Liberals use CBSA for translation services

Ottawa has been scandal-prone of late in its inappropriate use of taxpayer dollars. Here we have a story about the inappropriate use of government resources for partisan activity. Such abuse has come to light after documents were released under Access to Information. They describe a request from an official with the Vanier Liberal Electoral District Association for translation to Hélène-Louise Gauthier, the Director of HQ Accommodations for the Infrastructure and Environmental Operations Directorate for the Canadian Border Services Agency.

This request from the Liberal Party was fulfilled using a Government of Canada email address. It is unknown if this was done on government time despite government resources being used to respond to the request. The translated document was the agenda for the 2013 Liberal Ottawa-Vanier AGM.

Of course, it is inappropriate for government officials to be using government resources to do partisan work. I reached out to the Minister of Public Safety for comment. The Minister’s Office verified the documents and Julie Carmichael, the Vic Toews’s director of communications replied,

“We were shocked to learn that senior Liberal MP Mauril Belanger utilized a backroom Liberal operative to do partisan work at taxpayers expense. The CBSA is looking into this blatant misuse of taxpayer dollars. We call on Justin Trudeau to immediately discipline Mauril Belanger for this inappropriate behaviour and come clean to Canadians about any other backroom operatives using taxpayer dollars.”

A media firestorm broke out after it was revealed that the Prime Minister’s Office used taxpayers resources to make a political attack against the leader of Canada’s third party in Parliament, Justin Trudeau. Revealed via the Barrie Examiner, the attack was political but wasn’t done on behalf of a political organization outside of government. However in this CBSA example, taxpayer dollars were used directly to benefit the administrative goals of a partisan organization.

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.
-ad

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!

Tony Genco’s Greatest Hits

Tony Genco is the Liberal by-election in Vaughan. He’s facing off against high-profile Conservative candidate Julian Fantino.

Despite Genco’s relatively unknown profile, why would he not even mention himself (or his leader Michael Ignatieff) on his lit piece that he’s handing out at doors in the constituency? Is Genco relying more on the Liberal brand which is likely polling higher than the Ignatieff brand in Vaughan?

Also amusing are Genco’s tweets. Here are a couple of my favourites:

Go Leafs go…?

Canvassing with Ken Dryden tomorrow in #Vaughan. Join us. #NHL #MapleLeafs #Cdnpoli

[link]

Thanks to the 1200 people who came out and supported our kickoff rally last night in #Vaughan. Get involved at http://tonygenco.liberal.ca

[link]

Vaughan Today reports on Michael Ignatieff’s comments in Vaughan,

“You always know something big is happening when you’ve got a dozen MP’s and senators up here,” Ignatieff said. To cheers and music he told the audience of 250 “we must win Vaughan.”

1200 as an overestimate for 250? C’mon!

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.

Senior Liberal compares Harper government policy to Nazi collaboration

Ron McKinnon is a former Liberal candidate and is the current Liberal President of the Port Moody–Westwood–Port Coquitlam Federal Liberal Association. He wrote this on his blog yesterday:

This week the Harper government revealed plans for dealing with refugee vessels, citing concerns of human smuggling and trafficking.

In this vein they want to work more closely with foreign governments to stop those boats at the source. But, since we’re talking about refugees who, by definition, are fleeing persecution, such sources are arguably the very governments they’re fleeing. This brave new policy is sordidly familiar, akin to collaborating with the Nazis to stop the flight of Jews.

Does Michael Ignatieff condone these remarks from this senior Liberal?

Liberals would meddle with RCMP: Liberals

The Liberal Party of Canada put out a baffling press release today accusing Conservatives of meddling with the staffing decisions of the RMCP, an arms-length agency of the government of Canada. The Liberals are upset that Chief Supr. Marty Cheliak was let go as head of the Canadian Firearms Program.

Their solution? They would meddle with the staffing decisions of the RCMP, an arms-length agency of the government of Canada.

Liberals call for reinstatement of Chief Supr. Marty Cheliak

Liberal MPs are demanding the immediate reinstatement of the Director General of the Canadian Firearms Program after the Harper Conservatives ousted him for making the gun registry a model in police protection.

Was Cheliak fired by the elected and partisan side of the Canadian government. Well no, according to the Ministry of Public Safety. “The RCMP has complete autonomy to direct its own personnel matters”, according to a spokesman from that office.

Imagine if the RCMP acted and reacted according to the whims of its political masters. That would help support the definition of a “police-state” wouldn’t it? It’s a bit disturbing that the Liberals either haven’t done their research as to the appropriate relationship between government and the RCMP, or that they are indeed advocating that their government would run political interference.

The Liberals argue that this is a political move executed by the government on the eve of a showdown between the parties on the long-gun registry, a vote on its dismantling is scheduled for September 22nd. The RCMP however, says that the position is one which has a bilingualism requirement, one which Cheliak does not meet.

On the face of this, a bureaucrat is being reassigned by an arms-length agency of the government for not meeting a bilingualism standard. Since the Liberals cannot make a case against this as stated, they are concocting an argument that this is political interference.

The Liberals have taken a partisan position (as parties do) in the debate over the long-gun registry. However, to support their argument, they are politicizing an arms-length agency of the government. They are doing so first by accusing the government of political interference “without hard evidence”, as the CBC reported last night, then by suggesting that they would inappropriately interfere with staffing decisions at the RCMP to rectify the situation, which they indirectly admit, supports their position in an upcoming partisan debate.

How to do voter ID (Liberal edition)

Forget Tim’s, Dr. Ignatieff. Get a stack of membership forms, camp out at Starbucks and just wait

MANHATTAN — An English professor claims she was ejected from an Upper West Side Starbucks by cops for refusing to order according to the coffee chain’s rules, according to the New York Post.

Lynne Rosenthal, who says she holds a PhD from Columbia, told the paper she asked for a toasted multigrain bagel at the Starbucks on 86th Street and Columbus Avenue — then blew her top when the staffer behind the counter asked her if she wanted butter or cheese on top.

“I just wanted a multigrain bagel,” Rosenthal told the Post. “I refused to say ‘without butter or cheese.’ When you go to Burger King, you don’t have to list the six things you don’t want.”

“Linguistically, it’s stupid, and I’m a stickler for correct English.”

Rosenthal, whose grudge against the coffee chain also extends to refusing to order by the trademark “tall” and “venti” sizes, next began yelling at the staffer to hand over her plain bagel, until the manager finally called the police, according to the Post.

Starbucks staff said Rosenthal incited the face-off by hurling profanities at the staffer.

“She called [the barista] an a–hole,” one worker who witnessed the incident told the Post.