Monday, January 15, 2007

Putting the CON in CONservative


With a judge ruling that the Conservative Party of Canada must pay up to $50,000 to a former candidate that agreed to step aside for a star candidate in Ottawa-South, it’s time to revisit whether or not Steve Harper lied to the Canadian people to help win the last election campaign.

We’ll get to that in a moment. I’ve been blogging about the Allan Riddell saga since December of 2005, during the campaign. See posts here, here, here and here. Riddell was seeking the Conservative nomination for Ottawa-South in an open nomination process, but then the party brass recruited sponsorship whistleblower Alan Cutler and wanted him to run there. What to do with Riddell? He was pressured to step aside, finally agreeing to bow out if the party agreed to pay the expenses he incurred winning the nomination.* The party brass agreed, Riddell bowed-out, Cutler ran and lost to Liberal David McGuinty.

An interesting aside on Cutler. Apparently the Conservatives also promised him compensation before he agreed to run for them if they won the election. Except this compensation would have come from the taxpayers. The Conservatives later denied that one too.

Anyway, after the election the party started to balk on paying Riddell and he went public with their little arrangement. At that point the CPC said Riddell was supposed to keep the shady arrangement secret; he violated that by going public. Riddell sued, the Conservatives kicked him out of the party, fought the case, and last week they lost. An arbitrator will come up with the exact amount the Conservatives owe Riddell, who still has lawsuits outstanding against Steve Harper and CPC president Don Plett for defamation.

CTV’s Dave Akin has lots of analysis on the ruling over at his blog, including links to the court ruling if you want the nitty gritty. It is truly a sorrid mess of politics at its worse that proves once again beyond a doubt that all the Conservative chest-thumping about accountability and cleaning up politics was a big load of crap.

Akin also hits on the larger issue here, if only briefly and rather belatedly. That’s the fact that Conservative Party officials admitted during the case that they had indeed made a deal with Riddell. That wasn’t at issue. The CPC contended by going public Riddell had invalidated the deal, that’s what the court case was about; the judge said they still had to pay.

Why is that important? Because as Akin notes, and as I blogged way back in September, during the election campaign Stephen Harper was asked point blank if there was a compensation deal with Ridell, and he flatly denied it:

"The party does not have an agreement to pay Mr. Riddell these expenses, and Mr. Riddell has not been paid anything to date," he said, explaining that the party's national council had decided Riddell was not an "acceptable'' candidate.

Except they did, Stephen. Your party didn’t even dispute that before the courts. So, it would seem appropriate to revisit your answer to that question during the election campaign, when you were going before the people of Canada and asking them for a mandate, promising them a new, clean, responsible, accountable government. Were you bring straight with us Stephen?

As I blogged back in September, I see two explanations here:

1) Harper knew there was a deal and also knew that admitting it would seriously torpedo his plan to campaign on being a new clean and ethical government, just as the election was getting underway, so he lied to the media and the Canadian people, or

Harper was kept in the dark about the deal and therefore told the truth as he knew it, which means his staffers and/or party executives hid this damaging information from him and set him up to the microphones in December to unknowingly lie to the Canadian people

Either possibility is quite serious. Either Harper blatantly lied to the Canadian people to win an election, or members of the CPC campaign team/inner circle lied to their leader and made him look a liar and a fool.
No reporter has seen fit to dig into this yet or question Harper on the discrepancy between his answer and, well, reality, even though this contradiction has been obvious for some time. I would think that the possibility the Prime Minister of Canada may have, at best, deliberately mislead the people of Canada to help win his election would be worthy of some investigation. Maybe it’s just me.

*Edited because I was mistaken in saying Riddell had won the nomination in 2005. He hadn't yet, he was seeking it and was pushed aside for Cutler, with the agreement to cover his expenses.

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Anonymous said...

I'm more concerned whether Kingsley helped the LPC win the prior two elections illegally or not myself.

wilson said...

''What to do with the already nominated Riddell?...agreed to pay the expenses he incurred winning the nomination.''

Riddell 'had planned' to seek the Tory nomination but was replaced at the last minute by star candidate Allan Cutler.
...he would agree to quit the nomination contest if the party covered his expenses, estimated at about $50,000.

"The party had some willingness to discuss, to be reasonable. But in fact, there's no agreement and he hasn't been paid anything," said Harper.

***Riddell acknowledged he never signed a contract with the party.

Riddell ran for the party in 2004, soundly beaten by David McGuinty.

Anonymous said...

Typical spin from the far right fans.
The newest government's law and order bunch will conglomerate to side-step this issue of absolutely undermining the Charter of Rights and Freedoms of Canada, and pretend to look good doing it.
Not to mention the sheer obfuscation of certain people, i.e., wilson61 saying "Riddell ran for the party in 2004, soundly beaten by David McGuinty." when we all know that the timeline we the people are talking about is Cutler being mashed in 2006 by none other that McGuinty.
Smooth move wilson61, take an exlax and call Harper in the morning.
Hope you have strong constitution, because it looks like your leader has a flimsy grasp on the concept.
Hey, you spin the wheel, take your chances, pay the man: first rule of midway games.
Harper and crew games are likely not much different. It's a shame really, wilson61, that you've been left behind.
Fret none or very little; you are not the first nor will be the last to take blame for being suckered.
Second rule of the midway: Don't be fooled: they're all out to get you.

Susan said...

Good post - I'm going to add it to the list on Harper's accountability record I'm preparing for the election. Do my small bit by providing the people in my riding some background info on the guy.

I guess H. figures that by the time he's finished gutting our legal system, and infiltrated it with his people, nobody else will be able to take him and his to court.

Anonymous said...

