strange."

International Defence expert says: "Forget it" and "You must be joking."

Last Updated: Monday, February 11, 2008 | 3:34 PM ET

CBC News (Edit)

A joint investigation by the CBC and the Globe and Mail has failed to find any corroboration for former Conservative prime minister Brian Mulroney's explanation of cash payments from German-Canadian businessman Karlheinz Schreiber.

During his testimony before a federal ethics committee hearing in December, Mulroney - friend, confidant and advisor to current Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper and many members of his government - said he received the cash payments as remuneration for work as an international lobbyist for Thyssen, a German manufacturer of armoured vehicles.

Mulroney told the committee that Schreiber hired him for "international representation" to lobby leaders in Russia, China and France on behalf of Thyssen, promoting the company's armoured vehicles for national needs and for use in United Nations peacekeeping operations.

The CBC and Globe contacted officials familiar with military sales in Russia, China, France, Canada as well as the company itself in its attempts to verify the former prime minister's claims, the CBC's Harvey Cashore said.

"We couldn't find any evidence to corroborate it," Cashore said Monday.

"Everyone was scratching their heads. No one had heard about this."
In interviews with CBC News and the Globe and Mail, a former executive and spokeswoman for Thyssen said it has no record of Mulroney doing any work for the company.

Winfried Haastert, who was on Thyssen's board at the time, told the CBC in a telephone interview that Mulroney's testimony of his lobbying deal with Schreiber was news to those who worked for the company.

"It's absolute nonsense," Haastert said. "We have not asked for this and we could simply not have imagined that."

Anja Gerber, spokeswoman for the company told the journalists that Mulroney had "no official business with Thyssen."

Mulroney said he lobbied Chinese officials on behalf of Thyssen during a trip to Beijing in 1993. But Fred Bild, Canada's then ambassador to China, told CBC News he was with Mulroney on the trip, and said the former prime minister not once even mentioned to him he was lobbying for Thyssen.

"As far as we at the embassy were aware, we were not aware of anything of the sort, and we would have been, normally," Bild said. "I just find it very strange."

At the time of his trip, arms-trade sanctions that Mulroney's government imposed on China in the wake of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre were still in place, Bild said.

The former prime minister also testified he lobbied then Russian president Boris Yeltsin in 1994, amid the country's difficult transition from the end of the Cold War, during which it was trying to sell much of its own military stock, according to defence expert Christopher Foss.

"As for selling vehicles to the Russians — forget it," said Foss, who tracks international military vehicle sales for the British publication, Jane's Defence Weekly.

Mulroney also told the committee he made two trips to France, in 1993 and 1994, to promote the Thyssen vehicles.

"You must be joking," Foss said of whether France, a leading armoured-vehicle exporter, would be in the market to buy vehicles from a German company.

Robert Gibbs said...

Federal Conservatives Manipulating OPP In Bribery Investigation

By Gary Dimmock, Ottawa Citizen (Edit)

Published: Friday, February 08, 2008

As previously reported on February 06, Conservative cabinet minister John Baird continues to be investigated to determine whether he engaged in political interference by attempting to influence the outcome of Ottawa's 2006 municipal election with his "unprecedented" decision to withhold $200 million in federal funding for the city's proposed light-rail project, while also helping to propel Conservative friend and now-mayor Larry O'Brien to office.

Ottawa mayor Larry O'Brien is now being prosecuted on charges of attempting to bribe and purported influence peddling for offering to get rival candidate Terry Kilrea a federal appointment - through Conservative minister Baird - if he dropped out of the 2006 mayoral race.

Now, the Ottawa Citizen has learned, Conservative cabinet minister John Baird's chief of staff contacted the Ontario Provincial Police just hours before the police force "astonishingly" reversed its decision to forward the Larry O'Brien bribery case to the RCMP.

Hours after OPP detectives charged Mr. O'Brien with attempting to bribe his rival in the 2006 Ottawa municipal election, a senior police officer said the force would forward its dossier to the Mounties.

The next day, the OPP "astonishingly" issued a press release saying the exact opposite - that they had no such intention as announced by Superintendent Dave Truax, the director of the force's anti-rackets unit, which investigated the case.

Superintendent Truax had told two different newspapers in separate interviews that his unit had planned to forward the files to the RCMP.

The Ottawa Citizen also knows what a confidential informant, Mr. X, told police about an alleged meeting between Conservative minister Baird and Mr. O'Brien, but cannot legally report it because of a publication ban.

The Conservatives continually refused to answer questions concerning the affair.

Robert Gibbs said...

Getting Rid Of Harper's Conservatives

Harper billing Canadian taxpayers for his hairdresser: $50 thousand

Flaherty breaking the law by handing untendered government contracts to his CON buddies: $147 thousand

Harper’s pal Mulroney taking secret cash kickbacks from Karlheinz Schreiber: $300 thousand

CON hacks Soudas and Housakos engaging in influence peddling in order to buy votes by favoring wealthy real estate developer: $50 million

Baird conspiring in political interference during Ottawa’s election and derailing their train project: $200 million

Harper and Flaherty breaking firm election promise and fraudulently devastating income trusts, CPP investments and Canadians’ wealth: $35 billion

Getting rid of Harper, Flaherty and other CON pions: PRICELESS

Robert Gibbs said...

Harper Government Gave Other Untendered Contracts To Former Conservative Mike Harris Aide

Glen McGregor , The Ottawa Citizen (Edit)
Published: Friday, February 08, 2008

The Harper government gave at least two other untendered contracts to the former Ontario Conservative Mike Harris aide who received a $122,000 untendered speech writing contract - thereby breaking the law - that is already the subject of a complaint to the Ethics Commissioner and the Auditor General.

