The Ford brothers are not acceptable as elected officials at any level of government.

Buffoonery is over. Things are DEADLY serious now.

Buffoonery is over. Things are DEADLY serious now.

I have avoided the topic of the Ford brothers for the simple reason that Rob Ford was well-known as a buffoon before he was elected. Toronto voted for a buffoon, and that is what they got. ‘Let this be a lesson to us’ I told myself, chuckled and moved on. The problem is that buffoonery is the least of the troubles the Fords have inflicted on us. The Toronto Star has just published an article that reports on a Police interview with Dave Price, a Ford family friend and staffer, where he states that Anthony Smith recorded the crack video, and was murdered over it. In a separate article from CP, linked to here at National Newswatch, the gangsters who had that video were blackmailing Ford. Fords offer of $5000 and a car was not enough, they were going to meet with him and demand 150, presumably meaning $150,000.

I am bothered by the thought that mostly harmless buffoonery has brought the City of Toronto into international disrepute. I am truly sickened by the thought that Anthony Smith may have been murdered in order to provide somebody in the underworld with excellent blackmail material on Rob Ford. Personally, I am no longer willing or able to overlook the fact (as reported at length by the Globe and Mail), that Doug Ford was a drug wholesaler, with a group of sub dealers and distributors working for him in the Eighties. This is not buffoonery. It is criminality. I find myself wondering about things like giant ferris wheels on the Waterfront, and great big downtown casinos and airport expansions etc championed by the Fords. Were these things actual Ford projects, or was someone whispering in their ears; ‘I have a secret that a Casino construction contract will make go away for awhile’. Every single thing these guys have touched needs to be torn apart, and gone over with a fine toothed comb. If we are to believe allegations at the Charbonneau commission on corruption in Quebec, Ontario Construction industry is not immune to mafia influence. If the Fords have so many connections to criminals, does it not seem likely that the master criminals, the Mafia are not unaware of their past indiscretions? That calls into question every construction project that the Fords had a hand in approving. Forget about construction. Every damned thing they do as official city business becomes suspect, from Taxi and strip club licensing, to leasing vendor spaces, hot dog stands, you name it, it is now suspect.

I think that Rob Ford will probably go away now. I am pretty certain that Doug Ford will not be making his debut at Queens Park either. Murder, extortion, and drug trafficking  just do not go together with public office very well. In short, the Ford bothers are not just buffoons, they are dangerously exposed by their alleged *cough* *cough* links to criminals.

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A veritable Conservative Armageddon

Harper-FordThere sure is a strong stench of scandal in the air isn’t there? I am thinking about quite a number of Conservative shenanigans and ticking time bombs that are all set to go off in the months to come. The most obvious and immediate is the late breaking revelations abstracted from RCMP affadavits this afternoon. In court documents, the RCMP allege that Nigel Wright, former Chief of Staff in the PMO, entered into a formal written agreement with Senator Mike Duffy offering some $90,000 and influencing an ongoing audit, in exchange for promises of confidentiality. The agreement also induced the Senator to lie to the public about the whole sordid mess with a concocted story.

Wright is cooked in his own juice now. I mean, the guy is supposedly a brilliant lawyer and businessman, who has been intimately involved in politics since his salad days. How could he NOT know that making a payment to a sitting Senator IN EXCHANGE for pretty well anything constitutes a breach of trust? And then he actually set pen to paper, and documented their ‘bribes for lies’ faustian bargain. Senators LeBreton, and Gerstein are in it up to their necks, as they were the ones who the PMO worked through in the Senate, and on that all important committee. It looks like the muck will be spread pretty widely, as there are at least a baker’s dozen of Conservatives who were involved in some shape or form. And of course, Stephen Harper is being tied into it, one thread at a time.

And the cover-up….. Oh boy, didn’t Harper know about Tricky Dick? Nixon went down in history because of the coverup. Harper has been very careful in his choice of words in Parliamentary question period, but it appears to this humble blogger that his choice of words was not careful enough. No matter what political stripes you wear, I do not think that anybody in the country actually believes him as he equivocates, and minces words. You know what I mean, many apologists can be found. Whole armies of Conservatives will split hairs, but people are paying attention now. Credit were credit is due, we have ‘angry Tom’ Mulcair to thank for getting a lot of troubling Prime Ministerial equivocations and hedging, and a number of outright contradictions into the Parliamentary record.

But it does not stop there. In fact, I suspect that this is only the beginning of a very troubling year for the Conservatives in general, and Stephen Harper in particular. The Prime Minister is going to need every scrap of credibility he can get when the trial of Michael Sona hits the headlines. Sona has already implied that he is being scapegoated, and that there was collusion within Conservative ranks. The Judge in the Robocalls lawsuit has already found that there was fraud in the last election, and that the Conservative database, CIMS was the tool used to perpetrate the fraud. Anything that Sona or any witnesses have to say about a widening circle of Robo-fraudsters is going to get a lot of attention. Stephen Harper, and the CPC had better hope that their credibility is at its peak when they are facing such allegations.

Is there anything else that I missed? Oh yeah, Dean Del Mastro is back in court in just a few short weeks. The evidence against him looks pretty overwhelming to me, and I will be very surprised if he avoids a conviction with actual penalties. The Del Mastro will start on Dec. 6, 2013. Parliament will still be sitting until Dec Friday Dec 13. I bet the Conservative front bench is looking forward to question period…NOT.

And the Senate scandal will continue to bubble away. It is clear that the RCMP is casting a wide net, and are conducting a serious investigation. Sooner or later there will be more court documents publicised. Charges will be laid, and court dates set. It is going to take many months, perhaps years before this scandal is finally put to bed. There will be many an opportunity to contrast what Stephen Harper has said in the house to what is being alleged, and testified to in court. Think about how it will play out, with the Senate case cropping up regularly as the backdrop to a string of sordid electoral scandals unfolding in the courts. Yep, a veritable Conservative Armageddon.

