Ed Clark, CEO of TD Bank, is Ignatieff’s economic czar?

Bill Curry and Tara Perkins have the byline on a Globe story today that reports on the politics that are going back and forth between Ignatieff and the Conservatives over recent statements by Ed Clark, the CEO of TD bank regarding the deficit and raising taxes.

Here’s an excerpt,

Last week at a conference in Florida, TD Bank CEO Ed Clark said Prime Minister Stephen Harper isn’t listening to the overwhelming view of Canadian CEOs that tax increases are the best way to reduce a record deficit.

He told the conference that almost every person at a recent meeting of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives said “raise my taxes” to erase it.

The Conservatives then fired off an internal e-mail titled “Millionaire Ignatieff Economic Czar Calls for Higher Taxes.”

Mr. Ignatieff on Thursday demanded that the Prime Minister apologize to the senior banker. He said in a statement that the e-mail is the latest Conservative attack on non-partisan citizens who challenge the government’s direction, citing former deputy finance minister Scott Clark, former Nuclear Safety Commission president Linda Keen, Peter Tinsley, former Military Police Complaints Commission chair, and former RCMP complaints commissioner Paul Kennedy.

Where do the Conservatives get off labeling the CEO of TD bank an “Ignatieff economic czar”?

A review of Elections Canada financial contributions indicate that Edmund Clark gave $2000 to Ignatieff and $2000 to Rae during their runs for Liberal leadership in 2006. Clark has also given $10,857.56 to the Liberal Party since 2005. (and no others An Edmund Clark also gave a $1,100 to the Vaudreuil–Soulanges Conservative EDA in 2007).

It has been revealed that Clark had earned the nickname “Red Ed” for helping to craft the National Energy Program as an ADM in the Trudeau government in 1980. When Mulroney’s government was elected, Clark was sent walking and started his career on Bay street.

This is the first time Clark seems to have popped up in a political skirmish as reported by the mainstream press, so we’re still putting together the pieces of his partisan background.

Further, for names such as Amir Attaran and Errol Mendes which have been heavily bandied about as non-partisan experts for too long, let’s start providing some broader context shall we?

Have the Conservatives erred in labeling Clark as a died-in-the-wool Grit partisan? Digging a little deeper, we find that Clark’s full name is William Edmund Clark, and that “William E Clark” has donated roughly $11,000 to the Conservatives since 2005, whereas “Edmund Clark” (both names of the same postal code) has donated roughly $11,000 to the Liberal Party! Is Clark an equal opportunity donor to Grits and Tories but uses a more igconito name given name when donating to Tories? Inquiring minds would like to know! If true, then we cannot definitively say that Clark has acted as a Liberal agent recently despite his Ottawa tenure under Trudeau three decades ago. Are the Conservative right to label Clark Ignatieff’s czar? At this point, based solely upon donor data, we here at stephentaylor.ca cannot support this conclusion.

Is Red Ed still red? The Tories say yes, the Liberals say no.



  • tedbetts

    “let’s start providing some broader context shall we?”

    Because it is much more important to go after the person than debate the issue?

    Why do conservatives always seem to make someone's background the issue? Remember the father of the dead soldier who criticized Harper for cutting and running from Afghanistan? Within hours the PMO was telling everyone he was a Liberal shill. Remember Lisa Raitt's assistant who took the fall for Raitt's missing binder? A day did not pass before we all knew that her dad once helped the Liberals. Linda Keen gets fired for doing her job? She's immediately targetted as a Liberal shill because she was appointed by a Liberal. Conservative constituents want a little more democracy in their own riding because do-nothing Rob Anders? All painted as “Liberals taking over the riding association to cause mischief”.

  • http://www.stephentaylor.ca Stephen Taylor

    A Conservative gets a $1000 a year honorarium for serving on a granting agency panel? Front page coverage?

  • tedbetts

    So you are saying they were right to do so?

  • tedbetts

    More to the point, there is a huge difference between questioning someones partisan background when they make a statement of policy opinion in order to undermine their opinion, and questioning someone's partisan background when they are vetting an appointee to a public appointments commission.

    Besides, it was not that he had contributed money to the Conservatives but that he was a significant organizer and fundraiser for the Conservatives.

