Tag Archives: Conservative

Stephen Harper’s Senate Woes

It is amazing how things change in Stephen Harper’s Ottawa isn’t it?

Take the curious cases of Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin for example.  Mike and Pam were appointed to the Senate by Stephen Harper.  This was quite a coup for him… two trained Media celebs to carry the good word of Stephen Harper and to fill his purse with coins of silver.

The fact that attendees to the various Harper functions would bypass a chance to meet Stephen for an opportunity to hobnob with celebrities like Mike or Pam didn’t bother Stephen in the least.  They were professional speakers who could carry the message and as I said, people were willing to part with their hard earned money to see real Celebs.

So what happened?  I’m not entirely sure, but what looked to be an attempt to embarrass the Liberals in the Senate turned nasty on the Harper picks instead.  When the Harper dominated Senate turned its guns on Liberal Senator Mac Harb, trying to show that he was milking or bilking the system to line his pockets, someone noticed that a certain Senator “from” PEI had been living in the Ottawa area for decades.

He was doing the same thing!

And when the nets were cast a bit wider, Pam Wallin hit the radar as well for her travel expenses and the fact that she appears to live in Toronto rather than Saskatchewan like everyone was saying.

Now many want to blame the “Liberal Media” for all of this, but the story broke first in the National Post.  Everyone else showed up after that because they smelled blood in the water.

Then we had Stephen Harper defending Pam Wallin, saying that he had reviewed her expenses and that they were similar to other Parliamentarians from Saskatchewan and defending Mike Duffy after he repaid his excess expenses.  He said Mike was honourable and showed leadership in the Senate by repaying the money.  I think we all remember this, don’t we?

When Deloitte finished their reports on Harb, Duffy, and Brazeau, the Senate Internal Economy Committee (Internal) tabled their reports on the matter and washed their hands of it. 

The reports from Internal said that Harb and Brazeau has been cheating, claiming expenses that they were not entitled to, but the report on Duffy had been white washed to say that Good Old Duff had just been confused by the Senate Rules and besides, he had repaid the money.

And the bucket of paint and brushes appear to have come from the PMO as well as a cheque for $90,000.00 for cover Duffy’s debt.

Senators objected to the obvious kid glove treatment of Duffy compared to the stern admonishments for the enemy Liberal Harb and the Senate embarrassment Brazeau.  The matter was handed over to the RCMP to investigate and let the Senate say we can’t do anything until after the RCMP is done.

The issue lay there for a while until the Fund Raising Reports started to come in.  The Harper Party was being hurt, they weren’t getting the money they were used to.  The Party Base was angry and there was one obvious reason why… actually three.

The Harper Party needed to distance themselves from these three Senators.  Brazeau was already out of the Caucus and out of the Senate as well.  Having been charged with crimes, the Senate was able to put Brazeau on a “Leave of Absence” which the Rules of the Senate allowed for.  Duffy and Wallin both needed to be shoved aside.  Both received orders to quit the Harper Party Caucus.

Duffy maintains that he was bullied into leaving the Caucus by threats of expulsion from the Senate, former Harper Party Government Leader in the Senate Marjory Le Breton refutes this by saying the same thing.  Go figure.

Wallin on the other hand says she was trying to negotiate the wording of her statement that she was willing to recuse herself from the Caucus until the matter of her expenses was cleared up except Senator Le Breton beat her to the punch, pre-emptively announcing that Wallin too had resigned from the Caucus.

Things sat quietly simmering until the recent announcement of Senator Claude Carignan, Leader of the Government in the Senate that he was making a motion to have Senators Duffy, Wallin, and Brazeau suspended from the Senate without pay.

And now Stephen Harper is applauding this move by the man that he appointed to the Senate, who that he named as the Senate Government Leader, but says that he and his office had no influence on this.  Whatever.

Embattled Senators Duffy and Wallin have now gone from Harper Party show ponies to being the sacrificial lambs at the Harper Party altar.  It really must hurt to move from being knights and bishops on the board to being mere pawns in the game…

Surprisingly, a fair number of people from across the political spectrum have risen in defence of Senators Duffy, Wallin, and by association, Brazeau.  The latest move of the Harper Party to suspend people who are merely accused of something rankles people in Canada.

The Harper echo boxes are trying to argue this, but Canadians believe in the law and that the rule of law needs to be used fairly.  What Senator Carignan proposes is not fair, and may not even be allowed under the Rules of the Senate.

Those rules outline the use of Leave of Absence (LoA) and Suspensions in the Senate and the Suspension Rules do not apply to any of the three accused as I read it.  If a Senator is charged with a crime, the Senate may place that Senator on a LoA, and if that Senator is convicted and subject to jail time the Senate may place that Senator on Suspension.

The section of the Rules that deals with LoAs and Suspension also state:

 For greater certainty, the Senate affirms the right of a Senator charged with a criminal offence to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law in a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal. No intent to comment on or pass judgment with respect to a Senator shall be imputed to the Senate because of the operation of this rule.”

Emphasis mine, BC

 

Stephen, the issue isn’t about the money.  The money is only a part of it.  The issue is of fairness and rule of law.  I suspect these ideas are foreign to you.  Your statements only refer to expenses and return of money, you disregard the other rules.

Senator Segal gets it, Senator Plett gets it too.  There are reports that some of the MPs in your Caucus get it as well and that they have been contacting their counterparts in the Senate urging them to vote against Senator Carignan’s motion.

I’d suggest the Party Base gets it too.

Mike Duffy says that you told him that the problem was that the Party Base didn’t like the appearance of what he had done.  I’m inclined to believe him.  You did not chastise him for the expenses, you only told him to pay them back.

I’m not a fan of Senators Duffy, Wallin, and Brazeau.  I don’t think that they deserve to sit in the Senate, but I also believe they do not deserve the treatment that you and your people are putting them through.

One last question Stephen, if you can ask Senator Carignan for me… Why is Senator Stewart Olsen not sitting beside the others in the Independent’s Corner.  She did the same thing they did, but she’s allowed to sit in judgement?

Could it be that the Party Base is angry with you, Stephen?

Just wondering, BC

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Jack Hunter: ‘The Future of Constitutional Conservatism’

Published by on Sep 24, 2012 https://youtu.be/0fbPY2eCgbw

A speech delivered by conservative political pundit Jack Hunter on how constitutional liberty is experiencing a renaissance within the American political spectrum. Hunter explores who is behind this movement and what the most effective strategies for implementing an approach to governance that is in line with the United States Constitution.

Aired on 9/17/2012 (Constitution Day) from Georgia Tech University.



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0fbPY2eCgbw

Category: News & Politics

License: Standard YouTube License

continue reading source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0fbPY2eCgbw


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Aberhart and Harper on Crusade

History of the Conservative Party of Canada which emerged from the Social Credit Party of William Aberhart, not the Tory Party of Sir John A MacDonald

By Emily Dee
Sunday, June 6, 2010

Canadian Constitution Foundation and the Federalist Society Attacking Universities

A CULTURE OF DEFIANCE: History of the Reform-Conservative Party of Canada

I’ve been writing a series of articles on the Canadian Constitution Foundation, Morton Blackwell’s Leadership Institute and the Manning Centre for Building Democracy, who have joined forces to attack Canadian universities, partly through student associations.

It first came to my attention after reading the blog of an American woman who had been covering this phenomenon in the U.S. and in particular a group called Youth for Western Civilization. This “youth” group is funded by Blackwell’s Leadership Institute, and engage in something he teaches called “controlled controversy”.

Budding journalist Jeff Horwitz went undercover, I guess you’d say, attending one of their seminars and wrote an article My Right-wing Degree: How I learned to convert liberal campuses into conservative havens at Morton Blackwell’s Leadership Institute, Alma Mater of Karl Rove, Ralph Reed, Jeff Gannon and two Miss Americas. (1)

Rob Anders is also a graduate of this school, and according to Marci McDonald in her book The Armageddon factor (2), about 700 other Canadians, including several of Harper’s MPs, have passed through their halls. I’d be willing to bet that Pierre Poilievre and John Baird were graduates, though it’s only speculation, based on their actions. Baird’s latest outlandish display during the committee hearings into the Jaffer/Guergis affair, is pure Blackwell.

I really wish Canada had more of an actual media, because there is definitely a story here, and it’s very troubling.

Not long after perusing the blog of the concerned American, I came across an article from a university newspaper, telling of an incident at Carleton. Someone attended a workshop there armed with a tape recorder, and exposed the fact that through Manning’s centre (the Canadian offshoot of the Leadership Institute) there was an aggressive attempt to infiltrate student unions to shift them to the right.

In order to do this they suggested ways of obtaining funding by setting up “front” groups that would become part of a central organization. In doing this they could illegally, or at least unethically, obtain more funding (eg. five groups, five separate fundings for one organization)

Since I first started to unravel this, I’ve had several people contact me, all from the United States, because Canadians are still asleep at the wheel it would seem, and on Friday hit the mother lode. Pages and pages of research based primarily on the rift within the Catholic church between orthodox and modern teachings (part of it concerned Jason Kenney, which I blogged on yesterday)

Everything sent is a matter of public record, so there’s no “deepthroat” thing going on, but I think we have to start taking this seriously. I printed everything off and started googling a bit, and they are definitely onto something.

I am currently reading Donald Gutstein’s book Not a Conspiracy Theory*, in which he outlines the numerous think tanks and federations that currently back up Harper’s Reform-Alliance-Conservative movement. And it is indeed not a conspiracy theory, as he simply follows the money. So I’ve been doing the same with this new “youth” movement, and when following the money, they are clearly very well financed.

And I suppose it shouldn’t come as any big surprise that the same people who are funding the U.S. movement, are also throwing money around in Canada, as part of what is now called the “Religious Right”; not so much a divine mission, as it is an unholy crusade.

Controlled Controversy

Controlled controversy — making your point in a manner so bombastic that your opponents blow their cool — is a Blackwell specialty. (1)

John Carpay who is at present the director of the Canadian Constitution Foundation (I’ve been told by CCF that he will be stepping down) had worked on the leadership campaign of Stockwell Day (along with Jason Kenney) when he was running against Preston Manning in 2000.

Carpay was upset that Manning and his team were attacking Day’s religious beliefs, including the comment that there was a “Jim Jones Kool-Aid”** thing going on. (3) Carpay lashed out: “I’m upset at the negative campaigning, but I hold Preston Manning responsible. He wears a fake halo and pretends to be innocent. It’s rather sickening.” (4)

Carpay is not alone in suggesting that Manning is not as innocent as he likes to let on. McDonald in her book suggested that he was difficult to pin down, and that is not by accident. I’ve read his books, and it’s more about what he doesn’t say in them. For instance, little or no mention of the Fraser Institute, and none of the National Citizens Coalition, despite the fact that the Reform Party would never have been as successful as they were, had it not been for these two organizations.

In fact, it was his father, Ernest, who convinced Colin Brown, founder of the NCC, to start it up in the first place. Up to then he had only placed ads in major newspapers attacking Tommy Douglas and Medicare. It was also his father who suggested that they register themselves as a non-profit, to enjoy the tax breaks, and Ernest Manning was on their advisory board. (Stephen Harper was president of the NCC before stepping down to run for the Alliance leadership in 2002. He also ran against Stockwell Day and attacked his socon groupies)

Manning and Carpay have obviously mended fences because the Manning Centre awarded him recently with the Pyramid Award for Ideas, neoconservative jargon for dismantling Canada.

Recent examples of “controlled controversy” in Canada include York University, where a group of young Conservatives burst into the screening of a film during anti-Apartheid (Israel) week, laughing at dead Palestinian children. Just bombastic enough to garner the desired response. It worked as headlines blamed York students and Jason Kenney referred to their reaction as a “pogrom”, despite the fact that there was no blood and no massacre. Since then no university is even allowed to put up posters advertising the event. Ironically CCF is not taking on their case.

