Tag Archives: Prime Minister

#opTeaKettle asks Did #Harper’s #CPC #MinistryofTruth attempt to #censor #cdnpoli @ddner of @vicecanada and @VICE re #FirstNations?

Spread the word, Tweet it, Share it and check out the references below for clues and let us know what ya think below!

Updated: The “short” answer is YES!

#opTeaKettle found: YES #Harper’s #CPC #MinistryofTruth DID attempt 2 #censor #cdnpoli @ddner re #FirstNations! https://dumpharper.wordpress.com/2013/07/21/opteakettle-asks-did-harpers-cpc-ministryoftruth-attempt-to-censor-cdnpoli-ddner-and-vice-re-firstnations/

Please Note: As of Approx 2200hr, 10PM 21Jul2013, the url has now been reactivated, so consider this one small victory for “We the People” keeping in mind that since there was NO explanation provided back to #opTeaKettle, the battle is not done 🙂

The NEW Question

Please refer to the Original Question and ponder WHY?

The Original Question

#opTeaKettle asks Did #Harper‘s #CPC #MinistryofTruth attempt to #censor #cdnpoli @ddner and @VICE re #FirstNations? https://dumpharper.wordpress.com/2013/07/21/opteakettle-asks-did-harpers-cpc-ministryoftruth-attempt-to-censor-cdnpoli-ddner-and-vice-re-firstnations/

Clues

  1. Statement of Apology by Stephen Harper -11 June 2008 – Google cache as it appeared on 11 Jul 2013 16:04:42 GMT. https://dumpharper.wordpress.com/2013/07/21/statement-of-apology-by-stephen-harper-11-june-2008-google-cache-as-it-appeared-on-11-jul-2013-160442-gmt/
  2. The Canadian Government Is Withholding Documents Concerning the Torture of Children 19 Jul 2013 – Despite numerous testimonies stating that children who attended St. Anne’s residential “Indian” school were sexually abused and sat in an electric chair, the Canadian government refuses to release 7,000 pages of investigative documents that seemingly corroborate those claims. Full story: http://www.vice.com/read/the-canadian-government-is-withholding-documents-concerning-the-torture-of-native-children
  3. Canadian Government still withholding documents concerning widespread torture of native children 18 Jul 2013http://www.sott.net/article/264145-The-Canadian-Government-Is-withholding-documents-concerning-the-torture-of-native-children

Our Inquiry into the matter

We are not very patient at this point and rather disappointed considering we exist in a 24/7/365 society and economy. Oddly, websites usually fix broken links ASAP. Thus far it has been well over 15 hours since our first tweet about this subversive censorship and 8 hours since we sent out the urgent email inquiry below (this is the template for the email without the email addys, don’t wanna no problemo, ci?) to who we though would be the most interested parties. We have also been monitoring our web traffic and while we do know the info is being shared, we are not really satisfied until we receive a reply or at least acknowledgement that the message was received.

From: dumpharper@live.ca
To: The Parties Below and Then Some
Subject: The Harper Government is attempting to censor your reference link
Date: Sun, 21 Jul 2013 10:32:48 -0400

Greetings Team, Please note that this is a copy of a message the we sent earlier to the Vice and Sott crews along with the Shadow Government of Canada. Since we are unsure which of the two of your departments might be interested in investigation this, we sent to both. As you are aware having a popular article that has reference links requires the referenced links to be active. This has changed with regards to the information below. This is an ongoing issue we are plagued with in the Nation formerly know as Canada, which for all intents and purposes should be re-branded Harperstan since the Stephen Harper and his Conservative Party of Canada has re-branded the former Canadian Government is his name, the Harper Government. CommieNazi’s should be addressed swiftly and decidedly. Your urgent assistance in this matter is greatly appreciated as they are taking the day off awaiting their scripts to arrive in the am.

ATTENTION: The Harper Government is attempting to censor your reference link

It is with great sadness that we need to report a rather peculiar occurrence of censorship and subversive and deceptive media manipulation with regards to the recently published article titled “THE CANADIAN GOVERNMENT IS WITHHOLDING DOCUMENTS CONCERNING THE TORTURE OF CHILDREN” By Dave Dean that was published on http://Vice.com and http://Sott.net at the urls below. to make it a bit easier we have initiated a Twitter campaign [#opTeaKettle] and have located the Google cached version of the referenced page, that is linked in the following paragraph, which is the LAST paragraph:

“To not immediately release these documents shows that the current government was dishonest in their apology that First Nations groups say yielded no significant change for their way of life in Canada. Obviously it was a hollow gesture. And now, to deny the claims and withhold evidence of what amounts to torture from child survivors is, well, fucked up. Stephen Harper relished the moment to deliver a historical apology. Now it’s time to actually do something, and make things better for Canada’s Native victims.”

Surely you are aware of the ramifications of these revelations considering the amount of traffic that goes to your portals and how easy it is for this to be manipulated by rouge elements. In addition we have gathered the evidence that we can and have published everything thus far at the following url, so please check it out as soon as possible and get back to us!

Feel free to utilize the page we have provided to redirect the interested visitors to see what Dave seen when he utilized it as a reference. https://dumpharper.wordpress.com/2013/07/21/opteakettle-asks-did-harpers-cpc-ministryoftruth-attempt-to-censor-cdnpoli-ddner-and-vice-re-firstnations/

http://www.vice.com/read/the-canadian-government-is-withholding-documents-concerning-the-torture-of-native-children

http://www.sott.net/article/264145-The-Canadian-Government-Is-withholding-documents-concerning-the-torture-of-native-children

btw: here is the tweet, just for kicks and to see whatcha think:

#opTeaKettle asks Did #Harper‘s #CPC #MinistryofTruth attempt to #censor#cdnpoli @ddner and @VICE re #FirstNations? https://dumpharper.wordpress.com/2013/07/21/statement-of-apology-by-stephen-harper-11-june-2008-google-cache-as-it-appeared-on-11-jul-2013-160442-gmt/

also sent to: LiveWord? Canada
cc’d to Shadow Cabinet Critics:

Charlie Angus: MP for Timmins-James Bay , Ethics, Access to Information and Privacy portfolio
Alexandre Boulerice: MP for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, Labour, Deputy Ethics, Access to Information and Privacy portfolio
Jean Crowder: MP for Nanaimo-Cowichan, Aboriginal Affairs portfolio
Françoise Boivin: MP for Gatineau, Justice portfolio
Wayne L. Marston: MP for Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, Human Rights, Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario portfolio
Pierre Nantel: MP for Longueuil–Pierre-Boucher, Heritage portfolio
Andrew Cash: MP for Davenport, Deputy Aboriginal Affairs portfolio
Carol Hughes: MP for Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing, Deputy Aboriginal Health portfolio
Hoang Mai: MP for Brossard–La Prairie, Deputy Justice portfolio
Sott.net
liberal.ca

–This email and any files transmitted with it are confidential and intended solely for the use of the individual or entity to whom they are addressed. If you have received this email in error please notify the system manager. This message contains confidential information and is intended only for the individual named. If you are not the named addressee you should not disseminate, distribute or copy this e-mail. Please notify the sender immediately by e-mail if you have received this e-mail by mistake and delete this e-mail from your system. If you are not the intended recipient you are notified that disclosing, copying, distributing or taking any action in reliance on the contents of this information is strictly prohibited.–

–Le présent message électronique est confidentiel et peut être couvert par le secret professionnel. Il est à l’usage exclusif du destinataire. Si vous recevez ce message par erreur ou si vous n’en êtes pas le destinataire prévu, vous devez détruire le message et toute pièce jointe ou copie et vous êtes tenu de ne pas conserver, distribuer, divulguer ni utiliser tout renseignement qu’il contient. Veuillez nous informer de toute erreur d’envoi en répondant à ce message. Merci de votre collaboration.–

Next Step

Gone fishin’ for Yellow Journalists and the Social Media Kettlers that distract from the issues purposely. Stay tuned…


Remember, politics is a contact sport, like hockey, so please feel free to add quick contributions, observations and relevant information as a comment below!

Contact us if you would like to contribute to our collaborative efforts or would like to share/submit articles, data or additional content, feel free to add feedback, additional info, alternative contact details, related links, articles, anonymous submission, etc. as a comment below, via web-form, through social media outlets or email us directly and confidentially at: dumpharper [at] live [dot] ca


This site may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in an effort to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. and intend its use to be for education and instructional purposes only. Therefore, we believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond “fair use,” you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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Statement of Apology by Stephen Harper -11 June 2008 – Google cache as it appeared on 11 Jul 2013 16:04:42 GMT.

Please Note: The purpose of this page has been created as a countermeasure to prevent the inaccessibility, or worse, of a very popular “page” (see below) that is returning a “HTTP Error 404 -Page Not Found” on the Harper Government’s website for the “Government of Canada; Indian and Northern Affairs Canada; Communications Branch;” (as the page metadata declares as the creator of the page). This is the Google cached version of the page retrieved 21Jul2013 (see link below). There have been absolutely no edits or changes, it is EXACTLY the same including the broken image links, with the exception of the removal of conflicting code, scripts and stylesheets, which are notated in the code (view the source to see what had to be removed).

In addition and of great importance for proper perspective, this “Statement of Apology” was referenced in a couple of articles published by Dave Dean that are being shared widely. Therefore, it shall remain available to assure the issue gets the attention is deserves in the sake of TRUE Truth and Reconciliation.

In addition, please invest a moment or so to familiarize yourselves with the highlighted section of the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act S.C. 2000, c. 24 Assented to 2000-06-29 – An Act respecting genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes and to implement the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and to make consequential amendments to other Acts. Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada, enacts as follows:

OFFENCES WITHIN CANADA

Genocide, etc., committed in Canada

4. (1) Every person is guilty of an indictable offence who commits
(a) genocide;
(b) a crime against humanity; or
(c) a war crime.

Conspiracy, attempt, etc.

(1.1) Every person who conspires or attempts to commit, is an accessory after the fact in relation to, or counsels in relation to, an offence referred to in subsection (1) is guilty of an indictable offence.

Punishment

(2) Every person who commits an offence under subsection (1) or (1.1)
(a) shall be sentenced to imprisonment for life, if an intentional killing forms the basis of the offence; and
(b) is liable to imprisonment for life, in any other case.

Definitions

(3) The definitions in this subsection apply in this section.
“crime against humanity”
« crime contre l’humanité »
“crime against humanity” means murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, imprisonment, torture, sexual violence, persecution or any other inhumane act or omission that is committed against any civilian population or any identifiable group and that, at the time and in the place of its commission, constitutes a crime against humanity according to customary international law or conventional international law or by virtue of its being criminal according to the general principles of law recognized by the community of nations, whether or not it constitutes a contravention of the law in force at the time and in the place of its commission.

“genocide”
« génocide »
“genocide” means an act or omission committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, an identifiable group of persons, as such, that, at the time and in the place of its commission, constitutes genocide according to customary international law or conventional international law or by virtue of its being criminal according to the general principles of law recognized by the community of nations, whether or not it constitutes a contravention of the law in force at the time and in the place of its commission.

“war crime”
« crime de guerre »
“war crime” means an act or omission committed during an armed conflict that, at the time and in the place of its commission, constitutes a war crime according to customary international law or conventional international law applicable to armed conflicts, whether or not it constitutes a contravention of the law in force at the time and in the place of its commission.

Review the full Act: http://www.canlii.org/ca/sta/c-45.9/


–begin page content–

This is Google’s cache of https://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1100100015644/1100100015649. It is a snapshot of the page as it appeared on 11 Jul 2013 16:04:42 GMT. The current page could have changed in the meantime. Learn more
Tip: To quickly find your search term on this page, press Ctrl+F or ⌘-F (Mac) and use the find bar.

Statement of Apology



Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada



Institutional links


Statement of Apology

PDF Version   (12 Kb, 2 Pages)

Statement of Apology-to former students of Indian Residential Schools

On Wednesday June 11, 2008 at 3:00 p.m. (Eastern Daylight Time), the Prime Minister of Canada, the Right Honourable Stephen Harper, made a Statement of Apology to former students of Indian Residential Schools, on behalf of the Government of Canada.

