Thursday, March 6, 2008

Harper espoused his tolerance for corruption, back on November 14, 2007.


I got the impression back on November 14,2007, that I was the only one making this point: which was the observation that Stephen Harper was arguing for an acceptable level of corruption.

Hopefully subsequent events have made this point more obvious to all to acknowledge.

Back on November 14, 2007 when faced with the prospect that Brian Mulroney was knee deep into scandal with the $300,000 in cash he received from arms dealer Karl Heniz Schreiber, Stephen Harper argued for tolerance on the part of Canadians for corruption by stating his opposition to a public inquiry into Mulroney’s alleged corruption:

“This is not a route that I want to go down, and I don’t think that if the Liberal Party thought twice about it, it is a power they would want to give me.”

Harper thought he could negotiate (in public no less) such a pact of acceptable corruption with Stephane Dion through, you guessed it, bully tactics

This comment and tactic also demonstrates an innate acceptance on the part of Stephen Harper for corruption and dirty tricks. As for the “power” comment, that was very telling as well. Stephen the omnipotent.

As for subsequent events, as Michael Ignatief pointed out in question period today, we now have the Conservative Party involved in alleged tampering with elections at the municipal (Baird/O’Brien), national (Harper/Cadman) and international level (Brodie/Obama)

Stephen Harper thinks ethics are something to be bartered and determined on a relative basis. Such a philosophy of “I’ll call your sponsorship scandal and raise you one Cadman affair” is certainly a race to the bottom. Ethics are to be measured against standards that are absolute in measure and not relative.

We need to establish what are the acceptable levels of corruption. To do that, one need only look to the law and the spirit of the law and not whether a Liberal sponsorship scandal or a Belinda Stronach floor-crossing for a Cabinet post affords Stephen Harper with the prerogative to engage in a Cadman scandal with impunity.

That would truly be a race to the bottom.

11 comments:

Once a tory always a fool said...

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Man o man! In 50 years, this old fool has never seen the like. It's weird, and getting weirder day after day.

But now it's time for Dion to get on his Harley and ride to the high road. Stephane, leave it to the shadow cabinet to bash away at the Tories.

This Government is in shambles across the board. What and how will the Dion Liberals do to give us some peace, order and good government? POGG, we want to get back to POGG.

Dr Mike said...

I hate it when we are ready to accept the "bottom" as "good enough" --when did we become so complacent??

I guess i should not confuse complacency with "acceptance".

As a society , we just now look on these types of government "shenanigans" as the acceptable norm & how sad is that. We are now ready to say that`s "ok" boys , we didn`t expect anything else .

Keep up the bad work--it`s just another day at the office---more to come tomorrow.

Mike.

Robert Gibbs said...

Harper's Conservative Government Surreptitiously Funding Partisan Military Propaganda

Although this article is a "mid-length read", I highly encourage it for those who are concerned about "hidden agendas" in Harper's Canada.

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...

$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...

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...

Conservatives Disrupting Commons Committee Review Of Their 2006 Election Financing Fraud

Tim Naumetz, The Ottawa Citizen (Edit)

Published: Thursday, February 07, 2008

Conservative MPs are disrupting a House Of Commons committee review of their 2006 election financing fraud in order to gain an extra $10 million in [likely taxpayer-funded] spending room for television ads in the next election.

Government MPs are using stalling efforts in the hopes that a likely 2008 election will take place first, resulting in the spending room still being available after the time of their self-induced defeat.

Conservative MP Gary Goodyear, chairman of the Procedure And House Affairs Committee, angrily ended committee proceedings the previous night and again arbitrarily suspended the session until today.

Amongst other tactics, Tory MPs are attempting to prevent the committee from bringing in Elections Canada officers and Conservative party officials to testify.

Elections Canada has already determined that the Conservative Party exceeded their legal limit on national campaign ads during the 2006 election. This allowed Conservative candidates to receive an additional $780,000 in taxpayer-funded expense rebates to which they should not have been entitled.

"It is election fraud and a gross breach of the public trust", reporters were told at a news conference held in September, 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...

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...

If anyone has any doubts about the Cadman Bribery allegations, please feel free to read on...

Feb 29, 2008
Richard Brennan & Scott Reid

The Toronto Star (Edit)

OTTAWA–The Conservative party, and its predecessors, have faced previous charges of offering to pay off people to achieve goals.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper denied yesterday it [the Cadman offer] ever happened, but history shows he has denied similar charges that later proved to be true.

It wouldn't take Columbo to pull apart the threads fraying at the edges of this story. In mounting a defence, Harper's track record on such matters will lend him little credibility.

After all, the Prime Minister denied that his party offered Alan Riddell $50,000 to step aside as a candidate in Ottawa South. But a judge ruled that's exactly what happened.

Just over a year ago, the judge ordered the Conservatives to pay $50,000 to the former candidate who stepped aside in last January's election in favour of a big-name recruit.

Alan Riddell, nominated in 2005 to be a candidate in Ottawa South in the Jan. 23, 2006 election, was offered $50,000 to make way for Allan Cutler. When the promised compensation wasn't paid, Riddell launched a lawsuit.

Harper, then Conservative leader, denied an agreement existed.

Riddell's lawyer, Tom Conway, said the party entered a binding agreement if he would make way for Cutler, who eventually lost the election to Liberal David McGuinty.

...

A year ago, records were produced indicating Stockwell Day, now public safety minister, spent or intended to spend public and party funds to pay former MP Jim Hart to quit in 2000.

In 2000, when Day was the newly elected leader of the Canadian Alliance, Hart stepped aside to allow Day to run in a by-election in the B.C. riding of Okanagan-Coquihalla, which he won that fall.

Hart will neither confirm nor deny he received $50,000.