  • http://www.stephentaylor.ca Stephen Taylor

    I'm saying that conservatives are always outed and put under a magnifying glass while Liberals and their distaste for the government are treated as non-partisan experts. Attaran as a prof, Mendes as a constitutional expert.

  • robins111

    It was readily apparent that Clarky was Iggy's porch lizard, however his talking points recently sound like lizzy slapping her tail in alarm

  • Bec

    “Conservative constituents want a little more democracy in their own riding because do-nothing Rob Anders? “

    Conservative constituents? Actually, Conservative members.
    He received the required 2/3 vote and the story is over. I live here, you don't. The story is quite different in the actual world VS the media spin world.

  • tedbetts

    Well, I disagree with your “always”. Hunting down small donations to political parties and ancient involvement in a party has always been a conservative thing to do.

    But again, I would ask, why is some voting preference more important than the issue itself? Here you have one of the biggest names in the financial services industry, the head of one of the biggest banks in Canada (one that is making a huge successful push into the US right now BTW), the head of an association of heads of companies as well as many other business organizations, saying that Harper is ignoring their input and that getting rid of the deficit trumps taking money out of their pockets.

    And the PMO response is not, 'with respect, we disagree raising taxes is worse than giving foreign creditors billions in interest payments funded by taxpayers', but “you're a Liberal shill”.

    I just can't stand the low-level point of trying to discredit someone's argument by talking about who you think their friends are. And worse, the PMO made personal smears on Clark beyond just dismissing him because he may vote Liberal.

    The message from the PMO seems clear: unless you are a Conservative, we don't care about your opinion. Is that really healthy for democracy?

    Attacks on the messenger are easy and on the message are hard, I guess, but that is hardly any excuse. What did Mendes say that was wrong? What did Clark say that you disagree with?

    Why are the Harper Conservatives so afraid of a policy debate that they have to make personal attacks all the time?

  • Tricky_Dick

    are you suggesting that Mr Clark is quoting LPC financial policy?
    if he isquoting LPC policy, wouldn't that qualify him as partisan?
    if not, what is it you'd like to debate?
    I'd wager he's writing it, he's Iggy'as lead financial advisor.

  • gbillg

    Jesus Ted. We have a policy debate every election, and in between ALL political party's attempt to dismiss any debate as partisan, the problem is, as was the case with Proroguing, its a Conservative and not an annoited Liberal doing the dismissing. I live in Ontario…I was never consulted on a 600 dollar a year Health Tax, Smart meter's, wind/solar farms. e-health and now an 8% increase on my taxes on everything starting July1….debate was shut down by the Provincial Liberals, any disagreement was done by people who were not “progressive” said the Libs. Its politics Ted, its an ugly dirty game, but, unless you were on of the very few yelling and screaming during the 12 years of Mr Chretien who played it as dirty as any Canadian PM, or, are now demanding that Mr McGuinty step down as Premier then how in the hell can you or anyone for that matter be taken seriously when the Harper Conservatives are just doing what every other Provincial or Federal party has done for the past 30 years! Didn't Dalton McGuinty prorogue the provincial parliament this week? I dont know…its not in the news.

  • tedbetts

    Do make some effort to keep up with a discussion if you are going to insert yourself into it Trick Dick. It is exactly the opposite of what you say.

    The point is that this is not LPC policy but the policy opinion of one man and because he disagrees with Harper, the PMO is trying to paint him as a Liberal shill and to smear him personally and claiming this is Liberal policy.

  • tedbetts

    Fine. But not the point.

    The point was Anders reaction to those who oppose him. He doesn't stop where you stopped, or say the process has produced a result that is fair and I'm sorry they are disappointed.

    No, what Anders (and his supporters) go on further to do is to claim that these Conservative members who have donated money to him, fundraised for him, sit on his riding association board are Liberals, not even Conservatives, because they oppose him. That is what I am on about. He doesn't bother with a policy or process point, he goes on the personal attack and claims they are partisan shills for the other side.

    The Clark thing is the same thing write large.

    The PMO is essentially saying, just like Anders, if you oppose us, you are not one of us and we don't care what you think and we will go after you.

    And these are just the examples in the news today.

  • Tricky_Dick

    Wow. Talk about putting the fingers in gear before the brain is engaged.

