Harper once promised to “change the face of Canada” so drastically we wouldn’t recognize it. His goal is to make our country a model of small, weak government; powerful, deregulated corporations; increased unity with the US, and faith-based social conservatism. He seems to think the end justifies the means. We have to make sure the Harper Conservatives don’t gain power again.
(More) Scandalous Behaviour
““This government lies as routinely as it maligns, and it never apologizes.” - Gerald Caplan, The Globe and Mail. Somehow the Harper government has been allowed to present itself as relatively scandal free – while still invoking the Liberals’ sponsorship scandal. But a closer look reveals a shady – or worse – side.
“During the Chrétien government years, I reported extensively on malfeasance by the Liberals. To do the math on the Harper government is to conclude that, while it has no sponsorship scandal on its books, it’s already surpassed its predecessor on a range of other abuse-of-power indices. The government’s arc of duplicity is remarkable to behold.” - Lawrence Martin, The Globe and Mail.
“In 2008, Mr. Harper did not start the campaign under a cloud of ethical controversy as he does this one. The prime minister has done well to trigger the election now before evidence of more scandal can accumulate.” - Lawrence Martin, The Globe, March 23, 2011.
100-Plus Reasons to Stop Harper Conservatives - Part II
1a) Two Conservative Senators – Doug Finley, the 2006 and 2008 campaign manager, and Irving Gerstein, a major party fundraiser – and two former senior party officials, all very close to Harper, have been charged by Elections Canada for allegedly wilfully violating the $18.3 million spending limit by claiming national advertising expenses as local expenses in 67 ridings. With this “in-and-out” financing, including forged invoices. candidates claimed rebates on expenses they didn’t actually incur. Ironically, this financing charge, now before the courts, came after the case was reviewed by the Director of Public Prosecutions – established by Harper to deal with issues like the Liberal sponsorship scandal. Elections financing rules are designed to ensure fairness during campaigns.
1b) Globe Update: “The Federal Court of Appeal has struck down a ruling that Conservatives say cleared them of any wrongdoing in the so-called in-and-out election financing scheme. The ruling confirms Elections Canada's interpretation of electoral spending laws. The court says it was reasonable for the elections watchdog to be dissatisfied with the way the Conservative Party reported national advertising expenses for the 2006 election.” If found guilty the four senior Conservatives could face a year in jail and be fined $25,000.
2) With what has been reported as a “wealth of evidence,” Chief electoral officer Marc Mayrand has accused the Conservatives of improperly reporting the cost of running two regional campaign offices in Quebec. More than $100.000 in campaign expenses was divided up and claimed by 15 candidates in Montreal and Quebec City. This was done in spite of the fact that many candidates never used these offices. Instead, they were staffed by party workers involved in the national campaign. Again, this provided a means to get around national expense limits.
3a) Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has been accused of breaking parliamentary rules when a (taxpayer-funded) staff member used his letterhead to raise funds for a Conservative party campaign. The letter explained that the party needs “an additional $200,000 of financial commitment” from various riding associations to make the two-week campaign in the ethnic media a pre-election success. NDP MP Pat Martin demanded Kenney’s resignation because the minister had “flagrantly, in the most cavalier way, abuse(d) all the rules surrounding offices and letterhead and parliamentary tools and equipment to shake down money for an advertising campaign.” The staff member was let go; Kenney apologized, calling it an “administrative mistake.”
3b) Liberal Immigration critic Justin Trudeau has asked Elections Canada to investigate Immigration Minister Jason Kenney concerning the above. The fundraising appeal was accompanied by a presentation “using data and statistics which may have been generated by Mr. Kenney’s department,” Mr. Trudeau stated in a letter.
“If that was in fact the case, the use of Government of Canada data in order to target the votes of certain segments of the population is another abuse of government resources for partisan purposes, and would represent a substantial in-kind donation from the government to the Conservative Party.” He also told The Globe that there has never been such a “concerted, directed and engaged and strategic attempt to go and pick up votes using a minister’s powers.”
3c) According to Jack Layton, the “misuse of public funds” is not unusual in this government. Harper has Senators using their offices, staff, phone budgets, and so on to raise funds for Conservatives.