Under Treasury Board rules, contracts worth $25,000 or more must be opened up to competitive bidding from other potential suppliers.
But Conservative Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's friend and supporter, Mr. MacPhie, also received at least two other untendered contracts from Industry Canada in the same period, the Ottawa Citizen has learned.

These two other currently known contracts, issued in January and May 2007, were valued at a combined total of over $36,000.

But additionally, an Ottawa Citizen analysis showed that a disproportionate percentage of contracts awarded by Flaherty's department, Finance Canada, since the Conservatives took office were pegged between $24,000 and $24,999 - conveniently just below the cutoff for competitive bidding.

Robert Gibbs said...

Conservative Officials Were Told In November About Isotopes

Feb 08, 2008 04:30 AM
The Toronto Star
From Reports By Bruce Campion-Smith
Ottawa bureau chief

Adding to the deception surrounding Harper's 'manufactured' isotope crisis comes testimony from officials of the distributer that Conservative cabinet ministers were alerted to the issue almost two weeks before they claimed they were notified.

Officials with MDS Nordion, the firm that distributes the medical isotopes produced by AECL, say they issued a clear warning about the medical impact of the shutdown of the Chalk River nuclear reactor in a November 22, 2007 meeting.

"That was the opportunity for us to clearly demonstrate to the Conservative Government and AECL that this was a serious matter," said David McInnes, vice-president of international relations for the company.

He was testifying before the Commons Natural Resources Committee yesterday.

Conservative Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn had claimed that he didn't learn of the extent of the issue until December 3, 2007. And Conservative Health Minister Tony Clement had claimed that he didn't learn about the medical fall-out of the shortage until December 5, 2007.

Robert Gibbs said...

Harper's Government Knew About Afghan Detainee Torture But Kept It Secret

Kandahar governor was beating and using electric shocks on detainees in secret Afghan prisons

PAUL KORING

Globe and Mail Edit

February 1, 2008 at 12:49 PM EST

The Harper Conservative government knew, but tried to keep secret since last spring, evidence that the governor of Kandahar, Afghanistan was personally involved in torture and abuse of detainees in secret prisons.

The evidence against Governor Asadullah Khalid, appointed directly by Afghan President Hamid Karzai, resulted in senior Harper officials in Ottawa being immediately informed, and Canadian diplomats secretly reported them to the International Red Cross and Afghanistan's main human-rights group.

Government documents detailing the evidence were heavily censored by Harper's government which blacked out the references to “the governor.” But multiple sources, both inside and outside the government, confirm that the words “the governor” have been censored as have whole passages referring to secret cells run by Mr. Khalid outside the official prison system.

As recently as today, Conservative MPs were still dismissing questions about torture and Mr. Khalid as “histrionics and hyperbole.”

MPs demanded to know why the government kept the evidence secret and why Conservative Defence Minister Peter MacKay and others continued to deal with Mr. Khalid even after the report of torture surfaced.

“This government covered up the most heinous [of crimes] – the spectre of the governor of Kandahar torturing detainees. And the government of Canada, the Prime Minister of Canada, knew about it for almost a year and kept it secret,” Mr. Goodale said.

Despite being forced to share the evidence with the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, Harper's government failed to disclose it to a Canadian Federal Court judge hearing a case brought by Canadian rights groups.

Robert Gibbs said...

House Of Commons To Investigate Conservative Cabinet Minister John Baird For Political Interference

So-called 'Mr. Accountability' on hot seat for suspending federal light rail funding during Ottawa's 2006 municipal vote

Gary Dimmock, The Ottawa Citizen And The Canadian Press (Edit)

Published: Wednesday, February 06, 2008

A House of Commons committee voted yesterday to investigate whether Conservative cabinet minister John Baird engaged in political interference by attempting to influence the outcome of Ottawa's 2006 municipal election with his "unprecedented" decision to withhold $200 million in federal funding for the city's proposed light-rail project.

Baird's decision galvanized the municipal vote around the light-rail project and helped propel [Conservative-minded] mayor Larry O'Brien to office.

Baird not only leaked a confidential contract between the City of Ottawa and contractor Siemens to the media, but used his political position to influence the outcome of the municipal race.

Baird's intervention in Ottawa's light-rail project made headlines during the 2006 municipal election when he was president of the Treasury Board. He was accused of trying to derail the project and it came as a surprise because the project had been approved by municipal, provincial and federal governments before the fall 2006 Ottawa election.

The city is now being sued by the light-rail contractor for millions of dollars for breach of contract.

"This committee wants to know why, when there were 10 similar projects before Treasury Board at the time, Ottawa's light-rail project was the only one to have its funding withheld -- and in the middle of a municipal election campaign going on right in Minister Baird's backyard."

Ontario Provincial Police have twice questioned Mr. Baird about an alleged meeting he had with now Ottawa mayor Larry O'Brien during the 2006 municipal campaign. Detectives were trying to confirm if Baird and O'Brien had a meeting around the same time that a rival mayoral candidate claimed that Mr. O'Brien offered him help to land a federal appointment if he withdrew from the election.

Ottawa mayor Larry O'Brien is now being prosecuted on charges of attempting to bribe and purported influence peddling for allegedly offering to get rival candidate Terry Kilrea a federal appointment - through Conservative minister Baird - if he dropped out of the 2006 mayoral race.

Baird is expected to be called to testify at the criminal trial, along with other Conservatives who were questioned by anti-rackets police.

Robert Gibbs said...

