Tony Genco: Michael Ignatieff’s second, third, or tenth choice?

From Jordi Morgan’s Maritime Morning show on Rogers News Talk Radio in the Maritimes,

Michael Ignatieff initially courted Julian Fantino before being turned down by the former OPP commissioner now running for the Conservative Party in Vaughan. Mr. Ignatieff continues in the interview to say that the Liberals spoke to many people to run for them in Vaughan. Why did he have to settle for former Liberal staffer, Tony Genco? If Vaughan has been a Liberal seat for over 20 years, why did Ignatieff have any trouble filling the candidacy?

Jane Taber reports,

Stephen Harper’s star candidate, Julian Fantino, was asked by Michael Ignatieff to run for the Liberals in Vaughan – but turned him down, according to the Conservatives.

Now, on the eve of Monday’s vote, the former Toronto police chief and OPP commissioner is being subjected to what the Conservatives consider character assassination by the Liberals.

And so the Tories are fighting back. They are charging hypocrisy and are breaking their silence on a secret they’ve kept since the beginning of the by-election campaign.

“We were aware from the beginning of the campaign that Mr. Ignatieff asked him to run for the Liberals,” Conservative Party spokesman Fred DeLorey said. “We had no intention of making it public – but to see the Liberals actually attack his character and integrity, a man who has committed his career to public service and fighting crime, is just too much.

UPDATE: Greg Rickford’s SO-31 in the House today,

Peek-a-boo politics

The Liberals are complaining that Julian Fantino, the Conservative by-election candidate for Vaughan is playing “Peek-a-boo politics” by skipping all-candidates debate. For Liberals, they hope, this plays into a bit of a weak narrative of a secretive and scripted government that doesn’t want to engage “real Canadians”.

“This type of ‘peek-a-boo’ politics is straight out of the Harper playbook where scripted, invite-only photo-ops keep candidates safely out of reach of real people with real questions.”

All-candidates debates, while they sound great in principle, have very little value to the candidates themselves, especially if they represent mainline parties. If you’ve ever been to one of these events you know that each candidate brings their staff and volunteers and cheers and jeers and “engagement” with the “voting public” comes in the form of planted question after planted question. All-candidates debates sound good on paper, but in practice they’ve become farcical. All-candidates debates are more accurately described as “all-decided”.

In fact, when we used to train campaign managers (of all stripes) at the Manning Centre, we advised that all-candidates debates should actually be avoided if possible. Why? Because more accessible (leaning or undecided) voters are met at the door or on the telephone. A candidate’s time is much better invested knocking on doors or by doing telephone canvassing. All-candidates debates turn into a competition for fevered applause versus exaggerated boos for all candidates. The media is disappointed when a candidate is a no-show, of course, because these “debates” are a lazier opportunity for “getting the pulse” of the “electorate”. In fact, we used to advise candidates show to as few as possible in order to check the box for the media.

The Liberals should also be careful with the “Peek-a-boo” label as they’ve been guilty of their own charge in the past,

From a Globe and Mail report during the Liberal leadership race of 2008,

The weekend brouhaha at a meeting of Liberals from Ontario made it clear that Mr. Ignatieff is viewed as the leading contender, and that Mr. Rae’s first goal is to ensure his opponent does not quietly coast through the race.

On Sunday, Mr. Rae boycotted a leadership “forum” where candidates were to take questions from riding presidents and other party officials, after Mr. Ignatieff refused calls from his two rivals to open the session to reporters and cameras.

Mr. Rae accused Mr. Ignatieff of preparing a “peekaboo” campaign.

“There is a fray: It’s called a leadership race. And you can’t very well stay above it. If you want to stay above it, you’re not going to be in it,” Mr. Rae said outside the meeting at a Mississauga hotel.

“The Liberal Party is a political party. It’s not a private club.”

Conservatives acted where Tony Genco refused

Tony Genco is the Liberal by-election candidate in Vaughan. He was appointed CEO of Downsview Park in a patronage spree by Paul Martin’s government in 2005:

Jack Aubry’s May 28, 2005 piece:

OTTAWA – With a snap election hanging over their heads, the Martin cabinet quietly oversaw a patronage spree during the last month as it neared a too-close-to-call vote in the House of Commons that threatened its hold on power.

The Liberal government hurriedly approved about 450 orders-in-council starting around the time in April when Prime Minister Paul Martin prepared to address the nation in a televised broadcast to plead his case for a delay in holding a federal election.

In the flurry of orders, Martin approved such patronage appointments for Liberal supporters Robert Fung, Hope Sealy, Tony Genco, Margaret Weir, Jean-Louis Hamel, Guy Saint-Pierre, Peter Clark, and the well-connected Marcel Aubut.

Genco landed the Downsview park gig.

