We get letters!

From a senior Conservative on the Hill:

Mark Holland on Twitter

October 5, 2009:

Liberal MP Mark Holland is among the majority of the MPs in the 308-seat House of Commons who have not signed on to Twitter.

He sees it as an “info-dumping” medium and says he cannot find a compelling reason to start tweeting.

“You can’t get very much in 140 characters,” he says. “It tends to lend itself to a lot of really useless information.”

5 hours ago:

“looking forward to connecting with my constituents in a new and exciting way – please follow me on twitter.”

Perhaps the threat of a star candidate in Ajax-Pickering made Holland think again about the need to connect in more ways with his constituents.

h/t

Mark Holland’s office looking to score…

…some tickets to a special screening.

This email was sent to all of the Conservative MPs and their assistants on the Hill today. A few people passed this on. (thanks, guys)

Apparently, MPs offices were sent passes to see a screening of Young People Fucking, the Canadian film that became a common reference point for debate over bill C-10. Mark Holland’s office looks like they need some extra passes. Send them an email, or give them a call if you can offer any assistance or advice. I’m sure Holland and his staff want to see it before they allow the bill to pass.

Facebook freeze

I was wondering when this would finally happen…

Facebook, perhaps the most popular social networking site in the world where one can build a network among friends, acquaintances and professionals is to no longer be used by Conservative ministerial exempt staff.

Frankly, I’m surprised it took this long. Facebook pages are like semi-private blogs that can include off-colour comments by colleagues, photos from last night’s bender and can even display deeply personal details such as one’s relationship status and sexual preference. Blogs understandably represented a communications challenge amongst a team that prides itself on tight messaging. Facebook not only represents this same challenge, but also has the potential for being a rich back-channel for opposition researchers, among others.

In fact, a reporter friend once remarked to me that Facebook was a ‘goldmine’ of information. With a few clicks, an industrious Globe and Mail scribe could find out that the press secretary to a Minister was at a Cinco de Mayo party this month, has interests that include “Ayn Rand, fast boats, ATVing and walks on the beach” and has a Guns ‘N Roses tattoo from earlier, less sophisticated
times.

David Akin, another reporter who is actively involved in the Facebook community, earlier wrote about the social networking phenomenon and then unknowingly highlighted what is likely the reasoning behind this recent decision:

“One of the reasons I wanted to be Harper’s FF [Facebook friend] was so that I could see who Harper’s other FFs were. I’m a nosy parker by profession and it’s my job to find out what his supporters and colleagues in the Conservative party are thinking about. So here was a good chance to invite myself to a virtual party where most (I suspect) are people who either are or would like to be Harper’s real offline friend. Now, the flipside of this is that all of these people at this virtual party of Harper’s friends can also see that I, too, have listed myself as Harper’s “Friend”. So, here I am, a journalist who is paid to provide independent, non-aligned and occasionaly sceptical reports on the Prime Minister and yet, here I am, on a list of his “Friends”.”

The “friend” network of a Conservative ministerial exempt staffer may include Conservatives, high school friends, Liberals, PMO staff and Mark Holland (just for kicks — and to spy on him too to see if he is as ill-timed with the keyboard as he is with what he says in public — he is). And therein lies the biggest problem for a professional network that trades on gossip, leaks and juicy details: while you’re checking them out, you’re open to the same. “Bozo eruptions” are not limited to a backbench MP freelancing opinion about social issues to a small- town newspaper reporter; Facebook, in its ease of use, and its socially reciprocating nature, lowers the threshold of access to and ramps up the rapid dissemination of the information about anyone that is about to ruin their political career.

Of course, staff will be upset by the move as Facebook is easily one of the day’s best diversions as it brings procrastination, web surfing and socializing together in a truly amusing way. However, the decision is a wise one for a team that must deal in this political reality.

The Liberals, predictably, will not follow suit in order to contrast their “openness” and “transparency” to Canadians. In fact, Stephane Dion has been an active participant of the social networking site (“Hello Facebook”). The contrarian move, of course, will be to their folly for the reasons that I outline above. But now, it is the potentially embarrassing Liberal information that is now available while Conservative information has been removed.

It should also be noted that this ban is different from that brought down by Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty. This ban by the Conservatives only applies to ministerial exempt staff. Facebook will still be accessible on their computers, but they are advised not to participate. McGuinty effectively had the Facebook site made inaccessible from Queen’s Park computers for all staff, regardless of their political stripe (or lack thereof). The aim of McGuinty’s ban is to cut down on procrastination while the Conservative ban is to patch up leaks before they occur.

Liberals spooked by fax?