    Your angry bold-faced type question suggested the CPC should be less afraid of debating “policy”.

    So if Mr Clark 's thoughts are not policy, what the hell are you expecting to debate?

  • Bec

    Ya but Ted, that is what happened, seriously.
    This has gone on for years with Anders and I know you aren't a Conservative but I know you respect the process, he has been acclaimed by the members.

    This does not occur in other riding's where the member WAS a PC and NOT elected as an MP during the Alliance days. Why the reverse? Because of a select few….
    Rob Anders, was elected as an MP, slightly over a year ago in his riding and received the support of the members this past year.
    The debate is over for now and yes, these people are 'S' disturbers.

  • tedbetts

    Do make some effort to keep up with a discussion if you are going to insert yourself into it Trick Dick. It is exactly the opposite of what you say.

    Clark has made a statement of policy. This is his opinion. Instead of taking on his opinion, the PMO decides instead to take him on, to smear him, instead of address the policy point.

    Again, why are they so afraid to discuss policy that they feel the need to attack critics so personally?

  • tedbetts

    I actually do think it is within a party's right to have a say in who its representatives were (ironically, Conservatives tend to criticize that view, but whatever) and to protect sitting MPs from challenge. That's their right.

    Every time this is done or even in a full contested race there are disgruntled members. I just don't see anyone else turning on the losers so viciously as Anders has, to the point of – and this is the point I am making – not just calling them disgruntled s–t distubers but attacking them as partisans for the other side.

    This idea that criticism means enemy is very deep rooted among in the far right. The problem is that when you are government, especially in a Parliamentary democracy, most especially in a minority, that behaviour becomes a democratic problem. And all the more so when only 22% of eligible voters supported the Conservatives in the last election, the lowest level ever in our history.

  • Liz J

    Attaran and Mendes are experts? Experts in what? Conservative government bashing? They are media darlings, take from that what you will.

  • tedbetts


    I'm not even talking here about the Conservatives habit of preferring personal attack ads against political opponents over ads about their own policies.

    I'm talking about the PMO, the government, making personal attacks on a private citizen and head of one of the most important companies in the country just because he happens to disagree with Harper.

    And I'm also talking about how that is a pattern with this particular group of Conservatives: lash out with personal attacks against anyone and everyone who disagrees with you on anything, including civil servants who do their oversight jobs, private citizens with expertise, premiers (“small man of confederation” type comments were never something you heard from prior PMs against federalist premiers). It's a funny funny way to try and grow your crumbling support.

  • BCVoiceOfReason

    Who holds the Liberal leadership debt that is taking years and years to pay back? Is it held by the TD bank? What is the interest rate for this apparently unsecured loan?

    Would the loan holder in effect “own” the Liberal party? Owner would be higher in the Liberal hieracy than president or even Party Leader?

  • BCVoiceOfReason

    What is Mr. Clark's view/opinion of having Mr. “Tax the Banks” Layton as a cabinet minister in a coalition government?

    Both as a Bank CEO and Liberal party finacial advisor?

  • Bec

    Well, I'm not in the mood to debate you Ted (I'm feeling patriotic) but your interpretation of 22% says nothing to me. It could mean many things, this a big country but we are being governed the way I want our country governed, under the circumstances.
    Chretien, won a majority with 38, Conservatives won a Minority with slightly less than that and so I suppose statistics are used and abused by those that choose to use them to prove their point.
    I'll interpret them my way and you, yours but I live in Western Canada and we are ready to fight for this country to get back to basics and quit the enabling.

  • George_Pringle

    Because people like Clark are not providing non-partisan comments and advice, they are shaping their comments as a service to the Liberal party, whether what they are saying is true or not.

  • http://www.stephentaylor.ca Stephen Taylor

    I'll ask Aurel Braun about what he thinks of your assessment of his qualifications.

  • Bec

    “expert in economics”?
    Prove it!

  • Leafs Fan

    That`s the Conservative way I guess. Whether you`re a bank CEO, a professor, or the father of a fallen soldier, if you disagree with the Tories they`re going after you. So sad.

  • Bec

    From one of your own…..I recommend YOU read it!

  • August1991

    He was once known as Red Ed but in fact he’s part of what passes for an elite in Central English Canada.