Conservatives Endangered Safety Of Dion & Ignatieff During Their Recent Visit To Afghanistan

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

One of the many stories that has fallen under the radar over the past few weeks, given the cavalcade of embarrassing news that the Conservative government has been facing, is in regards to the Liberal leader's recent vist to Afghanistan.

The Conservatives released information to the press that potentially endangered the safety of Stephane Dion and Michael Ignatieff, as well as the soldiers protecting them, during their recent visit to Afghanistan.

In a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Conservative junior minister Helena Guergis, the secretary of state for foreign affairs, was charged with putting their security at risk by revealing details publicly of their itinerary in Afghanistan during a visit last weekend.

Information on such visits is usually blacked out to protect dignitaries and others, and the soldiers accompanying them, from attack by Taliban insurgents. But in an email to reporters on Saturday, Guergis discussed plans of Dion and deputy Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff to visit the Provincial Reconstruction Team.

The response from the Conservative ranks, and Guergis herself, was nothing short of irresponsible. In fact there was total secrecy that surrounded a similar visit by Stephen Harper to Afghanistan last year, as indicated in the following directives to the press at the time:

"Only upon leaving Europe were the journalists informed of the final destination. They were warned in a briefing by security officials that they risked arrest and prosecution under the National Defence Act and the Official Secrets Act if they did one of two things: mention the Prime Minister's itinerary during the next layover, or describe the location of that layover to anyone. Reporters were told they could wind up in handcuffs for breaking the rules."

It seems Harper does not think his ministers should at least be held to the same standard he would hold the media. There is not some exemption to the National Defence Act and the Official Secrets Act for politicking Conservative ministers.

The appropriate authorities should be investigating. At the very least, the appropriate parliamentary committee should get on the case.

Robert Gibbs said...

Conservative Government Mislead Parliament Over Isotope Crisis

Last Updated: Monday, February 4, 2008 | 9:57 PM ET

The Canadian Press (Edit)

Canada could have avoided the recent medical isotope crisis if the Conservative government had required supplier AECL/MDS Nordion to join international efforts to co-ordinate global production, a report in the Canadian Medical Association Journal says.

The article indicated the Conservative government didn't force AECL/MDS Nordion to co-operate with Europe's two large-scale isotope suppliers - Nuclear Research and Consultancy Group in the Netherlands, and the Institute National des Radioelements in Belgium - who co-ordinate production schedules to ensure one reactor is always running. They also communicate with another isotope supplier, Nuclear Technology Products in South Africa.

The Chalk River reactor, owned by Canada's Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., was shut down for almost a month in November and December, sparking a shortage of medical isotopes used in diagnosing and treating cancer and heart ailments.

The closure followed the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission's discovery that the reactor had been operating for 17 months without two cooling pumps hooked up to an additional emergency back-up power system.
Alan J. Kuperman, a policy analyst for the Nuclear Control Institute in the United States, told the journal that AECL/MDS Nordion figure it's not in their commercial interests to join in international contingency planning with rival suppliers in Europe.

"They see themselves as the big dog," said Kuperman, a professor of public affairs at the University of Texas. "They are not going to share information with the small ones nipping at their heels."

Kuperman maintained there is plenty of "surplus capacity" among isotope suppliers but the Conservative government, MDS Nordion and AECL didn't want their competitors to pick up the slack when the Chalk River reactor was shut down.

"Instead, they went to the public and the Canadian Parliament. That was misleading and, one could argue, socially irresponsible."

The Conservatives failed to force the co-ordination and to inform Parliament about the capacity of the four other alternate suppliers of isotopes to pick up the slack.

© The Canadian Press, 2008

Robert Gibbs said...

Mulroney's Troubles Grow/Harper Attempting Cover-Up Or Delay:
The Ongoing Mulroney-Schreiber-Airbus Affair

February 05, 2008
The Canadian Press (Edit)

OTTAWA — Former Liberal justice minister Allan Rock, who was forced to enter into a $2.1 million legal settlement with former Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney in regards to the so-called "Airbus Affair", told the Commons Ethics Committee Tuesday that he would not have made the deal had he known at the time about Mulroney's relationship with Karlheinz Schreiber and the secret meetings in hotel rooms where Mulroney received between $225,000 and $300,000 in cash from Schreiber, amounts that Mulroney admitted during his appearance in December, 2007 were squirreled away not in bank accounts, but in various safety deposit boxes, including at 24 Sussex Drive (the Prime Minister Of Canada's official residence).

Mulroney had told investigators under oath in 1995 that he’d had no business dealings with Schreiber - statements that now appear to be equivalent to perjury - then filed a $50 million defamation suit against the government that led to his settlement in 1997.

“I think I speak for many Canadians when I say, ’We want our money back,’ ” Manitoba MP Pat Martin said.

----------

Allan Rock’s testimony before the Commons Ethics Committee came after an unusual appearance from Mulroney’s former top aide and ex-Chief Of Staff Norman Spector.

Spector fired a broad and biting blast Tuesday at Mulroney and current Prime Minister Stephen Harper for failing to stem the sleaze that flowed then and flows now through federal politics.

He blamed the news media for largely ignoring the Mulroney-Schreiber affair until last fall. He heaped scorn on the RCMP’s handling of the Airbus investigation.
And he accused parliamentarians of dragging their heels for years.

Spector suggested several ways to get to the bottom of the affair. One way would be striking a deal that guarantees Schreiber won’t be extradited to Germany. In exchange, Spector said Canadians could then get a full description from him of how he also distributed $10 million in Airbus-related lobbying fees, which German authorities have previously confirmed.

Some have suggested that certain members of Harper's current Conservative government, who were around during Mulroney's years, may have benefited.
In fact, shortly after taking office in 2006, Harper inextricably shut down the Justice Department's review of the government's settlement with Mulroney, indicating the close ties that Mulroney has with Harper and his current Conservative party.