Prime Minister Harper offers full apology on behalf of Canadians for the Indian Residential Schools system

11 June 2008

Ottawa, Ontario
Statement of Apology 

PLEASE CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY

The treatment of children in Indian Residential Schools is a sad chapter in our history.

For more than a century, Indian Residential Schools separated over 150,000 Aboriginal children from their families and communities. In the 1870’s, the federal government, partly in order to meet its obligation to educate Aboriginal children, began to play a role in the development and administration of these schools.  Two primary objectives of the Residential Schools system were to remove and isolate children from the influence of their homes, families, traditions and cultures, and to assimilate them into the dominant culture.  These objectives were based on the assumption Aboriginal cultures and spiritual beliefs were inferior and unequal. Indeed, some sought, as it was infamously said, “to kill the Indian in the child”.  Today, we recognize that this policy of assimilation was wrong, has caused great harm, and has no place in our country.

One hundred and thirty-two federally-supported schools were located in every province and territory, except Newfoundland, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.  Most schools were operated as “joint ventures” with Anglican, Catholic, Presbyterian or United Churches.  The Government of Canada built an educational system in which very young children were often forcibly removed from their homes, often taken far from their communities.  Many were inadequately fed, clothed and housed.  All were deprived of the care and nurturing of their parents, grandparents and communities.  First Nations, Inuit and Métis languages and cultural practices were prohibited in these schools.  Tragically, some of these children died while attending residential schools and others never returned home.

The government now recognizes that the consequences of the Indian Residential Schools policy were profoundly negative and that this policy has had a lasting and damaging impact on Aboriginal culture, heritage and language.  While some former students have spoken positively about their experiences at residential schools, these stories are far overshadowed by tragic accounts of the emotional, physical and sexual abuse and neglect of helpless children, and their separation from powerless families and communities.

The legacy of Indian Residential Schools has contributed to social problems that continue to exist in many communities today.

It has taken extraordinary courage for the thousands of survivors that have come forward to speak publicly about the abuse they suffered.  It is a testament to their resilience as individuals and to the strength of their cultures.  Regrettably, many former students are not with us today and died never having received a full apology from the Government of Canada.

The government recognizes that the absence of an apology has been an impediment to healing and reconciliation.  Therefore, on behalf of the Government of Canada and all Canadians, I stand before you, in this Chamber so central to our life as a country, to apologize to Aboriginal peoples for Canada’s role in the Indian Residential Schools system.

To the approximately 80,000 living former students, and all family members and communities, the Government of Canada now recognizes that it was wrong to forcibly remove children from their homes and we apologize for having done this.  We now recognize that it was wrong to separate children from rich and vibrant cultures and traditions that it created a void in many lives and communities, and we apologize for having done this.  We now recognize that, in separating children from their families, we undermined the ability of many to adequately parent their own children and sowed the seeds for generations to follow, and we apologize for having done this.  We now recognize that, far too often, these institutions gave rise to abuse or neglect and were inadequately controlled, and we apologize for failing to protect you.  Not only did you suffer these abuses as children, but as you became parents, you were powerless to protect your own children from suffering the same experience, and for this we are sorry.

The burden of this experience has been on your shoulders for far too long.  The burden is properly ours as a Government, and as a country.  There is no place in Canada for the attitudes that inspired the Indian Residential Schools system to ever prevail again. You have been working on recovering from this experience for a long time and in a very real sense, we are now joining you on this journey. The Government of Canada sincerely apologizes and asks the forgiveness of the Aboriginal peoples of this country for failing them so profoundly.

Nous le regrettons

We are sorry

Nimitataynan

Niminchinowesamin

Mamiattugut

In moving towards healing, reconciliation and resolution of the sad legacy of Indian Residential Schools, implementation of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement began on September 19, 2007. Years of work by survivors, communities, and Aboriginal organizations culminated in an agreement that gives us a new beginning and an opportunity to move forward together in partnership.

A cornerstone of the Settlement Agreement is the Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission.  This Commission presents a unique opportunity to educate all Canadians on the Indian Residential Schools system.  It will be a positive step in forging a new relationship between Aboriginal peoples and other Canadians, a relationship based on the knowledge of our shared history, a respect for each other and a desire to move forward together with a renewed understanding that strong families, strong communities and vibrant cultures and traditions will contribute to a stronger Canada for all of us.

On behalf of the Government of Canada

The Right Honourable Stephen Harper,

Prime Minister of Canada

Additional Information

You may also be interested in:




–end page content–

Residential Schools Apology / Excuses pensionnats indiens [Video]


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qo5cG-RjE8Y

This was the only image that had any relevance to the page content and was retrieved from here: https://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/DAM/DAM-INTER-HQ/STAGING/images-images/sig_1100100015646_eng.jpg

sig_1100100015646_eng

Source: https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:FNdyPPlirEcJ:https://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1100100015644/1100100015649%2Bhttp://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1100100015644/1100100015649


The Evidence

The Paragraph

To not immediately release these documents shows that the current government was dishonest in their apology that First Nations groups say yielded no significant change for their way of life in Canada. Obviously it was a hollow gesture. And now, to deny the claims and withhold evidence of what amounts to torture from child survivors is, well, fucked up. Stephen Harper relished the moment to deliver a historical apology. Now it’s time to actually do something, and make things better for Canada’s Native victims.

The ScreenShots

Since previous attempts, as the one above, were attempted with the secure Firefox browser, below you will find the results when attempting to resolve the url with different browsers to assure the link was inaccssible. Visiting the url with the Chrome browser returned a redirect loop error and the Opera browser returned an object not found followed by a redirection link that resulted in a bad request.

ERR_TOO_MANY_REDIRECTS
This webpage has a redirect loop
Error code: ERR_TOO_MANY_REDIRECTS
ERR_TOO_MANY_REDIRECTS
This webpage has a redirect loop
Error code: ERR_TOO_MANY_REDIRECTS
Object moved to here. Bad Request
Object moved to here. Bad Request

The Questions

#opTeaKettle asks Did #Harper’s #CPC #MinistryofTruth attempt to #censor #cdnpoli @ddner of @vicecanada and @VICE re #FirstNations? https://dumpharper.wordpress.com/2013/07/21/opteakettle-asks-did-harpers-cpc-ministryoftruth-attempt-to-censor-cdnpoli-ddner-and-vice-re-firstnations/

Remember, politics is a contact sport, like hockey, so please feel free to add quick contributions, observations and relevant information as a comment below!

Contact us if you would like to contribute to our collaborative efforts or would like to share/submit articles, data or additional content, feel free to add feedback, additional info, alternative contact details, related links, articles, anonymous submission, etc. as a comment below, via web-form, through social media outlets or email us directly and confidentially at: dumpharper [at] live [dot] ca


This site may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in an effort to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. and intend its use to be for education and instructional purposes only. Therefore, we believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond “fair use,” you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

ShareAlike Statement: https://dumpharper.wordpress.com/sharealike/

#opTeaKettle asks: @SunNewsNetwork @ezralevant vs #White #Canada vs #cdnpoli?

Well, as we journey throughout the interwebz we sometimes see the simmering threats that will soon emerge into another “War on…” Ponzi Scheme. Thanks to our good friends at @SunNewsNetwork, especially @ezralevant and his EXCELLENT investigative journalism, we know what to be on the look out for! Whew, that is a relief and should save us a lot of time to mount a counter-offensive before we lose our beloved Canada at the hands of benevolent dictators. Continue reading #opTeaKettle asks: @SunNewsNetwork @ezralevant vs #White #Canada vs #cdnpoli?

ATTN: @pmharper + #CPC re: #FirstNations + #Aboriginals + #ReconciliationActionPlan = #cdnpoli #NurembergSolution

Before this gets outta hand it may be time to begin the act of reconciliation in Canada NOW, as opposed to delivering empty apologies. Here is what may be a simple initial solution that may, possible, potentially, maybe, kinda, sorta acceptable, if you are lucky. while that simmers a bit, we utilized a hashtagged tweetable title to remind ya when we share this article around the interwebs, so be sure to have Harper’s Kiddies lots o’ RedBull and other keep awake and alert remedies. Continue reading ATTN: @pmharper + #CPC re: #FirstNations + #Aboriginals + #ReconciliationActionPlan = #cdnpoli #NurembergSolution

#Harper + @PMO_MacDougall = #PMO + #CPC = #cdnpoli #CourtJesters?

An interesting question about Stephen Harper’s, Harper Government Prime Ministers Office popped up today and was percolating non-stop for some reason. What is up with Stephen Harper’s, Harper Government Director of Communications, Andrew MacDougall (@PMO_MacDougall)?

Maybe it’s just us, but this guy seems to still struggling with post-puberty in high school. Without jumping to conclusions, we thought it might be more appropriate to solicit your opinions and observations.

Let’s Explore

Below you will find screenshots of recent Tweets from some other official government “press departments” along with Stephen Harper’s, Harper Government Director of Communications, Andrew MacDougall (@PMO_MacDougall) including:

  • Jay Carney (EOP) @PressSec – The official twitter channel for President Barack Obama’s Press Secretary – The White House, Washington DC
  • UK Prime Minister @Number10gov – The official twitter channel for Prime Minister David Cameron’s office – 10 Downing Street
  • PMOPressOffice @PMOPressOffice – The official Twitter account of the Prime Minister of Australia’s Press Office – Parliament House

Stephen Harper’s, Harper Government Director of Communications, Andrew MacDougall @PMO_MacDougall

Stephen Harpers Harper Government Director of Communications Andrew MacDougall at PMO_MacDougall
Stephen Harpers Harper Government Director of Communications Andrew MacDougall at PMO_MacDougall

Jay Carney (EOP) @PressSec

Jay Carney EOP at PressSec - The official twitter channel for President Barack Obamas Press Secretary - The White House, Washington DC
Jay Carney EOP at PressSec – The official twitter channel for President Barack Obamas Press Secretary – The White House, Washington DC

UK Prime Minister @Number10gov

UK Prime Minister at Number10gov - The official twitter channel for Prime Minister David Camerons office - 10 Downing Street
UK Prime Minister at Number10gov – The official twitter channel for Prime Minister David Camerons office – 10 Downing Street

PMOPressOffice @PMOPressOffice

PMOPressOffice at PMOPressOffice - The official Twitter account of the Prime Minister of Australias Press Office - Parliament House
PMOPressOffice at PMOPressOffice – The official Twitter account of the Prime Minister of Australias Press Office – Parliament House

Let’s Decide

Based upon the content contained within the Tweets of comparable peers, the official Harper Government is…

Who is Nigel Wright, the man who bailed out Mike Duffy?

Who is Nigel Wright, the man who bailed out Mike Duffy?

Steven Chase
Ottawa — The Globe and Mail
Published Saturday, May. 18 2013, 8:00 AM EDT
Last updated Saturday, May. 18 2013, 11:15 AM EDT

Nigel Wright, chief of staff for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, out for an early morning run on April 4, 2013 in Ottawa. On most mornings, we wakes up at 4 a.m. and, before heading to the office, goes for a 20-kilometre run. On his 50th birthday, Mr. Wright will be spending it in the spotlight, just days after footing the $90,000 bill for Senator Mike Duffy’s improper housing expenses. (Dave Chan for The Globe and Mail)
Nigel Wright, chief of staff for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, out for an early morning run on April 4, 2013 in Ottawa. On most mornings, we wakes up at 4 a.m. and, before heading to the office, goes for a 20-kilometre run. On his 50th birthday, Mr. Wright will be spending it in the spotlight, just days after footing the $90,000 bill for Senator Mike Duffy’s improper housing expenses. (Dave Chan for The Globe and Mail)

Nigel Wright has been parachuted in to lead high-profile talks on the trans-Pacific free-trade zone. He was instrumental in drafting the policy to limit foreign investment in the oil sands. He is a key strategist on job-skills training arrangements with the provinces. But this week, Stephen Harper’s chief of staff – who is described by one official as “almost like a deputy prime minister,” has known his boss for decades and commands his respect as few others – also became a $90,172.24 liability.