Here we are a year into Harper's mandate, and no cabinet ministers have resigned due to scandal. There is a striking difference in terms of cleanliness between the Conservatives and the Liberals. Based on the numbers, reality, and facts, the Conservatives are running the cleanest and most efficient government perhaps ever in Canada. They're not perfect, but we judge these things in degrees and the virtually scandal free Conservatives are orders of magnitude cleaner than the Liberals have ever been. Cripes, even Larry Zolf is calling Harper the most "moral" prime minister ever. In light of the fact you support a party that is viewed by many Canadians as a criminal organization your attempt to smear the Tories fails, just as your new dud of a leader Dion will fail.

Scotian said...

Gee, what a coincidence, the same binary set as existed on what Harper knew and when he knew it regarding the Grewal recordings fraud. Either he knew and lied knowingly to the Canadian public or he was kept in the dark by his staffers, neither of which puts Harper in a positive light. This is becoming a regular theme with Harper isn't it? In the case of Grewal though we do know he actively and knowingly covered up CPC wrongdoing in that disgusting smear job once it became publicly obvious that the recordings not only were edited but were edited to make bogus specific criminal allegations appear accurate when the unedited recordings made the exact opposite case in reality.

Now we have Harper claiming in the last election no such deal existed when the party clearly had such a deal in place. If Harper did not know about that deal then he clearly does not have the kind of control over his party that any leader should have (which given his clear control freak tendencies shown in his government seems really hard to believe) and therefore is incompetent as a party leader and clearly unfit to be PM. The only other viable explanation is that he knew and knowingly lied to Canadians in the gamble that it would not come out until after the election if at all that he had lied and that after the election the voters wouldn't really care or notice which equally makes him unfit to be a PM. It is one thing to spin, stretch and exaggerate things in politics, it is quite another to make things up out of whole cloth especially when the fictions are created to cover up ugly truths/realities as was the case in this matter. In which case such actions illustrate clearly a man willing to say anything to gain/hold power no matter how dishonest, and how anyone claiming to place principles before ideology/partisanship can support such a man is simply lying...either to both themselves as well as the rest of us or knowingly so but either way it is dishonest and not evidence of principled behaviour/beliefs in action.

Anonymous said...

Scotian, I couldn't have said it better myself.
For a more transparent eg of Harpor's habit of obfuscation, look at the repatriation of soldiers' remains: He set out a policy to copy the Americans and remove the media from all coverage. When some families protested and even members of the Armed forces cooperated with the media, Harpor then did a scooby shuffle and said it wasn't his plan at all, but there was some miscommunication (this about 2 weeks after he had stood firm)... Then he took a sideswipe at one of the families for bringing their complaint to the public.
Tapes, lies and accusations.
He's tricky Dicky reincarnated, apparently.

Anonymous said...

Alan Cutler in an interview on CTV a few months ago hadn't received monies promised either at that time - wonder if he ever did?

Anonymous said...

Boy people get their facts wrong - look at things the way they "want" to see them.

Historically and fact is that the most clean government was Trudeau's government - not one scandal, etc.

Harper DOES HAVE integrity problems and you can't deny it.

I still wonder how Tony Clement gets away with owning 25% interest in drug companies and is still a cabinet minister - is Mr. Shapiro under some "undue stress"? Looks like it to me.

Budd Campbell said...

Gee, what a coincidence, the same binary set as existed on what Harper knew and when he knew it regarding the Grewal recordings fraud.

LOL! Scotian, given what you're trying to promote, I don't think you want to be saying this! It tends to arouse suspicion that one is being fed a pre-packaged propaganda line. Given the fact that this is what is going on, calling attention to the fact is counterproductive from your POV.

BTW, ... does anyone know what Gurmant Grewal is doing these days? I wonder if BC Liberal Premier Gordon Campbell has given him a job of some kind?

Scotian said...

"It tends to arouse suspicion that one is being fed a pre-packaged propaganda line. Given the fact that this is what is going on, calling attention to the fact is counterproductive from your POV." Budd Campbell 1:39 PM, January 15, 2007

Oh, it is a fact, hmmm? Care to present your evidence that this is a proven fact as you have asserted? I have had serious issues over the Grewal scandal and the actions of Harper and the CPC in it from literally the day it started and my online commenting/posting history makes that quite clear. In this case with Riddell BCer points out a binary solution set to account for Harper's conduct in Riddell and it happens to be the same set for Grewal, either he knew and therefore knowingly lied to the public or he was taken for a ride by his subordinates, neither of which is a positive thing in a party leader let alone PM.

You want to speculate that I appear to be using what in your mind is a pre packaged propaganda line then you are on safe grounds since speculation is just that, speculation. That though was not what you did, no what you did is make a statement of fact asserting that I, my post, and my focus on Grewal is a pre packaged propaganda line. This despite presenting no evidence to support this "fact" of yours save your own opinion totally unsubstantiated by any actual evidence. You do know the difference between an unsupported assertion without any evidence versus a provable fact supported with evidence, right? Oh wait, of course you don't otherwise you would not have made such an ass out of yourself by making such an unfounded, unsupported, and ultimately totally wrong claim of "fact".

I have a long history of outrage where the Grewal fraud is concerned from the outset, I have never hidden my view that this was a serious fraud that Harper and the CPC created and then fled from claiming no involvement with once it was exposed as a fraud and to date have never been accountable for. So I keep bringing it up when relevant which I might add it was in this case since it is yet another example of the only explanation being Harper is lying or is unaware of what his subordinates are doing in his name.

Next time put some effort into it, this time it was absurdly easy to show exactly why you are someone comfortable making up his own facts to suit his own beliefs/agenda. What is really hilarious though is that you did so while accusing me of the same sort of behaviour, the irony in this is truly delicious.

kenlister1 said...

grewal is considering running in the upcoming election as a conservative candidate again. i think that is super. run grewal run!