Another was at the University of Calgary where young Conservatives displayed anti-abortion posters depicting aborted fetuses and swastikas. They were not made to take them down only turn them away from the street. CFF handled the case, and are reporting a victory.

If anything the bombastic posters stripped the group of any legitimacy, but that was not the intent. What we have now is an administration that will give this group more leeway, fearing reprisal and negative media reports. So what will they do next? Tack an actual aborted fetus to the wall? I can hardly wait.

I already have a thread started with the incidents at Canadian universities, but am starting another here showing how they directly connect to their American counterparts. One thing that screams out at you can be seen on page 5 (you will have top scroll down to it) of a 2008 report by the Canadian Constitution Federation. There is a photo of John Carpay sitting beside Eugene Meyer, president of the Federalist Society in the U.S., an arm of the Council for National Policy.

If you want to see a power broker, the Federalist Society is one of the top. (5) Remember the Monica Lewsinsky scandal and the attempt to impeach Bill Clinton, headed by Kenneth Starr?

“Ken Starr, the sober-faced lawyer who headed the independent counsel investigation leading to the impeachment of Bill Clinton … Starr, 63, served as solicitor general under President George H.W. Bush and was later appointed independent counsel for an investigation of Clinton that eventually looked into
the president’s relationship with a White House intern, Monica Lewinsky. The Senate acquitted Clinton after the impeachment charges were brought by the House. Starr, a constitutional lawyer and member of the conservative Federalist Society, was reviled at the time by Democrats who called his inquiry a witch hunt.” (6)

Now do you remember the 1997 speech that surfaced during the 2006 election campaign, that many believed cost Stephen Harper a majority, and saved Canada from total destruction? It was delivered at a conference for the Council for National Policy in Montreal where they passed a motion to try to find some way to impeach Bill Clinton. (6)

And you don’t think this group is capable of getting a foothold in Canada? Will we hear John Carpay say “Just Watch Me”! Come on people, wake up. The CCF is not just a nice little legal group “defending free speech”. They are organized and well financed. And a lot of that financing can be linked to the Republicans and the American Religious Right, which are now one and the same.

McDonald’s book The Armageddon Factor was only a tip of the iceberg, because for every CCF out there, there are dozens of other groups, many of them “fronts”, enjoying tax free status by claiming to be non-partisan and not for profit. Neither claim is true. They are very profitable and the staff moves back and forth from the organizations to Harper’s parties in all of their manifestations. And I can prove it.

AND THIS IS NOT A CONSPIRACY THEORY!!

Footnotes:

*Not a Conspiracy Theory: How Business Propaganda Hijacks Democracy, By Donald Gutstein, Key Porter Books, 2009, ISBN: 978-1-55470-191-9

**In November of 1978, the world was shocked by the suicide deaths of 913 members of the People’s Temple cult. Jim Jones, the leader of the group, convinced his followers to move to Jonestown, Guyana, a remote community that Jones carved out of the South American jungle and named after himself. Jones constantly feared losing control of his followers. His paranoia was the main reason he moved the cult to Guyana.

The mass suicide occurred after U.S. Rep. Leo Ryan of California and a team of reporters visited the compound to investigate reports of abuse. After some members tried to leave with the congressman’s group, Jim Jones had Ryan and his entourage ambushed at the nearby airstrip. He then ordered his flock to commit suicide by drinking grape-flavored Kool-Aid laced with potassium cyanide. (Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid, By: Todd Strandberg)

Sources:

1. My Right-Wing Degree, By Jeff Horwitz, May 24, 2005

2. The Armageddon Factor: The Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada, By: Marci McDonald, Random House Canada, 2010, ISBN: 978-0-307-35646-8 3, Pg. 104

3. Requiem for a Lightweight: Stockwell Day and Image Politics, By Trevor Harrison, Black Rose Books, 2002, ISBN: 1-55164-206-9, Pg. 62

4. “Manning Backer Drops Bid to Woo Social Conservatives, National Post, July 5, 2000

5. Debating the Subtle Sway of the Federalist Society, By Jason DeParle, August 1, 2005

5. Clinton Nemesis Ken Starr to Head Baylor University, By Tom Diemer, Poltiics Daily, April, 2010

6. Bill Clinton’s Washington, Unzipped: ‘The Death of American Virtue’ is a cautionary tale of justice and libidos out of control, By Rafe Mair, The Tyee, June 4, 2010


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Harper’s Christian Right Wing

By Murray Dobbin, 17 May 2010, TheTyee.ca


thetyee.ca

The PM is fomenting a culture war, but his opponents barely seem to realize it.

Christian end-timers welcome Armageddon and The Rapture that follows for them. If you’ve ever heard them go beyond defending Israel to hoping for an all out conflagration in the Middle East you could almost be forgiven if you dismissed them as marginal whack-jobs good only for a kind of black humour entertainment.

I said almost forgiven. Because as Marci MacDonald points out in her new book, The Armageddon Factor: The Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada, if you don’t take these people seriously you may be quietly contributing to the demise of democracy and all the social democratic programs it has created in the past 50 years. (See her 2006 article on the subject here.)

Stephen Harper takes them very seriously, to the point where he has encouraged and facilitated the rapid build-up of a powerful Christian right political machine on Parliament Hill and beyond, a machine that is getting its way more and more with the Conservative government. The way McDonald explains it, Harper suffered a serious erosion of support from the neo-liberal crowd when in 2008 he buckled to NDP and Liberal pressure to spend billions to stave off a serious recession — and brought the country its worst deficit situation in decades.

To replace that part of his core vote, Harper had to reinforce and activate the other half: the Christian right. Attacks on science; excluding abortion from his maternal health program overseas; an escalation of his assault on women’s equality; more attacks on human rights institutions; the continuing get-tough-on-crime agenda (including a new law eliminating the concept of a “pardon”); a bare-knuckled assault on the godless CBC; the most fierce pro-Israeli policy of any Western country and his general contempt for the institutions of democracy all play to this extremist Christian constituency. So do Harper’s massive tax cuts because they effectively starve government.

  • Anon: Fun facts from the forbiddden Gospels… Christ was born 5,500 years after Adam, he was to mark the midway point, well it’s 2,000 years later kids, we still have 3,500 to go….

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The Bear Cat’s musings: Canada: Democracy under siege


What does Stephen Harper think of Elections Canada? In 2001 he called them “Jackasses”.As in “The jackasses at Elections Canada are out of control.”

Well it appears the Jackasses are still out of control, but they aren’t in Elections Canada, they are in the Stephen Harper Party.

Canada was a bastion of freedom, a place for the world to look for inspiration. Sadly that is no longer true.

It took a long time for us to evolve from settling electoral campaigns with fist fights to buying votes with bottles of whiskey to our recent system of campaigning to present the reasons why one should vote for this candidate rather than that candidate.

No, while we were sending our ships and planes and foot soldiers to places across this world to free other countries from oppressive regimes we had an oppressive regime forming right here.

Harper said it himself, I’m in charge, I make the rules. And when he doesn’t like the rules it is fine to walk all over them. But only Him and His people.

At the same time that Harper’s Omnibus Bill to put the bad guys in prison longer, to make Canada “safer” was being debated, the Harper Party was challenging the court’s ruling against them in the “In and Out” scandal. And what a penalty the Harper Party paid, some fines, and the ones that admitted guilt kept their comfy red velour seats in the Senate.

Not long ago, the opposition parties wanted the Harper Party staffers called before Committee to answer for issues that were being raised. No less a person than John Baird rose up and shouted that the staffers were not to be called but the Ministers who were in charge. He would not stand for bullying of staffers by the Opposition Members on the Committee, but now that the Harper Party wants a Liberal staffer called onto the carpet the story changes.

Dean Del Mastro says that if the Liberals wanted then they should be willing to allow it now. I say stuff it in your hat Dean Del Mastro. Baird set the precedent, you live with it. Or does Dean Del Mastro advocate two sets of rules for Canada? One for the Harperistas and one for the rest?

In 2001 Stephen Harper warned that the Internet should not be infringed on by government and that the free flow of information was essential to Canada. His infringement of the Internet got booted to Committee in record time, likely because Vic Toews called Canadians paedophiles rather that it just being a bad law.

Ask the prairie wheat growers about Harper’s stance on democracy. They had a constitution for the Canadian Wheat Board that required that the farmers vote to dissolve it if they so desired. Harper ignored that and wrote his new law that in effect breaks the old one.

Now we have Elections Canada investigating vote suppression that occurred during the last Federal Election, the “Robocall” scandal. Harassing phone calls to non-Harper Party supporters late at night or early in the morning or on the Sabbath designed to drive supporters of the other parties away from the polls and going as far as contacting people on Election Day to falsely inform them that their polling station had been moved. Was this an attempt to keep non-Harper Party voters from voting?

It certain looks like it to me.

When the issue was raised in the House of Commons, the Harper Party response was predictable to say the least. A staffer was sacrificed, thrown under the bus and the finger pointed at him. When he denied involvement the finger was pointed at the Liberals, accusing them of undermining their own campaign efforts and suggesting that the Liberals had hired a U.S. firm to make these calls while the Harper Party boasted that they had not used any U.S. firms.

Even though the Harper Party was shown to be “in error” over these “facts” they still maintain their story.

That is called lying.

And lying to the House of Commons is Contempt.

Our only hope at this time is that Elections Canada with the RCMP will be able to trace what the message of the calls was, and who caused those calls to be made. And whether they will have the freedom to investigate this scandal.

This investigation has grown from one or two constituencies to forty or more. There are complaints of harassing calls and fake Elections Canada messages directing people to the wrong or nonexistent Polling Stations and now even voting cards directing people to incorrect Polling Stations sent to addresses, but with no names on them.

Had Stephen Harper and His Party stood with the Opposition to decry the Robocall scandal and make efforts to get to the bottom of this and see that the guilty are held accountable they might have avoided much of the scandal. But their antics, blaming a rogue operative, blaming the Opposition, and now they’re even blaming Elections Canada. This is beyond belief.

The Harper Party is standing in Elections Canada way when they ask to see the actual receipts for election expenses. And now we are finding out that although the Harper Party candidate from Guelph apparently used Racknine’s robocall services in the election, they didn’t include any charges from Racknine in their expenses.

Apparently some candidates used Visa Cards and PayPal to pay Racknine for services and then reimbursing whoever paid the charge. This strikes me as odd. When I was in business we were billed directly and paid directly. Only incidentals were handled differently, small items through petty cash, but only with the receipt.

Calls to Racknine are showing up from MLA and MP constituency offices. Constituency offices are only to be used for government business and electioneering is not government business.

But what surprises me the most is that this story has was discovered by and driven by the staunch supporters of the Harper Party, the National Post.

The National Post says they know where the Robocall scandal ends, in the Stephen Harper Party computers, in the Constituency Information Management System database.

It seems the National Post is more interested in right and wrong than being on the right politically.

Where does Stephen Harper stand?

Well we got some late breaking news…. Seems that Stephen Harper has decided to join with the NDP and support the New Democrats’ proposal to enhance the power of Elections Canada to see documents and new rules governing Robocallers… But he is mentioning something about six months from now…

And it seems that around 2700 people in the riding or Eglinton-Lawrence showed up at polling stations without voter registration cards and filled out forms in order to vote, but [in violation of the Election Act] an unknown number left their current and previous addresses blank and others used false addresses… This is a riding where the Liberal candidate complained about harassing phone calls… and lost his riding by about 3000 votes… Go figure.

Maybe we need to start running our elections like the Third World countries who are trying to use Democratic means to oust Dictators and their regimes.

I’ll dip my finger after I vote, I just hope the ink isn’t blue.


  • Anon: Excellent Blog, Bear Cat. Keep nailing them with those claws of yours.

