Paging Joe Comartin…

In justice news

Ex-Liberal official guilty of fraud not going to jail

MONTREAL — Benoit Corbeil, a former top federal Liberal party official, won’t be going to jail after all.

Corbeil who pleaded guilty to influence peddling and fraud charges had his 15 month jail sentence reduced to 12 months served in the community by the Quebec Court of Appeal in a ruling issued on Wednesday.

In upholding his appeal on the fraud charge, but upholding his conviction on the corruption charge, the court also absolved him of the order to repay $117,000 to the Liberal Party of Canada.

Did you really expect anything different?

Now, will we see opposition MPs call the Minister of Justice to the mat to explain how this judicial outcome could have occurred?

Explain Rahim Jaffer sentence, ministers told

Joe Comartin doesn’t believe Rahim Jaffer received favourable treatment for his driving conviction but he wants the federal and Ontario governments to tell Canadians that.

Mr. Comartin, the NDP justice critic and former long-time trial lawyer, believes there is a risk that the Jaffer case will shake the integrity of the judicial system.

It seems that we need tougher sentencing guidelines for committing fraud while Liberal. The Crown could not proceed on the heftier charges in the Jaffer case because he was not searched in compliance with his Charter rights. However, Corbeil was convicted.

On MPs and lobbying – where does it end?

Found on another website:

Mr. Jaffer’s valuable contributions to our clients include acting for foreign and offshore organizations in obtaining operating licenses, securing regulatory and governmental approvals for mergers and acquisitions, reviewing policies and conduct of Canadian Security Intelligence Services, advising government bodies on international issues regarding cross border tax collection, antidumping issues, and lobbying government on policy issues as well as facilitating inter-governmental relationships.

Oops, I’m sorry. The paragraph above erroneously cited the name of Rahim Jaffer. The excerpt above is not about the former MP who is the subject of a probe into website fibbery (and some alleged “puffery”) by the House of Commons ethics committee, but was rather in reference to a sitting Member of Parliament. I regret the deliberate yet illustrative error.

Now, of course, Lee has has probably not anything wrong here but I find it odd that a paragraph on a website puffing up an individual and what they can do for clients has caused so much controversy, with respect to Rahim Jaffer. Jaffer’s website seemed to claim that he could influence public policy decisions through his contacts. If Jaffer was indeed lobbying, he should have registered.

On the other hand, Lee is not a lobbyist but we have a firm boasting to their clients that a Member of Parliament is “lobbying government on policy issues” thus providing “valuable contributions to our clients”.

The language just doesn’t sit right. It’s quite a bit of puffery.

Michael Ignatieff is a control freak!

…and other opinions we won’t hear from the Ottawa Parliamentary Press Gallery anytime soon.

Jane Taber:

Ian Davey is Michael Ignatieff’s principal secretary and he admires Stephen Harper’s steely control over the national media and the Conservative caucus.

More than once, Mr. Davey has dismissed a reporter’s attempt to get behind the scenes of a Liberal decision, noting the Harper Tories do not allow the media that kind of access.

Tearing a page from the Harper playbook is revolutionary for a Liberal. For years the Grits have suffered from very public in-fighting – battles which landed on the front pages of newspapers, aiding and abetting the party’s demise – while not a peep has been heard from the Tory caucus since Mr. Harper became leader.

“It’s worked for Harper,” Mr. Davey said, suggesting that iron discipline over caucus members and keeping the media at arm’s-length are the keys to victory.

Cue Don Newman!

Cue Bruce Campion-Smith!

Cue Tonda McCharles!

Cue Chris Cobb!

Cue Bruce Cheadle!

The Media on poorly bilingual leaders

It’s the new low in a snake’s belly of a campaign.

Liberal leader Stephane Dion misunderstands a complicated question and the Conservatives trot out leader Stephen Harper to declare it the definitive proof this Liberal leader is unfit to serve as prime minister. (Don Martin in the National Post, October 9, 2008)

“Day, who lived in Quebec as teenager, is desperate to improve his mediocre French so that the Alliance may broaden its appeal to Quebec voters. He was the first to admit yesterday that his French needs work and brushed off previous reports that tagged him as perfectly bilingual.” (Windsor Star, July 28, 2000)

“Mr. Day read carefully from a written French text. Even with the text, it was obvious within two minutes that any claims to bilingualism are seriously exaggerated.” (Paul Wells, National Post, April 1, 2000)

“Compounding Reform’s problem is that its leader can’t tell Quebecers his message in their language. Manning is unilingual. But he’s trying. He thanked those present for coming by reading from a prepared text in French – a halting, tortured dialect exacerbated by his natural nasal twang.” (Toronto Star, July 19, 1994)

They were kids, but they didn’t handle Reform Party Leader Preston Manning with kid gloves when he spoke yesterday at an all-girls’ private school.