4a) International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda says she reversed – falsified – a document, which favoured funding for KAIROS, a well-respected development group, after it had been signed by two public servants. Earlier she lied about doing so, saying she didn’t know who did it. Harper saw nothing wrong with this. “Everything that happens at CIDA is an order from the PMO,” said a former Conservative staff member. Speaker Milliken ruled that Oda misled the House of Commons.
4b) “The ingredients of the Oda affair — secrecy, deception, stonewalling, contempt for Parliament, bureaucrats as fall guys and ministers as pawns — are evident throughout this government. And all stem from the same source: a refusal to deal openly with the public, to explain the reasons for its actions and take responsibility for them …” Andrew Coyne, Macleans’ Magazine
4c) From The Globe: “The CIDA minister's refusal to answer basic questions about her contempt for this place goes beyond just the cuts to Kairos,” Liberal MP Anthony Rota said ... “It strikes at the heart of what the Prime Minister once claimed to promote. In an edict to ministers, he said that they must ‘answer honestly and accurately about their areas of responsibility.’ ”
5a) Of the three Harper-appointed watchdogs – Integrity, Ethics, and Lobbying – none has rocked the boat. Public Sector Integrity Commissioner Christiane Ouimet investigated only seven of 228 complaints from public-service whistleblowers – “possibly saving the Harper government multiple embarrassments,” according to Globe columnist Lawrence Martin.
5b) According to a commission registry obtained by The Globe and Mail: “… 42 of the cases involved alleged misuse of taxpayer dollars or government assets. Another 50 or so cases involved charges of what is listed as ‘gross mismanagement.’ About 60 other allegations involved contraventions of Acts of Parliament.” Also, “… 58 claims of reprisals against public servants who sought to speak out.” There was also communication between Harper’s Privy Council Office and Ouimet, even though she was supposed to be independent.
5c) To add insult to injury for taxpayers, Ouimet who resigned last fall walked away with half a million dollars, and “all benefits accruing to retiring appointees.” In return, she agreed to be gagged, promising to keep confidential all information relating to her former office and not disclosing any details of her departure agreement. After a long delay, Ouimet finally appeared before a parliamentary committee, only to attack respected Auditor-General Sheila Fraser’s findings.
5d) “Prime Minister Stephen Harper said once that when a government starts to cancel dissent, it loses its moral authority to govern. Given the Conservatives’ reputation for secrecy and fierce partisanship and indeed the stifling of dissent, they will not be the recipients of much benefit of the doubt on her (Ouimet’s) file,” Lawrence Martin.
6a) Former long-time, top Harper adviser Bruce Carson is being investigated by the RCMP, as well as the ethics and lobbying commissioners. after allegations of unregistered lobbying in relation to meetings with officials at Indian and Northern Affairs Canada and two senior staff members from Minister John Duncan’s office. He also met with Environment Minister Peter Kent. According to a report on the Aboriginal People’s Television Network, Carson, linked with H20 Global Group, was trying to sell $400 million worth of the company’s water filtration systems to First Nations. Under legislation brought in by the Harper government in 2006, senior federal officials can’t lobby on behalf of private companies for five years after leaving government. A secret contract reveals that Carson’s decades-younger fiancée, a former escort, stood to make $80 million from the deal.
6b) Former Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer was accused of improperly using the resources of his wife Conservative MP Helena Guergis’ office for business purposes, and possibly lobbying government officials for green-energy contracts. Both have since been cleared by the RCMP. Guergis is now sitting as an Independent.
7) Harper was criticized for supporting Conservative MP Gurmant Grewal. Grewal had produced tapes of conversations with Tim Murphy, Paul Martin's chief of staff, in which Grewal claimed he had been offered a cabinet position – in exchange for his defection. Experts analyzed the tapes and concluded that a digital copy of the tapes had been edited.
