And in Nova Scotia news…

The Chronicle Herald is reporting this hour,

STELLARTON — A letter at the centre of the dismissal of the former Stellarton police chief alleges Pictou County RCMP officers engaged in sex parties that included drug use, infidelity and improper use of weapons.

All of this happened under the watch of Ross Landry, who was a staff sergeant in the area at the time. Landry is now Nova Scotia’s justice minister.

My Nova Scotia PC friends are suggesting that Landry, now the NDP government’s Justice Minister in Nova Scotia, will likely have to step aside (at least temporarily) as a police tribunal investigates the story in the coming weeks.

The NDP government will likely protest this call.

Landry won his seat by the closest margin in the last provincial election: by 102 votes.

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.

In case Liberals have short memories on their own remarks re: Helena Guergis

Today, former Conservative cabinet minister Helena Guergis revealed that the RCMP has cleared her of any wrongdoing in their investigation of her. The investigation was said to begin after the Prime Minister’s Office referred information that it had obtained to that arms-length agency. After referral the RCMP decided to initiate the investigation, it now seems that they have cleared Ms. Guergis.

For their part, the Conservatives say that the issue of writing a letter on behalf of a constituent with possible business connections to her husband still looms and is under review by the Ethics Commissioner.

Up until her ouster from cabinet by the Prime Minister and investigation by the RCMP, Ms. Guergis had a string of bad news events which raised questions from the Opposition about her competency and ability to represent Canadians in cabinet.

When she was ejected from cabinet and kicked out of caucus, the Opposition took an about-face to demand why she had been removed. Now that she has been cleared by the RCMP, expect this line from the Liberals and NDP to be renewed.

Despite her being cleared by the RCMP, the PMO says that Ms. Guergis is still not welcome back in caucus. If the Liberals take her into their own ranks, will it reek of hypocrisy? The following comments were made before the RCMP investigation was announced. Does Guergis have the confidence of Michael Ignatieff?

Police called in regarding suspected voter suppression in PC leadership race

The following was received by “unambiguously ethnic” (as PH puts) PC Party of Ontario members in a Toronto area riding. It reeks of voter suppression. (h/t Perez)

Frank Klees’ campaign has focused upon signing up new Canadians and bringing increased diversity to the PC Party of Ontario. His campaign believes that his campaign was the target of this “dirty trick” type of politicking.

I’ve received the following letter from a source close to the Klees campaign. The letter is from party president Ken Zeise. It informs the Klees campaign that the police are now investigating the matter.

Chuck Cadman, RCMP closure and the last Liberal stretch

RCMP:

[the] “investigation disclosed no evidence to support a charge under the Criminal Code or under the Parliament of Canada Act” (emphasis added)

The Liberal Party of Canada:

“The ethical standards of a Prime Minister must be above those of the evidentiary rules for prosecution under the Criminal Code” — Dominic Leblanc

Incongruent spin from the Liberals:

Mr. LeBlanc said while he fully accepts the RCMP’s determination that there is insufficient evidence to proceed with criminal prosecution, he believes Mr. Harper and the Conservatives have a duty to give Canadians all the details of the offer that was made to Mr. Cadman.

If Dominic Leblanc “fully accepts” the RCMP’s assessment, how can “no evidence” to support a charge become “insufficient evidence” for the same? Mathematically, “no evidence” equals zero, while “insufficient evidence” is less than one.

The only ongoing legal proceeding on this matter is a result of Stephane Dion’s inappropriate and allegedly libelous statements against the Prime Minister. The Liberals should stop stretching the truth to smear the Prime Minister and accept that this issue with provide no more mileage and that their gamble on this attack only weakens their credibility on the other scandal narratives that the party has constructed.

The Elections Canada raid (supporting information and Conservative response)

Below you’ll find the application for a search warrant from Elections Canada (the warrant), attached appendices to the affidavit of EC official Ronald Lamothe, and a list of contradictions that the Conservative Party believes to exist between Lamothe’s affidavit and the supporting documentation.