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Trudeau just SKEWERED all his critics in one fell swoop!

In a desperate attempt to take Justin Trudeau down a peg or two, the NDP and Conservatives have been crafting a narrative around Trudeau’s public speaking business, and his accepting fees to speak for charities. On my part, I do not think that Trudeau did anything wrong. He put his name on a roster for a speaking agency, and that agency came to him periodically with a deal to speak for fees from various clients. It is a far cry from seeking out charities to prey upon. Various groups intent on raising funds, or enhancing attendance at their conferences or fundraising dinners went to an agency, and fixed upon a high-profile and popular speaker to help them raise a whack of dough. Unfortunately, while some of those organisation that hired Trudeau raked in a windfall, some of them were incompetent, and in the case of the Grace foundation, were incapable of selling tickets for the event. Nine months later, the charity penned a letter to Trudeau claiming that the event bombed, and they would like him to refund the fees and expenses paid to him. Hmmm, well you cannot blame them for trying I guess, but to then publicise that letter as a political attack on Trudeau? Despicable behaviour. Yet this is what the charity proceeded to do, and the Prime Ministers Office, and various gutter dwellers like Brad Wall piled on gleefully thinking’ Aha! NOW we have him!”

In a sense, Trudeau is the author of his own (mis)fortune. Shortly after announcing his intention to seek the leadership of the Liberal Party, Trudeau did something totally unprecedented for a Federal politician in Canada. He voluntarily made a complete and public disclosure of every detail of his personal finances. He revealed the sources of his income, including a tidy sum earned from his public speaking career. He revealed that his ‘princely inheritance’ actually amounted to a quite modest fortune of $1.2 million, invested with a fund manager based in Montreal generating a little over $20,000 in cash per annum. He had sold his $million plus home, and moved into  <$700,000 home (with a mortgage) when he was elected as an MP. All in all, it seems that Trudeau has a comparable ‘fortune’ and lifestyle to say a General Practitioner (medical doctor) or perhaps a middle-aged Electrician.  Trudeau had sought, and received confirmation that there was no conflict of interest between his role as MP, and the continuance of his public speaking business. This truly was a voluntary disclosure of every little nitty-gritty detail of his finances, that is unique amongst Federal Politicians today. Was this some kind of Crazy idealism at work? Crazy like a fox says I.

Now the attempt to cast Trudeau as a double dipping scheming money grubber preying on the taxpayers and poor charities was a very dangerous tactic for his political foes to employ. The reason is simple, there are a great many Conservative, and NDP members of Parliament, and Senators who are drawing in HUGE stipends as public speakers, corporate directors, Lawyers, Doctors, Authors, oh the lists are as endless as the fields of human endeavours. Many, if not most MP`s had careers before politics, and a great many of them have substantial income from outside the house. And guess what? Most of these people have not publicly disclosed the full gory details of how much they get from where. I can guarantee that there are going to be some real stinkers hidden out of public sight. Not necessarily illegal or unethical things. Just things that look much worse than speaking for fees at a charitable event. So the danger for Trudeau’s detractors was that their accusations of Trudeau exposed them to similar accusations, and since NOBODY likes a hypocrite, any truly damning charity looting double dipping Conservatives or Dippers would be in a pretty tight corner. I guess they figured it was worth the risk though. The narrative of Trudeau as a charity gouging so-and-so seemed to resonate, and there is nothing more important than besmirching Trudeau’s name NOW, and stopping the resurgence of the Liberal Party in its tracks.

This morning, something utterly unthinkable happened. I mean, OH MY GOD that is brilliant! unthinkable.

To quote this article : `Liberal leader Justin Trudeau says he is willing to make amends with any charitable organizations that have paid him to speak, but didn’t feel they got their money’s worth.

“I am going to sit down with every single one of them and make this right,” Trudeau told CTV’s Question Period Sunday, addressing an issue first raised in reports about his work with The Grace Foundation.`

Holy Crap! I mean, how could any of those Conservative types have ever anticipated this response. The thought would not ever cross their minds for a second that Trudeau would be willing to hand back money that he did not owe. After all, is that not the entire purpose of being in politics, to line your pockets? Trudeau will now be able to publicly meet with charities galore. One by one, worthy charities will repeat:`Wow, we made so MUCH money from your event, all we can say is that charity X would not THINK of asking for the money back, you helped so many needy folks, etc.` Even better than that, some few charities that have no shame will say `Well now that you mention it…`, and Trudeau, to much fanfare will offer his services for free, and speak at one of the best publicised charity speaking engagements of all time.  I guess that the Grace Foundation is probably going to be raising about a billion dollars at a Trudeau managed event sometime quite soon. And every single time that Trudeau stands at a podium he can enquire: `So When exactly are the Conservatives and Dippers going to be making all their wealth and incomes public like I did?`

Well played Mr. Trudeau, very well-played indeed!

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Robocalls Case: If the CPC did not do it, then someone stole the data. Call in the RCMP please.

I am not too happy that Elections Canada is getting nowhere with their robocalls investigation. Back on the EDay in question, I too received a robocall informing me that my polling place had changed. At the time I shrugged it off as Elections Canada incompetence, because I had already voted at the normal place. I am 100% certain that personal data about myself is in the possession of the Conservative Party. The investigation into electoral fraud has been conducted by a relatively toothless Elections Canada. Marc Mayrand, the head of Elections Canada testified before a Parliamentary committee that the Conservative Party has been stonewalling, and delaying EC’s investigations. This does not surprise me, as EC does not have the power to compel anybody to answer questions. Well that sucks, and I am wondering if I am entitled to have a real genuine investigation of what happened to my personal data back in the 2011 General Election period (and since then for that matter)?

