Liberal leadership race heats up

In my last post, I speculated that New Brunswick Liberal MP (and son of a former Governor General) Dominic LeBlanc would throw his hat into the ring for leadership of the Liberal Party. Today, LeBlanc became the first MP to announce his intentions to seek the leadership running between Ignatieff on the relative right and Rae on the left of the party.

I’ve learned some other details about who might back a LeBlanc bid for leadership. I suggested yesterday that a Martin adviser such as Steve MacKinnon would back LeBlanc. With McKenna expected to remain outside of the race, I mused that MacKinnon may go LeBlanc. However, I’ve learned today that the former national director of the Liberal Party will likely back Ignatieff while communications gurus from Paul Martin’s PMO such as Scott Reid and Tim Murphy will be more likely to back the New Brunswick MP while a Liberal insider I spoke to expects John Duffy to go with Rae.

If Ujjal Dosanjh enters the race (if he survives a putative court challenge for a recount), he is expected to do so for the purpose of gathering BC delegates for Bob Rae.

Conservatives and New Democrats I have spoken with have previously feared a bid by Bob Rae. Conservatives believe that Rae will unite and polarize the left while the NDP fears massive hemorrhaging of their membership for Rae. Recently, however, Conservatives are more bullish on their future against a Rae-led Liberal Party as the Global Economic Crisis has severely diminished Rae’s futures on the leadership market. Conservatives would easily remind Canadians of Bob Rae’s tenure during Ontario’s last economic recession and would make the case that Rae days would soon return.

As for second tier candidates, Ruby Dhalla is considering a bid. Sources of mine in Brampton–Springdale have told me that even during the election (before the knives were in Dion’s back), Dhalla told Punjabi language radio that she would be running for the Liberal leadership. Dhalla is seen to be on the right-flank of the Liberal Party and backed Ignatieff’s bid during the 2006 leadership race so unless her candidacy caches fire, she may be building proxy support for the other Liberal professor.

Woe for my love of a great comedy, Justin Trudeau is not expected to jump into the leadership race. Indeed, the son of the former Liberal Prime Minister has not yet got his feet wet in the House of Commons. Trudeau is expected to back LeBlanc as the current standard-bearer of the next generation of Liberal leaders. Trudeau backed former Ontario-cabinet minister Gerard Kennedy for leadership in 2006. Kennedy is testing the waters for entry into this contest, however, many believe that as Dion’s kingmaker, Kennedy may sit this one out to put some time between this aberration and his ambition.

Yesterday, former Chretien finance minister John Manley tested the waters in a most self-deprecating way but found none to dive into as he metaphorically suggested. The author of the Harper-initiated Manley Report was seen by many Liberals as betrayal to a weakened, embarrassed and voiceless party on the opposition benches. Manley may find redemption in his party by organizing for a front-running candidate and this would have the benefit of keeping his name in the minds of Liberal partisans.

Ironically, Dion’s election as Liberal leader may see more longshots enter this race. Ambitious Liberals with at least an ounce of name recognition may see a divided field and plan a run up the middle. LeBlanc’s entry into the race gains credibility because he is first to announce. Others may see that LeBlanc is planning a Dion-like charge up the middle as Dion had done and work to position themselves as a more palatable consensus candidate. Ottawa politicos are guessing that the field of candidates will be necessarily narrow due to a shallow and parched pool of donors. Since leadership contenders can carry previous debts into the next Liberal race, the Liberal base will again be tapped for sparse cash from not only the next crop making the case to be the Liberal Party’s next PM, but from those that are resume building and those paying down old debts during an economic crisis.

UPDATE: Ruby Dhalla’s office contacted me and they would like you to know that Ruby Dhalla did not state that she was running for leader on Punjabi radio. So, for now it’s a matter of she said vs. they said. (UPDATE: I’m now concluding that these Brampton–Springdale sources are likely inaccurate. My sincere apologies to Ruby Dhalla on this point.) Also, Dhalla’s office wants everyone to know that the image above is doctored and that Dr. Dhalla did not pose for the photo. They asked that I remove it. However, I will not comply as the image is obviously satire.

Kennedy campaign calls for SUVs fulfilling wrong type of carbon challenge

The following is a volunteer newsletter from the Gerard Kennedy campaign. Emphasis is mine, you can skim the rest.