That’s the amount of the personal cheque Mr. Wright wrote so that Senator Mike Duffy, a Harper appointee and Conservative Party campaigner, could repay government expenses he had claimed in error.

Mr. Duffy resigned from the Tory caucus on Thursday night. And federal Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson will be investigating Mr. Wright’s gift. But the Prime Minister says he is standing by him.

Which may make many Canadians wonder: How has the reclusive Mr. Wright become such a force in Ottawa? And why is Mr. Harper so steadfast in defending someone who has put his office at the centre of a scandal?

If the public has heard of Mr. Wright at all, it’s as a money man – one comfortable handling sums much larger than $90,000.

Until he joined the Prime Minister’s Office more than two years ago, he was a universally respected broker of multimillion-dollar deals for Onex Corp., the private-equity giant said to be Canada’s biggest private-sector employer.

That made him an ideal aide for Mr. Harper – who at that time was saddled with a minority government struggling to balance its books in the wake of the global economic meltdown and needed a chief of staff skilled at business as well as politics.

Onex agreed to do without Mr. Wright’s services as a managing director for up to two years and he officially took command of the PMO on Jan. 1, 2011.

His appointment sparked a media crossfire, pitting detractors suspicious of his big-business background against boosters who at times bordered on fawning: “A genuinely nice guy,” one columnist enthused. “Liked by everyone who knows him.”

Since then, Mr. Wright has become indispensable, sitting with the Prime Minister at the apex of Canada’s political system.

As well as running the PMO, he meets weekly with cabinet members’ chiefs of staff to ensure that they understand government policy – and at times even fills in for their bosses. When he started on the trans-Pacific trade file, he took over for International Trade Minister Ed Fast.

Regarding his work on limiting foreign investment in the oil sands, one insider says: “Nigel had a more sophisticated understanding than [the Department of] Industry about the effects the restrictions would have.”

But Mr. Wright’s influence goes deeper than the here and now. As one senior Conservative puts it, he has “a long history as a political operative.” A close look at his background shows that he has quietly been active at every stage in the evolution of the modern Conservative Party – and is at least partly responsible for making Stephen Harper what he is today.

The son of an engineering technician, Mr. Wright was born in Hamilton 50 years ago this Saturday, and raised in neighbouring Burlington – not far from the Toronto suburb where Mr. Harper grew up.

Having spent some of his formative years living in England, young Nigel did not have an especially high profile in high school. Teachers and classmates recall his name, and little else.

But Globe and Mail readers who spotted an April 10, 1980, letter to the editor from one Nigel Wright of Burlington would have had an inkling of what was to come: Liberal minister Herb Gray, he wrote, “should live up to his pre-election promise to resign.”

That fall, Mr. Wright arrived at the University of Toronto’s Trinity College – and soon hit his stride.

It was at “Trin” – which still carries out such “Oxbridge” traditions as donning gowns for some evening meals – that Mr. Wright encountered an array of remarkable contemporaries. These included Jim Balsillie, future co-founder of Research in Motion, maker of the BlackBerry smartphone; writer and thinker Malcolm Gladwell, and political analyst Andrew Coyne.

Even in that peer group, Mr. Balsillie remembers Mr. Wright as special: “He was clean-cut, well-dressed and very composed. … I remember thinking, ‘I have to seriously up my inspiration levels if I am going to keep up with this kid.’ ”

Classmate John Duffy, now a political rival as a Liberal Party strategist, agrees: “Back in the day, the question was: ‘Will Nigel be on the Supreme Court or be prime minister?’ He worked harder than anybody and he was pretty much the smartest guy in the room.”

Mr. Gladwell recalls him as “an exceedingly decent, sweet and good-natured person,” who appeared more mature and directed than his peers. “He just seemed like he had a much clearer sense of who he was than the rest of us.”

And clearly he was a conservative, at a time when the political pendulum was swinging in that direction. A year earlier, Margaret Thatcher had settled into 10 Downing Street, and Republican Ronald Reagan was soon to occupy the White House. In Canada, Joe Clark had (briefly) interrupted 16 years of Liberal rule, and the Brian Mulroney era was on the horizon.

“The neo-conservative revival was hitting Canadian campuses – University of Toronto, in particular – and he was in the thick of it,” Mr. Duffy says.

Mr. Gladwell recalls that, “at the time, it felt very subversive to be a right-winger.”

What proved to be a flirtation for Mr. Gladwell was anything but for “Nige,” who had embraced the Young Progressive Conservatives back in Burlington, and arrived at Trinity with big plans.

His career goal was the law, Mr. Balsillie says, but as well he “wanted to be involved, massively, in the conservative political apparatus, both federally and provincially.”

And so, being a champion of free enterprise and no fan of Red Tory centrists, Mr. Wright rallied youth votes against Mr. Clark when the party held its 1981 federal leadership review.

Two years later, with the leadership formally up for grabs, he struck again, joining fellow Campus Conservative Tom Long to corral student delegates and help to crown Mr. Mulroney, says Peter White, later principal secretary in the Mulroney PMO.

Closer to home, Mr. Wright spread the gospel by starting the University of Toronto Magazine in 1984 with Tony Clement, a friend and classmate now head of the federal Treasury Board in the Harper cabinet.

Mr. Wright, the editor, quickly emerged a Thatcher diehard, echoing the Iron Lady’s contrarian view that foreign investment could somehow be a “liberalizing force” in apartheid-era South Africa and accusing her trade-union nemesis, miners’ leader Arthur Scargill, of “shameless bullying.”

And Mr. Wright remains within the Trinity College orbit. The $4-million home he bought in 2007 sits among fraternity houses in the Annex, the upscale neighbourhood that is just off campus. A few blocks south is Saint Thomas’s, the 139-year-old Anglican church he has attended since his student days. The Ottawa job was supposed to be a sabbatical.

After the 1983 federal leadership vote, Mr. Wright entered law school at the U of T, only to take a hiatus the following year – Mr. Mulroney had swept the Liberals from power and there was a job available working with Mr. White in the PMO.

Although young, Mr. Wright was never afraid to challenge prevailing views, Mr. White recalls, but “he was also a very good soldier and, once a decision was made, he’d step into line.”

And he was diligent. “He’s a workaholic,” Mr. White adds.

Returning to school in 1986, Mr. Wright flirted with a career in academics, prompting Robert Prichard, then the U of T’s law dean, to recommend further study. So after graduating in 1988, he went on to a master’s degree at Harvard.

But early in 1990, after Mr. Mulroney had proposed the Meech Lake accord to bring Quebec into the Constitution, he appeared with two fellow Canadians on The Globe’s comment page, extolling the accord’s virtues and accusing critics of “soulless universalism and insular parochialism.”

Called to the bar the same year, Mr. Wright came back to Toronto, but abandoned the ivory tower in favour of a job where he had articled as a student. Known today as Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg, “it was like a New York law firm in Toronto – crushing demands on time but, at the other end, lucrative,” a former classmate recalls.

Still, there was time for politics. He worked on the provincial PCs’ campaign in 1990 – the election that famously brought the New Democrats led by future Liberal Bob Rae to power – and three years later, with the departure of Mr. Mulroney, and worked on policy for Kim Campbell’s federal leadership campaign.

Meanwhile, his law career was taking off. He had been thrown into one of the more complicated projects in Canadian history – the billion-dollar public and private partnership that produced the 12.9-kilometre Confederation Bridge that connects Prince Edward Island to the mainland.

“We went to war for about four years to get that done,” says Bill Ainley, a senior partner at Davies, which worked for the developers. “It is … probably the most difficult project I ever did, and I couldn’t have done it without Nigel.”

His firm made Mr. Wright a partner in just five years, the minimum then allowed. And yet, just two years later, he was gone.

Working on an acquisition deal for Onex Corp. had brought him to the attention of its chief executive officer, Gerald Schwartz, who was impressed even though a leading Liberal fundraiser at the time. “He has excellent judgment,” the billionaire Onex chieftain has said. “He has the right amount of caution; caution exceeding enthusiasm.”

Plus, as Mr. Schwartz puts it, “People like him. He’s very easy to work with, and that’s very important in our business.”

One of his first assignments came with Mr. Schwartz’s bold attempt in 1999 to buy Canada’s two biggest airlines and combine them. The plan was hellishly complicated, sparked allegations of government collusion and eventually failed, but set Mr. Wright on a path to becoming a lead player in Onex’s many subsequent dealings in the aircraft business.

He was also at the point man for a spectacular near-miss that came in 2007 when Onex joined a group that came within a whisker of buying Qantas, the Australian airline. Soon afterward, the financial crisis struck, punishing share prices and slashing air travel. The group had bid about $11-billion (Australian) – and today Qantas is worth barely one-third of that.

Worse was the joint Onex/Goldman Sachs acquisition of business-jet maker Hawker Beechcraft Corp., whose orders evaporated with the financial crisis. Eventually, the company filed for creditor protection, essentially wiping out Onex’s $212-million investment.

Still, deals such as the one for Spirit Aerosystems more than made up for such losses. Onex invested $108-million to buy Spirit from Boeing in 2005, betting it could make assembly plants that had supplied the aircraft giant more efficient. Mr. Wright led negotiations with Spirit’s four unions that helped to seal a deal, and allowed Onex to collect $756-million, and retain shares worth another $100-million.

Yet the allure of politics refused to fade, so Mr. Schwartz was not really surprised when Mr. Wright decided to go to Ottawa. He is said to have left behind annual compensation worth seven figures (and has let slip that he once gave more to charity in a year than he now earns).

Part of the draw was Stephen Harper himself. As Mr. Wright told a Commons committee just before taking the job, the PM’s “values align with mine in every single way” – a sentiment that makes perfect sense considering that he played an active role in making his future boss party leader as well as Prime Minister.

The two first met after the party’s collapse in the wake of the Mulroney era.

Mr. Wright helped to turn Kim Campbell into her party’s first woman leader and Canada’s first woman prime minister. But four months later, she was reduced at the polls to just two seats, and the cause he had served since high school was in ruins.

A regional and ideological rift had split its ranks in two, allowing Reform, the controversial western splinter group led by Preston Manning, to soar to 52 MPs – including Mr. Harper, then a rookie from Calgary West.

Impressed with Mr. Harper, and looking for the ideal person to heal the rift among conservatives, Mr. Wright contacted an old friend.

“Nigel called me about him,” recalls Tom Long, a key player in helping Mike Harris bring his Common Sense Revolution to Ontario in 1995. “He said, ‘He’s young, he’s smart and he’s bilingual, and I think he’s somebody who has a big future in terms of trying to put the conservative movement back together.’ ”

But their candidate thought otherwise, both then and when asked again in 1998 after Ms. Campbell’s successor, Jean Charest, stepped down. By then he had left politics to be deputy leader of the National Citizens’ Coalition, a conservative lobby group.

But to hard-core economic conservatives, the situation was pressing: After five years in the political wilderness, the federal party had rebounded to 20 seats, but then handed the reins back to their old Red Tory nemesis, Joe Clark. So, in January, 2000, both Mr. Long and Mr. Wright were in Ottawa for the birth of the Canadian Alliance – a bid by Reform to reinvent itself and reconcile with federal Tories to “unite the right.”

“We were all thinking about attractive candidates for the leadership of the new party,” Mr. Long recalls. “We needed somebody that everybody could gravitate toward.”

Finally, with the Alliance leadership of Stockwell Day under siege, the lobbying paid off and Mr. Harper had a change of heart, agreeing to throw his hat into the ring, with fundraising and recruitment assistance from Mr. Wright. He won on the first ballot.

The following year, Peter MacKay succeeded Mr. Clark as Tory leader and, despite having signed a promise not to do so, soon agreed to negotiate the long-awaited merger. Early in 2004, the reborn Conservative Party of Canada endorsed Mr. Harper as leader and, with the right finally united, he moved into 24 Sussex Drive less than two years later.