One issue that challenged Genco when he was CEO comes to us via Rabble.ca,

After hearing complaints from the LGBT community about the controversial performer’s violently anti-gay lyrics (sample: “Queers must be killed!” “Give me the Tec-9/Shoot dem like bird”), Parc Downsview Park CEO Tony Genco has refused to pull dancehall act Elephant Man from an upcoming show scheduled for this Sunday Oct 10 at the federal park.

This is Elephant Man’s (real name O’Neil Bryan) second scheduled performance in the Toronto area this year. Back in August, he was scheduled to perform at Circa nightclub in downtown Toronto but the club decided to drop him from the concert after club officials received complaints and were informed of his homophobic lyrics. Word of the show had spread to the LGBT community via Twitter and Facebook and only hours after announcing the show, Circa sent this tweet: “Circa stands for peace, love and equality. Elephant Man has been removed from the Celebrity Ball.”

Now, over a week after receiving complaints and being fully briefed about some of his lyrics (eg. “Log on and step pon chi chi man/Log on and step on a queer man”), PDP CEO Tony Genco refuses to pull Elephant Man from the show at the federal venue even after a privately-owned club decided weeks ago — in the spirit of “peace, love and equality” — he should not perform on their stage.

So, what happened? John Baird, the federal minister in charge of Downsview Park was alerted to the controversy by Olivia Chow. The article continues,

[UPDATE]: An official release is expected from Parc Downsview Park but a spokesperson has confirmed that Elephant Man has been pulled from the show, saying “we have been directed by Ottawa to pull Elephant Man.” Earlier today after this article was posted to twitter and spread by dozens of users, MP Olivia Chow also shared it with her followers – adding: “Protest now & copy to Minister Baird #cdnpoli” (#cdnpoli is a popular Twitter hashtag amongst political tweeters). Her tweet with the link to this page found its way to Minister Baird and soon after the announcement was made by the Park that Elephant Man had been pulled. Later, Chow tweet: “From Downsview Park: directed by Ottawa to pull Elephant Man. Min Baird listened.”

This is awkward…

Jane Taber writes,

Michael Ignatieff’s Liberals are offering up big prizes – tickets to Ottawa Senators games and even a $150 gift certificate to Hy’s Steakhouse – to round up volunteers to help them identify the Grit vote in upcoming by-elections.

But this odd pitch for help has some Liberals wondering where the Grit spirit has gone. Why do volunteers have to be cajoled?

How very awkward. Volunteer appreciation is one thing, but with Hy’s? A good Liberal lobbyist or lawyer dining at Hy’s can bill $150 in less time than it takes to finish the gorganzola filet mignon and double-baked potato.

Liberals are still obsessed about the old game

The Winnipeg Free Press published this piece on their website today,

(see update below…)

The Liberal leader was in Winnipeg on the weekend campaigning for Winnipeg North candidate Kevin Lamoureux when he accused the Conservatives of fighting dirty by running a Filipino candidate in the riding.

Voters, he said, deserved “a straight-up fight” and not “a bunch of games.” He was apparently referring to speculation that the Tories were trying to weaken Mr. Lamoureux’s support by running Filipino Julie Javier in a riding that traditionally supports the New Democratic Party and which has a high number of Filipino residents.

Once again, does anyone know what Mr. Ignatieff is talking about? Is he really suggesting that the Conservatives should have fielded a non-Filipino candidate to make it a fair fight for the Liberal contender? Is it his view that Ms. Javier is a fake candidate who has cynically offered her name to spoil Liberal ambitions and ensure an NDP victory?

Mr. Ignatieff’s comments were an insult to voters in general and Filipinos in particular. To be fair, it doesn’t look like he anticipated the question, but the leader of an institution like the Liberal Party of Canada should be smarter on his feet. In the big leagues, you’re only allowed so many stupid mistakes.

Let’s play the Liberal game for a moment and check some of the boxes of identity politics…

A Conservative Prime Minister stopped blocking the right of women to vote in 1919. Conservatives had the female cabinet minister in 1957.

Lincoln Alexander was the first black MP in 1968, he was a Conservative. He was also the first black cabinet minister and served in a Conservative cabinet.

Other Canadian firsts achieved by Conservatives? Conservatives elected the first Chinese Canadian MP, first Japanese Canadian MP, first Muslim Canadian MP, and the first Hindu Canadian MP.

The best part? This “game” is less and less relevant in this day in age. Canadians elect members that represent them, but perhaps not in the way that Liberals have yet realized.

Julie Javier, the Conservatives hope, will be representative of Winnipeg North. Not by her identity as per the Liberal “game”; if she is ultimately successful she will more importantly represent the values of the voters of Winnipeg North.

While Conservatives can go toe-to-toe with the Liberals whenever they bring out the identity politics playbook, Conservatives win on what really matters in this day and age: the values a candidate brings to the forum.