  • s_c_f

    “there is a huge difference”

    No there isn’t.

  • Observant

    What I believe we are now witnessing in Canadian federal politics is a concerted effort by friends of the Liberal party and Ignatieff to attack the Harper government in an attempt to dissuade them from pulling the plug immediately after the March 4th Budget is tabled and read. It's my belief that Harper intends to immediately go to Canadians in a March-April snap election, asking Canadians for a majority government to implement the 4 year second phase of the Economic Action Plan contained within the Budget.

    The Liberals and Dippers are furiously attempting to spook Harper away from an election, because the Opposition needs more time, after the Olympics, to activate parliamentary committees investigating the Afghan situation and to hash the Budget in committees. Once this is accomplished, the Opposition can justifiably vote no confidence in the government .. but only after painting Harper and others as “war criminals”…!!!!

    The Liberal plan is contained in the Liberal Whip's February 10th letter :


    … which reveals how the Liberals want to control the HoC in March, at their convenience.

    It will be politically intolerable for PM Harper to accede to the Liberal's demands, and neither can he allow the Liberals and Dippers to tar and feather him as a “war criminal” going into the June G8-20 summit conference presided by PM Harper in Canada. In fact, that would destroy Harper's credibility on the international stage if he were engulfed by “war criminal” charges and investigations by the HoCs, amplified by the Liberal-friendly Canadian media. Some international leaders might not even want to show up for the summit meeting if PM Harper is being besmirched by charges of “war criminal”.

    The only solution for PM Harper is to pull the plug on Parliament immediately after the March 4th Budget is tabled and read … and then going to the GG to drop the election writ for a March-April election … and then asking Canadians for a majority government vote of confidence to implement the Economic Action Plan and necessary cuts to government spending. Canada only needs one pair of hands on the tiller of the nation because four pairs of hands and another minority government will only result in another election within months if not weeks.

    Another looming possibility is the resurrection of the Liberal-NDP-BQ Coalition … attempting to convince the GG that they be installed as Canada's government and that another unwanted election is not in the country's interest … and a Coalition government is necessary to fully investigate the “war criminal” charges uncovered in the HoCs committee on Afghanistan. This could possibly sway the GG to install a Coalition government should PM Harper attempt to dissolve Parliament for a March-April snap election.

  • Phil Moncton

    “Why are the Harper Conservatives so afraid of a policy debate that they have to make personal attacks all the time?”

    I have a theory on that Ted. I think it is virtually impossible to have a substantial policy discussion in the sound byte age of media. Everything is truncated and all real issues have a myriad of factors to take into consideration. The media doesn’t have time for that.

    In order to short-circuit the process, reporters stand up “experts” who have implied credibility because of their position and the fact that the news outlet says they’re credible. The unsuspecting public is intended to swallow what they say whole, but it is disingenuous not to disclose if the “expert” might, in fact, be biased.

    In the case of Ed Clark, I think Stephen pretty successfully illustrated where his allegiances lie. It’s the old adage that ‘people vote with their wallets.’ Clark’s donations indicate a distinct bias in a politically charged debate. His other qualifications aside, the public deserves to know that he is likely not just a neutral observer.

  • http://canadianconservatives.ning.com/ ferrethouse

    “Because it is much more important to go after the person than debate the issue? “

    Iggy hasn't even elucidated any policies. So who exactly is afraid of debate? I wouldn't be afraid to debate either if I didn't have any actual positions on any issues. You can't lose if you don't stake out any ground.

  • Ron

    God forbid someone who is an expert in economics weighs in on this countries fiscal situation with some honesty.

    Lets get rid of this guy and continue receiving economic advice from economic wizards like Pierre Polievere and Cheryl Gallant.

  • can


  • chrisralph

    And yes, I suppose if you donate to a political party as a private citizen you deserve getting your name dragged through the mud by a sitting PM. CEO's who donate to the Liberals will never have to worry about this.

  • Tricky_Dick

    OK. assuming it is Mr Clark's personal opinion and not LPC policy, why would the CPC be inclined to debate him any more than they'd be concerned with your opinions?

    as far as calling him a liberal shill, when it walks like a duck …

  • tedbetts

    What assessment have I given of Braun's qualifications? Not sure I ever commented about him or his background.