The Gerard Daily Times

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A Kind-of Daily Newsletter from the Gerard Kennedy Campaign for

The Federal Riding of Parkdale High Park

A Day in the Eyes of a Volunteer…
I dropped into the new office at 2920 Dundas West today at 11 o’clock. I’d been out of town for a week and the last time I saw it was when we were looking for a new location for what was to be the Liberal Riding Association campaign office.

Wow … what a change!

From a vast empty space punctuated with furniture lying around willy-nilly, 2920 was transformed into a bustling campaign office. Gerard had just returned from the Terry Fox Run (he thinks he finished in the first ten, but only time will tell if that was just wishful thinking). He was scouting around for a place to take a shower so he could take off again smelling more like an MP than a marathon runner.

Campaign manager Jason Easton had staked out his office space under a giant map of the riding. He, like everyone else, was surrounded by files, facts and figures.

Karin McNair informed me that the week had been really busy. For one thing, she needed folks to look after the phones and reception desk. She’d ended up doing a lot for that herself during the previous few days. While I was there Chandra came in to help out. Karin is still looking for volunteers at reception, especially for the evenings.

Ruth showed me the phone banks we’re hoping to fill with eager telephone volunteers. Gerard had been out canvassing the day before, and had also been at the Ukrainian and Polish festivals. He had a list of people who wanted to put up lawn signs.

Karin was registering them and trying to figure out the best way to get the signs onto their lawns. Her big problem was the people who want big signs. We really need some folks with SUVs or small trucks to deliver the larger size signs.

Veronica Wynne flew in briefly to pick up some signs and literature. She was on her way down to Boor West Village to encourage people to sign up for the Carbon Challenge. Even with the election preparations in full swing, we still have to get the word out about reducing our carbon footprint.

In the meantime, Ruth was posting her “Wish List” on the office door. For what is she hoping? Another small office table at which more people can work, a small couch and possibly some folding chairs. And ever mindful of the wellbeing of volunteers, Ruth is also hoping that sometimes people will stop by with sandwiches or snacks!

There is lots of activity and lots to be done. I need to get up to speed on the urgent need for poll captains, for instance. And a meeting regarding fundraising is scheduled for tonight, as well as a general planning meeting to follow.

Things are buzzing at the campaign office, but they’d buzz a bit louder if you were there. There’s an awful lot to be done!

– Sue Cox
Parkdale-High Park Federal Liberal Riding Association

Many Liberal hands make light work at SHAMBA

Since news about apparent Liberal links to the SHAMBA space first broke here last week, Canwest has written about the story and included a denial and excuse from former Liberal leadership contestant Gerard Kennedy,

Kennedy, however, says the fundraising venue was completely paid for in a transaction with GlobAlive Communications Corp, a telecommunications company that started the Shamba foundation.

He said the invitation incorrectly identified the venue as the charitable foundation, creating the confusion.

Kennedy said the only connection with the SHAMBA foundation was that the space has become associated with the charity because the group uses it.

He said GlobAlive rents its spaces – including that site – commercially to both charities and private users.

“It certainly smells like a desperate kind of attempt by the Conservatives,” Kennedy told Canwest News Service on Sunday night.

Desperation? I imagine that conservatives like myself, and indeed, I’m certain that most everyday non-Liberal-membership-card-holding Canadians, are concerned about the equal application of the rules concerning partisan fundraising so that it is done above board. Kennedy, as Globalive’s PR people did when they called on Friday, blamed erroneous Facebook promotion of the event. Later, the official registration form for the SHAMBA/Kennedy event surfaced making the excuse harder to believe.

Today, the Conservative Party put out the following release linking SHAMBA to another potential partisan Liberal fundraiser involving Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty,

NEWS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 3, 2008

CONSERVATIVES SUBMIT NEW INFORMATION TO CRA ABOUT SHAMBA-LIBERAL TIES

Liberals must come clean about fundraising practices

OTTAWA – The Conservative Party today asked the Canada Revenue Agency’s charities directorate to investigate another potential partisan Liberal fundraiser held at the SHAMBA Foundation in downtown Toronto. SHAMBA is headed by Anthony Lacavera, a prominent Liberal donor who has contributed in excess of $4,700 to Liberal Gerard Kennedy over the past 2 years.