By then, the party had created Conservative Fund Canada to manage its money, and appointed three founding directors: People’s Jewellers magnate Irving Gerstein (now a senator), Giant Tiger discount chain founder Gordon Reid (father of Conservative MP Scott Reid) – and Nigel Wright.

As well, Mr. Harper’s old mentor, Preston Manning, had launched a conservative think tank in Calgary. Among its directors: Nigel Wright.

He later gave up both positions – just before moving into the PMO.

On most mornings, be it January or July, Stephen Harper’s right hand man wakes up at 4 a.m. and, before heading to the office, goes for a run – 20 kilometres through downtown Ottawa. People train months before attempting the gruelling half-marathon that Mr. Wright has been doing almost daily for decades.

On one hand, his job is utterly consuming – Sir John A. Macdonald famously warned an aide, “Remember, I shall require all of your time” – but for the 90 minutes the run takes, his time is his own.

However, the ritual says something more profound about him.

Clearly, his fitness level helps him withstand the rigours of a high burnout job that Derek Burney, chief aide to Brian Mulroney, recalls as exhilarating but more strenuous than “anything else I did in the public or private sector.”

“He’s a machine,” one Conservative cabinet minister says of Mr. Wright.

Sports psychologists who study marathoners might also note how much control it takes to run the way Mr. Wright does. Hard-core runners are known for their self-discipline and planning. But sports psychologist Peter Jensen says that running a half-marathon every day also suggests an “unbelievably strong” sense of control. “The people who are able to do this have phenomenal self-discipline – they are not in any way, shape or form impulsive,” explains Dr. Jensen, who teaches at the Queen’s University business school.

“Anything that he’s ever done that appeared impulsive, he planned.”

Since his arrival, much has been made of how Mr. Wright differs from his immediate predecessor, the peppery Guy Giorno. But the two are more alike than they may seem. Both, for example, are devout churchgoers.

A small photo of Pope John Paul II leans against the fax machine on the credenza in Mr. Wright’s office in the Langevin Block across from Parliament Hill. Karol Józef Wojtyła was a hero to many conservatives because he is widely credited with helping to end communist rule.

But the portrait is also a nod to Mr. Wright’s own faith. He is a member of the Anglo-Catholic movement, which asserts the Catholic identity of Anglicanism more than its Protestant roots. Its adherents want to celebrate older rituals and traditions (“smells and bells” to detractors), if not reunite with the Catholic Church.

After arriving from Toronto, where he served Saint Thomas’s as both a sub-deacon and a warden, Mr. Wright bought a high-end downtown condo for $710,000 and began attending St. Barnabas, billed as “the Anglo-Catholic Parish in the Diocese of Ottawa.” Rev. Stewart Murray, the parish priest, says lovers of tradition also cherish the right to debate such subjects as same-sex marriage. “They want to retain the freedom of conscience on things like that.”

Mr. Wright also is known for his charitable efforts. He has pulled back from active participation while in the PMO but still makes private donations and even asks staff members who travel to collect shampoo bottles provided by hotels for use in a women’s shelter.

And how much did he donate that year if it really is more than he now earns? The PMO refuses to disclose what the chief of staff is paid, but his salary should be roughly comparable to that of a deputy minister, who can make as much as $320,000 a year.

As well as money, he has given his time, over the years volunteering at Saint Thomas’s with Out of the Cold, the winter shelter program for the homeless. As a young lawyer, he was especially active in Camp Oochigeas, which provides respite and recreation for children with cancer. A long-time camp counsellor, he also served four years as Oochigeas’s board chair.

The PMO, of course, is no charity: Respect is earned, not given. Staff decide if their chief commands the full backing of the Prime Minister and acts accordingly.

Mr. Wright quickly impressed the troops with his hard work and efficiency. Even running 20 kilometres before dawn rarely keeps him from being first to arrive at the office and last to leave. He is also there on weekends.

This dedication, coupled with his unbridled faith, has some in the PMO now in the habit of asking, “What would Nigel do?” when faced with a predicament.

Each of Mr. Harper’s top aides has faced a different set of challenges.

The first, former university professor Ian Brodie, found senior bureaucrats in the Privy Council Office, the central agency that services the PMO, trying to sidestep the political staff and communicate directly with Mr. Harper. He left not long after a leak embarrassed the government.

Mr. Giorno arrived with experience as chief of staff for Mike Harris, and exerted greater political control over the bureaucracy. Now memos from the PCO wouldn’t go to the Prime Minister unless bearing a PMO staff recommendation.

When Mr. Giorno left after two years, Mr. Wright was content to leave the structure he had created in place. However, there was a distinct change of focus. A minority government has little time for long-term planning, while a majority administration can’t ignore it – especially when economic times are tough.

Mr. Wright’s business acumen also includes seven years on the board of the Conservative Fund, which supervises party financing. During his tenure, it generated enough money to underwrite three election campaigns, pay off the accumulated debts of both predecessor parties, revamp its grassroots fundraising approach and overhaul its computer systems.

So, the PMO became even more businesslike after he took charge. The morning meeting of senior staff, which also includes his deputy, Joanne McNamara, and principal secretary Ray Novak, as well as as half-dozen other department heads, used to go on for hours, sometimes until noon. “Everyone was yapping; there’d be people running in and out.” Now it wraps up by 10 a.m. “Nigel keeps people on task,” one staffer says. “He holds people to deadlines.”

He also provides a steadying influence. “Anyone in his job has to constantly be putting out fires and dealing with flared tempers. He brings … a kind of grounded maturity to all of those flareups.”

The same savvy helps in resolving differences of opinion. “He will either hear both sides of the argument and he will synthesize it into a consensus position, or he will come in with his own position and bring in a group of people who agree with him to project it outward,” one source says.

He is also known to employ canny management techniques. To minimize discord and get the consensus ruling he wants, an insider says, he lines up supporters in advance. “He doesn’t just rely on his power and sheer force of argument to win the day. He also relies on orchestrating situations.”

Mr. Wright still faces constant suspicion from the opposition that, with his background in big business and a lifetime of service to free-enterprise ideology, he is just too close to the private sector.

Before starting the job, he and Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson negotiated an “ethical wall” designed to insulate him from both his holdings (his leave-of-absence agreement ensured he wouldn’t forfeit savings and stock options that “took many years for me to earn”) and his old friends in high finance.

The wall didn’t seem enough to ease some concerns. “You can’t even order pizza for the PMO, from what I can see here – Onex owned CiCi’s Pizza Parlor,” the NDP’s Pat Martin complained during the hearings. “Every move you make, every breath you take puts you in a conflict of interest.”

With tongue firmly planted in cheek, Mr. Wright conceded the point: “Mr. Chair, there are certain states in the United States where, if I order pizza, I probably shouldn’t do it from CiCi’s.”

Mr. Wright’s critics remained vigilant for signs of conflict – complaining to the commissioner again last summer when he appeared to have been lobbied on behalf of gold czar Peter Munk, an old friend, and his son, Anthony Munk, a former colleague. Yet the Prime Minister has come to rely increasingly on his top aide, and has broadened his role.

Peter White of the Mulroney PMO feels the fact that Mr. Wright is unafraid to express his opinion is appreciated by his boss. “The danger with any prime minister – and in my view it’s a particularly danger with Stephen Harper – is you surround yourself with yes men, and nobody dares to speak truth to power,” he explains.

“Harper’s a very smart guy, and I think realizes this danger. He wouldn’t want too many Nigels – but one good Nigel is probably enough.”

Insiders confirm that Mr. Wright can be frank but caution that he also takes care not to go overboard. “The PM takes Nigel seriously,” says one. “He respects Nigel’s intelligence because it’s not ostentatious.”

All of which is further evidence that, as at least one old friend thinks, he is right where he wants to be – “involved, massively, in the conservative political apparatus.”

People on Bay Street who still talk to Mr. Wright report that he has found the job exhausting, even for someone with his stamina, but was energized by the challenge. What effect the current controversy will have on his longevity is an open question.

Although in public, Conservatives defend Mr. Wright’s decision to bail out Mr. Duffy, some privately acknowledge that it was a terrible lapse in judgment.

Mr. Harper, said to have been kept in the dark about Mr. Wright’s generosity, has yet to address the situation. But as one Tory asks: “How can you get rid of a guy who gives up $90,000 of his own money to help the government? You don’t.”

As well, with a cabinet shuffle on the immediate horizon, followed by a pivotal Throne Speech in the fall, there is much work to be done – especially because the smooth sailing seen during the first half of the majority mandate may be over.

Betting on the second coming of Trudeaumania has the Liberals now surging in the polls while Thomas Mulcair, the tough-minded Quebecker leading the New Democrats, has bolstered the party’s fiscal credibility by casting off the “socialist” label seen as toxic to centrist voters.

So Mr. Harper may have a fight on his hands when he seeks re-election in 2015. Does his chief of staff even want stick around that long?

Don’t ask Mr. Schwartz when to expect his protégé, and potential successor, back making mega-deals in Toronto. “I don’t know the answer,” he insists.

After nearly 13 years at Onex, money is clearly not an issue.

“I doubt any job in the rest of his life will be a tenth as interesting …,” Mr. Balsillie says, “because you’re shaping the country – you’re shaping the world.”

Providing you can weather the storm.

This article was written with reporting assistance from Boyd Erman in Report on Business.

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#Harper #Gold #Davos #Soros and #CurrencyWars

#Harper #Gold #Davos #Soros & #CurrencyWars

By @livewordcanada 2013/01/24 via #Ottawapiskat… The birth of a hashtag

We are perplexed and puzzled about the timing of why Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s wife Laureen [1], “liquidated her entire portfolio of stock market investments late last year.” Oddly enough, several other “global” factors, central banks [2], investors [3] as well as other anomalies that add to the confusion. This brings us to another topic and point to ponder, Why is Deutsche Bundesbank demanding it’s gold reserves back and will this escalate and initiate more global currency wars? Then we consider the rather bleak announcement and admission from Bank of Canada’s outgoing Mark Carney “The slowdown in the second half of 2012 was more pronounced than the Bank had anticipated”. One thing is certain, something is rotten in #Ottawapiskat and Martha Stewart comes to mind for some reason. For our next chapter in the #Ottawapiskat for #Upsettlers: #ShagTheDog series featuring #Bundesbank, #Gold and #CurrencyWars.

Continue reading #Harper #Gold #Davos #Soros and #CurrencyWars

Prime Minister’s Wife Sells Off Entire Stock Portfolio

Prime Minister’s Wife Sells Off Entire Stock Portfolio

By GLEN MCGREGOR, Ottawa Citizen January 10, 2013

According to an ethics disclosure filed in December, Stephen Harper’s wife, Laureen, has liquidated her stock market investments.
Photograph by: Sean Kilpatrick , The Canadian Press

OTTAWA — An ethics disclosure filed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper shows that his wife Laureen liquidated her entire portfolio of stock market investments late last year.

The prime minister last month amended a disclosure of assets and liabilities he had filed with Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson and removed its reference to his wife’s investments.

Previous versions of Harper’s MP disclosure said his wife held an “investment account with Raymond James Ltd. partly composed of publicly traded securities.”

That line item was not found in an updated December 8 version of the document, which lists no other declarable assets.

“Mrs. Harper’s updated disclosure reflects the fact this account was liquidated,” explained Andrew MacDougall, Harper’s director of communications.

MacDougall did not respond to a follow-up email asking why she had suddenly sold off her portfolio at a time when the economy is still recovering from a deep recession.

Unlike his apparently bearish wife, the prime minister has been an enthusiastic booster of Canadian equity markets, and once advised investors to increase their stake in public securities during the darkest days of the global economic downturn.

“I think there are some great buying opportunities out there,” Harper said during a 2008 interview with the CBC.

Since then, the TSX index has climbed by about 32 per cent.

Harper’s disclosure did not itemize the individual stocks his wife owned.

The prime minister declared no stock investments of his own, suggesting that those made in his wife’s name may effectively be joint assets. The disclosure notes that the Harpers share a joint line of credit from the Bank of Nova Scotia.