8) In 2008, it was alleged that two Conservative Party officials had offered terminally ill Independent MP Chuck Cadman a $1 million life insurance policy in exchange for his vote to bring down the Liberal government in the May 2005 budget vote. This could be grounds for criminal charges since, under the Criminal Code of Canada, it is illegal to bribe an MP. When asked by journalist Tom Zytaruk about the offer, then-opposition leader Stephen Harper said on tape: "I don't know the details. I know there were discussions … The offer to Chuck was that it was only to replace financial considerations he might lose due to an election … I told them they were wasting their time. I said Chuck had made up his mind.” No charges were laid.
9) During the 2008 federal election campaign. Saanich-Gulf Islands, Julian West, NDP candidate, got 3667 votes, even though he was no longer in the race. It turned out that there was an automated telephone canvas several days before the election, urging people to vote NDP, with no mention that the candidate had dropped out. The calls were traced to someone associated with Conservative Gary Lunn’s campaign. Elections Canada investigated, but no charges were laid.
10) Harper’s refusal to open up about Helena Geurgis. Why really happened? On the other hand, Harper is still protecting Calgary North MP Devinder Shory, who has been under investigation by the RCMP and Alberta police for his involvement in a mortgage fraud case at the Bank of Montreal.
11a) Paul Sauve of LM Sauve construction, with alleged former Hell’s Angels connections, told a parliamentary committee that the $140,000 he paid a Conservative lobbyist was probably distributed to party officials. The company then got the $9-million contract to renovate Parliament Hill’s West Block. “Because we paid, we received,” Sauve said. The RCMP is investigating.
11b) Similar to the Bev Oda case, the Halifax Chronicle Herald reported that: “The official approval document for the renovation of the West Block of Parliament was altered with a typewriter at the last minute so that the acting assistant deputy minister could sign it instead of Michael Fortier, the minister of public works at the time. Fortier has testified he wasn’t even aware that the contract was awarded.”
12) In 2009, audio recordings, photographs, and documents leaked from a Conservative Party student workshop in Waterloo exposed a partisan attempt to take over student unions and undermine Ontario Public Interest Research Groups (OPIRGs) on campuses across Ontario. At a session held by the Ontario Progressive Conservative Campus Association (OPCCA) and the Manning Centre for Building Democracy, campus Conservatives, party campaigners, and Member of Parliament for Kitchener-Waterloo, Peter Braid, discussed strategies to gain funding from student unions for the Conservative Party and ways to run for—and win—positions within those unions. They also identified campus radio stations and the Canadian Federation of Students as potential targets of a campaign to eliminate funding. In 2002, a secret Millennium Leadership Fund of the Progressive Conservative Party youth wing was exposed by the Western Gazette in an article called “Tories plot to infiltrate student government.”
13) The RCMP has also been asked to investigate whether the Harper government illegally leaked cabinet confidential information concerning Taseko Mines – which may have led to insider trading of the company’s shares.
14) In November, 2010, Conservative MP Kelly Block rose in the House of Commons to deliver a short statement: “Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Over the weekend, I spoke privately with most of the members of the finance committee about the leak of a report of that committee by a former member of my staff. Let me assure the House that at the earliest opportunity, I proactively took action and dismissed the staff member in question.” Block’s executive-assistant had sent confidential information to five lobbyists.
15) Harper’s former spokesman, Kory Teneycke, had to resign temporarily as political editor for Quebecor/Sun Media – which is setting up “Fox News North” – after fraudulent names were added to a petition.
16) Conservative MP Cheryl Gallant put her foot in her mouth, suggesting that Atlantic Canadians are too reliant on the Coast Guard to rescue them at sea when they find themselves in trouble. Gallant was forced to apologize. Rick Mercer had another idea: “ … stupid and talking, there's a cure for that. It's called you're fired.”
17) Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart launched an internal audit of Veterans Affairs, fearing “systemic privacy issues” when it was revealed that the medical and psychiatric records of retired captain, Sean Bruyea, were in the briefing notes of former VA minister Greg Thompson.
18) The Harper government seems to have a revolving door with Bay St. Nigel Wright, a major-shareholder in Onex Corp. – which has subsidiaries and interests in firms covering key government areas, including defence, health, aerospace, finance, and energy – has become Harper’s Chief of Staff. Conflict of interest, anyone?