I’ve learned that Peterborough Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro will move the following motion at committee on Tuesday:
November 1st 2009 represents the fourth anniversary of the first report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Sponsorship Program and Advertising Activities, presided over by Justice Gomery. Despite the time that has passed, we are no closer to knowing which Federal Liberal riding associations benefited from the stolen taxpayer funds or where the missing $43 million dollars highlighted by Justice Gomery ultimately wound up.
The Standing committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics calls on the Auditor General of Canada to conduct a full audit of the sponsorship program to determine which federal Liberal riding associations received stolen funds and to clarify for Canadians who received the missing $43 million dollars.
I’ve been hitting the phone, email and blackberry PIN asking known PC organizers, student leaders and strategists who’s been calling them “testing the waters”. I’ve learned that there are at least seven people considering a bid for the Ontario PC leadership to succeed John Tory. Here they are:
Tim Hudak: The perceived front-runner for the PC leadership is backed by a number of student/youth leaders, much of the party executive but has shallow support in caucus. Hudak’s people are pushing for an early leadership election (June) in order to deprive oxygen from other rivals who are trying to catch up. Hudak has been billed as a “true-blue conservative” by many of his supporters.
Christine Elliott: MPP from Whitby-Oshawa, lawyer and wife of Canada’s federal Conservative finance minister, Jim Flaherty. Flaherty ran for the PC leadership against John Tory and the organization and team may fall into place should Elliott contest the leadership.
Frank Klees: Among Hudak and Elliott, Klees rounds out the top three frontrunners who are making active and concerted pitchs to potential supporters to form a team for the 2009 leadership race. Klees ran against Tory for leadership in 2004 and served as a cabinet minister under Premier Harris.
Randy Hillier: Hillier is the former president of the Lanark Landowners Association and has represented a defiant conservative streak during his time in the Ontario legislature. The most conservative among the lot, many see a bid by Hillier as principled yet politically untenable. According to my sources, Hillier has been pushing for a later leadership election.
Peter Shurman: One of the only gains during the last election for the Ontario PC, Shurman is the MPP for Thornhill. A former broadcaster and businessman, Shurman has the profile and resources for a serious bid though my sources say that he is testing the waters carefully at this time. (update: Shurman’s out, but was considering this possibility)
Peter van Loan: Yes, the Conservative federal minister for Public Safety is said to be “leaving the door” open for a potential run at the provincial party leadership. PVL is the former president of the PC Party of Ontario, former government House leader for the Conservative government and, in his previous private sector life, he was a successful lawyer in Toronto. Van Loan is a “no guff” style administrator and would likely bring order to a divisive caucus that churned under Tory.
Dean Del Mastro: Del Mastro is the federal Conservative MP from Peterborough and has served in the House of Commons since 2006. Mr. Del Mastro is also allowing talk to circulate about a potential leadership shot to make a bid for the Premier’s office in the next Ontario election. Del Mastro plays the wouded partisan role well and this may be the contrast to John Tory’s approach that Ontario PC partisans are seeking. Del Mastro has been a visible member of the CPC caucus and has done a good job to raise his media profile in the short time he’s been in Parliament. (update: Del Mastro has ruled out a run at leadership but confirmed that he was approached to run the day of John Tory’s resignation)
UPDATE: Shurman says he’s out, Elizabeth Witmer says she’s considering a run.
Conservative Party is keeping up the pressure on the state-funded broadcaster and asks some tough questions for the Liberals:
LIBERALS MUST COME CLEAN ON CBC COLLUSION ALLEGATIONS
December 17, 2007
CBC must also explain disturbing pattern of anti-Conservative bias
OTTAWA – The Liberal Party of Canada must reveal the scope of the party’s alleged collusion with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) on House of Commons committee business, and explain the party’s denials of collusion given contradictory statements from senior members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery and the CBC itself.
“The Liberal Party must reveal the full extent of its cooperation with the taxpayer-financed CBC,” said Conservative M.P. Dean Del Mastro. “And Liberals must explain why they�re the only organization denying the collusion allegations.”