On May 23, Federal Court Judge Richard Mosley ruled on the lawsuit seeking to dismiss election results in 6 ridings. Here is the complete text of the ruling. I read here that: “Judge Richard Mosley ruled unequivocally that fraud did take place and his judgment linked that fraud directly to the Conservative party’s internal database — but found no evidence that any Conservative candidate or official was involved.” So if I have all this straight, the Conservative Party has claimed it was not they who made the calls. The Judge has ruled that it was in fact data from their CIMS database that was used to make those calls. If it was not the Conservatives, and the usage was not permitted, then somebody stole that data. That data includes my name, phone number, possibly huge swathes of personal data about me, including what my voting intentions were. Now it is true that an elections offense is investigated by Elections Canada. It is also true that  data used ‘for political purposes’ is exempt from many of the provisions of the privacy act. But if the Conservative contention that the data was stolen is true, then that is no longer an elections offense is it? If the personal data on potentially millions of Canadians was accessible to data thieves, then it is no longer ‘political purposes’ the data is being put to, is it? So I guess the privacy act exemptions on political use should no longer apply? So why is elections Canada investigating a case of data theft? Why is Elections Canada investigating a breach of the Privacy act? Should there not be a real police force investigating this crime ( or crimes)? A police force with the resources to conduct a forensic analysis of the Conservative Party’s database, retrieve my personal data from criminal hands, and bring this case to prosecution?

I am not a Lawyer, which is why there are so damned many question marks in the previous paragraph. What I am, is a Citizen of Canada, and I have just discovered that very, very, personal data about myself has fallen into criminal hands. I believe there is something like 13,000,000 individual records in CIMS. This is, in fact, the biggest, most comprehensive case of data theft ever to occur in Canada. All kinds of personal data is stored in CIMS, not just who everybody wants to vote for, but people who signed petitions, people who emailed their MP’s, and what they were emailing about. Credit card information for hundreds of thousands of political donors. The types of data are endless, and range from picayune to potentially devastating. Is there a lawyer reading this post who can answer some of those question marks above? I want somebody to get to the bottom of this, and Elections Canada is probably not the appropriate investigative body.

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Caption Contest!

A friend on Facebook posted this old photo of an extremely awkward Stephen Harper in a leather vest and cowboy hat. I asked my 14 year old daughter, Katherine to add Justin Trudeau stripping where Harpers shifty eyes are gazing. It is hilarious! Sorry folks, I will try to keep it more serious in the future.

Caption Contest!

Caption Contest!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Conservative Strategy to demonise the Courts?

Justice

The Liberal – Activist enemy?

I have noticed something odd about the legislative agenda of the Conservative Party. Hey, I ain’t no lawyer, but it has struck me repeatedly that the Conservatives have been crafting legislation that would quickly be thrown out by the courts. It has struck others as well, including at least one of the Lawyers charged with drafting and preparing laws for parliaments consideration. I have read knowledgable opinions here and there that this or that part of an Omnibus bill would not pass muster in a constitutional challenge, or that precedence would overturn another measure, and I think there may be more to it than incompetence, or the burden of draughting 500 page ominibus legislation.

This morning, being a bit of a political news junkie, I popped over to National Newswatch to see what, if anything was happening in the news coverage of Candian politics today, and I stumbled across THIS ARTICLE in the Toronto Star. In essence, a senior Justice department Lawyer has been warning his political masters, the Conservative Government that they are breaking the law by refusing to vet their legislation for constitutional conflicts and other errors in law. After nearly 10 years of pointing out that it was a legal obligation of the Government to ‘proof read’ their legislation and being told to shut up, the Government Lawyer, Edgar Schmidt sued his own department to enforce the obligation to vet legislation for errors in law.

I scratched my head for about 15 seconds, I mean, why would the Conservatives deliberately craft bad laws that not only could, but almost certainly WOULD be overturned by the courts? Obviously it is important to them that un-enforcable and illegal laws should be passed by Parliament, or they would simply do their duty and correct legal flaws before passing any given bill. I am afraid that an answer came to me all too quickly. We have the example of US Republican/Tea Party narrative whereby the ‘activist liberal courts’ are the scapegoat for every decision that challenges the Tea Party’s world view. What a handy dandy strawman that makes eh?  So here’s a plausible scenario for you. The Conservative Government introduces flawed legislation that, for example, allows pipelines to be rammed through Native Lands without consultation. Naturally, those opposed to the legislation challenge it in court, and lo and behold, their rock solid case wins, and the pipeline languishes in limbo. About a million slobbering racists come out of the woodwork to rant about activist courts, dirty drunken Indians, and environmental terrorists. The Conservatives look on owlishly saying ‘ geez, too bad those lousy courts ordered us to give those feckless Indians their way, now all your jobs are gone, and it is the Socialist – Liberal Courts that done the deed!’ Talk about a gift that keeps on giving! All you need to do is continue to create faulty legislation that talks to the political fringes on a selection of issues, and the media will have a continuous stream of ‘bad liberal courts’ stories to feed to the underclasses.

It’s actually a pretty scary thought. Is there any other reasons why the Conservatives might want to discredit the administration and application of Justice in canada? Well yes, maybe. Should the Government find itself in the position of breaking the law, then they can deflect the public impact and stigma by claiming that the courts decisions are motivated by partisanship. It works in the States, so why shouldn’t it work here? Anyway, the actual practice of passing un-vetted laws is in front of the courts now. I wonder if anybody in the media will pick up on the fact that the Conservatives are defending their practice of deliberately formulating un-lawful legislation. It should be very interesting indeed to see how they defend themselves from this suit. I seriously hope their arguments and defense get placed under a magnifying glass for all to see and judge.

