Tony Genco: Michael Ignatieff’s second, third, or tenth choice?

From Jordi Morgan’s Maritime Morning show on Rogers News Talk Radio in the Maritimes,

Michael Ignatieff initially courted Julian Fantino before being turned down by the former OPP commissioner now running for the Conservative Party in Vaughan. Mr. Ignatieff continues in the interview to say that the Liberals spoke to many people to run for them in Vaughan. Why did he have to settle for former Liberal staffer, Tony Genco? If Vaughan has been a Liberal seat for over 20 years, why did Ignatieff have any trouble filling the candidacy?

Jane Taber reports,

Stephen Harper’s star candidate, Julian Fantino, was asked by Michael Ignatieff to run for the Liberals in Vaughan – but turned him down, according to the Conservatives.

Now, on the eve of Monday’s vote, the former Toronto police chief and OPP commissioner is being subjected to what the Conservatives consider character assassination by the Liberals.

And so the Tories are fighting back. They are charging hypocrisy and are breaking their silence on a secret they’ve kept since the beginning of the by-election campaign.

“We were aware from the beginning of the campaign that Mr. Ignatieff asked him to run for the Liberals,” Conservative Party spokesman Fred DeLorey said. “We had no intention of making it public – but to see the Liberals actually attack his character and integrity, a man who has committed his career to public service and fighting crime, is just too much.

UPDATE: Greg Rickford’s SO-31 in the House today,

Tony Genco pops up at Queen’s Park

Peter Shurman alleges that Tony Genco handed out about $150,000 in bonuses to the the CEO of York Central Hospital and her chief of staff. He allegedly did so in his role as former treasurer and chair of the hospital. Shurman also points out that the CEO that received the bonus from Genco has also donated $1,500 to the McGuinty Liberals. York Central Hospital ran a $4 million deficit last year and an $11 million deficit this year.

In other news: $12 million landed on York Central Hospital’s doorstep yesterday, courtesy of the Ontario Health Minister:

An early Christmas gift was unwrapped at York Central Hospital Tuesday morning as Ontario’s Minister of Health and Long Term Care Dr. Deb Matthews announced $12.1 million in additional operating funding for the health centre.

Peek-a-boo politics

The Liberals are complaining that Julian Fantino, the Conservative by-election candidate for Vaughan is playing “Peek-a-boo politics” by skipping all-candidates debate. For Liberals, they hope, this plays into a bit of a weak narrative of a secretive and scripted government that doesn’t want to engage “real Canadians”.

“This type of ‘peek-a-boo’ politics is straight out of the Harper playbook where scripted, invite-only photo-ops keep candidates safely out of reach of real people with real questions.”

All-candidates debates, while they sound great in principle, have very little value to the candidates themselves, especially if they represent mainline parties. If you’ve ever been to one of these events you know that each candidate brings their staff and volunteers and cheers and jeers and “engagement” with the “voting public” comes in the form of planted question after planted question. All-candidates debates sound good on paper, but in practice they’ve become farcical. All-candidates debates are more accurately described as “all-decided”.

In fact, when we used to train campaign managers (of all stripes) at the Manning Centre, we advised that all-candidates debates should actually be avoided if possible. Why? Because more accessible (leaning or undecided) voters are met at the door or on the telephone. A candidate’s time is much better invested knocking on doors or by doing telephone canvassing. All-candidates debates turn into a competition for fevered applause versus exaggerated boos for all candidates. The media is disappointed when a candidate is a no-show, of course, because these “debates” are a lazier opportunity for “getting the pulse” of the “electorate”. In fact, we used to advise candidates show to as few as possible in order to check the box for the media.

The Liberals should also be careful with the “Peek-a-boo” label as they’ve been guilty of their own charge in the past,

From a Globe and Mail report during the Liberal leadership race of 2008,

The weekend brouhaha at a meeting of Liberals from Ontario made it clear that Mr. Ignatieff is viewed as the leading contender, and that Mr. Rae’s first goal is to ensure his opponent does not quietly coast through the race.

On Sunday, Mr. Rae boycotted a leadership “forum” where candidates were to take questions from riding presidents and other party officials, after Mr. Ignatieff refused calls from his two rivals to open the session to reporters and cameras.

Mr. Rae accused Mr. Ignatieff of preparing a “peekaboo” campaign.

“There is a fray: It’s called a leadership race. And you can’t very well stay above it. If you want to stay above it, you’re not going to be in it,” Mr. Rae said outside the meeting at a Mississauga hotel.

“The Liberal Party is a political party. It’s not a private club.”

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!