Conservatives have learned that on August 16, 2007, the SHAMBA Foundation hosted a $500 per person fundraiser for the Ontario Liberal Party. The fundraiser featured an appearance by Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty. According to the Canada Revenue Agency, registered charities such as SHAMBA are not permitted to directly or indirectly involve themselves in partisan political activities.

“A registered charity cannot be created for a political purpose and cannot be involved in partisan political activities. A political activity is considered partisan if it involves direct or indirect support of, or opposition to, a political party or candidate for public office.” (http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tax/charities/operating/activities/other-e.html#pol)

This new information about partisan Liberal fundraising at SHAMBA comes on the heels of information released June 1, 2008 which revealed that SHAMBA recently hosted a $250 per person fundraiser for federal Liberal intergovernmental affairs critic Gerard Kennedy. According to documents posted on the Liberal Party’s website, the Kennedy fundraiser was identified as a “Political Ideals Celebration” and the registration form for the event was co-branded with Liberal Party and SHAMBA Foundation brand identities.

Conservatives have already written to both Elections Canada and the Canada Revenue Agency to investigate the Kennedy fundraiser.

Given the SHAMBA Foundation’s raison d’etre is to provide charities with no-cost event space and negotiated rates on food and beverage, Conservatives want to ensure that Kennedy did not violate Elections Canada’s rules by receiving an illegal non-monetary contribution from the Foundation.

“A non-monetary contribution is the commercial value of a service or of property or the use of property or money, with the exception of volunteer labour, provided without charge or at less than commercial value.” The Elections Canada Handbook for Leadership Contestants, Their Financial Agents, and Auditors http://www.elections.ca/pol/lea/EC20194_c2_e.pdf) (Page 15)

To date, neither SHAMBA, nor the Kennedy campaign, have disclosed:

· The original contract for the event;

· The “commercial rates” supposedly paid for use of the SHAMBA space as well as the food and beverage sold/consumed at the event; or

· Any information that could assure Canadians that terms of the contract for the event were not altered after the appropriateness of the fundraiser was questioned on the was questioned by blogger Stephen Taylor on May 28, 2008. (http://www.stephentaylor.ca/2008/05/does-the-shamba-foundation-risk-losing-its-charitable-status/)

“We need answers from both Liberal candidate Gerard Kennedy and Liberal donor Anthony Lacavera about their partisan Liberal fundraising,” said Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro.

- 30 -

For further information please contact (613) 755-2000

When Globalive’s PR people called me on Friday, I noted the firm’s name and offered to post it to give them credit for doing their job (cleaning up a mess). They said that it wasn’t necessary and that I could just say that Globalive’s PR people contacted me. However, I didn’t put it together at the time but Narrative – a company owned by Bensimon Byrne – made the call of behalf of Globalive/SHAMBA. Bensimon Byrne was the firm contracted to make Liberal Party attack ads during the 2004 and 2006 campaign. The ads (especially the aircraft carrier/teenage girl abortion/disintegrating flag spot) was a particularly – “desperate kind of attempt” – as Gerard Kennedy might say.

When a political fundraiser titled Political Ideals Celebration is held on space that is the raison d’être of a charitable organization and it is billed in this way, alarm bells go off. Did the head of the SHAMBA foundation give permission for the organization’s branding to be used along side that of the Liberal Party, of Gerard Kennedy? Presumably, the head of SHAMBA would have seen the registration form. Being the head of a charitable organization, did he make attempts to change the branding of the event?

According to this article in Business Edge News Magazine,

Asked about the amount of money Globalive invested in Shamba, Lacavera described it as “sizable” and reluctantly put it “well into the hundreds of thousands of dollars,” adding that it would likely cost “tens of thousands of dollars” to rent out a similar venue for an event.

If Kennedy paid fair market value for the space, did it cost him “tens of thousands of dollars”?

Does the SHAMBA foundation risk losing its charitable status?

UPDATE: Globalive’s PR people gave me a call

UPDATE: Liberal/SHAMBA association suggested by form found on Liberal Party website

Gerard Kennedy, the former Liberal leadership contender and current Liberal candidate for Parkdale High Park is holding a fundraiser tonight in order to pay off his leadership debts.