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The Question for the Green Party is simple. Leadership contests, or Leader for Life?

The questions, and issues facing the Green Party of Canada at this summer’s convention are actually pretty simple. It is not a popularity contest, or a referendum on Elizabeth Mays leadership, although some people on BOTH sides of the debate are characterising it as such. The question is far more fundamental than that. The actions of the Leadership and council have cast it as a much starker choice. Do you want to eliminate provisions for leadership contests, and replace them with an indefinite term for the current, AND FUTURE leaders or not?

I have been through a bit of the history behind the current power play by Elizabeth May, and her coterie in previous posts. To encapsulate it, Federal council has been in a constantly renewed state of impending election panic pretty well since the last election. The federal council created a new management body of appointees called the Campaign Committee, which decided that ALL of the GPCs resources were to be dedicated towards electing Elizabeth May, somehwere, and they eventually settled on SGI.  Council decided that a leadership contest would be inconvenient at this time. So far, it all sounds logical, if undemocratic and secretive, to make these decisions in secret committees on behalf of the whole Party. Hey, it is how politics works, and I am sure it was purely incidental that the inner group would continue to receive salaries while the party organising staff all went to the wall to free up resources for SGI.

But what happens next is where it gets really sticky. The leadership starts to manouver around council and the committees to produce some peculiar outcomes. The Leadership paid lip service to the constitution and by-laws by striking a leadership race fairness committee to draft a set of rules for the mandated contest. Steve Kisby chaired the committee, but guess what? The committee never did a single thing. They did not even review the rules from the last leadership contest, until I pestered and pestered. Finally, I end ran them, and requested a copy from Mike Moreau, then chair of Federal Council, and he was good enough to ensure that I received a copy, and that the leadership election fairness committee received a copy as well. (literally months after the committee had been formed). When the time came to review their work, oh no! We cannot possibly get rules figured out in time!

Emergency mode. After much hand wringing, a couple more resignations from council, and debate about whether an election was going to happen in one week or two weeks, council decided to drag their heels, and yet another appointed committee, the Campaign Committee was tasked to draft a motion to place before the membership that would retro-actively legalise their decision to delay the leadership contest. Red herrings galore were strewn about concerning what the by-laws actually meant. Was 4 years equal to 4 years, or could it be twisted into meaning some time before the end of the fourth calendar year? At one point, according to council meeting minutes, Elizabeth May even argued that her employment contract governed over the constitution, and because her contract was up in August, she was guaranteed the legal authority and prerogatives of the Leadership by her contract! She was the only Lawyer on council you see, and it sounded very official when she said that was her legal opinion. Then there were all the references to so called legal opinions, which were never made public, and how the elections finance act prohibited this and that, again without reference to specific provisions of the act. Classic scare tactics for some of the poor ignorant rubes sitting on council.

Are you with me? The two substantive decisions were tasked respectively to the Fairness committee, and the Campaign committee, which are impenetrable, and directly under you know whos control.  Now the manoevering gets pretty clever, and timing becomes all. The Toronto Greens, and Trinity Spadina EDA who had been diligently renting convention space, and preparing for a leadership convention in Toronto are faced with a decision by council to scrap the leadership race. How can they prejudice the will of the membership, when council has decided they are going to scrap the race, and motions will be in front of the mebers to delay the Leadership contest? The membership might actually retroactively endorse their decision, so therefore, scrap the convention budget, and do NOT, repeat NOT prepare any plans for a leadership contest. Now enter stage left: The Campaign committee submits the long awaited council resolution, naturally at the last possible minute, and instead of calling for a Leadership race to be held after the next election, it calls for a leaderhsip REVIEW! You see, that is the masterstroke. By accident, or impeccable timing, council was persuaded to accept a permanent postponement of a leadership contest for the Green Party of Canada.

So there the Party was, and is. But what about all the prospective leadership candidates waiting in the wings? Well what about them, they can go jump in a lake. They do not sit on the Campaign Committee, they do not want to publicly declare due to Leadership contest finance and reporting rules of Elections Canada. Force majeur had been employed effectively. All except one of the prospective candidates meekly filed off the stage, and went to play tiddly winks somewhere else. One day, they are thinking to themselves, Elizabeth May will decide to quit, and THEN I shall have my chance! But Sylvie Lemieux is a feisty scrapper. She is motivated by the best interests of the Party, and whether she wins or loses, she wants to ensure that there will be an actual contest. So Sylvie drafts a Resolution to put before the membership directing Federal Council to implement the terms of the Constitution currently in effect, and prepare an actual Leadership contest. The motion acknowledges that the Leadership has eliminated the possibility of a race this year, and allows for possible general elections in between, or during the contest, and what is the response of Elizabeth

Huguette Allen

Huguette Allen

May? Well, every member of the Green Party received  A Note from Elizabeth May, oozing righteous indignation that an attempt to force her resignation was brewing for the BGM! That this was an improper use of Party resources, and the falsehoods DID actually bother a number of councillors. In fact, it prompted another resignation from council in protest, Huguette Allen. While Huguettes resignation was principled, and the correct action for her to take, unfortunately it will only serve to reinforce the Leaders power over the Party machinery.

The other wheels started turning, and the Friends of Elizabeth May started in on their campaign to stack council, and ensure that an Indefinite term for the leader was adopted by the membership. That is not hyperbole on my part. A copy of the email being circulated to green party mailing lists came into my hands, and you can see for yourself here: Friends of Elizabeth May.