“We have at least $10 million and we don’t know what happened to it,” Spector said. “I want to know. . . We are not going to clean up government in this country until we get to the bottom of this story.”

He told the Commons Ethics Committee that Prime Minister Stephen Harper has done nothing to limit the power of lobbyists despite promises to clean up government.

He also said he has “grave doubts” that Harper really wants answers about the Mulroney-Schreiber-Airbus affair despite calling a public inquiry into the matter.

Spector's account also sheds additional light on one of the more tantalizing tales reported in Stevie Cameron’s 15-year-old book — On the Take: Crime, Corruption and Greed in the Mulroney Years.

Cameron alleged that Mulroney’s chef regularly picked up envelopes stuffed with thousands of dollars in cash from Mulroney’s office and delivered it to a bank account for his wife Mila. It says that the payment system eventually changed, and the cash was later stored in a safe the size of a refrigerator in the basement of 24 Sussex Dr.

It would be a criminal act for a public office-holder to accept cash for decisions made in office, and it would also be a criminal offence to try influencing a public official with cash payments.

A public inquiry is supposed to begin looking into the Mulroney-Schreiber affair after the committee finishes its hearings.

Robert Gibbs said...

Conservative's Flaherty Broke Rules To Hire Ex-Harris Aide

Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty handed untendered contract worth $122K to speechwriter for former premier Mike Harris

Feb 02, 2008 04:30 AM
Richard Brennan
OTTAWA BUREAU

OTTAWA–Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has broken federal rules by handing a former Mike Harris speechwriter an untendered contract worth more than $120,000, the Toronto Star has learned.

The $122,430 contract to Hugh MacPhie, who worked in the former Ontario Conservative premier's office and who supported Flaherty in his failed bid to lead the Ontario Tories, violated Treasury Board guidelines requiring multiple bids for contracts over $25,000.

The contract called for MacPhie to work on last year's budget speech and to provide communications advice to the finance department.

"Here's the finance minister awarding a single-source contract for $122,000 - or $22 per word - for two months of work to an old Harris spin doctor. This is really an egregious abuse of his position," NDP critic MP Charlie Angus (Timmins-James Bay) said yesterday.

Late yesterday, Dan Miles, a senior communications adviser to Flaherty, admitted that federal contracting rules had been broken.

The confirmation of the untendered communications contract was included in information provided to the New Democrats through an Access to Information request, which also revealed that an untendered $24,900 contract – $100 below the required tender level – was given to Sara Beth Mintz, a vice-president of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party.

"What's going on here?" Angus said.

In fact, the original contract was for $98,580, but MacPhie then billed for another $24,000.

Angus said it is clear that Flaherty is "using taxpayers' money to help out a lot of Conservative friends and they are basically breaking the rules to do it."

He said it is particularly galling because the Conservatives ran in the last election on a promise to end the patronage and special deals.

"Now they are giving these untendered contracts to the old Mike Harris gang," he said.

Robert Gibbs said...

Stephen Harper's Conservatives Place 'Muzzle' On Federal Scientists!

Environment Canada policy meant to control media message

Margaret Munro, Canwest News Service Edit

Published: Friday, February 01, 2008

Stephen Harper and his Conservative government have forced Environment Canada to "muzzle" its scientists, ordering them to refer all media queries to his government in Ottawa where communications officers will help them respond with "approved lines."

The new policy, which went into force in recent weeks and sent a chill through the department research divisions, is designed to control the department's media message and ensure there are no "surprises" for Conservative Environment Minister John Baird and senior management when they open the newspaper or turn on the television, according to documents obtained by Canwest News Service.

A PowerPoint presentation sent to department staff laments that "interviews sometimes result in surprises to Minister [John Baird] and senior management."

Environment Canada scientists, many of them world leaders in their fields, have long been encouraged to discuss their work on everything from migratory birds to melting Arctic ice with the media and public. Several of them were co-authors of the United Nations report on climate change that won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.

"It's insulting," says one senior staff member, who asked not to be named. She says researchers can no longer even discuss or confirm science facts without approval from the "highest political level."

Until now, Environment Canada has been one of most open and accessible departments in the federal government.

Climatologist Andrew Weaver, of the University of Victoria, works closely with several Environment Canada scientists. He says the policy points to the Conservative government's fixation on "micro-management" and message control.

"They've been muzzled," says Weaver of the federal researchers. "The concept of free speech is non-existent at Environment Canada. They are manufacturing the message of science."

"They can't even now comment on why a storm hit the area without going through head office," says Weaver, who's been fielding calls from frustrated media and others who can no longer get through to federal experts, scientists who once spoke freely about their fields of work, be it atmospheric winds affecting airliners or disease outbreaks at bird colonies.

"What the heck is going on here?

Robert Gibbs said...

Even Former Judge Gomery Calls Conservatives Turncoats On Gov't Transparency And Accountability

Last Updated: Wednesday, January 30, 2008 | 10:59 PM ET

The Canadian Press (Edit)
----------------------------------

The former judge who investigated the sponsorship issue says Prime Minister Stephen Harper has abandoned any commitment to transparent and accountable government in favour of a top-down dictatorial regime that centralizes power in Harper's own hands.

John Gomery, in a wide-ranging interview, expressed dismay and disgust that the federal Conservatives have ignored his key recommendations for reform.

"I have to tell you, I'm very disappointed," Gomery said from the farm in Havelock, Que., where he now lives in retirement.

"I worked so hard, and I got other people to work hard, and we gave very serious thought to what we were recommending."