When the Liberals received a misdialed fax from the Environment Minister’s office and the subsequently faxed threatening letter suggesting that the original document contained sensitive market information, one wonders if the Grits would have made more of the incident if the Conservatives hadn’t hit back so hard and successfully on the Holland/Jennings boxes incident which backfired on that party highlighting Liberal arrogance when it comes to sensitive information…

Liberals in violation of US Copyright Act

The famous YouTube video with a close up shot of a the shipping label on the boxes “returned” to the PMO by Mark Holland and Marlene Jennings was taken down from the popular video hosting website after the user “liberalvideo” made a copyright claim. YouTube user “liberalvideo” is of course the Liberal OLO and their muscling of content critical to their party sets a chilling precedent in this country.

Of course, the video itself was based upon footage gathered by the Liberal Party from their original video. Since the claimant to the copyright was “liberalvideo”, we can assume that “liberalvideo” is in fact the Liberal OLO.

Anyway. The derivative video produced (with the shipping label) constitutes fair use of the material and may even be classified as a parody of the original. Point is, there is no copyright violation.

This may spell trouble for the Liberal Party as they are in violation of the US Copyright Act. Section 512(f) states:

512. Limitations on liability relating to material online

(f) Misrepresentations. – Any person who knowingly materially misrepresents under this section -

(1) that material or activity is infringing, or

(2) that material or activity was removed or disabled by mistake or misidentification,

shall be liable for any damages, including costs and attorneys’ fees, incurred by the alleged infringer, by any copyright owner or copyright owner’s authorized licensee, or by a service provider, who is injured by such misrepresentation, as the result of the service provider relying upon such misrepresentation in removing or disabling access to the material or activity claimed to be infringing, or in replacing the removed material or ceasing to disable access to it.

Liberals have expressed to me that the removal of the video and copyright claim was shortsighted and “dumb”.

The video that the Liberals don’t want you to see

According to ThePolitic.com, YouTube user “liberalvideo” has complained to Youtube and had the now famous “shipping label” video removed because of a trumped up and false “copyright claim by liberalvideo”. I posted about the video here (the YouTube video on that post is now broken). Obviously, “liberalvideo” is the Liberal OLO. Why are the Liberals only now concerned about property rights? This is somewhat ironic given that this scandal is based upon a massive violation of Conservative property rights by Liberals. I present the original video below, from a “journalistic perspective” (fair use/dealings) since this story (and now, the cover-up) is newsworthy. The video is hosted at Blogging Tories, far from Liberal reach and manipulation. The “shipping label” video will remain there, as an archive, so that future generations may appreciate and study this dreadful chapter of Canadian politics. It will become known as the “Holland/Jennings Incident”.

The forbidden video:

What’s one of the cardinal rules of politics? Cover-ups make the news even bigger.

Sorry Stéphane, you might think that this is unfair, but it’s politics.

An interesting question

When Mark Holland and Marlene Jennings carted property of the Conservative Party of Canada outside of the Wellington building, did they enter into another legal jurisdiction?

The Liberals retained the Conservative boxes full of confidential documents for over one year and rifled through them, looking for dirt. This while documentation was available to them that clearly indicated that these boxes were processed for delivery from the former Conservative OLO to the Conservative Resource Group. One might argue that the boxes were stolen. (If one intercepts your mail, opens it, keeps it for a year, photographs it and then returns it, did one in fact steal it?)

Parliamentary precinct security is the purview of the Speaker. The Wellington building, of course, falls under the Speaker’s jurisdiction. The boxes were to be delivered to the third floor of the same building to the Conservative Resource Group. However, Holland and Jennings took Conservative property outside of the building and paraded it down Wellington street down to Langevin Block and to the PMO. Wellington street is outside of the jurisdiction of the Speaker and indeed within the jurisdiction of the Ottawa Police Service. If Holland and Jennings had returned the boxes without fanfare, one could reasonably argue that they were finally doing the right thing and returning property that clearly wasn’t theirs (albeit their actions still suspect). However, since they coordinated a media stunt around the returning of the boxes, one could argue that the two Liberal MPs were not only in possession of stolen property but that they got use of that property in the municipal jurisdiction of Ottawa.

Do Holland and Jennings have to worry about the possibility of having committed a crime outside of the comfort of the Speaker’s jurisdiction and within that of the Ottawa Police Service? Were Jennings and Holland in possession (and use) of stolen property on Wellington street in Ottawa?

The case of the missing boxes

Yesterday, I had a good chuckle at the manufactured stunt recorded on video and displayed on the Liberal Party website. Apparently, Liberal MPs Mark Holland and Marlene Jennings called the media in to help them deliver some boxes “left over” at the OLO (Office of the Leader of the Opposition) at 180 Wellington st. to the PMO just a few blocks away.