The vilification and dirty tricks campaign swung into gear, with accusations from anonymous Elizabeth May supporters, and not so anonymous ones.  So far, the accusations have included one of the oldest trick in Elizabeth Mays bag. Sylvie is the tool of misogynists, and dark forces. This is an accusation that can, and has been quietly levelled against any male critics of Elizabeth May, and Adrianne Carr for years now. Another current false accusation has been that a recent email broadcast made to EDA executives and candidates by Slvie Lemieux’ team was actually made to a membership list stolen from the Party. This  was initially published on a list serve of all EDA executives in the Green Party of Canada, and then picked up and publicly repeated by some more open May loyalists in public blogs.  This is completely false of course, as all EDA executives and candidates have their contact information published on Elections Canada websites, and the Green Party websites for all to see. But in politics, assaults on character do not need to be true to be effective. Decidedly NOT the Green way of doing things, but I guess I have been calling for greens to borrow professional tactics from the other party’s , so who am I to complain? lol

And do you want to know the saddest thing of all? All these slanders and vitriol being spilled are completely unneccessary. The whole Leader for Life thing is based on a failed analysis by the Campaign committee that the Party needed to ensure Elizabeth May was an unchallengable leader for the expected 2010 general election. So far, Federal Council has formally transferred $275,000 to the SGI campaign for pre-writ spending! That figure is the direct transfers, and does not include the costs of re-assigning all the Party salaried organisers left on the books to support the SGI campaign. $30,000 per month were being transferred, and no contingency plans exist for the current situation. No plans for the Party anyway, although clearly there is a well conceived plan to ensure the unchallenged, and indefinite contunuance of Elizabeth May’s tenure as leader.

All of this while the sprirt of the constitution is pretty clear. If council numbers weren’t filled out with place servers, they would have recognised that a leadership contest was not the end of the world. It would have been a very good thing for the Party to be hosting a leadership convention in 3 weeks in Toronto.  A well run, and honest campaign by Elizabeth May, highlighting her strengths might have breathed new life into her campaign to win a seat in SGI. The GPC would have honoured it’s constitution, the Party would have registered perhaps a thousand delegates for the Toronto BGM, instead of the paltry figure now being bandied about of less than 200. The BGM will now be a financial albatross around the Party’s neck, and a failed media event, instead of the much needed boost anticipated by the Party and BGM organisers a year ago.

And all of this is to ensure that Elizabeth May need never face a challenger for the leadership again? No wonder the membership has now dropped below 8,000. No wonder Candidates are quitting in droves, and EDA’s are failing for lack of activists to run them. Even paper activists are just not bothering to file their returns, and dozens of EDA’s are being de-registered by EC with every passing filing deadline. The GPC does not exist in Quebec any more. The bulk of Ontario is following, with the notable exception of the Ottawa region. Alberta? Formerly one of the strongest electoral region for the GPC? I don’t even want to talk about it. It is gone, gone, gone.

BC is a relatively good story. About 75% of the BC Greens have latched on to the SGI candidacy as a magic rejuvenating potion. There is a ton of resentment towards the leadership there, but it is tempered with a healthy dose of self interest. The East Coast Greens? What east coast Greens is all I can say. Elizabeth’s attempt to build a regional base in Central Nova is last weeks news. It never happened, so change the channel quick. A couple of hundred new members, who are not renewing their membership is all the Party has to show for it’s huge investments ‘down east’.

As you may have gathered from the above, I have been working the phones, and canvassing Greens across the country. These comments are purely anecdotal in nature, and I will not be publishing the tabulated results of my work. They are pretty representative of what I am hearing though. Over the course of this year, the last gasp of breath will have been drawn in about 100 EDA’s in Canada. It is not too late yet for 25% of the Party,  Sept 1 will either mark their re-engagement, or their final departure. And that will be the end result of all the hyperbole, and seat of the pants management of our affairs.

So I ask you, will YOU be voting for an indefinite extension of the status quo? Cast you E-Vote by monday. Do not vote for Sylvie Lemieux, and do not vote for Elizabeth May. Vote to ensure there will be future leadership contests, and think about the big picture for a change.

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Some Good news for the Green Party of Canada!

At last I can put aside my griping and complaints, and tell you all that there is some very good news around the corner. This August, here in Toronto, the Green Party will be voting on a motion to honour our constitution, and hold a leadership race to finally clear the air for the Green Party of Canada. I know, I know, it seems very strange that we have to hold a vote to agree to follow the rules. For those of you who could bear to watch it, the last year has been like a slow motion Constitutional train wreck. Turn back the clock 12 months, and across the country, hundreds of activists were quietly preparing the ground for the mandated Leadership contest. Ambitous and thoughtful politicians were quietly buying memberships, and groups were forming to prepare the grounds for a contest of ideas. You see, the Green Party of Canada has long held the belief that we do politics differently. Leadership races were constitutionally mandated to happen every two years, so that there would be an opportunity to engage the party membership, and to decide on the future direction of the Party through the medium of a hotly contested leadership race. There has never been any fear that the contest would lack for contestants! Oh, no…Not in the Green Party. Like any other Party, there are many competing people, ideas, and visions within our ranks. The sometimes messy process of resolving our differences is guaranteed to bring contestants, and the ideas that they champion out into full and open view for the membership to pass judgement on. Frankly, in the absence of a mandated race, the Green Party of Canada would probably be captured by a governing clique that writes the rules in their favour, and could never be budged from their positions by any legitimate process. There would be no other mechanisms within the Party to channel disaffection into, and the Party would fracture and melt away, one isolated and vilified member at a time….