Instead, he said, most of the political and bureaucratic changes he proposed fell into a "black hole" of indifference or were rejected out of hand.

His verdict on the Harper government is harsh: "They were glad to see the end of the commission, and they'd like me to disappear … I'm a pain, I'm a bit of a menace."

The overall goal was to reverse a growing trend toward centralization of power in the hands of the Prime Minister and his inner circle, a situation that critics saw as an invitation to the abuse of power, which has now occurred.
It was a goal that Harper claimed to share when he was in opposition, said Gomery. But since he took power, "there's more concentration of power in the Prime Minister's Office than we've ever had before."

Failure to revamp Access to Information Act

Gomery also points to the Conservative refusal to revamp the Access to Information Act to make it easier for journalists and other citizens to pry documentation from the government.

"Harper was claiming at the time [of the report] that transparency was very important and that they wanted to improve transparency. In practice it's been an exact reverse."

Gomery also slammed Harper for abandoning the promise to install a new appointments commissioner to ensure that merit — not patronage — would be the main criterion in naming people to the boards of Crown corporations and other key posts.

In delivering his recommendations [at the time] Gomery asked the government to table a detailed response in Parliament within 24 months. With time due to run out Friday, he's still waiting.

"I thought that at least they would have the courtesy to say, well, we're not going to respond … It's just as though my report doesn't exist."

© The Canadian Press, 2008

Robert Gibbs said...

More Disturbing Trends

Harper Fires Anyone Who Doesn't Kowtow To His Doctrine Or Dogma

The last two years have brought with them a Conservative regime where employment uncertainty prevails, especially if you're a public servant or the head of a government crown corporation or independent agency, where you actually follow your legislated mandate but don't kowtow to Stephen Harper's doctrine or dogma.

Consider this partial list of names of people who have been fired or forced out for standing up for the principles of their mandates:

Linda Keen, President of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, fired in the “dark of night” for embarrassing the government by exercising her mandate to enforce nuclear safety regulations.

Adrian Measner, President and CEO of the Canadian Wheat Board, fired for his decision to follow the direction of the CWB’s farmer-elected Board of Directors.

Johanne Gélinas, Environment Commissioner, fired after publicly commenting to the media about her not receiving sufficient information from the government about its "Made in Canada" environmental plan.

Yves Le Bouthillier, President of the Law Commission of Canada, fired after all federal government funding for the Commission was eliminated.

Allan Amey, President of the Canada Emission Reduction Incentives Agency, created to oversee federal compliance with the Kyoto Protocol, fired in 2006 and the agency dismantled.

It seems, too, the writing could soon be on the wall for Sheridan Scott, Commissioner of the Competition Bureau.

Sounds a lot like dictatorial regimes in third-world countries or Putin's Russia, or even George W. Bush's scandalous firing of attorneys-general in the United States.

Surely, these are not appropriate actions of any open, transparent, accountable and democratic government.

Robert Gibbs said...

Harper Aide & Conservative Fundraiser Caught In Attempt To Interfere In Government Legal Dispute With Montreal Developer For Political Reasons

DANIEL LEBLANC

Edit From Wednesday's Globe and Mail

January 29, 2008 at 9:49 PM EST

OTTAWA — A press secretary for the Prime Minister and a Conservative fundraiser made separate backroom interventions in favour of a real-estate firm that faced losing a $50-million complex to the federal government in 2006, sources told The Globe and Mail and Radio-Canada.

Dimitri Soudas, Stephen Harper's deputy press secretary, inappropriately got involved in the battle between Ottawa and the Rosdev Group a few months after the Tories took office.

Mr. Soudas arranged an extraordinary meeting at the Prime Minister's Office with senior ministerial staffers from Public Works.

Conservative officials said there was a clear sense in the party at the time that Rosdev and its influential president, Michael Rosenberg, could become strong Conservative allies in Montreal, especially in a riding like Outremont with a strong Jewish community.

Sources said Mr. Soudas's position during the meeting was favourable to Rosdev and that he raised the possibility of Public Works dropping its plan to exercise an option to claim the complex for $0 in 2010.

At the time, Public Works was stating that attempts to come to a negotiated solution on a range of disputes with Rosdev had proved fruitless.

“He wanted this to go to mediation, to a conflict resolution mechanism, to delay this,” a source said of Mr. Soudas's position.


Mr. Soudas's move came a few months after an intervention on the same matter by his friend and Conservative Party fundraiser, Leo Housakos, who was also named by the Harper government to the board of Via Rail last month.

Mr. Housakos said he addressed the issue because he thought it could be beneficial to the Conservative Party, pointing specifically to Mr. Rosenberg's strong standing in Montreal's Hasidic Jewish community.

Robert Gibbs said...

Is Harper A Fascist Dictator? You Be The Judge.

Harper Plasters Photos Of Himself All Over Government Lobby

Running beside the House of Commons, on each side of that historic chamber, are two equally historic rooms. We call them the ‘lobbies’ – one, to the right of the Speaker, reserved for government MPs, and the other for members of the opposition. Stone-walled and normally bristling with activity, these rooms are a living part of Canadian history – and for the years I’ve been in Parliament, have been graced with the photos of former prime ministers.

But, no more. At least not the government lobby – a piece of public real estate which has suddenly been turned into a portrait gallery for one man. Our illustrious leader. Steven Harper.

Gone are the grainy photos of Sir John. Banished is Dief. Bye-bye Brian. Instead, more than two dozen colour photos of the current prime minister in matching frames are screwed to the stone walls. Mr. Harper with a jet plane. Mr. Harper as a firefighter. Mr. Harper with Arnie. Mr. Harper with Karzai. Mr. Harper calling an NHL game. Mr. Harper in the North. Mr. Harper in the south. Well, you get the picture. All of them.