First, the search warrant:

Read this doc on Scribd: stephentaylorca-warrant

and the appendices to the affidavit sworn by Lamothe:

Read this doc on Scribd: appendices to affidavit

The Conservative Party has pointed out contradictions that exist between the affidavit sworn and supporting material provided in the appendices to the affidavit. Here are the contradictions that they emphasize (received via email (on the record) from the CPC):

In general, the text of the affidavit is extremely one-sided. It is replete with misstatement, misquote, incomplete quotes, and apparently deliberate omission of information which is contrary to the existence of their “theme” of a “scheme”. A particular concern would be some very serious distortions of the documents that the affidavit purports to paraphrase or refer to.

1. An outrageous example is the fabricated purported quote of Irving Gerstein, Chair of Conservative Fund Canada, contained at p. 54, para 229d. Compare the paraphrased “quote” in the text to the actual email from the person purporting to quote Mr Gerstein, contained at Appendix 25 of the document. The person quoting Mr Gerstein in the email does not say that Mr Gerstein even referred to a “switch” in advertising expenses, let alone that this would be necessary to avoid breaching the limit. The version of the quote in the affidavit is a fabrication by the affiant.

This fabrication undermines the credibility of all the other paraphrased quotes in the affidavit, especially where the quotes are from individuals whose statements are not contained in emails of third parties (as with Mr Gerstein) but rather were allegedly directly made in conversations with the investigators.

2. Another outrageous example is the repeated but baseless implication or innuendo that Party staff essentially fraudulently altered Retail Media invoices (pages 16, 23, 53, 54, 55). This is manifestly false: the explanation is contained at para 79, and reflected in the documents at App 19 and 23. Simply stated, one Retail Media invoice that lists some 40 ridings was obviously re-copied for ease of reference to refer to one riding at a time. The amount applicable to a given riding was unchanged.

3. This baseless implication of fraudulent invoicing is repeated at p. 25, para 92. There is reference to a Retail Media invoice for a riding of $10,657 for “radio”, while it is noted the Party invoice for that riding for “media buy” is $21,240.57. The affiant states that he “is not aware of the reason for the difference”. The reason is that he ignored another Retail Media invoice for the same riding contained at the previous page in the same Appendix (App 8, at pp. 211ff), in the amount of $10,584, for “TV”. The two Retail Media invoices together total $21, 241 – i.e., the same amount as carried forward onto the Party invoice.

4. At p. 25, para. 90, there is a paraphrased alleged quote of an official agent, Lise Vallieres, suggesting that she had never agreed to the advertising expenditure. It is disturbing that there is no reference here to the letter that her candidate sent to Elections Canada dated December 15, 2006 concerning his campaign’s participation in the regional media buy. The letter states as follows:

“Il s’agit d’un ‘placement collectif’ de publicité de plusieurs comtés lors de la dernière election générale (23 janvier 2006). Mme. Lise Vallières, agent officielle du soussigné, a accepté d’y participer de bonne foi.”

(see O’Grady affidavit in Federal Court filing)

5. Anyone familiar with federal electoral law and policy would be aware that every candidate and official agent must sign the following declaration to Elections Canada in relation expenditure listed in their return:

“I hereby solemnly declare that to the best of my knowledge and belief:

“1. the information contained in this return is correct; all election expenses in respect of the conduct or management of the election have been properly recorded;

“I make this solemn declaration conscientiously, believing it to be true and knowing that it is of the same force and effect as if made under oath and by virtue of the Canada Evidence Act.”

Yet, there is no reference to this in the several pages of paraphrased quotes from candidates and agents who were interviewed by the investigators.

6. Further, given the repeated implications in the alleged paraphrased quotes that candidates or agents did not enter binding contracts for the advertising, it is unbalanced that there is no reference to the considerable evidence in the emails that Mr Donison dealt directly with many of the local agents or candidates and he stated at the time that he was getting “solemn contractual commitments” from them (see Appendix 47).

7. Also disturbing is the innuendo at p. 54 that Party officials “chose not to seek a ruling…prior to ‘switching’.” The underlying e-mail (Appendix 21) is actually between two people in the media industry, not the Party, who simply discuss whether the Broadcasting Arbitrator should be consulted as to whether they can act as buying agents for local campaigns. There is no mention of “switching”.