According to former Liberal Cabinet Minister Jean Lapierre, now a political reporter with the TVA network questions asked by Liberal members of the House ethics committee on December 13th were “written by the CBC” (CTV Newsnet, December 13, 2007). CTV’s Mike Duffy later added that Liberal researcher Jay Ephard admitted that the CBC and Liberals worked together on the Liberals’ committee questions (Mike Duffy Live, December 13, 2007). And now, according to Canadian Press, the CBC has launched its own internal investigation into what it described as “inappropriate” practices (Canadian Press, December 14, 2007).
Yet the Liberal Party’s has denied that there was collusion between his party and the CBC and called the allegations a “total fabrication” (National Post, December 15, 2007).
“Are the Liberals saying that Jean Lapierre, Mike Duffy and the CBC itself are fabricating their stories?” asked Del Mastro. “More importantly do Liberals believe that it is appropriate for their party to actively collude with the country’s public broadcaster?”
While Conservatives welcomed the launch of an internal CBC investigation into the alleged Liberal-CBC collusion, the party remains concerned about a disturbing pattern of anti-Conservative bias from the public broadcaster. During the 2004 election, the network was caught soliciting anti-Conservative participants for a town hall-style meeting. And the network admitted “regret” in 2006 after airing a report that negatively portrayed Stephen Harper by using out-of-context footage.
“The CBC receives over a billion dollars a year from taxpayers and is there to serve all Canadians,” said Del Mastro. “Canadians who want fair and balanced reporting are going to be asking some tough questions about why the CBC was working with the Liberal Party on parliamentary business.”
Some people have been saying, “but reporters suggest questions with committees all the time”.
The most striking problem with this instance is that the questions under Conservative complaint here are questions that go beyond the scope of the committee’s scope, which is actually defined as: “Study of the Mulroney Airbus Settlement”. Suddenly questions about Maxime Bernier and the wireless spectrum auction came up.
The Prime Minister instructed his caucus to put a freeze on communications with Mulroney so that the opposition could not suggest or imply that the former Prime Minister, who continues to be under fire, is linked to the current crop of Conservatives.
It is interesting that it was not the opposition that was the genesis of the attempt to link Mulroney to Harper, but allegedly it was the CBC.
The Liberals, however, are ultimately to blame if this report of “collusion” is true. That party and their MP Pablo Rodriguez were the ones to channel the CBC’s request(s) into the committee. To the CBC (and the reporter following the wireless spectrum story), the sole opportunity to question the former Prime Minister may have proved too tempting to pass up, even if it meant inappropriate influence of a committee far beyond “the airbus settlement” to “Mulroney and everything Conservative”. Conservative committee members termed Rodriguez’s line of questioning as “a fishing expedition”. The Chair (also a Liberal) was quite liberal himself in his ruling in allowing the unrelated questions to continue.
What is the extent of influence of the CBC on the Liberal Party? How high does Trudeau’s party jump when the public broadcaster tells it to?
Frankly, this wouldn’t be a scandal in the eyes of the CPC if the Liberals had laughed at the CBC’s request/demand and had proceeded by staying within the mandate of the parliamentary committee on access to information, privacy and ethics. The Liberals were ultimately the precipitators of this scandal by showing that they could be influenced to brutally stretch the committee’s scope. It is also troubling to know that the CBC itself is party to the political process on the Hill.
Here are the questions from CBC that Jean Lapierre alleged (and Jay Ephard, a Liberal researcher confirmed) were given to the Liberals to ask:
Situation escalated, CPC demands answers from CBC ombudsman. Click here, or scroll down for the update
CBC announces internal investigation. Click here, or scroll down for the update
Official Conservative Party press release just received:
Conservatives Demand Answers from the CBC over Alleged Collusion with the Liberal Party
OTTAWA – Today, former Liberal Cabinet Minister and current TVA journalist Jean Lapierre made shocking allegations about strategic collusion between journalists at the CBC and Liberal Members of Parliament at the House of Commons Ethics Committee.
According to Lapierre Liberal Members of Parliament asked former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney questions written by journalists at the CBC regarding any involvement in the spectrum auction for cellular and wireless devices.