  • Anon: Very good Bear Cat! And we also have ‘politcal super weapons’ and the mysterious shenanigans going on in the 2010 Fantino by-election campaign, the second bank account and “the guy with the red goatee …who worked the computers”.Here is what we are left with. No one knows who the guy with the red goatee is who worked the computers alongside Stephen Lecce in the Fantino by-election campaign office, despite how popular red goatees are becoming. No one knows if there really were two bank accounts for the Julian Fantino by-election run. No one knows if the Fantino campaign did or didn’t lend surplus campaign funds to other Tory candidates, and if it did, if there is anything wrong with that.”
    http://www.ipolitics.ca/2012/03/08/michael-harris-was-a-political-super-weapon-part-of-robogate/


    Was a ‘political super-weapon’ part of Robogate? | iPolitics

    www.ipolitics.ca


  • Anon:As well as the Quebec “In and Out”….Meanwhile, Le Devoir has raised questions about whether the national campaign effectively transferred money “in and out” to local campaign accounts, not for advertising expenses, but for voter identification and mobilization purposes.The Quebec newspaper reported that at least two Conservative candidates in Quebec agreed to requests by the national campaign office to pay money to RMG — the Toronto-based Responsive Marketing Group — during the 2011 campaign but told the newspaper they did not know exactly what services were rendered for the money.We were a kind of mailbox for funding that,” Le Devoir quoted defeated Conservative candidate Bertin Denis, who lost to the NDP’s Guy Caron in the riding of Rimouski-Neigette-Témiscouata-Les Basques. “We had nothing to say on the operations of it. They didn’t call me, and nobody was called. I wasn’t part of a survey, nobody consulted me.”Denis said his riding had been targeted by Conservative Party headquarters as winnable, so the party agreed to spend more on it, putting some $55,000 into the campaign.”We didn’t pay (the contract with RMG)” he is quoted in Le Devoir. “The funding came from the national and we wrote a cheque.”

    His official agent Ghislain Pelletier confirmed to Le Devoir that we were strongly advised to take it.”

    Pelletier said the Conservative Party “sent us the bill and I paid it on the recommendation of the party.”

    Asked if the party or RMG supplied the local campaign with the results of the calls, Pelletier, a trained accountant, said: “Absolutely nothing, ma’am. If I were in a private business, I would have demanded a report.”
    http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/1142109–robocalls-elections-canada-expands-probe-into-fraudulent-messages-in-2011-vote

    Robocalls: Elections Canada expands probe into fraudulent messages in 2011…

    Elections Canada refers voters to online form to report concerns about misleading phone calls in the 2011 federal election.


  • Anon: What about in-and-out for robocalls in Guelph?

  • Anon: Re: the Fantino campaign article Who are these people?” Stephen Lecce, volunteer co-ordinator Madi Murariu and “a large man with a reddish goatee”.

  • Anon: “A staffer in the Prime Minister’s Office has gone from being a registered lobbyist to working for the Prime Minister and being lobbied on the same subject he once pushed, a practice one advocacy group says is worrisome because of potential conflicts of interest that could arise. ”
    http://www.hilltimes.com/hill-climbers/2010/11/01/lecce-takes-leave-from-pmo-to-work-on-fantinos-byelection-bid/24806

    Lecce takes leave from PMO to work on Fantino’s byelection bid | hilltimes.com

    www.hilltimes.com
    Canada’s Politics and Government Newsweekly


  • Anon: good work. we need an “unwanted” picture gallery/album for all the neo-con operatives and bag men/women.

  • Anon: That’s an excellent idea Anon. A bit of a “rogues gallery” of all the people involved and associated with the Robocon. The Dump Harper WordPress site may be a good place for it. https://dumpharper.wordpress.com/2012/02/25/enough/
    Had Enough?

    dumpharper.wordpress.com
    Welcome to the Dump Harper weblog brought to you by the Canadians Against the Harper Regime (CAHR)


  • Anon: From the Fantino campaign article linked above:”No one knows who the guy with the red goatee is who worked the computers alongside Stephen Lecce in the Fantino by-election campaign office…”Well… Stephen Lecce must know. Anyone asked him? Madi Murariu must know. Anyone asked him? And the “EDA member responsible for obtaining signatures for Mr. Fantino’s nomination papers for the by-election”, the woman who sent the affidavit to Elections Canada mentioning the mysterious computer guy with the red goatee, might subsequently have recognized this person from recently pictures published pictures. Anyone asked her? And Julian Fantino must know along with numerous others involved in the campaign.

  • Anon: Is this Madi? Check out her “Likes”.
    http://www.facebook.com/murariu

    Madi Murariu

    University of Ottawa
    Parliament of Canada


  • Anon: Stephen Lecce from PMO from Macleans January 29, 2010 article ‘Hill Helps Haiti fundraiser packed’

    “Folks from all parties packed the Hill Helps Haiti fundraiser organized by the government relations firm Summa Strategies. The event raised over $32,000. Below, Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq (left) and Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Gail Shea.”


    http://www2.macleans.ca/2010/01/29/hill-helps-haiti-fundraiser-packed/
    www2.macleans.ca


  • Anon: So do I have this right? This guy who is the deputy director of communications for the PMO and who is in everyday direct contact with the PM, gets leave to go work on the Fantino campaign in 2010 where he turns up working in some “private office” with the mysterious red goatee computer guy. Other influential campaign workers (one’s that were concerned the campaign may be violating Election Canada laws) didn’t know what they were doing in there.Was the alleged second bank account paying for whatever activities were being directed from that second private office.
    http://www.corrieretandem.com/viewstory.php?storyid=11859
    http://www.hilltimes.com/news/2010/11/22/critics-curious-about-pmo-staffer-on-leave-working-on-fantino-campaign/27748
    Thoughts anyone?


    Tandem – Online magazine

    www.corrieretandem.com
    Stephen Lecce with Prime Minister, Stephen Harper. At just 25 years of age, he is …


  • Anon: ElectRight – “According to the Fantino campaign filing for the 2011 general election, a Barrie company called Electright did his robocalling at a cost of $15,820. There was no claim for phone services in the 2010 by-election.”
    From their website: http://electright.ca/services.php
    “The key task of any campaign is identifying your supporters. ElectRight provides live campaign calling that has made the difference for numerous campaigns. As volunteers are in increasingly short supply, use ElectRight to make these critical calls for you.With our LIVE Customer Service Representatives, we will make thousands of calls to the voters in your riding and identify who they are supporting. Our CSRs, managed by seasoned political managers, will contact individuals utilizing customized scripts about your candidate. As each caller speaks English fluently, your message will be clearly communicated.The ElectRight Team will ensure that the data collected by our Live CSRs is compiled in specific fields to segment the information and returned in a format that is compatible with your database and software requirements.”


    FlectRight — Our Services

    www.electright.ca


  • Anon: ‎”ElectRight – $11,300
    There’s got to be some website template that includes pre-written copy and stock photos for all of these “direct”/”live campaign call”/”virtual townhall”/”IVR” businesses that exist to only serve Conservative-leaning candidates across Canada. I know my torrented copy of Adobe Creative Suite doesn’t include it, so I’m at a loss. What I do know is that every internal poll of theirs I was able to obtain has Dean Del Mastro’s letterhead all over it (it takes up over half the page). Oh, and it wasn’t just this instance. However I’m curious about the Peterborough-Willowdale connection. Regardless, I’m printing out Dean Del Mastro’s letterhead because it could double as a life-size model of Parliament Hill.”
    http://unfuckwithable.ca/post/18893913793


    Willowdale (GTA) I’ve been meaning to get into the GTA for a while now (other than my inexplicable obsession with Etobicoke Centre), but this time I’m looking at Willowdale, a former Liberal…

    unfuckwithable.ca


  • Anon:“Conservative MP Wladyslaw Lizon says he ran a clean campaign to win the Mississauga East-Cooksville riding last May.Lizon, who defeated former Ontario Labour Minister Peter Fonseca by 661 votes to earn the seat, flatly denies charges from the Liberals and NDP that put his riding on the list of 34 (so far) across the country where opposition parties charge callers working for Conservatives suppressed opposition votes by phoning or using robocalls to direct non-Conservative voters to incorrect polling stations.”My campaign was not involved in any harassing or misleading phone calls,” Lizon told The Mississauga News. “If there were calls, I was not involved — I ran a clean campaign.”Lizon said he did not use RMG, the polling company for which Conservative strategist Stewart Braddick worked. Workers at an Ottawa call centre have alleged they were directed by RMG to make misleading calls to non-Conservative votersLizon said the only polling company he used during his campaign was Electright.
    http://www.mississauga.com/news/article/1307136–lizon-says-he-ran-clean-campaign

    Lizon says he ran clean campaign

    www.mississauga.com

    Conservative MP Wladyslaw Lizon says he ran a clean campaign to win the Mississauga East-Cooksville…


  • Anon: more and more interesting.. the rats will soon be jumping ship..

  • Anon:‎”According to the official minutes of the meeting, there was no mention of Tracey Kent’s reservations – an alleged omission that also made its way into her affidavit and that of former EDA director Richard Larello.

    “Richard Larello??

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Richard-T-Lorello/67309278765?sk=info

    Richard T. Lorello

    Richard Lorello, an advocate for transparency at Vaughan Council. His efforts h…


  • Anon: Richard T. Lorello with Immigration Min. Jason Kenney
    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=422415163765&set=a.422402793765.199142.67309278765&type=3&theater

    Richard Lorello

    Richard with Immigration Min. Jason Kenney


  • Anon: Barrie Ont firm ElectRight used by Del Mastro (with parliamentary resources) to promote Ontaria resourcesPM aide Del Mastro apologizes for Ontario election poll – Sep 27, 2011″Dean Del Mastro, prime minister Stephen Harper’s parliamenta…

    PM aide Del Mastro apologizes for Ontario election
    poll | News | National Post

    news.nationalpost.com
    Dean Del Mastro, prime minister Stephen Harper’s parliamentary secretary, apolog…


  • Anon: Federal Corporation Information ElectRight Inc.
    https://www.ic.gc.ca/app/scr/cc/CorporationsCanada/fdrlCrpDtls.html?corpId=7904495

    Corporations Canada – Online Filing Centre

    www.ic.gc.ca
    CBCA-Glossary


  • Anon: http://www.scribd.com/doc/66538325/Release-Elect-Right-Poll

    Release – Elect Right Poll
    www.scribd.com

    Scribd is the world’s largest social reading and publishing site.


  • Anon:From comments on this Barrie Examiner article on there Mayor election (2010? 2011?) regarding Brett McFarquhar the contact for Electright. The links this poster gives for this don’t work (even if you type in manually) or don’t take you to t…
    http://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=brett+harry+mcfarquhar&source=web&cd=7&ved=0CFIQFjAG&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.thebarrieexaminer.com%2FArticleDisplay.aspx%3Fe%3D2807173&ei=xmRZT-mPM4eriQKGnc3LCw&usg=AFQjCNHRjB0IEsoSJxQcdXUVaS_uxmzn8g&cad=rja”
    www.google.ca


  • Anon: Bear Cat- Apologies for adding all this info to your post. It probably seems like a lot disparate information unless you were in my head right now. 🙂 I was on a bit of role looking into this. I will probably move all this over to a document but I didn’t want to delete any of it in case others were following along.

  • Anon: Campaign Research Inc., Responsive Marketing Group, Crestview Strategies, Navigator Inc, RackNine and ElectRight are all in on this electoral fraud in my view.

  • Anon: Thanks Anon for the extra names. More research…:) I was trying to see if I could find a connection between ElectRight and RackNine and/or RMG. The information is very elusive and mostly leads to dead ends or 404 Page Not Found.

  • Anon: ‎Anon- I see you commenting over at Creekside from time to time – I like to follow what Allison has to say and love her sense of humor.

  • Anon: Honestly, Anon, I think that the National Campaign ensured that local campaigns had a list of conservative friendly service providers to use, who would deliver services without asking questions. ElectRight and RackNine are not turnkey, full service campaign marketing experts. RMG, Crestview and Campaign Research Inc are bigger fish. Also the bigger fish have connections to Preston Manning’s “Democracy Institute”.