In October, the Prime Minister’s Office declined a Citizen request to provide a list of equities in Laureen Harper’s portfolio. The PMO also refused to say whether any of her stocks were among the resource sector companies that would be affected by her husband’s decision on foreign investments by China’s CNOOC and Malayasia’s Petronas.

Under federal ethics rules, cabinet ministers are required to either sell their shares in publicly-traded companies or place them in blind trusts while in office. But, as the Citizen reported, there is no such requirement for equities held in their spouses’ names. The specific contents of their stock portfolios are not revealed in the disclosures they sign as cabinet ministers or as MPs, and it is unclear if even the ethics commissioner knows which equities the spouses hold.

The spouses of seven other ministers in Harper’s cabinet currently have publicly-traded securities not governed by any blind trust agreements — among them, the wife of Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and the husband of Labour Minister Lisa Raitt.

Flaherty’s wife, Ontario Progressive Conservative MPP Christine Elliott, is required to make her own disclosure under the separate provincial ethics regime, which requires her to list in more detail her stock holdings.

Elliott’s 2012 provincial disclosure showed that she owns shares in the Bank of Nova Scotia, BCE Inc., and Leon’s Furniture Ltd., among others. Flaherty’s office says he and wife do not discuss cabinet confidences so there is no conflict of interest with her holdings.

It is unclear whether Laureen Harper simply saw last year’s rise in stock prices as a good time to cash in her portfolio or if the move was made in response to the Citizen story pointing out the apparent loophole in the ethics rules.

Under an agreement with ethics commissioner, Harper is required to step aside from any decision involving Talisman Energy, where his brother Grant works as an accountant.

gmcgregor@ottawacitizen.com
© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen

Original source article: Prime minister’s wife sells off entire stock portfolio

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Stephen Harper prepares to fail his biggest test as PM

Stephen Harper prepares to fail his biggest test as PM

By Daniel Wilson
January 9, 2013

Stephen Harper prepares to fail his biggest test as PM

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Prime Minister Stephen Harper may be facing the defining issue of his regime.  As he prepares for Friday’s meeting with First Nations leaders, he faces the strongest public opposition to his core agenda that he has seen in his seven years in office, one that is widespread, motivated, and legally empowered.

I am not speaking of a hidden agenda, but one that is plain to any observer.

Mr. Harper’s long ties to the oil and gas industry are well known. That industry employed his father, it employed him, and he served notice early in his first term that “Canada’s emergence as a global energy powerhouse — the emerging ‘energy superpower’ our government intends to build,” is his overriding economic vision.

But he faces a significant hurdle in realizing that agenda in the way he would like: Indigenous rights.

Mr. Harper’s animosity toward Indigenous rights has been less forthright, but clear. Tom Flanagan – Harper’s former Chief of Staff, campaign manager, and mentor at the University of Calgary — is open in his view that the assimilation of First Nations is the Conservatives’ desired goal. Mr. Harper’s true colours showed briefly when he claimed that, “We also have no history of colonialism,” but the real evidence has been his government’s ongoing attacks on the legitimacy of Indigenous rights, the legal status of First Nations governments, the honesty and competency of First Nations leadership, and the viability of reserves.

By his deeds he shall be known.

On the global stage, he stood almost alone in opposition to 144 other countries in voting against the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Domestically, he has tabled bills that diminish First Nations jurisdiction to that of administrative agencies of the federal government.  His party has consistently claimed that First Nation governments are corrupt or mismanaged.  He killed the Kelowna Accord. His steadfast refusal to fund First Nation child welfare agencies at the same rate as provincial agencies — a gap of 22 per cent according to the Auditor General — is the subject of a human rights complaint for discrimination. The cap of two per cent funding growth per annum for education, housing, infrastructure (like drinking water) and other essential services means that, while keeping up with inflation, First Nations are further impoverished each year at the same rate as they have children (approximately 3.5 per year).  To make his purpose obvious, he has legislation aimed at selling communally held reserve lands to private interests and the now infamous Bill C-45 created new arrangements for the leasing of reserve lands to non-band members.

Each of these steps is aimed at diminishing the power and capacity of First Nations to function.  Each is calculated to drive people off reserve. Like Harper’s legislative attacks on environmental protection, each serves the goal of eventually allowing oil, gas, mining, and other resource extraction industries to go about their business unhindered.

But people stood up to the bully and in his first real test, he blinked. In reluctantly agreeing to meet this Friday, he has shown his nervousness. In the maliciousness with which his people have attacked Chief Theresa Spence this week, he has shown his fear.

By all reports, Mr. Harper is not inclined to negotiate, preferring to dictate the terms through which he gets what he wants. His former Minister of Indian Affairs and potential successor, Jim Prentice, warned against this approach twice in the past year. In June, Mr. Prentice said, “the constitutional obligation to consult with first nations is not a corporate obligation. It is the federal government’s responsibility.  Finally, these issues cannot be resolved by regulatory fiat — they require negotiation. The real risk is not regulatory rejection but regulatory approval, undermined by subsequent legal challenges and the absence of ‘social licence’ to operate.” And in September Mr. Prentice again warned that pipeline projects were threatened by the failure to consult and accommodate First Nations rights and interests.

However, on Friday, Mr. Harper is not going to repeal the legislation that prompted the Idle No More protests. In fact, he has little to offer from his usual bag of tricks — more individualism through reduced communal rights, increasing entrepreneurial activity by putting at risk the loss of Indigenous lands, or formal equality that eliminates constitutional rights — making one wonder what he thinks can be achieved on January 11. After working very hard to convince Canada that First Nations are both historical anachronisms without relevance in today’s world and corrupt fiefdoms devoted to fiscal profligacy, he has little trust to contribute toward resolution of the conflict.

And so, he will try to bluff his way through, to buy time until the storm passes, as he did by proroguing Parliament in the past. Apparently, he will focus on proposals for a First Nations Education Act and the creation of a working group on treaties. Despite the fact that Chiefs have rejected the process by which the education bill is being developed, Harper no doubt believes it plays well with the Canadian public and he knows that education is the priority for many First Nations.  In this way, he can paint his opposition as being against improving education outcomes, try to undermine growing public support, and perhaps divide First Nations against themselves.  Without a radical change in attitude, the treaties working group has equally little hope of producing a positive outcome.

Mr. Harper’s approach will not work, but he has shown no capacity to admit his mistakes and change course, nor would a truly new relationship fit within his ideology. This should be a grave concern to the economic interests that he seeks to serve.

The greater concern may be that he is intent on provoking greater conflict. He may believe that this is the last chance in the long history of failure that is the policy of assimilation and, therefore, is making one final effort to get through intimidation what even his own former Minister has told him can only be achieved through honest negotiation.

This is part three of a four part series in advance of Friday’s meeting. Tomorrow, justice.

continue reading source: http://www.rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/daniel-wilson/2013/01/stephen-harper-prepares-fail-his-biggest-test-pm


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A Canadian foreign-aid insider explains our $1.5-billion Afghan sinkhole

By Jonathan Kay
Oct 13, 2012 2:33 PM ET

SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images

This morning, the front page of the National Post featured Tom Blackwell’s story about previously unreleased documents that assess Canada’s ambitious aid effort in Afghanistan. “Audits of the Canadian International Development Agency’s huge involvement in Kandahar and elsewhere in Afghanistan depict a well-meaning drive for results the government could boast about — a push that faced ‘intractable’ security problems, political pressures and the ‘vaguely envisaged’ challenge of building a new nation,” Blackwell writes.

“All the projects have failed. None of them have been successful,” notes Nipa Banerjee, who headed CIDA’s Afghanistan operations from 2003 to 2006. “I think we went into Kandahar to increase our international profile … rather than thinking about the interests of the people of Kandahar. It was too much politicized and militarized and securitized, and as a result we ended up with failure.”

It’s a sad story of wasted taxpayer money, and unfulfilled promises. Yet it is hardly unique. If anything, in fact, the whole Afghan aid fiasco is a fitting symbol of the existential problem that has burdened CIDA (which is now overseen by the Minister of International Cooperation) since its creation in the late 1960s.

continue reading: http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/10/13/jonathan-kay-a-canadian-foreign-aid-insider-explains-our-1-5-billion-afghan-sinkhole/


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Pipeline development was ‘top of mind’ in Stephen Harper’s budget bill, say “secret” records

Pipeline development was ‘top of mind’ in Stephen Harper’s budget bill, say “secret” records

By Mike De Souza September 28, 2012
Pipeline development was ‘top of mind’ in Stephen Harper’s budget bill, say “secret” records

Environment Minister Peter Kent declined an interview request from Postmedia News, referring questions to Natural Resources Canada. This photo taken during Question Period, May 31, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

OTTAWA – Pipeline development was a “top of mind” consideration factoring into the Harper government’s regulatory reforms adopted in a 400-page piece of legislation supporting the 2012 budget, reveals an internal briefing note prepared for Environment Minister Peter Kent.

The federal document, marked “secret” but released through access to information legislation by Environment Canada, highlighted the department’s role in assessing two different proposals for pipelines linking Alberta’s oilsands industry to the west coast of British Columbia.

It also recommended that Kent tell a pipeline industry association, before the budget was tabled, that the new legislation would revamp regulations for new industrial projects.

“Pipeline development is certainly among the major industrial sectors that are top-of-mind as we consider the modernization of our regulatory system,” said the briefing material, prepared for a Jan. 26 meeting between Kent, his former deputy minister, Paul Boothe, and the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association.

Nearly one third of the budget legislation was dedicated to changing Canada’s environmental laws, offering new tools for the government to authorize water pollution, investigate environmental groups, weaken protection of endangered species, and limit public participation in consultations and reviews of proposed industrial projects.

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency confirmed in August that it cancelled nearly 3,000 environmental assessments as a result of the new legislation, including about 250 reviews of projects involving a pipeline.

Kent’s office referred questions about the briefing document to Natural Resources Canada, which said that energy and other resources contribute billions of dollars to Canadian economic growth.

“Resources are the backbone of our economy that creates jobs and growth for all Canadians,” the Natural Resources Department said in a statement emailed to Postmedia News. “The government’s plan for responsible resource development will create high-quality, skilled jobs across Canada… ensuring more predictable, timely reviews, reducing duplication, while maintaining the highest possible standards for protecting the environment, and ensuring more meaningful consultations with aboriginal people.”

After reviewing the briefing notes, NDP deputy leader Megan Leslie said the material demonstrates that the budget legislation, introduced in Parliament on April 26, 2012 and adopted in July, was mainly designed to remove environmental laws standing in the way of projects proposed by companies such as Alberta-based Enbridge, which is proposing the Northern Gateway pipeline from Edmonton to Kitimat, B.C.

She also said it indicates the government had made up its mind to overhaul environmental assessment legislation before Parliament had a chance to complete reviewing the situation.

“Now that I see this briefing document, I realize that the fix was in from the beginning,” said Leslie in an interview.

Previously released internal government records have indicated that Enbridge officials were disputing concerns raised by federal scientists about the risks of their proposed pipeline and the need for additional information, Postmedia News and the Vancouver Sun reported last spring.

The new budget legislation also allows ministers in Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s cabinet to overrule decisions made by the National Energy Board on project reviews.

After facing criticism for downplaying these new powers of cabinet during an announcement in April about the environmental reforms, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver told the National Post in an interview that the government had not highlighted the changes, but suggested that it was not trying to hide them.

Brenda Kenny, president of the industry association, told Postmedia News that she didn’t agree with the suggestion that pipelines were “top of mind” in the regulatory reforms, explaining that other sectors of the economy could also be important factors in the changes adopted in July.

But she noted that the reforms have strengthened some provisions of environmental assessments, introducing some new fines for companies that don’t respect conditions of project approvals.

She also said that there was a need to remove administrative delays that were slowing down project approvals, without offering any additional environmental protection.