Manning, who wants to run Canada’s proposed new right-wing political party, was asked in French about his notoriously poor skills in the language by a student during a stop at St. Clement’s school.”(Kingston Whig-Standard, March 11, 2000)

“Despite the appeal to posturing and sound-bite simplicity, the televised leaders’ debates sent one undeniable message: Reform leader Preston Manning is not worthy of being Canada’s next prime minister. Despite the appeals to a Fresh Start, which is his party’s campaign theme, he has personally not made a fresh start by still being unable to speak French. A modern leader of this nation cannot have such a liability. Forty years ago, Canadians could forgive John Diefenbaker’s famously tortured French. In 1997, such bilingual ineptitude in a national leader is inexcusable.” (Kingston Whig-Standard, May 15, 1997)

“But national public life happens in both languages. The federal government serves Canadians in both languages, and if you were a public servant, you would want to be evaluated in the official language you feel more comfortable in – which is one of the reasons senior government jobs require bilingualism. You would think that anyone who wanted to engage in national public life, as opposed to local or provincial public life, would learn both English and French.” (Toronto Star, October 20, 2002)

“It first became clear that Preston Manning’s campaign to win the leadership of the Canadian Alliance was in serious trouble during the candidates’ debate in Montreal. Manning’s composure was shaken by his inability to perform in French; he looked, for the first time, as if he thought he was losing. Stockwell Day, on the other hand, looked like a winner.” (Toronto Star, April 29, 2001)

Example of plagiarism by Stephane Dion?

You be the judge.

From an article written by Charles Mandel for Canwest on March 7th, 2008:

In a major forthcoming report on Canada’s changing climate, scientists warn of everything from increased severe storm activity in Atlantic Canada to hotter summers and poorer air quality in urban Ontario. British Columbia may face retreating glaciers and snow loss on its mountains, causing potential water shortages. The Prairie provinces will continue to struggle with drought, impacting agriculture rurally and potentially causing water rationing in urban areas.

On March 14th, 2008, Stephane Dion gave a speech on climate change which included the following paragraph:

In a new report released quietly last week by the federal Department of Natural Resources, 145 leading Canadian scientists warned that Canada’s changing climate will lead to everything from increased severe storms in Atlantic Canada to drought in the Prairies. British Columbia may face retreating glaciers and snow loss on its mountains, causing potential water shortages. There will be hotter summers and poorer air quality in urban Ontario. And the Prairies will continue to struggle with drought, affecting agriculture and potentially causing water rationing in urban areas.

Is all of this plagiarism stuff just getting silly or is turnabout fair play? Nonetheless, don’t expect to see this on the national news anytime soon. Some point out that both Dion and Canwest cite the same report. But it is fact that Dion uses the same words to describe the report that Canwest used and this suggests that Dion or his speechwriter cribbed from that news agency. The words that Dion uses in his speech are those of Charles Mandel, but we see no mention of the journalist’s name in Dion’s text.

Also, much like common rhetoric between Harper and Harris, there are likely examples of common rhetoric between Dion and Al Gore or David Suzuki (the climate crisis represents the greatest threat to humanity etc.) but this won’t get too much pick up because common mind and collective thoughts are benevolent on left-wing issues and conspiratorial on the right.

Liberals rip down Conservative signs with a blessing from Elections Canada

This campaign has seen a lot of things, from MPs using office budgets to advertise during the writ to past blogs of present candidates coming back to haunt parties that have not properly conducted the vetting process. But this story, as reported by the Charlottetown Guardian is perhaps the one to top.

Conservative candidate Tom DeBlois posted signs throughout his riding advising constituents to “say no” to Dion’s carbon tax. These signs weren’t the standard blue with the standard Conservative logo but they were authorized by the official agent for Tom DeBlois.