  • Anon: Thanks!

  • Anon: See you at Creekside :-))

  • Anon: ‎:=))

  • Bear Cat: 1st @ Anon… no problem, the post is to try and make people think. I don’t have the answers, if you help light a fire undersome one we all win…

  • Bear Cat: 2nd @ Anon… Could it be as likely that the National Campaign contacted and contracted the various companies and then sent out “polling information” to the constituency offices along with an in and out cheque for $15,000.01? [I think that was the amount]

  • Anon: ‎$15000.01 is probably the maximum amount allowable.

  • Anon: Bear Cat, I have a couple of questions so please shoot me a message via fb, through the site or by email dumpharper@live.ca…

  • Anon: I did a little checking on crest view inc which is basically a company that you can contract to promote whatever BS you are trying to peddle to the public (regardless of whatever fancy rhetoric they may use to sell their ‘product’). The principals seem to hang with the media class providing ‘expert opinion’ etc. which is where you wanna be if you are in the business of promulgating BS and propaganda. 🙂 They are definitely connected to some powerful sources such as the NDI. I haven’t found the connection to Manning’s DI yet but I notice RMG advertising on what appears to be an insider magazine/newsletter they publish, ‘Campaigns and Elections’.So, the bigger fish such as crest view and all, use companies such as rack 9 and elect right as tools in their overall marketing strategies. These smaller fish do the dirtier grunt work of collecting data and narrowing targets that are to be attacked in line with the overall strategy. As well, these smaller fish are used to carry out the ‘dirty tricks’ such as robocalling.

  • Anon:I think you are right Bear Cat that it is likely the national party set this up in advance on recommendation of one, some or all of these marketing gurus. The contracts would have already been in place just a matter of how they were going to pay for them so as to avoid it being noticed, hence the in and out we see with the Quebec Cons. I am wondering if the $15,0000 dollar amounts (and there were several of them) were in ridings where the Cons knew they didn’t have a chance of winning and why we see this concentration of them in Quebec.http://crestviewstrategy.ca/team/

  • Anon: To elaborate on that last point, what I am pondering is if they spread out the cost of targeting a few key swing ridings across the board where only some ridings got the lion’s share of ‘benefit’ while most of the others were just contributing and got nothing for it. It of course, also hid the money from going through as an expense to the national party.

  • Anon: RMG definitely has the capacity to do data mining that lead to targeting 60+ voters. Bear Cat, I am feeling quite confident that whatever work was done by RMG was sent out or used to influence what local campaigns did.

  • Bear Cat: I think the NP is right, the answer is in the computer database in the Stephen Harper Party’s basement….
    Are political parties allowed to keep databases of other parties’ supporters?


  • Anon: Agree Anon, I was thinking seniors was a marketing tool. In the cons riding where I live the last vote was in a seniors home, when previously it has always been in a public school.
  • Anon: There is also a name, Tracey Kent, mentioned in the above comment related to former EDA director Richard Larello…

    Is this Tracey Kent ?

    https://www.facebook.com/tracey.kent

    Tracey Kent



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PCO Directive Watch: “Government of Canada” vs. “Harper Government” by the numbers

PCO Directive Watch: “Government of Canada” vs. “Harper Government” by the numbers

by Kady O’Malley
Posted: September 15, 2011 11:51 AM
Last Updated: September 15, 2011 12:04 PM

Last December, the phrase “Harper Government” began popping up in official news releases in place of the more traditional — and, it bears noting, scrupulously neutral —  “Government of Canada,” a not-so-subtle bit of rebranding that, according to a Canadian Pressreport, was the direct result of an edict handed down from the top — or, in the peculiar parlance of official Ottawa, “the Centre”: the Prime Minister’s Office and the Privy Council Office, or PMO/PCO.At the time, then-Treasury Board Secretary Stockwell Day shrugged off the suggestion that a change in wording had been orchestrated from on high, claiming that it was the first he’d heard of it, while the PM’s then-director of communications, Dimitri Soudas, called it a “long-standing practice that accurately reflects the government’s leadership, regardless of who is prime minister.”

Last week, however, documents obtained by CP revealed that a directive may indeed gone out to civil servants — from PCO, no less, just as originally reported, and stoutly denied, both at the time and in response to the latest story, by the government in question.

What no one seems to have mentioned thus far, however, is how uncharacteristically ineffective the alleged directive appears to have been, at least as far as garnering government-wide compliance with anything approaching consistency.

Yes, some departments — or, more precisely, some ministers’ offices — have been dutifully deploying “Harper Government” in every official missive, but  a quick check of the media archives shows that just as many, if not more, departments are still using the tried and true “Government of Canada” designation.

Were their respective communications directors inadvertently left off the distribution list (that, as noted above, may or may not have existed)? Or is this the first sign of a crack in the control that the centre has so meticulously — and successfully – exerted over official communications since the Conservatives took office?

For the record, and very possibly to save some luckless junior PMO staffer the trouble of putting together their own list of holdouts, here’s how the use of “Harper Government” breaks down by department.

(As a bonus, I’ve also noted departments that style their minister as “Canada’s Minister of..”, as I find it silly and pretentious, and hope to eventually report on its quiet and unmourned demise interesting. At some point if I really get ambitious/obsessive, I might even follow up with a count of how many ministerial press releases mention the “strong mandate” that the government was given last May):

“Harper Government” and “Canada’s Minister of…”


Health Canada

Labour*
Environment Canada*
Natural Resources**
Foreign Affairs**

* Uses both “Harper Government” and “Government of Canada,” apparently interchangeably
** Uses “Canada’s Minister of…”, “[Porfolio] Minister X” and/or “Minister of [Portfolio]” also apparently interchangeably 

“Harper Government” only
Canadian Heritage
Fisheries
Minister of State (Democratic Reform)
International Trade*
Public Works and Government Services Canada*
Minister of State (Finance)*
Minister of State (Small Business)*

*While “Harper Government” is used occasionally, the clear preference appears to be for “Government of Canada”

“Government of Canada” and “Canada’s Minister of …”

Public Safety

The remaining departments, including Finance, National Defence, Industry, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, Human Resources and Skills Development, Agriculture, Treasury Board, Justice, Citizenship and Immigration, Transport, Revenue, CIDA, Veterans Affairs, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, and — somewhat paradoxically given the origins of the alleged edict, PMO itself —  have apparently decided to take a pass on eponymizing the government’s moniker.

So what, if anything, can be gleaned from all this?

In my initial attempts to reverse engineer the styling formula, I dabbled with the theory that the HG/CMo combination was most likely to appear in releases prepared for cabinet ministers without a stand-alone department or communications office, as well as ministers of state, whose messaging requirements would most likely be handled by the centre; specifically, PMO/PCO, the office that may or may not have issued the alleged directive in the first place.

That would almost certainly be the case for the Minister of State for Democratic Reform, who does indeed use “Harper Government” consistently, but if, you’d think the messaging mavens at Finance would look after their dedicated minister of state, the affable Ted Menzies, but while releases issued under his name make regular use of the “Harper Government” phrase, I was unable to find examples of the full-fledged finance minister doing the same.

As for my initial hypothesis on ministers without dedicated departments, it was, alas, almost immediately debunked when I checked the record for (Canada’s) Labour Minister Lisa Raitt, whose releases alternate between GoC and HG, despite the fact that her office is under Human Resources and Skills Development, which eschews the “Harper Government” protocol.I wasn’t even able to establish a firm connection between “Harper Government” and “Canada’s Minister of..” although I’m still privately (well, not really all that privately anymore) convinced that there must be some link between those two terms.

Yes, despite my best efforts at cracking the code, I’m still stumped, so I’ll turn it over to you, dear readers — if you spot any pattern, or have the inside scoop on how these decisions are made, let me know in the comments, via twitter or by email, and I’ll update this post.As for what, if anything, this bodes for the future, as far as centrally synchronized messaging versus the possible rise of ministerial autonomy, well, stay tuned. It’s going to be a fascinating four years.

Tags: blackberry jungle, brandingwatch, PCO Directive Watch

continue reading source: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/inside-politics-blog/2011/09/pco-directive-watch-government-of-canada-vs-harper-government-by-the-numbers.html

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SA@TheDC – Does Attacking Neoconservatism Reflect Racism or Reality?

Uploaded by on Aug 29, 2011 https://youtu.be/fp2Tksg1O0M

Why many conservatives are really afraid of this debate.



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fp2Tksg1O0M

Category: News & Politics

License: Standard YouTube License

continue to source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fp2Tksg1O0M


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WikiLeaks releases U.S. cables outlining Canadian foreign policy in Latin America

WikiLeaks releases U.S. cables outlining Canadian foreign policy in Latin America

 

It turns out that he was inspired by former Australian prime minister John Howard’s approach to foreign policy.

This month, the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks released a bunch of U.S. diplomatic cables relating to this part of the world.

A “confidential” cable from the U.S. embassy in Ottawa to the U.S. State Department on April 15, 2009 explains Howard’s influence on Harper’s approach.

 

“Upon taking office for the first time in 2006, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced a sharper focus for Canada’s foreign policy priorities, notably highlighting relations with the U.S., Afghanistan, emerging markets in Asia, and the Western Hemisphere,” the cable states. “He came to this decision, in part, after extended discussions with Australian then-Prime Minister John Howard, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade’s (DFAIT) Director General for Latin America and the Caribbean James Lambert. Harper had long been favorably impressed by Australia’s ability to exert outsized influence with the U.S. in particular—and other powers as well—by emphasizing its relations in its own neighborhood, observed Lambert, who added that PM Harper hoped to gain similar benefits for Canada by increased attention to Latin America and the Caribbean. When forming his second government after the October 2008 election, PM Harper also created the new position of Minister of State for the Americas, naming former journalist and new Conservative MP Peter Kent. While Kent has traveled frequently throughout the hemisphere, he does not have actual staff or exercise ministerial oversight of Brazil and Cuba policy in particular, as he had originally been promised, according to DFAIT contacts.

 

In a 2003 speech to Parliament, Harper copied parts of a Howard speech supporting the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. Harper’s repetition of Howard’s words created a brief controversy in the 2008 federal-election campaign.

The recently released WikiLeaks cable also describes efforts by a former foreign-affairs minister, Stockwell Day, to promote freer trade with Latin American countries. Deals were reached with Peru and Colombia. Here’s what the cable says:

 

“The government has submitted the implementing legislation for both FTAs to Parliament, but concerns over alleged abuses and killings of labor activists in Colombia have made the Colombia FTA in particular somewhat of a difficult sell in some quarters of Parliament, according to DFAIT’s Major. “It was a painful but deliberate choice for the Prime Minister,” she said, adding that Harper was committed to supporting President Uribe despite potential domestic political costs. Harper and Uribe had struck up a good friendship, she said, and the Prime Minister wished to support someone he viewed as courageous and trying to change his country for the better. Canada was also continuing negotiations with the Central American Four partners. The parties met again for talks in late February and will have a second round in April 27 to 30 in Managua. Both sides having been trying to agree to terms since 2001. The talks had stalled for several years beginning in 2004, but resumed in 2006.

 

The cable also states that Canada has concerns about the deteriorating security situation in Mexico. Here’s part of what was written:

 

“Canada has become increasingly concerned about the security situation in Mexico, according to several Canadian interlocutors. DFAIT contacts have noted that National Security Advisor Marie-Lucie Morin was pushing the government to aid Mexican President Calderon in a more public way (refs c-e). An inter-agency Canadian team met with counterparts in Qc-e). An inter-agency Canadian team met with counterparts in Mexico City on March 12 and 13 to see how Canada might better support President Calderon’s efforts to reform the police, corrections, and judicial sectors. The visit also reflected the reinvigorated bilateral security policy consultations that began again in December 2007.”