Here is the Facebook page for the event

The fundraiser is to take place with the help of the SHAMBA foundation, an organization that oversees the SHAMBA space. The concept is simple but quite original; the SHAMBA space is a rooftop patio lent out to charitable organizations to hold events. According to the foundation’s website:

The fun part – and the cornerstone of the SHAMBA foundation – is the creation of a brand new 2,500 square foot rooftop terrace designed for fantastic events that raise money for great causes. The SHAMBA Space, as we call it, is available for local charities to use at no cost to host events. In addition to donating this exquisite space, SHAMBA also negotiates sponsorships with food and beverage partners to ensure that the bulk of funds raised at an event actually go directly to the cause.

The generous concept is that of Globalive CEO Anthony Lacavera, a Gerard Kennedy leadership supporter according to data at Elections Canada.

Gerard Kennedy, like some other Liberal leadership candidates, needs to pay off his Liberal leadership debts by June 3rd or else he will run afoul of Elections Canada. Anthony Lacavera seems like a good friend with a great foundation that is helping Kennedy pay off his debts. So what’s the problem here?

The SHAMBA foundation is a registered charitable organization according to the Canadian Revenue Agency. Also, registered charities are prohibited from partisan political activity under the law.

A registered charity cannot be created for a political purpose and cannot be involved in partisan political activities. A political activity is considered partisan if it involves direct or indirect support of, or opposition to, a political party or candidate for public office.

One hopes that Gerard Kennedy will move his fundraiser to a different venue because the purpose of the SHAMBA foundation is to provide free event space for charities. According to the Facebook page, the foundation is the location for the event. If the space is not being provided for free, one hopes that Kennedy is paying fair market value for event space that never seems to be rented for a fee. Even so, should this charity be mixed up with partisan political activity?

UPDATE 5/30 4:30pm: Globalive’s PR people just gave me a call to admit that the Gerard Kennedy fundraiser was erroneously billed/described by the promoters of the event. The SHAMBA space is used for charitable events but for the intents of the Gerard Kennedy event the space should be thought of within the Globalive domain (a company) rather than that of the SHAMBA foundation (a charity); the Gerard Kennedy fundraiser took place on Globalive property rather than that of the SHAMBA foundation and though it is the same space the space takes different identities depending on the – or rather this – context. I was assured that Gerard Kennedy paid fair market value for use of the space from Globalive and that the space was not made as a donation from the company.

UPDATE 5/31 5:55pm: Here is the registration form for the event (still live on the LPC(O) website). The form clearly has the logo of the SHAMBA foundation (a registered charity). This doesn’t seem to simply be an erroneously written Facebook listing. The event is officially billed as a SHAMBA foundation/Gerard Kennedy event. I think that the earlier PR call may have been a sort of after-the-fact damage control revision of history. Charities cannot participate in partisan political activity. This form from the Liberal Party website suggests that the SHAMBA foundation and the Liberal Party have an association.

Read this doc on Scribd: Political Ideals Celebration

Trudeau and Kennedy to be blocked by Dion?

I’m hearing that Justin Trudeau may face an interesting challenge partially originating from the Liberal leader Dion if the son of the late Liberal PM seeks nomination in Jean Lapierre’s riding of Outremont. Apparently, at least eight people have expressed interest in the nomination and among the eight is Brigette Legault (VP on Liberal Party Executive). Rumour is that Stephane Dion may end up trumping the young Trudeau’s bid by enforcing a policy ensuring that the Liberal party slates 33% female candidates for the next federal election. Outremont may be selected by Dion as a riding to be contested by a female candidate.

Legault is said to be actively campaigning, emailing Outremont Liberals for their support. As a member of the national executive, she brings significant Liberal support to the nomination race and may try and use Dion’s promise to leverage a win over Trudeau.

Speculation is also swirling around the riding of Parkdale High Park where Gerard Kennedy is reported to be interested in running. Again, a female executive member of the Liberal Party is eying that riding and may also receive Dion’s go ahead for that nomination. Elaine Flis is the VP for communications for the Liberal Party of Canada and is looking to secure the nomination from Kennedy.

Will Dion stick to his word by securing 1/3 of the candidate positions for women even if this comes at the expense of Trudeau and Kennedy? Or will Dion break his word and make these high profile female candidates select other ridings to contest?