I wandered through the opposition lobby this morning, to see the contrast. The NDP walls are bare, save for a white board announcing votes. Naked are the BQ stones. And the Liberal area has a nice little collection of former party leaders who made it into the big, wood-paneled office on the third floor, where I hear there are now lots more pictures.

As a Conservative colleague said a day or two ago when news of the Harper Gallery emerged to a speechless nation, “Well, this is the Harper government.”

You bet. How could you forget?



posted by Garth Turner on 01.30.08 @ 12:55 pm |

Robert Gibbs said...

MACLEANS.CA

Harper's Government Caught Lying And Covering Up About Afghan Detainee Issue!


Detainee policy: Don't ask, don't tell - at least, not without a court order

Kady O'Malley | January 25, 2008 | 11:10:30 | Permalink

kady.omalley@macleans.rogers.com

Hurray for activist judges!

Despite campaigning just two short years ago on the promise to bring a new age of accountability, transparency and general all-round awesomeness to Ottawa, it looks like it may require an intervention from the courts to make Canada's Not Even Pretending To Be New Anymore Government share its Afghan detainee policy with the rest of the class.

From today's Globe and Mail :

Madam Justice Anne Mactavish isn't expected to rule on the constitutional question or the request for an injunction for weeks,
perhaps longer. But she hinted yesterday that she might issue an order requiring the government to give notice, perhaps a week, of any plan to resume detainee transfers.

Madam Justice also doesn't seem to have bought into the "support our troops by not asking so many tricky questions" line of defence:

Judge Mactavish said: "I am having trouble reconciling" the sworn claims by the general of damaging consequences to the mission should
transfers be banned with the belated admission by government lawyers that transfers had been suspended for the past 10 weeks.

In fact, it's beginning to look like the government is more interested in hiding behind the troops, at least when it comes to the controversy over detainee transfers:

Mr. Graham argued against an injunction. "It would require a determination by the court that the Canadian Forces cannot be trusted
to do the right thing," he said.

In fact, Amnesty and BCCLA have argued that Canadian soldiers have a proven record of intervening to protect detainees and sometimes refusing to hand them over to some Afghan units. It is the government, not the military, that the rights groups accuse of ignoring international law by ordering the military to turn over detainees to Afghan authorities.

From CTV News:

In court on Thursday, human rights groups sought a ban on transfers. But a federal lawyer argued it was a moot point because the transfers
have been stopped. The government's lawyer was cut off by Federal Court Justice Anne Mactavish.

"Up until noon on Tuesday we thought there was a live controversy," she said.

So if Canadian soldiers are no longer handing over prisoners to Afghan authorities, what are they doing with them? No one - not even John Manley - knows.

More precisely, no one who does know is willing to answer that question. From elsewhere in the Globe (which, incidentally, deserves big sloppy journalistic kisses for its stubborn refusal to let the story die):

The government and the military maintained a stony silence Thursday about whether Canadian troops are still taking prisoners in the field, and if so, what is happening to them. It is not clear if they are being released, held by the Canadian Forces in temporary cells, or transferred to U.S. forces.
The stony silence was breached, albeit briefly, by PMO Communications Black Hole Creator Sandra Buckler. 'The Silencer,' as our print sibling has christened her, seems to have spent much of yesterday afternoon copying and pasting the same terse email response to questions from journalists on why it took so long for news of the ban to be made public - and why the PM and his ministers didn't mention it when the issue came up in the House last year:

Sandra Buckler, spokesperson for Harper, said in an email to the [Toronto] Star yesterday that the military makes "decisions each and every day on operational matters. The Government will not provide any comment on operational matters," beyond pointing to a revised prisoner transfer agreement signed with the Afghan government last May.

Buckler also said that Bernier "proactively disclosed" on Nov. 14 that Canadian officials were notified of an allegation of mistreatment of a prisoner who had been transferred into Afghan custody by the Canadians.

A call to the defence department was not returned yesterday.

The Globe took a different approach, and published Buckler's email in its entirety as a letter to the editor.

Buckler may be able to get away with an all purpose 'no comment', but it's unlikely that a non-answer answer will satisfy our NATO partners, who, the Star reports, turn out to have been every bit as much in the dark as the rest of us, as far as the change in policy:

News of Canada's change in handling prisoners caused surprise both in Washington and at NATO headquarters in Brussels.

"To make a long story short, we went, `Oh, didn't know that!" said Lieut. Col. Mark Wright, a Pentagon spokesperson, adding that Canada's decision raises issues for all governments with troops in Afghanistan.

"If you've got bad guys shooting at your forces, and then I'd think you're going take them prisoner, detain them," he said. "Okay, now what? Do you hold him at a field detention site permanently? That's the basic question."

At NATO, which is co-ordinating the Afghan mission, officials only learned about the Canadian about-face through news reports.

"This has all come up today," spokesperson James Appurathai said from Brussels, adding he had no information on how Canada was now handling detainees.

"Our policy within NATO is that within 96 hours, except on very special dispensation from the commander, detainees should be either released or handed over to the Afghan authorities," he said. "We will be in discussion with the Canadian authorities about all of this."

Good luck with that, Mr. Appurathai - if do you manage to get an answer out of this government, please keep us posted. You may want to jot down the address for the Federal Court of Canada, though - just in case.