 

Meanwhile, the memo cites a Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade official saying that Canada appreciated U.S. efforts to “de-escalate public disagreements with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, believing that the skillful handling of Chavez over the past several years had muted hemispheric criticism of U.S. policy in other areas, especially with regard to Cuba”.

 

“Internationally, Chavez’s tentative ‘alliance’ with Iran was increasingly ‘worrying’ to Canada, according to Lambert, since it has the potential to divert global attention from human rights and civil liberties,” the cable states. “Nonetheless, with Venezuela as its third largest export market, Canada had no choice but to stay engaged with Caracas, despite increasing concerns for the investment climate in Venezuela.”

 

Follow Charlie Smith on Twitter at twitter.com/csmithstraight.

continue reading source:  http://www.straight.com/news/wikileaks-releases-us-cables-outlining-canadian-foreign-policy-latin-america


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How the Jewish Vote Swung from Red to Blue

How the Jewish Vote Swung from Red to Blue
By Michelle Collins – embassymag.ca
February 11, 2009

Just days into the Gaza conflict, on Dec. 29, even before the Conservative government had spoken on the situation, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff delivered the most strongly-worded statement on Israel’s right of defence of any Liberal leader in recent history.

“The Liberal Party of Canada unequivocally condemns the rocket attacks launched by Hamas against Israeli civilians and calls for an immediate end to these attacks,” Mr. Ignatieff said. “We affirm Israel’s right to defend itself against such attacks, and also its right to exist in peace and security.”

Not only was it a jump from the Pearsonian middle-road taken by Liberal parties past when it comes to the Middle East, but it came from the same man who had just two years earlier accused Israel of war crimes in a similar military operation carried out against Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The move garnered support from some corners. National Post columnist Jonathan Kay—a longtime critic of the Liberal’s “even-handed” approach on the Middle East and Israel—wrote that with this statement, Mr. Ignatieff had “taken a firm pro-Israel line in the Gaza conflict,” calling the move smart politics and a “stirring demonstration of moral clarity.”

Some observers pointed to the fact that Hamas is a listed terrorist organization that has recklessly launched rockets into a sovereign state for years as likely reasons for the apparent switch. But Hezbollah is also a listed terrorist organization and has launched similar attacks.

Others note that in the summer of 2006, Mr. Ignatieff was not the leader of the Liberal Party, nor at the time was there much evidence that traditional Jewish support for the party was slipping toward the Conservatives because of the latter’s strong pro-Israel policies.

But it has now become clear that with Prime Minister Stephen Harper at the helm, the Conservative Party’s pro-Israel politics have won the respect—and support—of a large segment of Canada’s organized Jewish community.

At the same time, a swing in Jewish votes toward the Conservatives in the last election cost the Liberals at least one affluent Toronto-area seat in Thornhill, where Peter Kent defeated Liberal Susan Kadis, despite the fact the latter is Jewish and had spoken out against Mr. Ignatieff’s comments in 2006. The election also saw Conservatives take marginal victories in a handful of other ridings where Jewish voters make up sizeable numbers, as reported by Canadian Jewish News on Oct. 23.

The message at the ballot box was loud and clear—the Liberals may have spent years listening to what the Jewish community had to say, but they hadn’t delivered.

“People were getting sick and tired of [the Liberal position],” says James Diamond, the Joseph and Wolf Lebovic Chair of Jewish Studies at the University of Waterloo. “I know Canada always wants to play a neutral role, but sometimes people feel there’s a right and a wrong on an issue, so why play a neutral role? And you know, the Conservatives were coming out and they have been true to their word.”

Mr. Diamond, who voted for the Conservatives in October’s federal election, says Mr. Harper had struck a chord with him, and many other Jewish voters.

Now, experts say Mr. Ignatieff’s surprise declaration highlights the extent to which the Liberals find themselves playing catch-up to the Conservative Party, which is reaping the benefits of the Jewish community’s fulsome support.

The extent to which that support matters at the ballot-box and in influencing Canada’s foreign policy remains a sensitive and hotly debated topic. But that hasn’t stopped the Conservatives from enjoying the fact they have taken one of the Liberal Party’s traditional bases, or the Liberals from fretting over how to win them back.

At the same time, however, Canada’s Arab community is growing, and experts say blatant efforts to win the Jewish community’s support at the Arab community’s expense could alienate an expanding bloc of voters.

Middle East James Diamond,Dominates

It is difficult to pinpoint the exact number of Jewish people living in Canada, in part because in the government’s Census survey, “Jewish” can be described as a religion or an ethnicity. Experts estimate Jewish-Canadians represent about one per cent of the population, or upward of an estimated 350,000.

While they may have been important in deciding the winner in a number of important urban ridings during the last election, they represent only a small voting segment. Nonetheless, Jewish-Canadians are said to be more politically engaged than many other groups and are consistent voters.

“The Jewish community is a longstanding community,” says Bernie Farber, CEO of the Canadian Jewish Congress. “They are quite sophisticated in terms of their voting patterns. Certainly in the last four or five elections that has been shown.”

Yet Mr. Farber and many experts insist there is no monolithic Jewish voting bloc in Canada.

“I don’t think today any particular party can count on a ‘Jewish vote,'” he says.

There is also sharp debate over just how much power and clout the Jewish community holds. However, what is clear is that the Jewish community is well-organized, extremely politically active, and that they get their message out to top politicians and bureaucrats in ways many other cultural, ethnic and religious groups just can’t hope to match.

“I think it’s not so much the vote that matters,” says David Bercuson, a historian and director of the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary. “There are a lot of Jews who are active in Canadian society through just about every field or endeavour today, which was not true 50 years ago. And I guess politicians think that those are ‘more influential’, let’s say, than other groups. [They] are more to be listened to.”

Morton Weinfeld, director of Canadian ethnic studies at McGill University, says there are many issues on the “Jewish communal agenda” that voters look for, but the Middle East dominates.

A number of senior politicians, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they are often perplexed at how much political attention is directed at the Arab-Israeli conflict, suggesting that it diverts resources away from other conflicts and humanitarian crises Canada could help around the world.

Part of the reason, it is acknowledged, is the outspoken and active lobbying undertaken by the organized Jewish community as well as, though to a lesser extent, that of the organized Arab community, whose groups are less established or organized.

One of the leading Jewish organizations is the Canada-Israel Committee, which was formed in the late 1960s to promote “increased understanding” between the peoples of Canada and Israel. CIC’s operations really expanded in 1973, in response to the Yom Kippur war. It has since become one of the largest foreign policy lobby groups in the country and has a permanent staff in Ottawa.

“Certainly I would say that the stands of the [Canada-Israel Committee] and B’nai Brith represent the large majority of Canadians in the Canadian Jewish community,” says Ira Robinson, a professor of Judaic studies at Concordia University in Montreal.

Also very active on Canada-Israeli relations, B’nai Brith Canada, a membership-based organization that is known to lean toward the right of Canada’s political spectrum, describes itself as the voice of grassroots Canadian Jewry and the country’s foremost Jewish human rights organization.

Jewish groups such as the CIC really began building up their clout and contacts with all political parties in the early 1970s. They have maintained close contact since and, as a result, are perceived to garner a fair amount of political traction.

Senior politicians and Middle East policy advisers say these Jewish organizations are perceived as being influential, and past surveys of Foreign Affairs staff confirm such a perception.

“In Canada it’s harder to lobby, yet the pro-Israeli lobby is still very effective. And they do a good job, they’re very skilled, they’re very on-message,” says a Middle East policy adviser who didn’t want to be named. “They’re constantly in contact with MPs, with the Department of Foreign Affairs. Whenever Foreign Affairs does something [on the Middle East] it’s going to get sort of positive or negative signals from the [Canada-Israel Committee].”

CIC has traditionally been the most active group in federal politics with the goal of influencing Canada’s policies on the Middle East. Last year, according to the Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying, CIC representatives met with, among others, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney and Mark Cameron, a director in the prime minister’s office. A search for meetings with Arab, Muslim and Palestinian groups elicited no results.

Of all the free trips MPs accepted last year, Israel outnumbered other destinations by nearly two to one—even outpacing Taiwan, which was the top destination for freebies in 2007. According to Canada’s ethics commissioner, the Canada-Israel Committee spent more than $200,000 to send 23 federal politicians and their spouses to the Middle East.

Despite some of their best efforts to influence policy, however, Jewish organizations’ degree of success is apparently immeasurable, and experts generally say it has been low. In fact, in what little academic work has been devoted to exploring the role of Canada’s well-established Jewish organizations, all have concluded that they have had little effect.

“It’s not clear that the CIC has had major impact on government policy,” Mr. Weinfeld says. “They’ll probably say they’ve had a significant impact…certainly on the margins it has had some impact. It’s provided information and gone with MPs on tours to Israel…[but] I don’t think they have an enormous amount of power.”

Akaash Maharaj, who was national policy chair of the Liberal Party from 1998 until 2003, says Jewish and Arab groups have been “extremely successful” at raising their issues, noting that for a country geographically located far from Israel, their lobbying efforts ensure Middle East affairs remain a prominent political topic.

“The issue of peace in the Middle East, as important as it is, occupied vastly more political oxygen in Ottawa than it does in many capitals around the world because of the activism of Muslim and Jewish organizations than it would otherwise,” Mr. Maharaj says. “But having raised the profile of that question, I don’t believe either group of groups has been disproportionately successful in having its answers to those questions being embraced by government.”

In 2004, this lack of tangible success by the major groups led to the creation of the Canadian Council for Israel and Jewish Advocacy, or CIJA, a pro-Israel advocacy group to act as an umbrella organization that would streamline their combined lobbying efforts.

On its website, CIJA posts politicians’ comments about Israel dating back to 1998 and encourages its members to contact politicians, to call in to radio shows, and to blog their support for Israel online.

But Mira Sucharov, associate professor of political science at Carleton University, says it’s hard to know whether Canadian foreign policy towards the Middle East has been changed as a result of such activities.

“It’s difficult to analyze, in the case of particularly the Conservative government, whether they cause a policy tilt that is more sympathetic toward Israel or whether that is the Harper world view to start with.

“And I think there’s a lot to be said for the latter, and I think it’s a natural convergence of interests,” Ms. Sucharov says.

Mr. Robinson, too, says it is unlikely that the advocacy of Jewish organizations would cause a government to reverse a position.

“If you have a conviction that is less supportive of Israel, the fact that you have contacts from the Jewish community making representation is not going to change your mind all that much, this is what the historical record shows,” Mr. Robinson says.

“Stephen Harper is supportive of Israel not because the Jews sent a lobbying group and said: ‘Please Stephen Harper, support Israel.’ If he did not want to, he would cordially talk to all kinds of groups and do what he feels is right and proper.”

Harper and the Middle East

Mr. Harper is not the first prime minister to be accused of taking a pro-Israel stance to the Middle East—both Conservative prime ministers Joe Clark and Brian Mulroney first entered office with pro-Israel policy ideas—but it seems Mr. Harper is the first who has not been forced to back down.

So pivotal has the Middle East been considered within Canada that academics widely agree the measure of a prime minister’s approach to the Middle East inevitably becomes a matter of historical record.

“The Middle East frustrated Lester Pearson, preoccupied Joe Clark, angered Pierre Trudeau, and remains a minefield which Brian Mulroney has attempted to avoid, not always with success,” authors David Taras and David H. Goldberg wrote in the 1989 book The Domestic Battleground: Canada and the Arab-Israeli Conflict.

Mr. Harper is known to have strong ideological views on the Middle East, which he has repeatedly tried to contrast with those of the opposition. This stance is believed to be borne of his own convictions, rather than of any outside influence or political agenda. As a result, he keeps a tight grip over all statements on Israel and is heavy-handed about which MPs can speak on the issue.

“Obviously Stephen Harper as prime minister, and the Conservative Party in general, have adopted a very pro-Israel stance. I think they’re doing that out of conviction,” says Harold Waller, a political science professor at McGill University.