Some History for you to contemplate:

In the same year that Elizabeth may was elected leader, the Party membership decided to adapt the two year term to match the new elections law that mandated a general election every 4 years. and we revised our Constitution to hold a madatory Leadership contest every 4 years instead of every two. This was a delightful windfall for Elizabeth May, as it enabled her to write an employment contract with a full salary for 4 years, ending this August, instead of the two years she had campaigned for, and won. Was this a mistake? Did we really intend that a ruling clique should be formed, dispensing employment contracts, and spending 4 years cementing their position in charge of the purse strings? I don’t think so, but with the guarantee that the members would have the ultimate authority, we would have the opportunity to correct any mistakes made on this score.

The Context of the current leadership race:

Our constitution is very clear and concise. There shall be a leadership contest in 2010. Period. Council is entrusted with setting the terms and conditions under which the contest shall be held. For this reason, a Leadership Election committee was struck last year by Federal Council, and tasked with drafting the rules of a contest to be presented to, and endorsed by the council in general session. Problem is, that this committee was made up from the ranks of sitting council members. Remember that over a 4 year period, there have been a number of council members (including ex-officio members), with full time salaries dependant upon maintaining the status quo. I cannot say if there was any undue influence exerted, after all, who can say what was said between these 5 or 6 councillors in the convoluted world of Green Party council politics? What I CAN say, is that the committee never held a substantive meeting, and has not put forward a plan of action, should the constitutionally mandated race actually come to pass. With the passage of time, and for subsequent council meetings, varying arguments were put forward that a leadership race would be problematic. After all, a general election was always imminent, and practical considerations trumped any legal niceties like observing the history, and traditional governing mechanisms of our Party. The governing clique decided to channel all of the resources of the party into an effort to get the leader elected, through the medium of our new, unelected governing body, the ‘Campaign Committee’. A plan was hatched to eliminate the Leadership race, by changing it into a review mechanism, and all efforts were turned towards eliminating any formal contest for the forseeable future. For this purpose, council drafted a motion to be presented at the upcoming BGM in Toronto in August that mandated a periodic Leadership Review, instead of an actual contest. The Leadership clique has done their homework well. The

Frank De Jong

lessons of the Green Party of Ontario were there for all to see. There are two reasons why Frank De Jong of the Green Party of Ontario was the longest serving leader of any Green Party in the World. Reason one is that he did not face a Leadership challenge, he faced a periodic review, with miniscule turnouts, which allowed him the comfort of choosing his own fate. Reason two is that Frank is personable, and genial. He just never did anything nasty enough to motivate large numbers of people to organise a massive campaign twice. Once to mobilise the GPO membership for a review vote, and the second time to organise an actual leadership campaign to replace Frank. It was only when Frank decided, under enormous pressure in the backrooms of the GPO to resign and seek the Leadership of the Green Party of Canada that an actual, well a one man contest for a new leader took place in the GPO. If the review motion passes at the BGM, then this is to be the future of the GPC. No more vigorous debate, and open contests. No more airing of our differences, and a decision rendered by the membership. Instead we shall face secretive committees, and very parochial interests setting the terms and conditions of their continued employment, well out of public view.

The Leadership race is publicly ON.

On June 29, an email publicly launching Elizabeth May’s bid to retain the leadership, without an actual contest was sent on Green party letterhead to the mailing list of the Green Party of Canada. A Note from Elizabeth May, and I quote Elizabeth May from the letter:

” This time there is no misunderstanding how fundamental the issues are. Some resolutions would cause an immediate leadership race, forcing me to
resign — even before the next election.”

Wow! Sounds like a coup d’Etat doesn’t it? The resolution which she claims will force her to resign, is quite simply a resolution to enforce the current, and legally binding constitution of the Green Party of Canada. She knew when she was elected leader that she had 2 years at the helm. By a fortuitous turn of events, she was granted an additionlal 2 years employment by the extension the leadership term. She has had not one, but TWO elections, including the London North Centre by-election fiasco. And now malcontents, and trouble makers dare to put resolutions forward that would limit her freedom of action? I agree with Elizabeth May, this time there IS NO MISUNDERSTANDING how fundamental the issues are. Either we are governed by our Constitution, or at the convenience of the entrenched leadership clique. And kindly tell me why the Green party of Canada is handing over the membership lists, and sending emails on behalf of a presumed candidate for the Leadership? Am I the only one to take umbrage with this misuse of party resources? Yes, we are definitely in the throes of, and I guess I will have to coin the phrase, a PRE-leadership race, and this email is misleading, and inappropriately dirty politics. Enough on that, I had the firm intention of focussing on the positive in this post, and just look where my temper is taking me.

On the other hand, there is in fact a resolution to enforce the current constitution on the table at the BGM. It is sponsored by Sylvie Lemieux, and as an aside, I would say that she will make an excellent manager, and leader

Sylvie Lemieux: The next Leader?

of the Green Party of Canada, provided we can ensure an actual race happens. Hey don’t take my word for it, check out this youtube video, and be sure to visit her site and volunteer! So you can understand more fully why a positive re-affirmation is needed to enforce our constitution, you need only consider what I have written above. Every effort has been expended by the current leadership to avoid a race. Council has refused to execute their constitutionally mandated duties, and prepare the Party for a race. There can be no argument that a race was impossible, and impractical if there is a positive re-affirmatiion by the membership. You see what our party is reduced to? Having to play at politics to ensure that there is no escape hatch for an embattled leadership, should they actually have to do the unthinkable, and surrender their positions in a fair and open contest. Yes, exactly, LET THERE BE NO MISUNDERSTANDINGS! Federal council is now forced to plan for the contingency that the constitution may be enforced. They will face legal sanctions if they fail to plan now, and no sympathy for the argument that a leadership race was impossible.