-----------------------------------

Buckling under: Skip the tragedy, go directly to farce

Kady O'Malley | January 25, 2008 | 15:07:41 | Permalink

kady.omalley@macleans.rogers.com

Un-freaking-believable. I mean, literally unbelievable, as in, I don't believe it:

The Prime Minister's communications director is retracting her statement that the military did not inform the government that it had suspended the transfer of prisoners to Afghan custody in November.
In an e-mail to The Globe and Mail on Thursday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's communications director, Sandra Buckler, said the military did not tell the government about the suspension.

Ms. Buckler called Friday to say she “misspoke” but would not say whether the military had or had not informed the government.

“I should not have said what I said to you, I misspoke, and I wanted to make sure you were aware of that,” she said. “I made a mistake…what I said was wrong.”

Let's get something straight here. For all her many quirks, idiosyncrisies and unique perspective on media relations, Sandra Buckler does not misspeak - or, as we're asked to believe in this case, mistype; not when she is writing a letter to a national newspaper, and especially not on an issue so potentially politically explosive for her government.

Given that fact, there's only one reason why she would back down in such a public way: if she was informed, in no uncertain terms, that if she didn't set the record straight on what the government knew, and when it knew it, someone else - someone in khakis, with a Newfoundland accent and a will of iron, perhaps - would do it for her.

The military may not have spoken out publicly on the detainee issue, but make no mistake: they have no intention of taking the heat on this issue, no matter how much money the Conservatives are willing to fork out in defence spending.

Robert Gibbs said...

MACLEANS.CA

Bombs Away!

Large Amounts Of Cash Arriving At 24 Sussex Drive When Brian Mulroney Was Prime Minister!

Kady O'Malley | January 25, 2008 | 15:20:22 |

kady.omalley@macleans.rogers.com

Welcome to Spec(tor)ulation City, Canadian Press/CTV!


OTTAWA -- A troubling new allegation about large amounts of cash arriving at 24 Sussex Drive when Brian Mulroney was prime minister will be aired at the Commons ethics committee.

The committee is set to reconvene next week when the Commons returns from a six-week break.

MPs are looking into the decade-long relationship between the former Tory prime minister and lobbyist Karlheinz Schreiber.

Norman Spector, a former chief of staff to Mulroney in the early 1990s, says he'll be bringing documentary evidence to the committee.

Spector, writing in Le Devoir newspaper, says he'll "help identify the source of large quantities of money carried to 24 Sussex while Mr. Mulroney was prime minister of Canada.''

Thanks to the fabulous and ever-vigilant Philippe, we were the first ones off the plane - after Le Devoir, of course. But we saved you a seat. Let's see how long it takes the rest of the English media to pick up on this latest, possibly greatest promise of the Sideshow of the Century, coming this spring to a committee room near you.

Other early adopters:

Joël-Denis Bellavance: Du comptant au 24, promenade Sussex
Former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney wasn't just taking cash in hotel rooms in Montreal in 1993 and in New York in 1994. It was also happening at 24 Sussex, the prime minister's official residence in Ottawa, while Mulroney was still in power.

So says Mulroney's former chief of staff, Norman Spector, who dropped the bombshell in the last paragraph of a column in Le Devoir. And Spector intends to reveal everything he knows about it when he testifies before the House ethics committee in 10 days. He's promising to bring documents to corroborate his claims.

[...]

Who was behind the payments? Just how much cash was handed over to Mulroney at 24 Sussex? In what year? How often did the payments take place? All these questions remained unanswered last night

Michel Vastel: Mulroney sera-t-il compromis à ce point?

There's no doubt Norman Spector will be a important witness for the House ethics committee, which gets back to work next week. But just how far will Spector go? And, unlike Schreiber, will he have proof of everything he says?

[...]

Either it's the scoop of the century. Or it's a political bombshell Norman is about to drop on Parliament. Watch out...

Warren Kinsella: NORMAN SPECTOR'S BOMBSHELL

In effect, Spector is saying he hopes to help MPs on the Ethics Committee identify the source of "great quantities of cash" that were brought to 24 Sussex Drive when Brian Mulroney was Prime Minister of Canada.

Wow. Like, wow. Why is this a bomb, as La Presse puts it? Because, until this morning, no one had ever been told that cash was ever delivered to the official residence of the Prime Minister of Canada. Secretive meetings in hotel rooms, sure - but cash deliveries to 24 Sussex? That's news, baby.

It confirms what I was told, years ago, one night in Ottawa - about safes and deliveries of cash.

-------

And let's not forget, Mulroney has been involved with and advising Stephen Harper's current Conservative government, many members of which were around during Mulroney's time as Prime Minister. Stephen Harper even considers Mulroney a close personal friend, advisor and confidant.

Robert Gibbs said...

Harper's Tories Forgive Huge JDS Tax Bills

Special deal for very small group of former employees an 'outrage', expert says

Edit: Kathryn May, The Ottawa Citizen; with files from the Victoria Times Colonist

Published: Friday, December 07, 2007

The Harper government has forgiven the tax bills of a few former JDS Uniphase employees who made millions on paper, in a special deal that could open the door for other taxpayers to demand the same treatment.

The decision, which was recently published as a "remission order" in the Canada Gazette, was approved by the Conservative cabinet despite objections from officials at Finance and Canada Revenue Agency. Senior bureaucrats warned such a decision was unfair to other taxpayers and set a dangerous precedent for employees of other high-tech companies.

"It's outrageous, the biggest outrage in tax policy since the income trust debacle that I've seen" said Jamie Golombek, vice-president, tax and estate planning at AIM Trimark Investments.

"This is complete favouritism and is purely political. It is outrageous that a specific small group of people could be given private tax relief when there are hundreds of thousands of Canadians in share-purchase or stock-option programs in the same position."
A similar warning came from Canada Revenue Agency commissioner William Baker. In a memo to Conservative National Revenue Minister Gordon O'Connor, he warned that waiving taxes in this case was "inconsistent" with the laws and policies applied to all other Canadians. It also flies in the face of the so-called new Taxpayers Bill of Rights.