Follow Mike De Souza

© Copyright (c) Postmedia News

continue reading source: http://www.canada.com/Pipeline+development+mind+Stephen+Harper+budget+bill+secret+records/7303087/story.html


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Omnibus bills fundamentally undemocratic

Editorial: Omnibus bills fundamentally undemocratic

The Gazette September 22, 2012

MONTREAL — Being flagrantly exposed as a hypocrite seems not to bother Stephen Harper.

Back in 1994, long before he became prime minister, he rose in the House of Commons as a rookie opposition member of Parliament to denounce with righteous indignation the budget-implementation bill proposed by the Liberal government of the day.

Among other things, as noted by Harper at the time, the bill sought to put curbs on public-sector salaries and Canada Assistance Plan payments, amend the Public Utilities Income Tax Transfer Act, extend transportation subsidies, authorize borrowing for the CBC and effect changes to unemployment insurance and payroll-tax provisions.

The bill, he said, is “of an omnibus nature” and he urged the speaker to rule it out of order. He derided it as “what we might call the kitchen sink approach” and suggested it violated the spirit of democracy. He went on to argue that it is “so perse that a single vote on the content would put members (of Parliament) in conflict with their own principles.”

The bill he complained of as being unacceptably hefty ran to 24 pages. Flipping ahead 18 years, Harper in his current prime ministerial mode seems to have radically altered his notion of omnibus legislation. The first budget-implementation bill of his majority government last spring was a whale of an omnibus bill, which at more than 400 pages and 700 clauses made the 1994 Liberal bill look like a minnow in comparison.

Word is now that the government is poised for a repeat performance, this time with an even more bloated omnibus bill to be put before Parliament this fall.

The omnibus legislation tabled last spring contained a vastly more diverse range of measures than the 1994 bill. Among other things, it included a complete overhaul of the national environmental review process for industrial projects, scrapped the Kyoto Protocol implementation legislation, set new rules for employment-insurance users, amended the age of eligibility for Old Age Security, abolished the Security Intelligence Review Committee, and subjected charities to more stringent oversight of their political activities.

Opposition parties reacted furiously, making essentially the same arguments that Harper made back when he was on their side of the House — by lumping too many disparate measures into a single bill, the government was depriving parliament of the opportunity to give each the scrutiny it merits. And in doing so, it was imposing a conflict of principles on MPs by packaging measures they might like with measures they might not.

In this new omnibus bill being considered by the Harper government for this fall, a notable measure slated for inclusion is a reform of the lucrative MP’s pension plan that would boost the contributions members make to 50 per cent (with taxpayers picking up the other 50 per cent) from the current 14 per cent (with taxpayers now paying 86 per cent). The measure would also raise the age, from 55 to 65, at which MPs would be eligible to begin receiving payments.

This should be a showcase piece of legislation that should set a precedent and example for urgently needed public-sector pension reform at all levels of government. Spokespersons from all parties have indicated they are favourable to such measures, and easy passage of the bill would be likely.

Yet, it seems the Conservatives are determined to stuff it into a bill with other measures that opposition members might find difficult to reconcile with their principles. These are reported to include provisions to give police greater powers, changes that stand to raise legitimate civil-liberties concerns, and have an impact on Charter rights, international treaties and due-process considerations.

Harper pointed out back in 1994 that parliamentarians might agree with some measures in an omnibus bill, but oppose others, and expressing their views and the views of their constituents becomes difficult when so much is rolled into one single piece of legislation, and you have to vote for or against the whole of it.

Omnibus bills are fundamentally undemocratic. Harper seemed to be able to recognize this in his rookie season in Ottawa. His government now has an evidently different view, and it amounts to systematic disdain of Parliament and flagrant abuse of democratic process.

© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette

continue reading source: http://www.montrealgazette.com/business/Editorial+Omnibus+bills+fundamentally+undemocratic/7280439/story.html


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Harper quietly holds face-to-face talks with Chinese propaganda chief

Harper quietly holds face-to-face talks with Chinese propaganda chief

CAMPBELL CLARK
OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail
Last updated Monday, Sep. 10 2012, 2:03 PM EDT

Li Changchun arrives at the London Book Fair on April 15, 2012. Mr. Li, head of propaganda and member of the Communist Party of China’s Standing Committee of the Politburo, later met British Prime Minister David Cameron. (PAUL HACKETT /Reuters)

One of China’s most powerful figures slipped into Ottawa unannounced. Unless you were watching Chinese TV.

Li Changchun is ranked No. 5 in the Chinese hierarchy, one of the nine members of the Standing Committee of the Politburo of the Communist Party of China, and the party’s propaganda chief. When he arrived in Ottawa Thursday, he met with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

The government of Canada had never announced the powerful official was coming.

However, Mr. Li’s visit was covered widely by Chinese television and print media like state news agency Xinhua. And then, after Mr. Li’s meeting with the Prime Minister, Mr. Harper’s PMO sent out a photograph of the two men chatting, just before 8:30 on Thursday night. It was the first time they’d told the press about Mr. Li’s visit.

On Friday, the PMO would not say what the two discussed and played down the face-to-face meeting as a “courtesy call.”

Chinese officials said Mr. Li’s visit was to discuss a variety of topics, notable cultural exchanges. Mr. Li issued a statement on Canada-Chinese relations. He also met Governor-General David Johnston and was to meet Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird Friday night, as well as witnessing the signing of an agreement on “cultural co-operation” and the official opening Carleton University’s Confucius Institute. He is to travel to Kingston on Saturday.

Mr. Li has been on a tour. He’d just come from London, where he’d met British Prime Minister David Cameron to talk about relations. But he was also there to talk about the case of Bo Xilai, another ranking Communist Party official who has been suspended from his Politburo amid accusations his wife killed British businessman Neil Heywood. There have also been rumours Mr. Li is reassuring foreign leaders that the change in China’s leadership will go ahead smoothly this fall.

Mr. Harper’s government, however, barely mentioned the three-day visit of the powerful Communist Party official. How powerful? Forbes ranked Mr. Li No. 19 on a list of the world’s most powerful people. In their words, he “controls what 1.3 billion Chinese see, hear, speak.” As chairman of the party’s Central Guidance Commission for Building Spiritual Civilization, he is the de facto controller of media and information censorship.

continue reading source: http://m.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/ottawa-notebook/harper-quietly-holds-face-to-face-talks-with-chinese-propaganda-chief/article4101798/


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PM’s ex-aide brought convicted money-launderer to 24 Sussex Drive

By CAMPBELL CLARK
The Globe and Mail
Last updated Monday, Sep. 10 2012, 1:38 PM EDT

Bruce Carson, a former adviser to Prime Minister Stephen Harper now at the centre of an RCMP probe.
Bruce Carson, a former adviser to Prime Minister Stephen Harper now at the centre of an RCMP probe.

Stephen Harper’s former aide Bruce Carson took the former escort and convicted money launderer he was dating to meet Mr. Harper at a party at 24 Sussex Drive, the PM’s official residence.

Mr. Carson brought Barbara Lynn Khan to a garden party at the PM’s residence to mark the departure of Mr. Harper’s chief of staff Ian Brodie, who left the Prime Minister’s Office in 2008.

A spokesman for the Conservative Party, Ryan Sparrow, said that Ms. Khan attended the party on the grounds of 24 Sussex, although he said he could not confirm whether she chatted with Mr. Harper and his wife, Laureen, as Ms. Khan claims.

“All I can say for certain is that she attended the party,” Mr. Sparrow said.

But Ms. Khan told the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network that she did meet the Prime Minister, and found Mr. Harper “approachable” and “friendly” when she met him at the party. She described Ms. Harper as a “gracious hostess.”

The Globe and Mail reported on Friday that Mr. Carson had a long-running relationship with Ms. Khan that began in 2006 and led to the couple buying a downtown Ottawa condo in 2009. Ms. Khan was convicted of money laundering in 2004 for her role in running a large-scale prostitution ring in North Carolina, and was deported to Canada in 2005.

Mr. Carson’s post-PMO activities have been in the limelight since the APTN reported last month that he had contacted Harper government ministers and political staffers over the business project of another girlfriend, also a former prostitute, Michelle McPherson, 22.

Mr. Carson contacted them about efforts to sell water-purification equipment to first nations – as Ms. McPherson had a contract to gain a share of revenues from sales of the equipment by an Ottawa firm, H20 Global Group.

Mr. Harper referred the matter to the RCMP, but critics have questioned how Mr. Carson, convicted on two separate occasions of fraud in the early 1980s and in 1990, and who suffered a bankruptcy and long-running financial troubles, was able to act as a senior adviser to the Prime Minister from 2006 to 2009.

Mr. Harper said he knew that Mr. Carson had been disbarred and convicted of fraud in the early 1980s, but would not have hired him had he known of his second fraud conviction in 1990.

continue reading source: http://m.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/ottawa-notebook/pms-ex-aide-brought-convicted-money-launderer-to-24-sussex-drive/article613601/


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Alberta-B.C. dust-up forces Harper to rethink ideology

By: Frances Russell
Winnipeg Free Press – PRINT EDITION
Posted: 07/26/2012 1:00 AM

Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Prime Minister Stephen Harper
SEAN KILPATRICK/ THE CANADIAN PRESS ARCHIVES Enlarge Image

Ideologues always get tripped up by their ideology. Just look at Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Now that B.C. and Alberta are on the warpath, are you still on the side of provincial rights and the dubious doctrine of federal-provincial watertight compartments, Mr. Prime Minister?

The man who wanted to build a firewall around Alberta and won’t meet with the premiers because he’s bought the bogus provincial rights theory of Canadian Confederation for ideological reasons now finds himself in a political bind.

Not only are B.C. and Alberta at each other’s throats, their standoff is over his chief preoccupation — oil.

continue reading: http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/westview/alberta-bc-dust-up-forces-harper-to-rethink-ideology-163822236.html


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We are an island that Louis XIV is protecting from debt zombies

By Aaron Wherry
Wednesday, June 6, 2012 at 6:22 PM

The Scene. Apparently something of a fussy TV critic, Thomas Mulcair seemed not to appreciate the Stephen Harper’s demeanour during last night’s showing of “The Prime Minister & The Queen (And The Continent That Is Like A Plane That Is Running Out Of Runway).”

“Mr. Speaker, last night in London” Mr. Mulcair reported, seeming to sound out the city’s name in a certain la-de-da tone, “the Prime Minister mused about catastrophic events about to hit the Canadian economy. He laughed about Canadians having to face the most volatile stock market since the Great Depression.”

There were groans from the government benches.

On the matter of the stock market, the Prime Minister did seem to smile, perhaps in hopes of projecting reassurance or confidence or so as not to scare the Boomers watching at home who are fretting about their RRSPs. Mr. Harper did also seem to acknowledge that the last time Peter Mansbridge asked him about the markets, the Prime Minister had perhaps not expressed himself that well. But to suggest he had openly guffawed seems to apply a loose measure of frivolity.

In any event, the leader of the opposition was most interested in whether the Prime Minister had a plan for the next recession. And, if so, what was in that plan. To answer this stood Peter Van Loan, the Government House leader having apparently come away quite moved by last night’s broadcast.

continue reading: http://www2.macleans.ca/2012/06/06/the-commons-we-are-an-island-that-louis-xiv-is-protecting-from-debt-zombies/#more-264640

More by Aaron Wherry

 


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Indigenous Bar Association Urges Prime Minister Harper to Remove Barriers to Judicial Appointments for Indigenous Judges

Indigenous Bar Association Urges Prime Minister Harper to Remove Barriers to Judicial Appointments for Indigenous Judges

OTTAWA, May 7, 2012 /CNW/ – The Indigenous Bar Association (IBA) today called upon Prime Minister to make systemic changes in the federal judicial appointment process and ensure Indigenous legal traditions are properly reflected in the appointment of federal judges.  The IBA and the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) have for many years urged governments to ensure that Indigenous peoples are properly represented in judicial appointments, both federal and provincial.  In April 2004, the IBA released a paper, calling for the appointment of an Indigenous Judge to the Supreme Court of Canada.  This position was also adopted by the CBA in a Resolution in August 2005.  The Canadian Association of Law Professors (CALT) adopted a similar position in their Report dated June 2005, which also called for the depoliticization of the judicial appointment process.