    Now that you mention it though, the treatment of Braun by opponents of what he is doing presents a good contrast to what the Conservatives seem to do all the time. Everywhere I read about Aurel or the other board members at Rights and Democracy, I read about disagreements with what they are doing. I don't think I've read any journalist and I'm pretty sure I haven't read any blogger or commenter even and certainly not any other party attack him personally, his background, his job, his financial status to undermine his credibility the way the Harper government does.

    Harper hears disagreement and he attacks the person.

  • tedbetts

    Or make a public criticism as private citizen.

    Or fulfil your job functions as a civil servant.

    Or try to participate in your own party's riding associations.

    Or speak your mind about the party's budget as a Conservative MP.

    Or act in the interests of your province as a premier.

    The list of enemies grows longer and longer.

    I think we've seen this movie before. The ending isn't very good.

  • Liz J

    I don't recall Pierre or Cheryl Gallant giving out economic advice but when your busy slagging the government of Stephen Harper just pick a name and run with it.

  • rancher8

    May we have a list of donors to the LPC? Giving money to a political party is encouraged in order to get tax credits but it seems to be be taken by the Harper bunch that if you give to another party than your own then you become a target for their propoganda machine and the media for whatever reason swallows it up. SHAME!

  • m123T

    When RedEd is introduced on a tv panel or written about in the media, with, he was an insider with the PET government, he authored the NEP, and has been involved with the liberal party for years, it might be different, but those facts are never mentioned. Has anyone ever seen Tom Flannagan introduced or written about without a history of his work for PMSH. That is the difference.
    When RedEd appears we are supposed to believe he is an innocent CEO with no political ties.
    He has been busted.

  • Big_Bad

    I have a great suggestion which came to me when I saw his recommendation to increase taxes. First, let's create a new federal income tax bracket for people earning >$250,000 per year – let's set it at 50%. Next, let's institute a new business tax call the Banking Industry Surtax and set that at 20% of total federal tax payable. That way, the rest of us can get a 1% reduction in income taxes and with the money we can go out and pump up the economy buying frills like food, clothing and shelter. That will make most of us happier and Mr. Clark will be as welcome as a skunk at a garden party when he meets with his fat cat banker friends.

  • Observant

    To update my comments above, I received this letter from the local CPC EDA:


    Dear Fellow Conservative:

    As 2010 begins, we see Michael Ignatieff and the other federal opposition leaders adopting increasingly
    confrontational positions and showing little interest in making our elected House of Commons function well for all Canadians. This means that there is a high possibility of a federal election in 2010 and because of that we need your help now!

    Prime minister Harper is doing a solid job of steering Canada through the most difficult recession since the 1930's and has also advanced many initiatives to make our communities safer. Michael Ignatieff, on the other hand, seems interested only in playing politics and his positions seem to change almost weekly.

    Xxxxxx-Yyyyyyyy is one of the 15 target ridings across Canada which will decide whether or not Prime Minister Harper gets a majority mandate in the next election.

    Canadians will have a simple choice in the next election – either a Conservative majority government or a Coalition majority government.

    We must be ready for an election at any time – as soon as April if the Coalition gets their way!

    All of this shows how important it is to have your help now.

    This is the slightly parsed arsed text of the CPC letter sent out in advance of Parliament being reconvened on March 3rd …. and predicting a Coalition Junta attempt to precipitate an election in April. I'm still betting Harper will pull the plug quickly in March … but perhaps he might let the Opposition feast for a few weeks on the Budget and throwing their “war criminal” feces hoping it will stick … and then pull the plug and running against the Coalition Junta in March-April-May …… but allowing enough time for an election before the June G8-20 Summit Conference in Canada …!!!!

    Meanwhile Liberals and Dippers are in full panic mode just about now, as is the CBC, giving huge air time to Liberals from Ignatieff to Chretien now in Vancouver, trying to make it look like it's still a Liberal government. Toronto-centric CBC is dissing the Vancouver Olympics showing the malcontent's protests and interviewing those who are predicting doom over the cost of the Olympics … all in an overt attempt to defuse PM Harper's patriotic glory over the Games… so obvious.