The Conservatives proclaimed the bill of rights last summer, supposedly guaranteeing taxpayers "the right to have the law applied consistently."

The order absolves a few shareholders of having to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes and interest. All of them worked for SDL Optics Inc. in British Columbia when it was taken over by JDS Uniphase in 2000 in a $41-billion deal billed as one of the biggest technology mergers in corporate history.

The order has been in the works for months. The tax agency was instructed last December by Conservative then-National Revenue Minister Carol Skelton to prepare the order. That's also when the employees' long-time champion, Conservative Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn, announced the government would forgive all taxes on the windfall gains employees made on their employee stock purchase plan.

As a Conservative MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands, Mr. Lunn took up the cause of these workers, many of whom are in his riding.

Robert Gibbs said...

Charges Against Ottawa Mayor Send More Ripples Through Harper's Conservative Government

10/12/2007 9:36:47 PM

-----------------------------------

The mayor of Ottawa was charged with bribery-related offences in connection with a 2006 mayoral race on Monday, sending ripples through city hall and Harper's Conservative government.

CTV.ca News Staff

The charges stem from an allegation that Larry O'Brien's campaign tried to offer Terry Kilrea, a fellow candidate, a job in return for dropping out of the race.

Kilrea alleges he was offered $30,000 to cover his expenses. Kilrea did eventually drop out of the race, but said he never accepted any money.

Kilrea has also sworn in an affidavit that he was offered a federal appointment to the National Parole Board.

Despite the charges, O'Brien has denied the bribery accusation, along with the claim that he discussed a possible appointment for Kilrea with federal Conservative Environment Minister John Baird, an Ottawa MP and the Treasury Board president during the period in question.

In the House of Commons on Monday, MPs called for Baird's resignation.

Critics have said O'Brien should immediately step down from his position until the charges have been dealt with.

"If it was a member of parliament, if it was an MPP, if it was a police officer in our city, they would step down until the charges were dealt with," said Sean McKenny, president of the Ottawa District Labour Council.

The Ontario Provincial Police laid the charges after more than eight months of investigation that included one search warrant and 48 interviews, including Baird.

OPP Supt. David Truax told CTV Ottawa that O'Brien has been charged with two Criminal Code offences.

The formal charges are:

Section 121(1)(d) of the Criminal Code, which deals with offering a reward or benefit in exchange for co-operation, and

Section 125(b), which involves negotiating a benefit for appointment to or resignation from office "in expectation of a direct or indirect reward, advantage or benefit."

"The allegations are most serious and, of course, present some very complex investigative challenges and some very complex legal issues," Truax said.

Truax said the maximum sentence for those two charges is five years in a penitentiary.

O'Brien will make his first court appearance on Jan. 9.

Robert Gibbs said...

Conservative Cabinet Minister Held Secret Talks With Brian Mulroney Acting On Behalf Of Quebecor Media Without Mulroney Being Registered Under The Lobbyists Registration Act

Last Updated: Thursday, November 29, 2007 | 10:22 PM ET

CBC News Edit

Former Conservative prime minister Brian Mulroney held secret talks with the current Conservative government on behalf of a company that could benefit from Ottawa's recent decision to open up more of the wireless spectrum, CBC News has learned.

Mulroney played an active role in bringing together Conservative industry minister Maxime Bernier and Pierre Karl Peladeau, CEO of Quebecor Media, CBC News has learned. Mulroney is on the board of directors for Quebecor Media.

Sources say earlier this year, Mulroney asked Bernier to meet with Peladeau. The request was made during a conversation on a range of topics.

During their chat, Mulroney reminded Bernier of Quebecor's strong belief that the government should allow additional wireless spectrum into the telecom sector, something sources say Bernier was opposed to.

Sources say Bernier eventually met with Peladeau.

In the end, Bernier didn't make the decision on telecoms because he was shuffled to foreign affairs.

On Wednesday, the Conservative government paved the way for new cell phone spectrum by announcing new rules for an auction of radio airwaves. Analysts expect Quebecor to benefit by entering the auction.

Although the meeting between Bernier and Peladeau took place before Harper ordered members of his government to cease having dealings with Mulroney, Mulroney had been "advising" Harper and was active in his Conservative government. Harper issued that order after his government was forced to consider a public inquiry into the allegations made by Karlheinz Schreiber against Mulroney.

Under the Lobbyists Registration Act, Mulroney would have to be registered in order to be entitled to lobby elected officials in his role on the board of directors of Quebecor Media.

And in the opinion of the registrar, he would be required to register for arranging a meeting between a government minister and a CEO.

The registrar wrote about members of boards and their dealings with elected officials in an advisory issued in 2005, saying:

"Registration would be required for…arranging a meeting."

But Mulroney is not a registered lobbyist.

The Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists said it will review the matter to determine if an investigation should take place.

Duff Conacher of the public ethics advocacy group Democracy Watch said that unregistered lobbying is a slippery slope.

"Secret lobbying is a recipe for corruption, waste and abuse of the public interest," Conacher said.

"The registrar should be investigating in terms of violation of the lobbyists code of conduct."

"If Mulroney was illegitimately influencing Harper's Conservative government on this file, what other files was he involved with?"

Anonymous said...

Surely Flaherty or Harper must see that putting the spotlight on Goodale and Income Trusts, at the right time, cost the Liberals dearly.
Could we bathe Flaherty with a similar brillance and get the same result when the time is ripe?
All on a Level Playing Field of course!

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