Since the Conservatives came to power in January 2006, many analysts and former foreign affairs officials say, there has been a marked shift in Canada’s approach toward the Middle East. While welcomed by many as a principled stance in support of Israel and against terrorism, others say the policy doesn’t hold Israel to the same standards as other countries.

Critics of the Conservative’s foreign policy have also accused Mr. Harper of modelling his positions after former U.S. president George W. Bush, who is considered to have presided over the most pro-Israel administration in history.

Two months into governing, in March 2006, Mr. Harper cut aid to the Palestinian Authority after Hamas won the 2006 Palestinian legislative elections. Canada was the first country to do so, apart from Israel.

His pro-Israel position has been underscored by public statements, speeches, and a changed voting pattern at the United Nations, though this realigning of diplomacy against “unbalanced” UN resolutions, in fact, started under Liberal prime minister Paul Martin.

In 2005, Mr. Martin explained this shift as an attempt to depoliticize the United Nations, including the new UN Human Rights Council, rather than a move to appease Israel.

“We will continue to press for the kinds of reform that will eliminate the politicization of the United Nations and its agencies, and in particular the annual ritual of politicized, anti-Israel resolutions,” he said.

But the Conservatives, led by Mr. Harper, have repeatedly stated that Canada and Israel share the same values, namely respect for human rights, the rule of law, freedom and democracy, which makes the two mutual partners. At the same time, the Conservative view is Israel is a fellow democracy that is under siege, and it is imperative Canada stand with its ally.

“Unfortunately, Israel at 60 remains a country under threat, threatened by groups and regimes who deny, to this very day, its right to exist,” he said on May 8, 2008 at an event in Toronto. “And why? Make no mistake. Look beyond the thinly veiled rationalizations—because they hate Israel, just as much as they hate the Jewish people. Our government believes that those who threaten Israel also threaten Canada.”

Reaching Out to Jewish Voters

Whether the Conservative Party’s policies have simply happened to coalesce with the greater Jewish community’s views or not, it isn’t skimping from taking full advantage of the appeal its policies have for many Jewish voters.

“I think it is clear that, without question, this particular government has been very supportive of some of the causes that have been of concern to this community specifically, like the issue of security around our buildings and schools, the issue of anti-Semitism and racism, the issue of human rights, and Israel,” says Bernie Farber of the Canadian Jewish Congress. “Of course these are all matters of concern to our community and this particular government has been very supportive.”

At the same time, the Conservatives have been actively using their outright support for Israel to reach out to the Jewish community and recruit what were traditionally Liberal Party loyalists over to their political party.

“At the heart of relations between Canada and Israel is the dynamism of our shared communities,” the prime minister said in a statement released on May 14, 2008 to mark the 60th anniversary of Israel’s founding.

Over the last two years, Mr. Harper has made a habit of sending New Year’s cards to Jewish-Canadians, many of whom were surprised—and some angered—to be on the prime minister’s mailing list.

In the Globe and Mail last September, Jewish broadcaster and producer Ralph Benmergui wrote an opinion piece about the Tory government’s robust support for Israel and the tactic of sending Rosh Hashanah cards, calling it an “unctuous political strategy.”

The Conservatives have been anything but shy about promoting their pro-Israel stance while painting the Liberals the exact opposite. After the October 2008 election, Canadian Jewish News reported the Tories had succeeded in gaining more Jewish voters, in part because they “touted themselves throughout the campaign as the only party with a staunchly pro-Israel record.”

It was clear, however that the Liberals were already floundering among Jewish voters.

When business-magnates and couple Heather Reisman and Gerry Schwartz—CEOs of Indigo Books and Onex Corporation—announced they were throwing their support behind Mr. Harper in August 2006 because of his support for Israel, their partisan switch was headline news. Both had previously played leading roles in the Liberal Party; Ms. Reisman is a past national policy chair and Mr. Schwartz a former Liberal Party president. “Liberal power couple back Harper on Mideast,” the Globe and Mail reported; “Canada’s pro-Israel premier lures Jews to Tories,” reported The Jerusalem Post.

Around the same time, noted filmmaker Robert Lantos also spoke publicly of his switch to the Conservatives, telling a pro-Israel rally in Toronto in August 2006 that he thanked Mr. Harper for his “principled support” of Israel.

“I hereby take off my lifelong federal Liberal hat to you. Symbolically, I toss it away, if there were anyone willing to catch it,” Mr. Lantos said.

The most blatant example of the emerging partisan divide came in Mr. Harper’s response to Mr. Ignatieff’s comments accusing Israel of war crimes in the Lebanon conflict. In October 2006, Mr. Harper told reporters this was “consistent with the anti-Israeli position that has been taken by virtually all of the candidates for the Liberal leadership. I don’t think it’s helpful or useful.”

The accusation outraged Liberals and triggered drastic action within the party. An open letter calling on the prime minister to make a public apology, signed by 172 MPs and supporters, was released on Oct. 19, 2006.

Liberal Party officials are frank about the drop they’ve witnessed in Jewish support, and reporters and media pundits have been scratching at the issue for the past three years.

As Liberal Senator Jerry Grafstein put it, “I think what happened is that the Liberals have always taken a position of balance, and the Jewish community had felt that balance was unfair.”

Akaash Maharaj, former national policy chair for the Liberals, says mixed reactions among Jewish voters to the party’s Middle East politics started to emerge even before the Tories took over government.

“I would say there was a criticism of the Liberal Party’s foreign policy during that period, that it tried to walk this middle path when people would argue that the truth does not necessarily lie midway between two extremes,” Mr. Maharaj says.

In November 2006, Steven Pinkus, vice-president of the Liberal’s Quebec wing, told The Jewish Tribune the party had “lost significant support from one of its traditional strong bases” as a result of the fallout to Mr. Ignatieff’s reaction to the conflict in Lebanon. Mr. Ignatieff was the presumptive frontrunner for the Liberal leadership at the time, which eventually went to Stéphane Dion.

Ariela Cotler, former justice minister and Liberal MP Irwin Cotler’s wife, went so far as to publicly quit the Liberal party over Mr. Ignatieff’s comments, and in a letter to the National Post said Mr. Ignatieff lacked “moral integrity.”

At the same time, interim Liberal leader Bill Graham refused to take a position on the Israel-Hezbollah conflict while the party was busy choosing a new leader—though he did accuse Mr. Harper of abandoning Canada’s traditional role as an “interlocutor” in the Middle East.

While Mr. Ignatieff was levelling strong criticisms at Israel over its actions in Lebanon and the rest of the Liberal Party, led by Bill Graham, refused to take a side, Mr. Harper was taking a strong stand. He voiced outright support for Israel—describing its actions as a “measured” response at a time when the rest of the world was aghast—and he was one of a tiny group of world leaders who openly resisted international calls for a ceasefire.

The Tories’ aggressive efforts to paint the Liberals as anti-Israeli prompted the creation of a group called Liberal Friends of Israel within the party. The group’s co-chairs, Meredith Caplan, Michael Levitt and Jason Cherniak, have been outspoken of their party’s pro-Israel views and organized several rallies across Canada.

“Those who seek to characterize the Liberal Party as anti-Israel should take note of what we’re doing and of our leader’s support for what we’re doing,” Ms. Caplan said at a Walk with Israel event in Winnipeg in May 2007, which then-leader Stéphane Dion attended, along with many Liberal MPs, among them Mr. Ignatieff, Anita Neville, Ken Dryden, Irwin Cotler, Bob Rae, Carolyn Bennett and Senator Art Eggleton.

Liberals say the party is making a concerted effort to re-earn the support of voters, from all cultural and religious groups, who have either voted for other parties or stayed away from the polls in recent elections.

“I don’t think this is likely to translate into a dramatic shift in policy positions, but it certainly has manifested itself in terms of willingness to forcefully articulate existing positions; support for the state of Israel, for example,” Mr. Maharaj says of the Liberals outreach to Jewish voters. “I would say it’s more an understanding that it must articulate its positions rather than mumble quietly when asked difficult questions.”

The Growing Arab Community

According to Statistics Canada, the number of people in Canada of Arab origin is growing considerably faster than the overall population, and Canadians of Arab origin make up one of the largest non-European ethnic groups in Canada.

In 2001, an estimated 350,000 Arabs lived in Canada. By 2006, Montreal’s Arab population had grown by nearly 50 per cent to number an approximate 109,000 in that city alone.

While experts agree Jewish organizations have been extremely effective at reaching out to politicians, there is an awareness that Canada’s Arab community is getting stronger and more politically active.

McGill professor Harold Waller says Arab and Muslim groups carry out similar activities as Jewish organizations, contacting members of Parliament and the bureaucracy, but that Arab groups aren’t as well established at this point.

“I don’t think their influence is as great as the pro-Israel groups,” Mr. Waller says. “On the other hand, I think that the political parties are very much aware of the growing number of Arab and Muslim voters in the country, so some of the MPs in particular are beginning to respond to constituents and espouse that cause.”

Noting Mr. Ignatieff’s strong support for Israel during the Gaza conflict, Mr. Waller says it will be tricky for the Liberal Party to try to sway Jewish voters back to them while also trying to attract new immigrant voters.

“They will have to be very careful if they want to try to hold both Jewish and Arab voters. And, of course, one way to do that is to avoid taking critical positions on these issues, which I think was what some of the more recent Liberal governments tried to do,” Mr. Waller says.

Senator Grafstein says he finds that Arabs and Muslims are extremely active and are constantly sending emails to him.

“I would think that when it comes to working at the party level that they’re much visible and much more pro-active, certainly within the parties, certainly more than any Jewish organizations are,” Mr. Grafstein says.

However, he says much of the correspondence is “heated and unbalanced,” adding that he is influenced by facts, not vitriol.

He says that parliamentarians are very much affected by such communications, particularly when it comes in such high numbers.

Some of the more prominent groups include the Canadian Arab Federation, Palestine House, the Muslim Canadian Congress and the National Council on Canada-Arab Relations.

Samah Sabawi, a Palestinian-Canadian and an advocate for increasing dialogue on issues of the Middle East, says it is true that Arab and Muslim groups are younger and less organized. She says they continue to struggle to establish strong political connections.

Despite repeated requests for a meeting with Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon in response to the Gaza crisis, groups such as the National Council on Canada-Arab Relations were told the minister was unavailable.

Another challenge, she says, is that Arab-Canadians are hesitant to join advocacy organizations because they are a newer ethnic community in Canada and they don’t fully understand the political system.

“Most of the Arab-Canadians come from countries where they don’t trust institutions, and they don’t trust the system and so they’re not as willing to donate to advocacy groups. It’s really hard to get them behind an advocacy organization because of that lack of trust,” Ms. Sabawi says.

Some events in the last 10 years, however, have prompted many in the Arab community to become more involved, she says, beginning with the period following 9/11, the Lebanon war in 2006, and now the Gaza conflict.

However, Ms. Sabawi says there is still much work to be done in making their concerns heard among politicians.

“Different parties are more open to exploring the Arab community and to listening to members of the Arab community, for sure with the Conservative Party of Canada we still have a lot of work to do.

“And more recently with the Liberals as well as they try to figure out their direction and to re-establish themselves.”

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Minority Report

Minority report
In their first year in power, Stephen Harper’s Conservatives managed to undo years of work that came before—rejecting the Kelowna Accord, scrapping the national daycare program and turning their backs on Kyoto. Lest we forget, here are eight reasons to turf the Tories the next chance we get

BY Mitch Moxley
Photography by Lyle Stafford/Reuters
THIS MAGAZINE » January-February 2007

Harper’s makeover campaign largely failed. Attempts to make him look likeable were awkward and often ridiculed. During the fingerpainting photo-op with kindergarteners, for example, the old Stephen Harper—stiff and bitter—shone through. A youngster with gooey fingers approached the Opposition leader, eliciting the response, “Don’t touch me.”