Recent reports indicate a lack of diversity in judicial appointments – of the last 100 appointments made by PM Harper, 98 were white, according to the Globe and Mail.  Reports continue to express concern over political affiliation being a determining factor in the appointment process.  The Harper Conservatives were highly critical of the Liberals and spent years preaching that the value of merit as the cornerstone of the judicial appointments process in Canada.  Koren Lightning-Earle, President of the IBA, said:  “The Conservatives seems to equate merit to colour and political ideology.  It means that in spite of a majority of graduates to the Bar across Canada being women, there’s no “merit” in their contribution because they had the audacity to be born female.  It means that the Conservatives see no ‘merit’ in the contributions that Aboriginal lawyers and lawyers from racial minority communities make to the Canadian justice system.”

The IBA has long been on record supporting the fundamental value of merit in the judicial appointments process, but has insisted that merit reflect Indigenous legal traditions, just as Quebec Civil law is reflected in Supreme Court appointments.  The IBA believes merit is about the rule of law and its application to Canadian society.  The IBA believes merit is about outstanding contributions to law over the career of a lawyer or legal scholar.  The IBA believes merit is about being the best among us as Canadians, lawyers and legal scholars – not whether we fit into a narrow Conservative mould under the guise of “merit” which has been used to keep all but white males off of the Bench.

Frankly, the IBA has always supported the principle of merit as key to judicial appointments because so many Aboriginal lawyers and academics have qualified themselves for appointments by getting the same law degree from the same law schools as those currently being appointed under the Conservative’s rule. Aboriginal lawyers and academics have made important contributions to Canada’s jurisprudence and have earned all of the cornerstone qualities to be considered for meritorious appointments to the Bench.  The only thing we cannot change is who we are, which under the Conservative government’s appointment’s record seems to disqualify us.  It’s time to change the Conservative’s meaning of “merit”.

For further information:contact Koren Lightning-Earle , President of the Indigenous Bar Association at: klightning-earle@indigenousbar.ca or at 780.721.2345 or visit our website at www.indigenousbar.ca.

continue reading source: http://www.newswire.ca/en/story/969657/indigenous-bar-association-urges-prime-minister-harper-to-remove-barriers-to-judicial-appointments-for-indigenous-judges


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Getting inside Harper’s headspace

‘Everybody knows final decisions are made by the PM’

by Paul Wells
Friday, November 11, 2011 11:20am

The Cabinet committee on priorities and planning meets on Tuesdays, usually with Stephen Harper as chairman. He calls a lot of decisions on the spot. But not all. Sometimes decision is reserved pending the Prime Minister’s private decision.

When it came time to decide how many seats each province would get in an enlarged House of Commons, a senior source close to the government says, the Prime Minister took the briefing books and spreadsheets and sat alone for hours, juggling options, weighing the political fallout from every scenario.

Three days before Minister of State for Democratic Reform Tim Uppal announced the new numbers—15 new seats for Ontario, six each for Alberta and British Columbia, three for Quebec—Conservative MPs were called to a rare Monday caucus meeting so the plan could be run by them. Harper has his control-freak moments, but he prefers to hear complaints from his MPs quietly, before an announcement, rather than loudly after it.

All of this is to say that Stephen Harper is still in charge of the Stephen Harper government. Half a year after voters gave that government a majority, it’s still not clear what Harper’s plans are beyond, say, next spring.

continue reading source: http://www2.macleans.ca/2011/11/11/getting-inside-harpers-headspace/

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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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Harper Government open door policy for PM’s former adviser Carson

Harper Government open door policy for PM’s former adviser Carson

Friday, March 18, 2011
“Former PMO aide accused of lobbying for girlfriend had four meetings with feds.” All this and not even registered as a lobbyist, no questions from the Harper folk:

A former top adviser to Prime Minister Stephen Harper used his connections to meet four times last year with federal decision makers in order to discuss a project involving a company linked to his 22-year-old girlfriend.

The Canadian Press has learned Bruce Carson met officials from the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs four times between September and December 2010.

As recently as Jan. 11 of this year, Carson was meeting with senior political staff in the office of Indian Affairs Minister John Duncan to discuss a First Nations water filtration program and a company called H20 Pros, officials in Duncan’s office said.

I guess when the PM’s former senior adviser comes calling, there are few questions asked.

Additionally tonight, APTN has a new report that is worth a read, still trying to digest the angles. There are a number of emails produced there that will likely be relevant to the RCMP investigation.

All of this is why the Conservatives are likely waving their arms in a frenzy tonight…

continue reading source: http://impolitical.blogspot.com/2011/03/harper-government-open-door-policy-for.html

 
Impolitical
Comments on U.S. and Canadian politics, current events, fun stuff.

 


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Tories bar ministerial staff from testifying

Tories bar ministerial staff from testifying

NDP committee member to table motion to summon PM’s spokesman

Last Updated: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 | 4:22 PM ET

CBC News

The Conservative government has presented a new cabinet policy directing that only cabinet ministers and not their political staff can appear as witnesses before parliamentary committees.

Government House leader Jay Hill says testifying at parliamentary committees is the responsibility of cabinet ministers and not their staff.
Government House leader Jay Hill says testifying at parliamentary committees is the responsibility of cabinet ministers and not their staff. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

The controversial new policy could trigger a fresh showdown between Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the opposition parties over the powers of Parliament, just weeks after a similar dispute over MPs’ access to uncensored documents pertaining to Afghan detainee transfers was resolved.

In a statement in the House of Commons on Tuesday morning, government House leader Jay Hill blamed the “tyranny of the opposition majority” for turning its attention to government staffers “who did not sign up … to be humiliated and intimidated by members of Parliament.”

He said the new policy ensures “there is no substitute for ministerial responsibility.”

“It is ministers who decide policy and ministers who must defend it before the House and ultimately before the people of Canada,” Hill told the House. “Public servants and staff support ministers’ authority; they do not supplant it.”

In response to Hill’s statement, Liberal House leader Ralph Goodale said the Conservatives have introduced another policy that is “about secrecy, about preventing accountability, about stifling transparency, about muzzling” all of the government’s assistants.

“The arrogance and the hypocrisy of this position are breathtaking,” he said. “Parliament has the power to call any and all witnesses. The government and its ministries are responsible to Parliament, not the other way around.”

During Tuesday’s question period, NDP Leader Jack Layton accused the Conservatives of deliberately shielding staffers who interfered with access-to-information requests for political purposes.

“Why does the prime minister want to hide employees who put in place directives to hide the truth?” he told the House.

Harper replied the precedents and practices are clear that staff are accountable to the ministers, who are in turn responsible to the House and its committees.

“When there is a question about conduct in a minister’s office, the committee obviously can call ministers, and ministers will answer those questions,” he said.

Staffers ‘humiliated and intimidated’ by MPs: Soudas

The new policy comes as Harper’s spokesman, Dimitri Soudas, declined a request to appear before the all-party committee of MPs as they investigate allegations of political interference in the release of documents under the Access to Information Act.

Transport Minister John Baird waits to testify before the Commons ethics committee on Parliament Hill in Ottawa Tuesday.
Transport Minister John Baird waits to testify before the Commons ethics committee on Parliament Hill in Ottawa Tuesday. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Soudas said the guiding constitutional principle in Canada is ministerial responsibility, not staffers’, and that he wouldn’t show. He told CBC News that opposition MPs are using the committees to conduct “random interrogations without due process or any rules of fairness.”

“It’s one thing for politicians to be tough on each other,” Soudas said. “But we draw the line when people who aren’t elected, like ministerial staff, are humiliated and intimidated by members of Parliament.”

Transport Minister John Baird appeared in Soudas’s place on Tuesday. Baird and Conservative MPs on the committee reiterated the government’s position that testifying at committees is a ministerial responsibility.

But NDP MP and committee member Bill Siksay said he would table a motion to summon Soudas at the committee’s next meeting.

With files from The Canadian Press

continue reading source: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2010/05/25/ministers-staff-muzzled.html


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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.”

continue reading source: http://embassymag.ca/page/printpage/jewish_vote-2-11-2009

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Harper aide accused of sparking NAFTA-gate

Harper aide accused of sparking NAFTA-gate

Prime minister calls leak ‘blatantly unfair’ to Obama

Last Updated: Wednesday, March 5, 2008 | 10:56 PM ET

CBC News

Sources accused Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s top aide of leaking information about Barack Obama’s controversial NAFTA views on Wednesday, just as the prime minister himself was vowing to find out exactly who was behind the leak.

CBC News confirmed Wednesday that Harper’s chief of staff, Ian Brodie, was the source of what is now being dubbed NAFTA-gate.

Ian Brodie, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's chief of staff, watches from the back of a room during a photo op before the government caucus meeting on Parliament Hill on Wednesday.Ian Brodie, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s chief of staff, watches from the back of a room during a photo op before the government caucus meeting on Parliament Hill on Wednesday.
(Tom Hanson/Canadian Press)

Brodie allegedly told a group of CTV reporters that Obama advisers had privately told Canadian diplomats that Obama’s promise to reopen the North American Free Trade Agreement was just empty talk aimed at winning votes in Ohio.

Since 75 per cent of Canadian exports go to the United States, news that Obama, a front-runner in the race to be the Democrat’s presidential candidate, would be interested in renegotiating the free-trade agreement would be of concern to Canadians.

Brodie’s alleged disclosure occurred as he and the CTV reporters and employees were hunkered down in a room in Ottawa on Feb. 26, reviewing the contents of the federal budget.

Brodie allegedly also discussed musings by Obama’s Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, saying people from her camp also told Canadians to take her NAFTA concerns with a grain of salt.

CTV News went to air with the information on Feb. 27, focusing on the Obama side of the story, and it caused an uproar in the United States. Clinton accused Obama of double-talk, while the Republican front-runner and now nominee, John McCain, said Obama wasn’t a straight-talker.

A CTV reporter told CBC News on Wednesday that Brodie was, in fact, the source behind the network’s report. ABC News suggested as much earlier this week.

But the Prime Minister’s Office on Wednesday night told CBC News that Brodie does not remember directly discussing either Obama, or Clinton, in the budget lockup.

A second leak arose

Soon after the leaked information emerged, and was promptly denied by Obama and the Canadian government, someone leaked a diplomatic memo to the Associated Press describing a conversation between Obama’s economic adviser, Austan Goolsbee, and Canadian Consul General Georges Rioux.

The memo, written by a consular employee, says Goolsbee privately told Rioux that Obama’s attack on free trade is “more reflective of political manoeuvring than policy.”

In the House of Commons on Wednesday, Harper condemned the leak of the memo.

“This kind of leaking of information is completely unacceptable and, in fact, it may well be illegal,” Harper said.

“It is not useful, it is not in the interests of the government of Canada, and the way the leak was executed was blatantly unfair to Senator Obama and his campaign.”

The leak came in the final days before Tuesday’s primary in Ohio, where voters are concerned about the impacts of NAFTA on their state’s economy. Obama ended up narrowly losing the primary to Clinton.

Harper told the House that the Clerk of the Privy Council is working with the Foreign Affairs department to conduct an “internal security investigation” to find out who was behind the leak and that the government will take “any action that’s necessary.”

Layton calls for RCMP investigation

But NDP Leader Jack Layton demanded that Harper investigate the source of the first leak as well, the alleged Brodie leak.

“What about the first leak, the leak that actually caused this entire international incident?” Layton asked during Question Period in the House of Commons.

Layton later told reporters that he wants the RCMP to investigate the matter.

“The Conservatives can’t be trusted to investigate a leak inside their own organization,” he said. “They’d be investigating themselves, and quite clearly this leak produced consequences that no doubt, they are celebrating.”

Liberal foreign affairs critic Bob Rae said on his blog Tuesday that it was clear the Tories were trying to help Republican friends at the expense of Canadian interests.