You can view the Liberal video here

In the video, Holland states that

  • documents were “left behind” in the OLO

  • documents contain personal evaluations of OLO staff (documents marked confidential)
  • Holland’s argument is that this represents “gross negligence” on behalf of the Conservatives (now the government). In fact, the Liberals are playing this into a theme of “accountability just being a buzzword to the Conservatives” etc.
  • Jennings repeats the talking point of government negligence with private information.
  • Holland states that the government will have to “answer for its negligence”

    Now, take a look at the following video found on Bourque:

    This video includes a closeup of the delivery slip attached to one of the boxes which includes “From: 145 Well / To: 320-3″. 145 Well is the room number of the OLO in the Wellington Building, and 320-3 is the office number of the Conservative Resource Group (CRG), an outfit working out of the same building.

    When Mark Holland made his triumphant parade down the street from the OLO to the PMO, he could have just taken the elevator in the building which houses the OLO to the CRG on the third floor.

    This brings up another interesting point. The boxes were clearly marked with a delivery slip and were thus not “negligently” left behind, but were ready for moving (presumably during January 2006 when the Conservatives formed government). What got in the way of the delivery process? Did the Liberals find some boxes with highly confidential information in them only this week? If not, how come they waited so long to “return” the documents? What got in between the processing of the boxes for delivery and the actual delivery of the boxes (by House of Commons movers)? When they discovered “private” and “confidential” information, did the “accountable” Liberals do the right thing? Or did they videotape the documents, publish the video and play the offended party?

Liberal meltdown

This week was the first week back after a break for Canada’s New Government. Climate change was expected to lead the agenda as it seems to be the sole issue on which the Liberals care to define themselves. Conservatives rose to power promising to clean up government after the most significant corruption scandal in Canadian history. The Liberals think that they’ll rise to power cleaning up… Carbon dioxide and water vapour? Canadians have perceived Harper delivering on the Federal Accountability Act while Canadians believe that neither the Conservatives nor the Liberals will deliver on climate change.

In fact, I believe that this underlines a key weakness in Liberal messaging. While polling has shown that the environment is a top priority for Canadians, they’re not about to throw out the government on the issue when they actually go to the polls. If heathcare — an issue which actually has a direct effect on the life and death of Canadians — can be taken off the ballot of the electorate by a couple of weeks of warm weather in Toronto, it would seem that there aren’t any pressing issues that are really on the minds of Canadians. “Environment? Sure that sounds like something I should care about”

Unless a hurricane hits Toronto killing scores of people, the electorate is not about to uproot a government to install the old guard led by a sponsorship-era cabinet minister with no real record on the only issue on which he has chosen to define himself.

That’s why this week’s messaging was so puzzling. At the beginning of this week, a protester braved the freezing temperatures of downtown Ottawa to stretch out to play the part of a sunbathing polar bear. One wonders if the protester only had the suit rented for that day.

Liberals were sporting green ribbons in the House this week,
presumably to show that they care about the environment. Since Dion’s election as Liberal leader, the Liberal website has also incorporated a splash of green. Apparently this is to make it known that our Liberal friends care about the environment so long as the vehicle for their environmentalism is the Kyoto protocol. According to the popular narrative these days, one does not believe in saving the environment if one does not believe in a global, bureaucratic, statist wealth transfer agreement. In fact, one also does not believe in the science of climate change if one does not also believe in such a one world collectivist approach to saving the Earth from certain doom (according to our latest amended models). In fact, while Michael Ignatieff was lecturing the government to meet global Kyoto targets, the green ribbon-clad Ignatieff had his own words thrown back at him when environment minister John Baird quoted Ignatieff questioning Kyoto by saying “nobody knows what Kyoto is or what it commits us to”.

Thursday afternoon, Mark Holland, part of the new Liberal rat pack, had a meltdown (actually he didn’t flinch) when he said on Charles Adlers’ show that a Liberal government would control oil sands development in Alberta. Sacrificing the Canadian economy just because green has become fashionable will have Canadians thinking twice about the Liberal party. (The Liberal Party of Canada is already dead to Albertans).

Earlier on Thursday, Dion had a poor question period performance as he bizarrely stated that Harper was “paralyzing the world” when it came to Kyoto. Somebody ought to proofread Dion’s notes before QP, but I imagine this would be a difficult talk as I hear that Dion is very top-down in his approach and has no time for criticism from his staff.

All in all, a bit of a bizarre week for the Liberals on their climate communications. We heard some whispers about an old Harper letter calling Kyoto a “socialist scheme”, but the Liberals didn’t seem to get any mileage on it.

Why would the Liberals spend this frigid week lecturing the Conservatives on the global warming file (one on which they themselves have a dismal record). Is there really nothing else to talk about? Did the Liberals really spend the week telling Canadians “We got nothing”?

BONUS BAD MESSAGING: Bill Graham demanded Conservative action on Guantanamo Bay, a bizarre request given that Graham was foreign affairs minister in the years after 9/11.

Also, Dion called Harper fat?