Back in November of last year, the Conservative Party filed an affidavit (the “Donald Affidavit”) with the federal court. The document describes similar activities of other federal parties during previous elections and serves to rhetorically ask why the Conservative Party is singled out for what they argue is a common practice. The Conservatives maintain that these transfers for federal/regional/candidate ad buying is legal and that their position is defensible. The party is currently challenging what they argue is the selective misinterpretation of the Elections Act against them by Elections Canada. The Donald Affidavit elaborates on this argument.

Read this doc on Scribd: stephentaylorca-donaldaffidavit

Something isn’t right about RCMP “raid”

If the Conservative Party of Canada is in the midst of a confrontational legal matter with Elections Canada, isn’t it a bit imprudent for EC to use an enforcement mechanism of the state (the RCMP) to gain leverage (political and informational) against its opponent?

Let’s consider an analogy.

If I was suing Heath Canada for certifying faulty medical equipment that led to personal injury, would it be appropriate for Heath Canada to call in the RCMP to raid my office in order to gather evidence of my claim, decreasing the merit of my case in the eyes of my co-workers (or even the national media if they were called ahead of time). Since Health Canada and I have equal standing in court, would I have the power to leverage this same enforcement mechanism to help my case?

Since Elections Canada has a stake in an ongoing civil action with the Conservative Party of Canada, is conducting their related investigation in conflict with the equal standing that the Conservatives should reasonably expect in their civil case against them?

Furthermore, doesn’t a court in a civil matter have the same powers to gather and secure evidence? So, why is this being done by the RCMP and why is this being directed by one of the stakeholders in a related lawsuit?

Should Elections Canada suspend its investigation process until questions raised by the Conservative Party’s civil suit are sorted out?

UPDATE:It would seem that according to Mr. Lamothe at Elections Canada that “the Commissioner of Canada Elections is not party to this litigation”.

Goodale’s office received “private sector feedback” prior to Income Trust Announcement

From today’s Globe and Mail, details of the RCMP investigation and interview of then Finance Minister Ralph Goodale surface:

Transcripts of RCMP interviews with Mr. Goodale and his staff show that, among other things, the Mounties scrutinized consultations between his office and private-sector investment players in the days and hours leading up to the trust announcement.

Mr. Goodale told the Mounties in a March of 2006 interview that two of his staff were tasked in the days before the announcement to “get some private-sector feedback” on the idea of a tax on trusts and other options.

He told the RCMP that his staff later assured him they didn’t disclose or signal which option the government would ultimately take.

“They would know having worked through budgets and other very confidential matters within the Department of Finance that there is no definitive information that is to be disclosed,” Mr. Goodale told the RCMP.

Mr. Goodale has repeatedly emphasized he made inquiries among his staff and department and was satisfied that no advance notice was given.

Daniel Leblanc and Steven Chase write that the Mounties were set to charge “at least one [more] federal official” surrounding the Income Trust leak but that (or those) official(s) were lucky because of a provision of the Security and Information Act was struck down in an unrelated case. It is not known who the RCMP was set to charge.

Back in February of 2007, Ralph Goodale said

“The investigation has indicated no involvement in this matter by me, my staff or any other political person”

and Stephane Dion in February of 2007,

“The RCMP income trust investigation exonerates the Liberal Party of Canada and shows that the Conservative and NDP allegations of a politically-motivated leak were false”

Notes about the Schreiber Show

Karlheinz-Schreiber.jpg
Today, I was able to make the House of Commons committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics at Parliament. Here are my notes about what happened.

– Schreiber arrived in committee escorted by the RCMP. During the closing minutes of the committee he was flanked by four suited ear-pieced Mounties. Outside, on Parliament, police cruisers were on standby. Schreiber insisted that he be allowed to appear in committee in plain clothes instead of an orange prison, the police presence quickly reminded people about the serious allegations surrounding Schreiber.

– The last item during committee was a debate concerning whether or not Schreiber would be held in an Ottawa detention centre or in his private estate under house arrest in Ottawa. One Liberal committee member expressed that he wanted to ensure Mr. Schreiber got a good night sleep so that he’s able to testify. Prior to the committee, Schreiber was escorted to Parliament Hill by police in handcuffs.