The controversy could play to the Republicans’ advantage during the general U.S. election in November in Ohio, a potential swing state where job losses have made the 15-year-old free trade deal highly unpopular.

Liberal says Harper must clear up the matter

On Wednesday, Liberal MP John McCallum said the whole affair could leave a bad taste in Obama’s mouth, should he be elected as the next president of the United States.

“The first day on the job, Mr. Obama looks across the northern border and what is he going to feel towards Canada? Something very bad if Mr. Harper is still in power and he hasn’t cleared this up.”

Over the course of the primary races, Obama and Clinton have both said they want to reopen the free trade deal between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico to ensure better environmental and labour standards.

International Trade Minister David Emerson and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said U.S. officials should not forget the benefits of the agreement and hinted Canada could respond to a NAFTA pullout by renegotiating U.S. access to Canada’s oil.

With files from the Canadian Press

continue reading source: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2008/03/05/canada-obama.html


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Harper aide intervened for Montreal developer

Harper aide intervened for Montreal developer
Daniel Leblanc
The Globe and Mail
mardi 29 janvier 2008

 


OTTAWA — A spokesman for the Prime Minister and a Conservative fundraiser made separate backroom interventions in favour of a real-estate firm that faced losing a $50-million complex to the federal government in 2006, sources told The Globe and Mail and Radio-Canada.

Dimitri Soudas, a key architect of Stephen Harper’s Quebec policies and his deputy press secretary, got involved in the battle between Ottawa and the Rosdev Group a few months after the Tories took office with a promise to bring the highest ethical standard to public life.

Mr. Soudas called an extraordinary meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office in Langevin Block on August 2, 2006, with senior ministerial staffers from Public Works.

Conservative officials said there was a clear sense in the party at the time that Rosdev and its influential president, Michael Rosenberg, could become strong allies in Montreal, especially in a riding like Outremont with a strong Jewish community.

Sources said Mr. Soudas’s position during the meeting was favourable to Rosdev and that he raised the possibility of Public Works dropping its plan to exercise an option to claim the complex for $0 in 2010.

At the time, Public Works was stating that attempts to come to a negotiated solution on a range of disputes with Rosdev had proved fruitless.

“He wanted this to go to mediation, to a conflict resolution mechanism, to delay this,” a source said of Mr. Soudas’s position.

Mr. Soudas said yesterday he only looked at the matter after it had been raised with him by a Montreal city councillor, and that his intervention was not driven by political considerations.

“I transmitted the file to Public Works,” he said.

Mr. Soudas’s move came a few months after an intervention on the same matter by his friend and party fundraiser, Leo Housakos, who was named by the Harper government to the board of Via Rail last month.

In an interview, Mr. Housakos said he made a pitch on Rosdev in the spring of 2006 during an informal meeting with Frédéric Loiselle, then chief of staff to Public Works Minister Michael Fortier.

Mr. Housekos was accompanied at the meeting by John Lemieux, a lawyer for Rosdev, but Mr. Housakos said they were there to discuss a partisan event and that he only raised the Rosdev file in passing.

Mr. Housakos said he addressed the issue because he thought it could be beneficial to the Conservative Party, pointing specifically to Mr. Rosenberg’s strong standing in Montreal’s Hasidic community.

“I told Fred, ‘If we can help someone who is powerful, who is important in a riding like Outremont, why not help him get a fair hearing ?’” Mr. Housakos said.

Mr. Soudas and Mr. Housakos are prominent members of the Greek-Canadian community in Montreal, worked together on the 2001 mayoral election and are supporters of the Action Démocratique du Québec.

While they are long-time friends, they said they have never discussed the Rosdev matter. Mr. Housakos, who works in marketing, added he has never acted as a lobbyist.

“I have no client, none whatsoever, that does business with the federal government,” he said.

Nevertheless, sources said that Mr. Housakos has been in contact with officials from a military company that was interested in selling hardware to National Defence. In addition, The Globe and Radio-Canada have learned that Mr. Housakos introduced officials from the company to Mr. Soudas of the PMO at an informal meeting last year.

Mr. Housakos said he has no memory of dealing with a military company.

“I don’t know anyone in that sector,” he said.

(Mr. Lemieux, the lawyer who acted on behalf of Rosdev, recently registered to lobby federal officials on behalf of ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems Canada Inc., a firm that is in the running for a Defence purchase of two military supply ships.)

When the Conservatives came to office in 2006, the federal government had already launched a bid to take over a building complex owned by Rosdev in Ottawa called L’Esplanade Laurier.

L’Esplanade is a well-known government address with its two 22-storey buildings that house the Treasury Board and the Department of Finance, where federal budgets are written.

According to briefing notes written for previous Public Works ministers, a number of legal disputes sprang up shortly after Rosdev bought the Esplanade and a building across the river from Parliament in Gatineau, Que., Les Terrasses de la Chaudière, which houses Indian Affairs, Heritage and the CRTC. The issues included rent overpayment, water quality, fire alarm upgrades and falling marble cladding.

“From the time that Rosdev, whose president is Mr. Michael Rosenberg, acquired these complexes, a number of disputes have arisen over operational, financial and maintenance issues,” said a 2005 briefing note from the deputy minister.

At the time, Rosdev had filed five lawsuits against the government, while the government had two against Rosdev. The most publicized dispute involved the falling marble cladding at the Esplanade Laurier.

“Rosdev agreed to pay for the replacement of the marble on the first and second floor of the complex. Unfortunately, the [1998] agreement did not fix a date for the completion of this work, and seven years later Rosdev has not agreed to have the work done on the basis that it did not say when it would do the work,” the briefing note said.

The note added that these types of commercial disputes are generally settled by mediation. “Unfortunately, these disputes have proven to be the exception to the rule,” the document said.

Asked to comment on the issue yesterday, a spokesman for Public Works Minister Michael Fortier said the Conservative government did not go the way of mediation and that the matter remains before the courts.

A spokesman for Rosdev, Sal Fratino, said the company’s position is that Ottawa “acted illegally” when it launched its bid to buy back L’Esplanade Laurier.

- source

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Tories target specific ethnic voters

Tories target specific ethnic voters

DANIEL LEBLANC
The Globe and Mail
October 16, 2007

OTTAWA — Select ethnic and religious groups across Canada are being targeted by a previously unknown Conservative team that is bluntly gunning for votes in a bid to supplant the Liberals in multicultural ridings in the next election.

The operation’s strategic blueprint, obtained by The Globe and Mail, states the “ethnic outreach team” is largely overseen by the Prime Minister’s Office and Jason Kenney, the junior minister for multiculturalism.

The documents show the Conservatives have ruled out winning over all ethnic groups, asserting that perhaps as much as a fifth of them are not “accessible” to the Conservative Party.

Overall, the comprehensive strategy involves targeted mailings, one-on-one meetings at “major ethnic events” and the creation of large databases of immigrants and new Canadians.

In a briefing that was handed to Conservative officials at a private session this year, the top-level team illustrated its work by applying the strategy to the Toronto-area riding of Thornhill. The finding was clear: Getting more votes from Jews and specific ethnic groups was seen as the ticket to an upset over the Liberals in the next election.

The documents are surfacing as Prime Minister Stephen Harper is under fire for sending personalized Rosh Hashanah greetings last month to Jews, some of whom wonder how they ended up on Mr. Harper’s mailing list.

With their struggles to win seats in Canada’s three biggest cities in 2004 and 2006, Conservatives are convinced that the support of new Canadians is crucial in taking over a number of urban ridings that are currently in Liberal hands.

Mr. Kenney, the Secretary of State for Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity, laid out the outreach strategy at a private “political training conference” for Conservatives from across the country in Toronto in March.

He said the goal is to launch a “focused direct voter campaign to build support” for the Conservative Party. He added that over the long term, the Conservatives want to “replace the Liberals as the primary voice of new Canadians and ethnic minorities.”

The “outreach team” used a Canadian Heritage government computer to create the initial version of a document that was provided at the political training conference in March. A spokesman for Mr. Kenney explained that the final version, including Conservative logos, was modified on another outside computer.

In another presentation, Conservative community relations manager Georganne Burke told Conservatives that outreach calls on them to work beyond their traditional base, even if it means “to look outside your normal comfort zone.”

Concretely, Ms. Burke urged Conservative candidates and organizers to break down each riding’s ethnic and religious composition, and directly target potential voters.

She said that Conservatives should use all available opportunities to “build the database” of ethnic voters, by renting or buying lists of names from third parties and by attending events where they can gather business cards and guest lists.

To highlight how ethnic outreach works, Ms. Burke used the example of the riding of Thornhill, where 37 per cent of voters are Jewish, according to the Conservative documents.

The documents add that 29 per cent of the riding is made up of visible minorities, while explaining that the Conservatives have determined that only 79 per cent of ethnic minorities are viewed as “accessible communities” for them.

The key to finding an extra 5,000 votes in the area and taking it over from the Liberals, according to Ms. Burke’s presentation, is to “target growth in the Jewish community, and those visible minority communities which are accessible.”

The presentation said that if the strategy works, “we can find the votes we need.”

Conservative spokesman Ryan Sparrow did not expand on the Thornhill case study or the 79-per-cent figure of accessible communities, saying he “cannot discuss party strategy.”

The Liberals have never shied in their attempts to win votes in immigrant communities either, developing the policy of multiculturalism that calls on various ethnic groups to keep their heritage once in Canada.

Now Mr. Kenney, who holds the multiculturalism portfolio in Ottawa, has laid out the long-term nitty-gritty work behind efforts to win over immigrant groups for partisan purposes.

In addition to the work of Mr. Kenney and Ms. Burke, the documents says the PMO is responsible for statements in the House of Commons dealing with ethnic communities, and can help to secure the attendance of Mr. Harper or senior ministers at “major ethnic events.”

With pictures highlighting his own meetings with members of Canada’s visible minorities, Mr. Kenney said his responsibilities include attending “key events flagged by caucus.”

The Conservative Party is also calling on MPs to focus on specific groups, with Barry Devolin in charge of the Korean community, Heritage Minister Jose Verner with a responsibility for Haitians and Dean Del Mastro overseeing the Lebanese.

The presentations said that Conservatives have a lot of work to do.

“New Canadians and minorities still don’t know/understand the Conservative Party,” a document said, adding that “fear mongering over Conservative’s priorities still exist (eg. anti-immigration).”

Still, the Conservative Party’s strong suit is that there is “growing anecdotal evidence that New Canadian values are more aligned with the values of the Conservative Party of Canada.”

The presentation urged Conservative candidates to trumpet their party’s past achievements, such as cutting the right-of-landing fee for immigrants and the 1988 redress to the Japanese for their internment during the Second World War.

Alykhan Velshi, a spokesman for Mr. Kenney, added that the Harper government is reaching out to “all Canadians,” saying the Liberals have been taking the support of some groups “for granted.”

*****

Short-term goal: Ethnic outreach team, overseen by the Prime Minister’s Office and Jason Kenney, the junior minister for multiculturalism, selects ethnic and religious minorities in ‘a focused direct voter campaign

Long-term goal: Replace the Liberals as the primary voice of new Canadians and ethnic minorities’

*****

A Sample Outreach Strategy – Thornhill

Total population: 116,640

Visible Minorities: 33,675 (29%)

Chinese: 12,610

South Asian: 6,595

Black: 2,665

Filipino: 2,530

West Asian: 2,355

Korean: 2,660

-79% of visible minorities are viewed as CPC accessible communities

A Sample Outreach Strategy (cont’d)

Religions

Catholic: 25,000

Protestant: 15,560

Christian Orthodox: 4,425

Christian: 3,170

Muslim: 4,340

Jewish: 42,710 (37%)

Buddhist: 2,655

Hindu: 3,250

Languages

English: 71,425

Non-official languages: 16,280

English and non-official language: 26,900

Details on ethnic profiling from the Thornhill, Ont., Riding in the Conservative party campaign document entitled Building Bridges with Ethnic Communities and New Canadians

continue reading source: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20071016.wtarget16/BNStory/lifeFamily/


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