Liberals, infuriated by opposition to their leader’s carbon tax, or perhaps just simply frustrated the plan isn’t going over as well as Al Gore’s private jet on the way to another Inconvenient presentation, drove throughout the riding and tore down the signs.

If this sounds like the standard campaign dirty tricks, read on. There’s an interesting twist. Turns out that Elections Canada actually authorized the take-down of the signs. Even if the signs were illegal, why did Elections Canada outsource it’s muscle to the Liberal Party? With pre-election suggestions by the Conservatives of Elections Canada working hand-in-glove with the Liberal Party, one would presume Elections Canada would be more careful and do better to try and dispel this allegation. The problem for the Liberals, and for Elections Canada in particular, the signs are completely legal and the subjective arbiter of elections fails to secure the democratic process from abuse once again and in this particular case they enabled it.

Elections Canada has admitted it was wrong to have the signs removed. The executive director of the Liberal Party has apologized.

While we’re on the topic of signs, let’s bring up some suspicious advertising that Elections Canada should take a look into. Of course, as Conservatives we don’t expect them to give a green light to our (or rather their) enforcement division.


Stapled to municipal sign


Stapled to utility pole


(from Guelph) Authorized by an official agent? Who knows.

Consider the stark difference in how Elections Canada enforces its rules.

1) In this case here, Liberals complain about legal signs, Elections Canada authorizes the Liberals to take them down.

2) Liberal MP Anthony Rota buys an identifying himself as an MP and the ad runs during the writ period unauthorized by his official agent. Conservatives complain but Elections Canada declares the ad legal.

3) Liberals provide advertising for a corporation on their campaign plane. We still haven’t heard from Elections Canada if this was done for free or whether other considerations were involved.

4) Finally, an NDP supporter puts an NDP sign in their rented apartment window, the landlord threatens eviction and Elections Canada washes their hands of the matter.

Elections Canada needs to reflect neutrality

Their website should reflect it. The by-elections are announced on their website in orange and red. These colours are, of course, the colours of the NDP and Liberal Party respectively.

Some bureaucrats, journalists and Liberals were concerned when the Prime Minister rebranded the government naming it Canada’s New Government and incorporated blue into the websites at gc.ca.

The new name follows criticism over what some considered a partisan remake of the official Government of Canada website, which now has bold splashes of Tory blue and prominently features photographs of Prime Minister Harper.

Of course, Elections Canada is completely separate from any federal ministry and any partisan interference.

Elections Canada used to use yellow to reflect a neutral colour. Why not stick with that model?

What of the Liberals and abortion?

From the National Post:

OAKVILLE – Stephane Dion has challenged the Prime Minister to clarify his view on abortion, threatening to reignite the debate as Canada careens toward a fall election.
The Liberal leader issued his challenge to Stephen Harper while answering a question at a town hall meeting on Wednesday night in Oakville.

The event was billed as a discussion of Mr. Dion’s carbon tax plan, but a member of the audience instead asked his views on the Unborn Victims of Crime Act. The private member’s bill would make it a criminal offence to harm an unborn child during an attack on its mother.

Mr. Dion said he opposed the proposed legislation because it might infringe on women’s access to abortion.

“We need to protect everyone against crime, but, at the same time, it happens that I believe in the rights of women to choose and I have a lot of respect for the people who have a different view,” he told the crowd.
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Mr. Dion then called upon Mr. Harper to state his own position on abortion.

And the latest in the Parliament Hill window series from Liberal MP Tom Wappel:

Is that a sign in Tom Wappel’s office? It looks familiar to another sign that sparked some controversy.

Is it really?

It is! Hooray for double standards!

Mr. Dion should ask some of his Toronto area MPs about their views. These photographs were taken today.

In 2005, Stephen Harper stated his views on legislation and abortion at the CPC policy convention:

“And, while I’m at it, I will tell you that, as prime minister, I will not bring forth legislation on the issue of abortion.”

FLASHBACK: Liberals are hypocrites on abortion

RELATED: Call the Parliament Hill window police

UPDATE: From Monday’s (8/25) Hill Times we learn that Tom Wappel took the sign from Rob Anders and put it up in his own window.

Re: “Tory MP Anders forced to remove ‘pro-life’ from East Block window” (The Hill Times, July 14, p. 1). Your article really intrigued me, as, in my 20 years as a Member of Parliament, I have never heard of a policy regarding what can or cannot be put in the window of Parliamentarians’ offices.

