PM’s Priorities

Here’s is a letter sent to the Parliamentary Press Gallery by Stephen Harper’s spokesman Dimitri Soudas,

Today the Prime Minister was in Ontario to promote Canada as an attractive place to invest and a great place to do business. The occasion was the landmark decision by Tim Hortons to reorganize as a Canadian company.

Michael Ignatieff has criticized today’s focus on the economy, claiming that the Prime Minister should be at the United Nations talking about climate change – not back home focused on the economy.

In synchronized attacks, the Liberal Party issued a press release denouncing the Tim Hortons visit, while MP Bonnie Crombie and a handful of Liberals carrying United Nations flags protested outside the PM’s announcement – essentially picketing a Canadian economic success story.

Our priority is the Canadian economy. Nothing takes precedence over the economy.

The decision to picket the Canadian homecoming of Tim Hortons is shameful: further proof that the Ignatieff Liberals care more about political games than the Canadian economy.

The Prime Minister’s speaking spot at the U.N. General Assembly (Friday, 5:00 p.m.) conflicts with attendance at the G-20 economic summit in Pittsburgh. The PM is attending the G-20 summit because our priority is the economy.

The Ignatieff Liberals feel that speaking to the United Nations is more important than working on the economy with other G-20 leaders. We disagree.

Nothing is more important than the Canadian economy

By the way, the Liberal attacks conveniently omit key facts: Prime Minister Harper and other world leaders worked on climate change at a U.N. meeting last night, and today Canada’s seat in the General Assembly will deliberately be vacant during the speech by Holocaust-denier Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

(It’s also worth noting that if Michael Ignatieff had his way, this week we would be in the middle of an unnecessary, opportunistic election. So much for his concern about attendance at the U.N.)

Dimitri N. Soudas
Associate Communication Director/ Press Secretary
Directeur des Communications associé/Attaché de presse

Prime Minister’s Office
Cabinet du Premier ministre

Yesterday, the Liberals (Bonnie Crombie’s office) picketed Tim Horton’s.

Also yesterday, we saw the Liberal line appear unattributed on Elizabeth Thompson’s blog.

Michael Ignatieff is trying to differentiate himself as an internationalist who wants to “regain Canada’s position on the world stage”.

Unfortunately for Ignatieff, while he was away Canada’s international role has matured from peacekeeper and “honest (nuanced) broker” to peacemaker and a country that is heard. We’ve earned our role and found our voice to act and speak with moral clarity, without ambiguity or hedging, on middle eastern policy particularly when it comes Israel and Iran. Canada is a country that is doing the heavy lifting and is now at the sharp end of the spear when it comes to taking a leadership role in rebuilding and securing Afghanistan. While Mr. Ignatieff insists that we need to “regain” our place on stage, he hasn’t noticed that we’ve earned our spot at the table.

Instead of making waffles with other “middle powers”, we’re grilling steaks with the US and the UK.

And while Mr. Ignatieff would have us pass the syrup and listen to some more feel good speeches at the UN, the Prime Minister is at the G-20 working for everyone that balances a chequebook in this country rather than just those that tut tut and pass the cheque.

Press Gallery off message

Sun Media’s Elizabeth Thompson:

When Prime Minister Stephen Harper described last Fall’s stock market dive as “a great buying opportunity,” it was seen by many as a bit insensitive, given the number of Canadians who had just seen a good chunk of their retirement savings melt away.

On Feb.10, when the S&P/TSX hit 8,817.89 – one of the lower points since Harper’s comments – an anonymous tech savvy individual registered the web address and created the Harperdex, which set out to track how much the $1,000 invested the day after Harper’s comments would be worth.
But stock markets are like public opinion polls and what goes down eventually goes up again. At noon today, the Harperdex shows that $1,000 is now worth $1,003 – probably not what the creator of the Harperdex had in mind.

Oh, Liz… you presume too much!

We learn from Canwest’s David Akin,

Ottawa Citizen reporter Glen McGregor quickly put up HarperDex.ca (mostly, he says, as a fun exercise in some Web programming techniques). The idea was simple: If you had invested $1,000 in the S&P/TSX Composite Index the day after Harper said “Buy”, the HarperDex will tell you what that $1,000 is worth.

It’s good to see that the Liberals are getting some help creating anti-Harper mini-sites. Now, if only we could find out which journalist is moonlighting as Perez Hudak?

Notes about the Schreiber Show


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.