“The West is in,” trumpeted the Calgary Herald after Election Day 2006, when Canadians gave the Harper Conservatives a trial run in government, a slim minority to punish the scandal-plagued Liberals. It was heralded as a new era in Canadian politics. Harper was able to take a party born of western alienation and broaden its appeal to a national audience. The Conservatives ran a disciplined campaign, pitching Canadians a party that was centrist and moderate, led by a man who had softened and evolved. Many Canadians bought it.

Call it a bout of temporary insanity. Over the past year, the puzzle has come together, piece by piece, revealing a party far to the right of the Canadian mainstream. The Conservatives have attacked social programs, enraged supporters of same-sex marriage, abandoned Kyoto, and more. It hasn’t gone unnoticed: polls show chances of a Conservative majority growing slimmer by the day. That’s good news, because a Harper majority is a frightening prospect. “On almost every front you look at, Harper has proceeded with a right-wing agenda,” says Toronto Star columnist and author Linda McQuaig. “And that is with a minority. With a majority government, it would be this on steroids.”

1. THEIR ROOTS ARE SHOWING

Meet Stephen Harper: Canadian neo-con, policy wonk extraordinaire and the most right-wing prime minister this country has seen. A brief history lesson: Harper entered politics in 1984, in his mid-20s, as an aide to Tory MP Jim Hawkes. Before long, young Harper grew disillusioned with the Mulroney Conservatives. He quit in 1987, but was soon recruited as chief policy officer to Preston Manning, founder of the Reform party, a grassroots populist movement out of Alberta that arose from frustration with Brian Mulroney’s attempts to give Quebec “distinct society” status. Taking its cues from Manning’s father’s Social Credit party, Reform’s main goal was to drastically limit the role of government in public life. Harper ran for the House of Commons with Reform in 1988, losing badly to his old mentor, Hawkes, before winning the seat in 1993. He soon grew tired of party politics, frustrated he wasn’t able to freely speak his mind. He resigned his seat in 1997 to lead the National Citizens Coalition, a far-right, anti-government lobby group. In 2002, he returned to the political arena to lead the Canadian Alliance, the party formed by the 2000 merger between Reform and some Progressive Conservatives. Leading up to his election as prime minister, and during his first months in power, Harper was able to successfully present himself as moderate and appeal to middleclass voters. It’s instructive, however, to take a look at Harper’s ideological roots, from which he has never strayed too far.

Harper is a product of the so-called Calgary School, a clique of academics from the University of Calgary. Members include historian David Bercuson, and political scientists Barry Cooper, Rainer Knopff, Ted Morton (also a politician) and one of Harper’s closest advisors, Tom Flanagan—all of whom share an affinity for free markets and small government.

The group’s most famous figure is Flanagan, an American-born professor who was Harper’s national campaign director in the 2004 election. After studying at Notre Dame and Duke, Flanagan accepted a post at the fledgling U of C in 1968, and in the early 1990s became involved with Manning’s Reform movement. No stranger to controversy, he set tempers ablaze with his book First Nations? Second Thoughts, in which he dismissed Canada’s Aboriginals as merely “first immigrants” and argued for their assimilation. Another Flanagan work, an introductory political science textbook he co-authored, was removed from Ontario’s list of approved textbooks because of alleged biases against Jews and women.

The Calgary School has striking similarities to the American neo-conservatives who have the ear of George W. Bush (think World Bank president and Iraq war architect Paul Wolfowitz). Both the Calgary School and U.S. neo-cons have been heavily influenced by Leo Strauss, a one-time political scientist at the University of Chicago who is considered a founding father of the neo-conservative movement. Strauss, who died in 1973 and has gained a weighty posthumous reputation, was deeply suspicious of democracy, arguing that the public is not capable of making intelligent political decisions. Neo-cons, both American and Canadian, use democracy to turn citizens against their own liberties, says Shadia Drury, a Strauss expert and political philosophy professor at the University of Regina. Drury, who worked alongside the Calgary School until 2003, warns that Canadian neo-cons want to remake Canada in the image of the United States. “Their values are not Canadian values,” Drury says of Harper and his pedagogical influences. “Fortunately, Canadian values are still too much on the side of freedom.”

2. WE DON’T CALL THEM “PROGRESSIVE” ANYMORE FOR A REASON

May 31, 2003: In a room at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Toronto, next door to the Tory convention, Progressive Conservative leadership candidate Peter MacKay scribbles a pledge to rival David Orchard on a piece of paper. MacKay’s promise to Orchard, a PC veteran who held the second-most delegates, was that if chosen as leader he would not merge the party with the Stephen Harper-led Canadian Alliance. In return, Orchard promises the support of his delegates, ensuring a MacKay victory. Unfortunately for Orchard, in less than six months, MacKay shakes hands with Harper, and the Conservative party of Canada is born. “It was a remarkable takeover and theft of the Progressive Conservative party,” says Orchard, who went on to fight the merger in court. “Here we have a very narrow, ideologically driven [party] that’s connected to the U.S. religious right on a whole number of different issues. There’s an ideologically driven narrow-mindedness that was not part of the Progressive Conservative party at all.”

It was a defining moment in Canadian politics, and one often forgotten. The formation of the Conservative party of Canada marked the end of a moderate tradition of conservatism in Canada and replaced it with a U.S.-style version. Today’s Conservative party is very much a product of the ones that preceded it—Reform and Canadian Alliance. Some of the more inflammatory voices have been softened, but many policies and faces remain the same. Think of Harper’s obsession with building a new relationship with the provinces, and stripping the federal government of its responsibility for social services, or the party’s social conservative agenda and connection to the religious right. “The Conservative party, historically, always had a full spectrum of centre to far right. It was just that the centre was always fully in charge,” says Allan Gregg, chair of the Strategic Counsel, a national market- and publicopinion research company, and former PC pollster. “Now you have a guy in charge who comes from the more orthodox right wing of the party. This is a guy who leads that party with an iron fist. His way is the dominant way within the Conservative party.”

The Red Tory element of the PC party has all but disappeared. It may be called the Conservative party, but progressive it is not. “The media do them an enormous favour every time they call them ‘Tories,’ ” says Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party of Canada. “They are not the Tory party.”

3. THEY’RE PLAYING DRESS-UP

Remember Harper’s summer 2005 makeover campaign? Sometime between the 2004 and 2005 elections, the Tories tried to transform Harper from a scary social conservative accused of harbouring a hidden agenda to a likeable dad and political moderate with broad vision and admirable determination. Suddenly images of Stephen Harper participating in events usually reserved for ordinary people appeared in print and on television across the country. Remember Stephen Harper clumsily throwing a football? Or Harper fingerpainting with children? How about the cross-country BBQ tour, when they dressed him up in cowboy hat and vest and sent him out flipping burgers? Happy times.

Harper’s makeover campaign largely failed. Attempts to make him look likeable were awkward and often ridiculed. During the fingerpainting photo-op with kindergarteners, for example, the old Stephen Harper—stiff and bitter—shone through. A youngster with gooey fingers approached the Opposition leader, eliciting the response, “Don’t touch me.”

Where the Tories did succeed, however, was in controlling the debate. In the 2004 election, the Liberals were able to run a campaign that successfully vilified Harper. In the last campaign, however, Harper turned the table, attacking Liberal corruption while staying strictly on message. This focus on controlling the message is a page out of the U.S. Republican playbook. In fact, the party had Republican help. In May, a group of Canada’s foremost conservatives gathered in Kanata, Ontario, to receive some words of wisdom from Frank Luntz, a GOP pollster and the brains behind the Republicans’ sweep of Congress in 1994. Luntz spoke to 200 members of the Civitas Society, a conservative group whose members include Harper’s chief of staff, Ian Brodie, as well as Tom Flanagan, a founding member.

Luntz, who has previously done work for Preston Manning, is a master of tailoring a conservative message and selling it to moderate voters. His strategy is called “language guidance”—the use of simple messages, which are carefully tested and often repeated. He advocates the use of key words, images, pictures and national symbols to deflect suspicion of unpopular policies. Instead of “tax cuts,” use “tax relief.” Tax code simplification as opposed to tax code reform. Don’t privatize a program, personalize it. And so on. Canadian Conservatives have made Luntz’s strategy their own. Think of the Tories’ “five priorities,” the oft-repeated insults about Paul Martin, and the “made in Canada” solution to global warming.

By staying on message and focusing the attack on the Liberals, Harper was able to deflect attention from his past. And what a past it has been. The Harper of the last election seemed to be an entirely different person than he’s been in the past 20 years—the one who has railed against universal health care, social programs and a strong federal government. No matter what he told us in the last election, Stephen Harper is no national leader.

4. THEIR CITIZENS AREN’T CREATED EQUAL

Considering the Harper Conservatives’ roots, the way they have governed should hardly come as a surprise. Once in office things went smoothly; Harper and his cabinet focused exclusively on its five priorities: the GST cut, daycare credit, health-care wait times, government accountability and crime. But since getting elected, the government has revealed the depths of its true colours, governing like a farright party, beginning with an attack on equality.

First, there was the cancellation of the Kelowna Accord, an agreement negotiated under the previous Liberal government to help bridge the gap between Aboriginals and other Canadians by earmarking $5 billion to improve education, housing, economic development, health and water services on reserves. Then, the government voted to reject the draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples at the UN Human Rights Council. According to Angus Toulouse, Ontario regional chief for the Assembly of First Nations, the Harper Conservatives have sent a message to Canada’s Aboriginal people that they do not care. “It clearly told us this government is going to step on the poorest of the poor, which is the Aboriginal people in Canada,” Toulouse says.

Native people are not the only target of the Harper government’s attack on equality. In September, the government lopped 40 percent off the budget of Status of Women Canada, an agency that promotes gender equality. And same-sex marriage advocates have long been a favourite target of the Conservative party. Harper himself voted against extending hate propaganda legislation to include homosexuality, and in the last election campaign said a Conservative government would hold a free vote on same-sex marriage.

Conservative opposition to same-sex marriage makes sense given the party’s religious base. The evangelical set considers Harper, a self-confessed born-again Christian, to be one of their own. “I want to make it clear that Christians are welcome in politics,” Harper said on the Drew Marshall Show leading up to last year’s election. “And particularly welcome in our party.” Some MPs come straight from the religious right. Stockwell Day once famously declared that Adam and Eve roamed with dinosaurs. David Sweet, MP for Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale, is past head of the Christian group Promise Keepers Canada, which helps “men grow and mature into Godly men,” according to the group’s website. And Harold Albrecht, MP for Kitchener-Conestoga, once wrote a letter to the editor of his local newspaper saying, “These same-sex marriages would succeed in wiping out an entire society in just one generation.” Then there was the news that Justice Minister Vic Toews wants to table a Defence of Religions Act, legislation that would protect critics of homosexuality and same-sex marriage, and ensure the right of officials to refuse to perform gay marriages. Many of the Canadian right’s fiercest opponents of same-sex marriage remain influential within the Conservative party. For example, Harper recently named Darrel Reid chief of staff to Environment Minister Rona Ambrose. Reid is the former president of Focus on the Family Canada, the Canadian branch of the U.S.-based anti-gay-marriage group. Reid has made a career out of fighting against equality for same-sex couples, and once said that the decision to legalize gay marriage made him “ashamed to be called a Canadian.”

“We have to connect the dots,” says Gilles Marchildon, executive director of Egale Canada, an advocacy group for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transidentified people. “This is not a government that supports equality and justice.”

5. OPACITY IS THE NEW TRANSPARENCY

Among the Conservatives’ original five priorities was an accountability law to make government more transparent—a move Canadians welcomed in the wake of the sponsorship scandal. They tabled the Federal Accountability Act in April, which banned corporate and union donations to federal parties, cracked down on lobbyists, protected whistle-blowers and gave more power to officers of Parliament, such as the ethics commissioner and auditor general.