So I did a little digging. I contacted the Speaker’s office, the Sergeant-at-Arms Office, Canadian Heritage, the House Accommodation Services Office, and the Conservative Whip’s Office. Guess what? There is no policy!

Since there are signs in numerous other windows which were there before Mr. Anders removed his, and which are still there (e.g. “Veterans for Obama ’08 in the Confederation Building), I wanted to know why Mr. Anders’ sign (“Defend Life”) had been singled out for attention and removal. It turns out it was because someone had complained about it. Why? Since other signs remain in windows, it is clear that there have been no complaints about other signs. Thus the complaint has to be not about a sign in a window, but about a sign in a window which was assumed to be a pro-life sign in a window.

Well, I am proud to be pro-life. Being so is not a criminal offence (yet). Expressing my pro-life views is not illegal (yet). What can be more fundamental in the very seat of our democracy than our Charter cherished freedom of expression?

So, I have borrowed Mr. Anders’ innocuous sign and put it in my window in East Block, and there it will stay.

… — Tom Wappel

Why is Wappel free to express his views while Anders was rebuked? The Conservative “hidden agenda” narrative is ready to be resurrected by the media at a moment’s notice. It was a Liberal senate staffer that complained about the sign. What is her opinion of Wappel’s ability to express his opinion on the issue?

Call the Parliament Hill window police

Spotted in Hedy Fry’s 5th floor office window at the Confederation Building on Parliament Hill:

I’m not sure how Fry qualifies as a veteran, but she’s got the sign and she’s showing her support for the presumptive Democratic nominee for President!

Flashback from the Hill Times:

Conservative MP Rob Anders was recently forced to remove a “pro-life” sign from his East Block office window on Parliament Hill after receiving a formal letter of complaint from a Liberal Senate political staffer and after the chief government whip told him to take it down.

The large blue and white “Defend Life” Knights of Columbus sign could clearly be seen for a few weeks before it was removed on July 2 and one day after abortion rights activist Dr. Henry Morgentaler was named to the Order of Canada among 75 for one of Canada’s highest honours.

Amélie Crosson, an assistant to Ottawa Liberal Sen. Jim Munson, sent a formal letter of complaint to Mr. Anders, all MPs, Senators, assistants, party leaders, whips, and party caucus services, on June 27 after she noticed the sign on June 23 while walking to work.

Ms. Crosson told The Hill Times that in her 10 years on the Hill, she could not remember ever seeing a sign in a window before and after she found out whose office it was, she sent a letter of complaint to all MPs.

“All of us who work here are passionate about politics and specific political issues, but if we all start to decorate the exterior of our windows,” she wrote, “in no time, our Parliament Buildings will look like a collection of university frat houses.”

UPDDATE: I’ve received an email from Team Fry. It has been reprinted with permission from it’s author Tim Campbell.

Stephane Dion should be thankful he’s not a conservative party leader

During the 2000 election, one of the greatest “blunders” that Stockwell Day made during the campaign was to compare the Canadian “brain drain” to the flow of the Niagara River, which as it turns out flows north, not south as Day was trying to imply.

“Surely a man who doesn’t know the flow direction of the Niagara River is unfit to lead this country” became the narrative of the journalist pack that covered the race.

Fast forward to yesterday and Stephane Dion’s musing that NATO should expand its mission into Pakistan. Not only has the Liberal leader changed his position on Canada’s most significant foreign policy direction a number of times, he’s now spitballing under-developed ideas which no serious policy analyst would responsibly suggest.

This is a man who will soon be running in an election to lead our country. Where is the scrutiny that we have come to expect from our easily offended geography buffs in the Canadian media?

The Parliamentary Press Gallery complains that there’s never a microphone around the Prime Minister or any ministers when they’d like. Conservatives have long since learned that in the Canadian media environment any sniffle becomes a sneeze. While members of the press try to pin down conservatives (in power or not) with a barrage of microphones, conservatives worry that there isn’t a press mic powerful enough to pick up any sound that comes from the Liberal leader who is showing that he just may be unfit to lead a serious discussion on Canadian foreign policy on the national stage.

Read my previous article on Dion’s Pakistan thought experiment