  • hollinm

    First of all Mr. Clark is the CEO of a major corporation and represents a powerful group of CEO's who stepped into the public arena to make his views known. That puts him beyond being just a private citizen. This is simply a talking point of the Liberal party who are protecting a very good donor to their party and various leadership candidates.
    We also have to remember McKenna, who is chair of the board of the Bank called the Conservative government thugs and of course that environmental report prepared by Suzuki and the Pembina Institute paid for by the TD Bank criticizing the governments environmental policies. Private citizen my rear end.
    If Clark and the rest of his CEO gang want to reduce the deficit they could help by renouncing the corporate tax breaks Harper gave them in his past budgets. That will help considerably to reduce the deficit.
    What Clark has done as well is caused people to look with sceptisim when his organization makes comments on the economic situation in Canada. Lets not forget its spokesman Don Drummond is a former Deputy Finance Minister in a Liberal government. There is much Liberal history with the board room of TD Bank.
    Mr. Clark and the rest of his buddies should put their money where their mouths are.
    Clark has helped the Conservative party immensely with his remarks pitting the Conservative party and ordinary Canadians against the elites of this country including the Liberal party of Canada and its feckless U.S. imported leader.

  • hollinm

    Amen Stephen. When I see Attaran or Mendes included on a panel or being interviewed I switch the channel immediately. Unfortunately the media,while wanting the government to be transparent in all things are not that quick when it comes to themselves. Double standard? You bet.

  • hollinm

    The fact is these guys come on as experts in their fields with a certain point of view. It is generally always anti conservative so you have to ask why do they only come out of the wood work to critcize and we never here from them when there is something positive to say.
    There is a strategy here by the Liberal party and that is to get people in the business community to try and soften Canadians up and convince them that higher taxes are the answer to the deficit. That way Iffy can avoid the direct fire. Diabolical? You bet.
    As I say let the CEOs be willing to do their part and renounce the corporate tax cuts that Harper so generously gave them in two budgets.

  • hollinm

    However, was he speaking on behalf of the council of CEOs? Some CEO's have said they discussed it but they did not take a position. Why then did Clark say all the CEOs wanted the GST increased. The CEO's sit around in their comfy chairs living off the largesse of government and presume to speak for all Canadians. It does represent Liberal economic policy. Iffy has mused on more than one occasion about increasing the GST and Kennedy has talked about it and the latest being Mike Savage. Are you saying they are all freelancing? Clark didn't even have the decency to hide his support for Liberals by donating to all the parties. He chose only the Liberal party and he is well known for having his hand in the Liberal National Energy Program which destroyed the Alberta economy. You can say what you will but he spoke about increasing the GST and didn't even leave it to his resident Liberal economist Don Drummond. By the way when the Chair of the Board, McKenna, calls the government thugs its hardly non partisan. When someone is invited to someone's home to have a discussion it is not a formal meeting. It is a friendly meeting over drinks, cigars etc. That's quite different than having a meeting in a hotel room.

  • hollinm

    Absolutely true. Every riding had a chance to have a nomination meeting but it was made clear by the party once the deicsion was taken the incumbent would be protected because of the minority situation of the government. The riding probably said no nomination and that ends the matter for the party. They have an obligation to protect Anders and other MPs until the next election.

  • hollinm

    You really need to take a pill. You sound like a hysterical school girl.

    Do you think ordinary Canadians follow the machinations of political parties like we polticial junkies do. Harper and his party are tough opponents. If the opposition parties can't stand the heat then they should get out of the kitchen.

  • hollinm

    tedbetts….quit repeating the Liberals talking point. He is not just a private citizen and you know it. He is the CEO of a major fianancial organization who was speaking on behalf of the major CEOs of the country supposedly. He stepped into a pile of goop and he was exposed by the Conservative party and thats the way it should be. Canadians need to know that perhaps the word of a particular individual is not coming from a non partisan, no biased perspective. Meeting in Iffy's house is more than just a business relationship and you know it. He supports Iffy. There is a history here with the TD Bank and it is not good for Conservatives. It needs to be exposed so that Canadians can decide for themselves whether what Clark is saying is in their best interest or that of the party he supports.

  • hollinm

    Perhaps a better approach by the government would be to withdraw federal funding which is their right or simply dissolve the organization. That would have ended the controversy wouldn't it?