Why YOU should vote for a Leadership race:

For all of us old Party hands, the reasons why a Leadership race is an incredible boon for the Green Party of Canada are blatantly obvious.  For those of my readers who have never been involved in a political Party, I will re-iterate them here.

1) A leadership race draws a plethora of Party activists out of the woodwork. It is a rare opportunity for real honest to goodness contact between the wider membership. The membership lists are thrown open to the candidates teams, and these people are actually willing and able to reach out to the members, and engage them in political work and debate. If you are a member, ask yourself when was the last time that somebody from head office called you to actually ask you what you thought of the issues of the day, and actively encourage your input and energy? How often do you make contact with Greens outside your own narrow circles, and actually discuss what direction YOU would like to see the party moving in? A leadership race engages, and motivates the membership to participate, and to remember that it isn’t for some faction or other to decide behind closed doors, it is for YOU the members to decide the question: Where are we going?

2) A Leadership race creates a big surge in memberships. And to put it bluntly, the Party needs that more than ever right now.  The number of active members is significantly lower today than at any time since the last leadership race. We are in a financial tailspin, and the root cause is that membership is losing its appeal. I will not get into pointing fingers, or laying the blame for it. The time is long past for criticism like that. What we really need is a choice of strong positive visions for where we should be going. We need to reach out to ALL Canadians who share our ideas, ask them to join our Party, and help us to make our shared visions a reality! We need to generate the excitement, and interest that comes with vigorous debate, grow our membership lists, and get about the business of preparing on the ground for the next election.

3) The media loves nothing like a leadership race. For years now, the Green party of Canada has been synonomous with Elizabeth May in the broadcast medias eyes. It is time to remind the electorate, through the media that there is far more to the Green party than a leadership cult. Assuming all the teams that have been organising for a year or more actually field their candidates, there will be a gratifying choice of competing visions to tempt the electorate with.  Men and Women, Francophone, and Anglophones. Representing Eastern, Western, and Central canada. Surely a great opportunity to spread our positive mesages to all Canadians, irrespective of their gender, or regional bias.

On July 13, all paid up members received an email with online voting instructions. Please go dig up the email right now, and go and vote on this resolution (note: You must be a member to access the members zone) to hold a leadership race, and go to this resolution and vote AGAINST a leadership review. Please do not be deceived that you are throwing Elizabeth May out. She will have exactly the same opportunities that all the other candidates will have. To face the membership, and convince you that she is the best choice for the Green Party. If you want to vote for her, by all means! Just do not give up your chance to make that choice in the first place. It may be a very long time before you get another chance to make your opinions, and ideas known.

I guess I should come clean here too, I am not disinterested in the outcome of this race. (Surprise surprise!) A year ago I even expected to play an important part in the upcoming contest, but now I have found my personal commitments, and the pressures of a new business enterprise will not leave me with sufficient time to play the role I had envisioned. It won’t stop me from cheering from the sidelines though, and while I have a favoured Candidate, there are at last count three very engaging candidates in the wings, and I will happily pledge my loyalty to whichever of them emerges as the winner.

And in conclusion, I have a plea to make to our Leader. Set aside your fear of facing a contest, and do the right thing for the Party. It will not be the end of the world if you have to face the membership, and really start organising for a national campaign. You have complained of having to give up your salary for the 6 or 8 week duration of a race, but you weren’t promised a job for life. The Party does not owe you a living, it owes you a fair chance, and an open contest. Why can you not simply bite the bullet and put your best foot forward?

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Smoking Gun on yet another potential CPC breach of the Elections Finance Act.

Nearly broke a major story

I really really enjoy reading the Hill Times. It is informative, and I have learned much about how Parliament, and indeed politics works in Canada through their site. I just read an article there about some very aggressive Conservative Party activities, which I believe may constitute a breach of the Elections Act, and should be investigated.

The crux of the story is about how a number of very rich Conservative Party EDA’s (Electoral District Associations), channelled significant resources towards swing ridings in Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritimes. So far so good. There’s nothing wrong with transferring a pot of money to a ‘poor relation’. It makes a lot of sense for the CPC to ensure that every EDA where they have a chance gets every penny they can legally spend, and then go about spening it to win their local contest. The money gets properly recorded by the recipient, whose financial agent carefully records and reports the spending, and the spending limit is approached, but not quite exceeded. The really meaty bit of the story wasn`t picked up on by Tim Naumetz, the author. I feel kind of sorry for him, because he could have had a really great story here. It`s not too late for him though.

So here`s the smoking gun:

“Prime Minister Harper’s (Calgary Southwest, Alta.) riding association, along with those of Immigration Minister Jason Kenney (Calgary Southeast, Alta.) and Conservative MP Rob Anders (Calgary West, Alta.) in Calgary, also set up massive phone banks with hundreds of volunteers in an attempt to sway voters in swing ridings in central Canada, Mr. Anders and his former riding association president say.”

Do you respond, ‘Big Deal’? Well, it almost certainly IS a big deal if the facts line up the way I suspect. First off, these massive phone banks, with hundreds of volunteers cost money to set up. Actually, quite a lot of money. Even if every volunteer is on a crappy old computer, with VOIP service, the computer has to be recorded on the campaign books at the cost to purchase it. Then there’s the costs per call. Then there’s the proportion of campaign office expenses dedicated to NON-LOCAL election expenses. I had the opportunity to study Accounting as part of my MBA program. I’ve also been a businessman for several decades, so basic accounting principles are not strange turf to me. Based on the principle of materiality, if some casual calls were made, that amounted to a few dollars being spent in the wrong place, because the amount is insignificant, no true breach of anything has occurred. That’s why, if you expense a cup of coffee that wasn’t actually business related, you aren’t guilty of anything inappropriate. You are only guilty of something if you systematically went about expensing thousands of cups of coffee, because at some point the error becomes a material breach. Do you see where I am going here yet?