– Main sticking point of the committee is Schreiber’s “inability” to testify because he hasn’t had access to his notes and that the German-Canadian businessman wouldn’t be able to recall specific details. One Conservative member complained that Schreiber was able to write an 80+ page affidavit and that Schreiber has had about 8 years to recall the details of his dealings with former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.

– At first, Schreiber read from a hastily scribbled note that he struggled to read that he would not testify until given access to his notes which are located in Ottawa, Toronto and Switzerland. The last locale elicit laughter from those in attendance as it almost seemed like wishful thinking that Schreiber would be able to travel outside of Canadian (or German) jurisdiction to access his notes.

– Later, after being told to defer on answers from which he would need his notes, Schreiber eventually answered in the definitive to earlier questions on which he was unclear. This inconsistency seemed to wash over those in attendance as if they came to expect dodging from this star witness.

– I counted five CBC/SRC journalists in attendance and four of them were front-row-centre. The involvement of the state-funded broadcaster may come under more intense scrutiny when Dr. Johnston delivers his terms of reference. If Mulroney, who himself has called for a full inquiry, gets his way, the CBC – particularly the Fifth Estate – will be called before the inquiry to answer for what he has termed a vindicate character assassination campaign.

– Headlines, if any, will include the new information that Schreiber arranged $500,000 for Mulroney’s services, however, he only paid $300,000 because he was unsatisfied with Mulroney’s work.

– Every reporter that I’ve spoken to about this have a feeling that Harper’s office is not directly tied to the Mulroney-Schreiber affair and of course, implying such a connection is the strategy of the Liberal party. One reporter remarked that the meeting was the biggest press circus that he’s ever seen for a committee witness.

– With respect to the delaying tactics of Schreiber, both he and the Liberals can easily serve each other’s agenda. Schreiber seeks to delay extradition to Germany to face bribery charges, while the Liberals don’t mind stretching the process out over weeks and even months. The Liberal chair was quite accommodating to Schreiber’s dilemma of not being prepared to testify. Schreiber will continue to appear before committee meting out small portions of his story until the committee is satisfied with his testimony. Conservatives are receptive to full testimony by Schreiber, but want the man to get on with it and wrap up as soon as possible. The Liberals aim to tar Mulroney and the Conservative Party with the same brush as they have inquired into past donations to the PC Party by Schreiber. Elizabeth Thompson reports this morning that the Liberals were also recipients collecting $10,000 in donations from the former arms dealer. The Conservatives made an effect to insulate their party from Schreiber as they point out that he has not donated to the Conservative Party of Canada.

CBC’s Paul Hunter tries too hard on climate change story

Consider the following clip by the CBC’s Paul Hunter which aired on the National broadcast on January 9th, 2007. (Watch for the “curb” comment and the criticism of the PM and the RCMP for idling the PM’s motorcade).

Mansbridge: “As Paul Hunter discovered today, Baird may have some work to do curbing his own colleagues.”

Hunter: “But is the government listening? Even as the environmentalists were saying that inside, just outside the Prime Minister’s motorcade sat idling. At 10:30 this morning, 11:30, 12:30 and beyond, just meters from his office door.”

Hunter failed to report on a few facts that, when revealed, hardly puts the PM in a negative light.

RCMP security protocol demands that the Prime Ministerial motorcade (ie. security detail) be ready to evacuate the Prime Minister at a moments notice.

The RCMP are not permitted inside the confines of the buildings of Parliament. If not meters (meters!) from the Prime Minister’s door, then where? 10 meters? On Wellington? In Gatineau?

What was the Prime Minister doing that day? Is his office newsworthy, or his cars?

Stephane Dion’s new limo is a Cadillac, not quite so environmentally friendly.

How many greenhouse gases are produced by coast-to-coast-to-coast broadcasting during idle times at the CBC? (ie. during the nightly test pattern and re- (and first-)runs of The Hour).

Does the CBC idle its satellite trucks?

UPDATE: Steve Janke asks some more good questions.