But Harper’s own administration has been anything but transparent. After taking office, the prime minister wasted little time declaring war on the media. He insisted members of the press gallery sign a list if they wanted to ask questions, he rarely participates in scrums and he often leaves the Parliament Buildings through the freight exit instead of the front door to avoid media attention. “Unfortunately, the press gallery has taken the view they are going to be the opposition to the government,” Harper complained to a London, Ontario, TV station, the same week two dozen reporters walked out of a Harper event after he refused to take their questions.

According to a national press gallery reporter, who spoke anonymously, interview requests with ministers are frequently denied or simply unaddressed. Reporters are also banned from the floor on which ministers hold meetings, and ministers rarely scrum after cabinet meetings, a common practice under the Liberals. “Everybody’s hands are tied from a journalistic point of view. It’s extremely difficult to get answers from this government,” the reporter says. “It’s Harper’s mandate to treat us like this and it’s not going to change. It’s very disheartening.”

Harper has also gone to great lengths to silence his ministers. What happens behind closed doors stays there, and the PMO insists ministers stay on message. An April 2006 scheduled interview between the National Post’s Don Martin and Environment Minister Rona Ambrose, for example, was cancelled because the PM didn’t want his ministers to stray from the Conservatives’ five priorities. In mid-October, Ontario MP Garth Turner was expelled for regularly criticizing his party’s policies on his blog, and Conservative Senator Anne Cools was yanked from three committees in September for asking hostile questions about the Accountability Act, according to a Post article by Martin.

6. IMITATION IS THE SINCEREST FORM OF FLATTERY

Stephen “Steve” Harper, Bush’s favourite Canadian, has been busy cozying up to the Americans since taking office last year. Hardly a surprise, since Harper has been advocating for closer ties to the United States for years. He has beefed up Canada’s mission in Afghanistan, committing troops for an additional two years, and has promised a $5.3-billion increase in military spending over the next five years. “Ideologically, the people who are driving the Conservative party—Harper and his entourage—are very much attuned to and aligned with the Bush Republican-style conservatism,” says Bruce Campbell, executive director of Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) in Ottawa.

Harper’s been ending his speeches with “God bless Canada” since last year’s campaign, but his emulation of the United States is more than just symbolic. Paul Martin’s Liberals laid the foundation for deep integration—the harmonization of U.S. and Canadian trade and border policies—and the Harper government has carried this agenda forward. The Canadian Council of Chief Executives, which lobbies government on behalf of big business, is spearheading the movement, arguing that the economies of the two countries are already so closely linked that most individual domestic laws aren’t needed. It may sound like a conspiracy theory, but for several years, task forces, working groups, commissions and cross-border consultations have been taking place on both sides of the border with the goal of harmonizing Canada-U.S. programs and procedures. In September, for example, Defence Minister Gordon O’Connor and Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day attended a top-secret meeting in Banff, Alberta, that discussed North American security and prosperity. The North American Forum was hosted with the help of the Canada West Foundation and the Canadian Council of Chief Executives and drew corporate executives and government officials from Canada, the U.S. and Mexico. Reporters were kept in the dark about what, exactly, was discussed and who was in attendance.

Supporters of deep integration say it’s the only way Canada can stay competitive. Critics call it a threat to Canadian sovereignty that will lead to lopsided trade agreements and a loss of control of Canadian resources. Campbell notes that we are already feeling the impact of deep integration. Canada and the U.S. are at work integrating energy markets, and Canada is ramping up production of the Alberta oil patch to meet America’s growing energy needs. The bulk of Alberta oil goes to the United States, Campbell says, while the Maritimes and Quebec import about 90 percent of their oil needs and Ontario imports 50 percent. “It’s all about securing supply to meet U.S. energy needs,” he warns. “Here we are, this great energy superpower, as Stephen Harper likes to call us, and we’re importing 55 percent of our oil needs. That’s not an integrated national energy market.”

Canada has also followed America’s lead on the domestic front. In the area of crime and punishment, Canada has made a marked shift toward an American style of justice, with “serious time for serious crimes.” In October, Justice Minister Vic Toews unveiled his “three strikes and you’re out” legislation, which is based on similar U.S. legislation. The bill puts the onus on the defendant, proposing that anyone convicted of three violent or sexual crimes would have to convince a judge why he should not be classified as a dangerous offender. If he fails to do that, he faces a minimum seven years in prison before being eligible for parole (in contrast to the American law, Canada’s three-strikes legislation focuses on serious third offences only). The U.S. legislation has done little to deter crime south of the border and has cost an enormous amount of money. “A large amount of research in the U.S. has been overwhelmingly consistent in showing that these changes have no effect,” Tony Doob, a criminology professor at the University of Toronto, told The Globe and Mail last October. “Whether you bring in threestrike laws, or jump up and down and say ‘Rumpelstiltskin’ three times, it has the same effect…. The fact is that crime will sometimes go down. It has nothing to do with legislative changes.”

7. WELFARE STATE?

Last September’s $1-billion “trimming the fat” exercise was a subtle but definitive attack on social programs. The Youth Employment Strategy, which helped 50,000 young people find jobs last summer, was cut in half. The Conservatives also chopped $17.7 million off adult literacy programs, ended a $9.7 million program to encourage Canadians to volunteer and did away with the $5.6-million Court Challenges Program, which has funded legal action by human rights advocates.

The cuts don’t mark the end of the Canadian welfare state, but they do show a sign of what may be to come—major cuts, despite a major surplus ($13.2 billion in 2006). McQuaig points to the Conservatives’ withdrawal of $5 billion in child-care spending by the Liberals. “It had taken advocacy groups, women’s groups, decades to finally pressure and pin down government to set up that program,” McQuaig says. “The Tories just scrapped it as soon as they got into office. It’s absolutely, totally irresponsible.”

8. WITHER KYOTO

The Conservative record on the environment has been nothing short of catastrophic. Consider: The axed $1-billion Climate Fund has so far only been replaced by an incentive-based transit tax credit, which saves the average transit user a paltry $12 a month. The EnerGuide program, which helped people retrofit their homes to make them more energy efficient, has been eliminated. The list goes on. The Conservatives have also forced layoffs at Natural Resources Canada and cut the Canadian Climate Impacts and Adaptation Research Network. Their biggest crime, of course, has been to abandon Canada’s Kyoto Protocol targets. They’ve opted instead for the Clean Air Act, an initiative with the laughable target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. (Meanwhile, the federal government continues to send $1.5 billion a year in subsidies to the Alberta oil patch.)

Perhaps most alarming is the Conservatives’ ho-hum attitude toward the climate crisis. Many environmental experts interviewed for this article say Harper and his advisors may not even believe in climate change, despite overwhelming evidence and the endorsements of a plethora of leading scientific organizations. For example, the scientific consensus on climate change is clearly expressed in reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which was created in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme to evaluate the state of climate science as a basis for policy decisions. The panel concluded that the scientific consensus is that the Earth’s climate is being affected by human activities. Another recent study, conducted by researchers at NASA, Columbia University and the University of California at Santa Barbara, found the world is the warmest it’s been in 12,000 years—and humans are largely to blame.

But the Conservatives aren’t buying it. In November, the government appointed University of Western Ontario physics professor Christopher Essex, a climate change skeptic and Kyoto critic, to the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, which controls $900 million a year in funding. Essex was one of 20 Canadian academics who signed an open letter to the prime minister in April that urged the government to scrap Kyoto, calling it an “irrational” squandering of billions of dollars. “There will always be people who say climate change isn’t happening,” says Dale Marshall, climate-change policy analyst with the David Suzuki Foundation. “But the question is, what is the body of evidence telling us? Overwhelmingly the science is saying climate change is happening. There’s no real dispute in the scientific community.”

*

“There is greater reason to feel comfortable with Mr. Harper today,” a Globe and Mail editorial declared last January. “He has shown himself to be an intelligent man and one, in this last campaign at least, who has learned to master his emotions. He has gained control of a party inclined to fly off in all directions, moved it to the centre and proposed a reasonable if imperfect governing platform.”

Forgive us if we’re skeptical. “This is a guy who will never change,” says Murray Dobbin, Vancouver-based journalist and author of Paul Martin: CEO for Canada? “The notion that Stephen Harper would change his fundamental values is just delusional. He is still viscerally contemptuous of his own country, and I think that puts him in a unique position of any prime minister in the history of the country. I can’t think of any other prime minister who actually hated his own country.” After all, Stephen Harper is the same man who, only a decade before, was head of the National Citizens Coalition, perhaps the most virulently right-wing organization in Canada, a group that was founded to oppose publicly funded, universal health care. He’s the same man who has advocated a firewall around Alberta to protect itself from a hostile federal government. The same man who has mocked Canadians’ understanding of their own country and who has called America’s conservative movement an inspiration. This is the same man who has made a career out of consistently and ardently criticizing Canada and its values. “Canada is a northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term, and very proud of it,” Harper told the Council for National Policy, a right-leaning American think tank, at a June 1997 meeting in Montreal.

There is reason for optimism, however. Canadians’ dissatisfaction with the Conservative government is showing in recent polls. In a November CBC News and Environics Research Group poll, 29 percent of respondents said they would vote for the Conservatives if an election were held today, compared to 28 percent who would vote for the Liberal party—which did not have a leader at the time. Perhaps more tellingly, respondents said health care, the environment and the war in Afghanistan were the most important issues facing the country, while conservative pet topics— same-sex marriage, Canada-U.S. relations and government corruption—ranked near the bottom. That does not bode well for Conservatives. “Unless the Liberals are extremely incompetent after they choose their leader,” Dobbin says, “this will be the end of Harper.”

Here’s hoping.

*

Mitch Moxley is a freelance journalist based in Toronto, by way of Saskatchewan. His work has appeared in Maisonneuve, Toro, Geist, the Kyoto Journal and elsewhere.

continue reading source: http://www.thismagazine.ca/issues/2007/01/minorityreport.php


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Democracy watchdog files complaints against Harper government

By CBC News
Last Updated: Thursday, May 25, 2006 | 1:36 PM ET

An Ottawa-based democracy watchdog group filed a formal complaint on Thursday against the federal Conservative government for breaking a “baker’s dozen” promises to tighten ethics and accountability policies.

Democracy Watch filed the complaint with ethics commissioner Bernard Shapiro against Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Treasury Board President John Baird and Harper’s director of communications Sandra Buckler.

The group’s letter of complaint also repeats its call for ethics commissioner Shapiro to resign for failing to vigorously enforce ethics rules.

“Canadians have a right to be disappointed,” Democracy Watch coordinator Duff Conacher said at a news conference in Ottawa on Thursday.

“Prime Minister Harper has broken promises that guaranteed a clean-up of the federal government and effective measures to ensure that public officials act honestly, ethically, openly and prevent waste.”

Conacher said the Conservative government has tried to skate around its failure to include all measures promised during and after January’s federal election in its federal Accountability Act.

The group says that on his first day as prime minister, Harper broke the first of five election promises when he released his new conflict of interest policy for public office holders.

The five promises were all contained in the Conservative Party’s election platform, including pledges to extend to five years the period during which former ministers, ministerial staffers and senior public servants are banned from lobbying government.

Democracy Watch says this pledge has been watered down so that it applies only to certain designated staffers and public officials who would only be constrained by a one-year cooling off period.

The Conservative platform also promised to close the loopholes that allow ministers to vote on matters connected with their business interests as well as to allow members of the public — not just politicians — to make complaints to the ethics commissioner.

Democracy Watch is challenging how these promises are being implemented. It says the list of broken promises also included pledges it says the government made to require ministers to record all contacts with lobbyists, to protect all whistleblowers and to promptly disclose whistleblower complaints.

Conacher says the new Accountability Act also deletes from the ethics code a clause requiring politicians, their staff and senior public servants to “act with honesty.”

continue reading source: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2006/05/25/democracy-watch.html

Related

Reality Check: Federal Accountability Act
Democracy Watch complaints

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