UPDATE: Some commenters have pointed out the awkward nature of the last paragraph. It’s a false dichotomy. So let’s simply frame it this way: Will Dion stick to his word by securing 1/3 of the candidate positions for women even if this comes at the expense of Trudeau and Kennedy?

Justin Trudeau to run in Outremont?

justin-trudeau.jpgI overheard at the convention last weekend that Justin Trudeau is considering a run in the riding of Outremont.

I didn’t put much stock into the rumour, but this makes it more likely to be true (Romeo St. Martin reports that Jean Lapierre may not run again in Outremont). Further, could he sit as an MP under a Dion government given Dion’s hardline with soft Quebec nationalists?

Also, perhaps Trudeau believed that Kennedy (and then Dion) were weak leaders to support so that the eldest son of P.E. Trudeau could run for Liberal leadership in 2008.

Trudeau would be a (future leadership) candidate that would run heavily on personality and the name “Trudeau”. Here’s Blogging Tories Television’s interview with him.

I’m certain that it’s not a question of if but when and when may come sooner than we think if Lapierre’s vacating of Outremont (again, perhaps because of Dion) is true.

A Justin Trudeau run in the riding of Outremont? You heard it here first.

Kennedy comments on supporting Dion

I ended up at the sparsely attended late night Kennedy hospitality event last and had a chance to meet him. This weekend Kennedy was the kingmaker as he backed Stephane Dion which essentially helped secure his victory for leadership.

Tasha asks Kennedy why he backed Dion and kind of gets an answer.

Conservatives are celebrating

Dion vs. Ignatieff on the final ballot. These are two candidates that we as Conservatives can run well against in the next election. Many thought that Rae was the preferred candidate but what I gather, Rae was the Conservative’s most feared candidate. It’s argued that it’s been long enough for Ontario to forget about Rae. Also, Rae would have polarized an electoral race left vs. right and right now, at least since the CPC is a minority government (elected with about 36% of the vote), the majority of the votes lie outside of the Conservative camp.

I’m certain that Ignatieff was Conservatives’ most preferred candidate to face as what makes Iggy controversial is indistinguishable from what makes Harper controversial to some Canadians (Afghanistan and anglospheric foreign policy). Ignatieff also suffers from foot-in-mouth disease and there are plenty of gaffes that he’s made in the past and will likely make in the future. Iggy is the most conservative candidate and you might as well vote for the conservative in power. Further, the Liberals have always played the anti-American card on the Conservatives. An Ignatieff victory would have nullified this old Liberal standby.

Out of the top four, Kennedy would have been the dream candidate due to his inexperience and alienation of Quebec (his lack of french and his “nation” position). Kennedy though was a bit of a long shot.

Out of the top eight candidates Volpe would have been our favourite candidate. It’s not even necessary to explain why.

Dion is the grassroots candidate that Liberal party members have promoted to tell the party’s old guard that they will not have another leader thrust upon them.

Dion’s schtick is the environment. This isn’t as big of an issue (yet) and it’s really the main thing that he ran on. Dionistas (or Dionkeys as their opponents here call them) are waving green Dion signs to contrast against the Liberal red. Green may as well be a safe apolitical colour that Dion could use. However, Dion’s record on the environment is mostly hot air. He banged that gavel at the UNFCCC to be sure, however, GHG emissions under the Liberal government rose over 25%. Further, conservatives won’t lose any of their base to Dion because of any claim of environmental credentials.

Dion also isn’t the type of leader that can charge a base of support and lead them into battle. Stephane Dion is a quiet intellectual who would seem to shy to be sucessful in rallying the troops and the swing voter.

The final ballot results are coming in. I’ll update in a bit.

Second ballot

gerardbutton.jpg
Ignatieff: 1481
Rae: 1132
Dion: 974
Kennedy: 884
Dryden: 219

Looks like this one’s between Dion and Rae.

It’s too bad that Dryden’s personality is so flat. He probably would have been a serious contender if he was able to emote. He’s giving his speech now.

Ignatieff is done is probably done. It’s unlikely that Kennedy’s people will overwhelmingly go Iggy.

UPDATE: Dryden has endorsed Rae. Dryden has advised his delegates to vote as they choose.

UPDATE: Who’s on the 3rd ballot? Will Kennedy drop off and be kingmaker?