I see at least 3 potential breaches of the act that will require investigation by EC auditors.

First problem: Did Rob Anders, Steven Harper, and Jason Kenney file for, and recieve a 60% rebate on these local election expenses? If so, they should give the damned money back, at a minimum, because these were clearly NOT local election expenses, and thus do not qualify. This is the flip side of the in-and-out scheme wherby the CPC appeared to bilk taxpayers out of large sums of money. The CPC allegedly took advantage of poor language in the act to create local expenses in ridings where the spending limit would not be reached by the local campaign. That way, the Party could spend money above and beyond the legally mandated national elections expense limit, and the local EDA’s that participated would receive a 60% bonus on the backs of the taxpayers. Based on Rob Anders quote, the very purpose of these phone banks was to direct resources at other electoral districts, and I am betting that the $ amounts were non-trivial.

Second Problem: In which of the ridings targetted in this way did the local campaign spend right up to the legally mandated maximum? Let us make a guess, and say that $40,000 worth of phone bank was equally divided up between 10 out-of-riding campaigns. That works out to $4,000 per recipient riding. I will guess that this would put at least half of the recipients over their legal spending limit. What, I wonder, are the penalties for buying an election?

Third Problem: The spending was either authorised by the Financial Agent for the recipient campaign, or it was illegal. That’s it, plain and simple. If the recipient were unwitting, which is theoretically possible, then the offense was committed by the donor campaign. Hey, wait a minute! That was our beloved Prime Minister’s campaign wasn’t it? Third Party advertising rules could apply if the donor wasn’t a political campaign, but the donors were, so that’s not much of an escape hatch. The Financial Agents for the donor campaign may already be on the hook for claiming the rebate, but there are a bunch of counterparties to be called to account too.

I know that many would say it`s too hard to quantify, and that allocating the funds will be impossible. Well, I`m happy to say that any CA, or CMA can easily conduct the audits that will NAIL the contributors to the wall. Whether the phone banks were voip, or landlines, or whatever, there will be electronic records of exactly which phone calls were made to where. Once it`s established how much of the office spaces, and expense were dedicated to these non-local campaigns, it will be a simple matter to allocate the spending proportionally to the recipients. They will argue like hell in the courts, over a few hundreds of dollars, but the basic facts will be inescapable.

There are many twists and turns that add interest to this story. There is the fact that EC ‘lost’ their chief the last time EC tried to challenge this kind of sleazy shafting of the taxpayer, and manipulation of the Elctions Act. (In-and-Out scandal, appropriately so named because the appearance that the taxpayers were screwed). There is the fact that the CPC so very loudly screamed and hollered about the clear and transparent per vote subsidy, whilst at the same time they manipulated and schemed to screw the taxpayers wholesale with these kind of sleight of hand tricks. And then there’s the interesting fact that even when caught overspending, nobody ever seems to lose their seat over it. I mean, w.t.f. is the point of spending limits, and a finance act if Rob Anders can publicly crow about it? Has the culture of corruption spread so far, and so quickly that the CPC believes they are immune to the law?

Anyhow, I suggest that, like myself, you get on the phone to elections Canada, and ask them if they are going to dare to beard their Tory masters? I feel sorry for EC if they actually attempt to enforce the law. They are legally bound to try, but oh the consequences! More careers will be abruptly terminated, and obviously the CPC will immediately sue them. Still, we must use the tools at our disposal, or else the contempt of our political masters for the law will remain unchecked, and these kinds of sleazy practices will continue to be rewarded by electoral success.

Authors note: I just made a few judicious edits. A little heavy on the hyperbole, as I was all steamed up. Sorry if it morphed into something a little softer.

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So when is it OK to call Spin what it really is; Lying?

Message for you Sir!

This is a super quick post. I didn’t do any research, I just read a post over at The Rural Canadian, which basically contained a rebuttal of some over the top spin by our beloved Prime Minister. It was Akin who proved to be the source.

Basically, the ‘Spin’ was that the Senate had to be packed with appointee’s, and Parliament had to be prorogued, because the Liberal Senate was obstructing his law’n’order bills. ( I take my prorogue’s with sour cream and bacon. Harper spices his with spin and lashings of patronage).

So James Cowan, Liberal Senate Leader draughts a letter to the Minister of  Justice, which details precisely how many bills have been passed or delayed, and precisely who and how they didn’t get passed, or enacted into law. It’s long, and full of persnickety details, which makes it less than exciting, but the substance is that bill by bill, it was the Government who failed to enact bills already passed by both houses. They declined to bring bills forward for their second readings, etc. etc. Just read it, and your’ jaw will start to drop at just how empty this piece of bullshit, (Sorry, I mean Spin), by the Conservatives really is.

For those of us who have read Flannagan’s book, Harpers Team, we are already aware that the CPC’s operating principle is that it doesn’t have to be TRUE, it only has to sound PLAUSIBLE. The underlying assumption is that people just don’t care enough to fact check. I was happily tripping along, thinking that sure, of course the Liberal Senate is screwing with the Conservative Agenda. Sounds plausible right? Nothing new there, ‘it’s the way it works’, etc. Well I’m sure glad that somebody was fact checking eh? ‘Cause I was very wrong in that casual assumption.

I will vote here to say that this is a case where the polite word for a politicians’ Lie, (Spin), can be given the Lie, and we can call a lie; a Lie. ( God, just try to proofread that sentence. Where do the comma’s go? Shouldn’t there be a colon, or semi-colon or something in there?)

Anyay, have a read of the letter, and maybe you’ll be wanting to call the Prime Minister a liar, and in good conscience too.

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