“I knew all about those questions. They were written by the CBC and provided to the Liberal Members of Parliament and the questions that Pablo Rodriguez asked were written by the CBC and I can’t believe that but last night, influential Member of Parliament came to me and told me those are the questions that the CBC wants us to ask tomorrow.” (CTV Newsnet, December 13, 2007)
If proven true these allegations would mark the third major case of orchestrated anti-Conservative bias from a broadcaster that is financed by all Canadians for the benefit of all Canadians.
In 2004 an email from Stephanie Matteis of CBC’s The National exposed the CBC’s search for Canadians that would not vote for the Conservatives because they were “scared, freaked out or worried about the Conservatives, the Conservative agenda or its leader.” (http://www.smalldeadanimals.com/archives/003009.html )
The CBC was also forced on August 21, 2006 to express “regret” over a story by CBC reporter Christina Lawand that misrepresented an answer given by Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper. (http://www.stephentaylor.ca/archives/000645.html )
“This is a very serious allegation that the CBC must provide an answer to,” said Conservative Dean Del Mastro.
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Here is the clip:
UPDATE 12/14, 3:53pm: Just was forwarded this letter by the party. It’s addressed to the CBC Ombudsman:
Vince Carlin, Ombudsman CBC P.O. Box 500, Station A Toronto, Ontario M5W 1E6
December 14, 2007
Dear Mr. Carlin,
I am writing about allegations made by former Liberal Cabinet Minister and current TVA journalist Jean Lapierre.
According to Mr. Lapierre Liberal Members of Parliament asked former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney questions at the House of Commons Ethics Committee written (or suggested) by journalists at the CBC regarding any personal involvement in the spectrum auction for cellular and wireless devices.
“I knew all about those questions. They were written by the CBC and provided to the Liberal Members of Parliament and the questions that Pablo Rodriguez asked were written by the CBC and I can’t believe that but last night, influential Member of Parliament came to me and told me those are the questions that the CBC wants us to ask tomorrow.” (Mr. Lapierre, CTV Newsnet, December 13, 2007)
On the TV program Mike Duffy Live, Mike Duffy stated the following.
“Liberal researcher Jay Ephard approach him and say, no, Jean, it’s not true. The CBC didn’t write those questions that were asked by the Liberals. We wrote them. Yes, the CBC phoned us up and suggested questions we should ask but we actually typed them out ourselves.”(Mike Duffy, Mike Duffy Live, December 13, 2007)
Regardless of who wrote the questions the fact that our national public broadcaster was actively cooperating with a political party in an attempt to embarrass the Government raises serious questions about the impartiality of Canada’s publicly funded national broadcaster.
We would appreciate your immediate assistance in getting to the bottom of this matter and hopefully providing Canadians with answers to these troubling allegations by December 20th, 2007.
Director of Political Operations, Conservative Party of Canada
UPDATE 12/14, 6:06pm: CBC has launched internal investigation: CP
Dec 14 2007 17:55:00 – Source: CP [The Canadian Press]
CBC reviewing claim reporter fed questions to Liberal MP (CRAFT-CBC-Reprimand) OTTAWA _ The CBC has begun an internal investigation and possible disciplinary process after one of its parliamentary reporters suggested questions to a Liberal MP on the Commons ethics committee.
The probe follows a formal complaint by the Conservative party.
The complaint centres on claims that Liberal Pablo Rodriguez directed questions from the CBC to Brian Mulroney during a highly anticipated Commons committee hearing on Thursday.
CBC News says the reporter, who it did not name, “may have been in pursuit of a journalistically legitimate story.”
But the broadcaster says it was an “inappropriate way of going about it and as such inconsistent with our journalistic policies and practices.”
Rodriguez was accused of going on a “fishing expedition” by Tory MPs after he began questioning Mulroney about possible lobbying efforts on wireless regulation during a hearing into the decade-old Airbus affair.
The Liberal party denies there was anything untoward, saying it gets “bombarded” daily with comments and ideas for questions from Canadians and from reporters.