If you need any more proof of this, look to Jason Kenney’s work over the past number of years. And his critic in Liberal caucus? A fellow whose father defined many rules of the old game, Justin Trudeau.

UPDATE: The Winnipeg Free Press misses the mark, big time. Here’s the transcript of the actual exchange between the press and Ignatieff,

Media question: The race in Winnipeg North, there’s been some speculation that the Tories are running Julie Javier… because might siphon off Kevin Lamoureux’s strong Filipino vote allowing the NDP to win, what do you think of that speculation?

Michael Ignatieff: Let’s not insult the voters of Winnipeg North, let’s give them a real choice – the right choice is Kevin Lamoureux. Let’s have a straight-up fight. Let’s not have any political games here. Let’s give the voters of Winnipeg North a clear choice. Kevin Lamoureux has 20 years of public experience… Kevin Lamoureux is the kind of guy who goes down to McDonald’s and holds clinics to help citizens with their problems and he’s doing it for 20 years. He’s the kind of guy Winnipeg North needs in the House of Commons and everything else is a bunch of games and we’re not here to play games, we’re here to win.

Ignatieff talks a good talk about getting away from identity politics, asks for a fight on quality of the candidates and suggests that the press is trying to frame the fight inappropriately. This is a good sign. As for the Winnipeg Free Press? Terrible. Opinion of an exchange is healthy, but do make sure that it has foundation in fact.

Previous: Winnipeg Free Press gets it wrong on Vic Toews

Tony Genco and F-35s

Tony Genco is the Liberal by-election candidate in Vaughan. This week, Genco released a video criticizing Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government on their plan to purchase F-35 fighter jets.

You can watch the video here.

However, there’s a little known fact about Tony Genco. In the 90s, Mr. Genco used to be a senior advisor to Art Eggleton, the former Liberal Defence Minister. This fact is in the Hansard record.

It should be noted that Canada has been a participant and advocate for the Joint Strike Fighter Program since 1997, when the former Liberal government was in power:

Canada has been a participant in the JSF program since 1997, when the Department of National Defence signed on to the Concept Demonstration phase with an investment of US$10 million. As part of this phase, Canada participated in the extensive and rigorous U.S.-led competitive process where two bidders, Boeing and Lockheed Martin, developed and competed prototype aircraft. This process led to the selection of Lockheed Martin as the JSF manufacturer in 2001.

Art Eggleton was Defence Minister from 1997-2002. Tony Genco was his senior aide.

Why the change of heart on F-35s, Mr. Genco?

More broadly, bringing this up during this by-election campaign more broadly underscores Liberal dishonesty on the F-35 program, having signed us up for the program in 1997.

Calgary Grit responds!

Calgary Grit has responded to my earlier post on Tony Genco with his own rebuttal of my points.

Here are Dan’s points:

1. Julian Fantino also doesn’t mention Stephen Harper in his lit, therefore Taylor’s earlier point is moot. Here is a Fantino lit piece that prominently features Stephen Harper. Dan may respond with Genco lit that boosts Ignatieff.

2. Ken Dryden was President of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Hashtaggate indeed! I dunno about you Dan, but when 99 out of 100 Canadians think Ken Dryden, they think Montreal Canadiens. The other Canadian? When he thinks of Dryden, he thinks of the most dynamic political personality since Pierre Trudeau! When Canadians subscribe their loyalties to hockey clubs, it’s not generally rooted in the administration of the team. But perhaps I don’t fully understand the Liberal way of thinking. My hockey heroes are on the ice (good lads that work hard and play by the rules)

3. Nice numbers, check out my numbers! Let’s talk about numbers! The article that Dan cites has a photo caption that suggest 1000 in attendance. The actual author of the piece, however, wrote the following,

The hundreds of those in attendance, of which a significant number were seniors, snacked on roast beef sandwiches while the politicians spoke.

Further, from the comments section of the same article,

vaughanelection November 5, 2010 at 6:56 PM #

Hi Ron
Great question! People came and went throughout the night, so maybe numbers were different at different times. But I called Supreme Banquet Hall. The gal on the phone says the room could fit between 500 and 600 max., depending on how it was set up (but she wasn’t working last night).
So maybe we low-balled. But as the gal on the phone said “Oh, people always exaggerate that.”
Hope that helps.
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The amazing and ever-resourceful Pundit’s Guide, however, noticed the discrepancy first,

Still in Vaughan, there were competing crowd counts for the Ignatieff-Genco rally on Thursday night. Vaughan Today: 250. Liberal.ca: 1,200. Young Liberal Joseph Uranowski on Twitter: >800. The Supreme Banquet Hall apparently rates the room for 500-600, depending how it’s set up.

Anyway you slice it, the Liberals are inflating their numbers. Though slicing and inflating aren’t generally wise to do together.

Back to you Dan!