Friday, September 27, 2013

Shut your face Pat Martin!

Good Day Readers:

It boggles the mind why anyone would contribute to Pat Martin's legal bill. Here's someone who is one of only 308 Canadians immune from defamation and libel as long as it's said in the House of Commons. His actions were whatever the descriptive is for beyond stupid.

He must have really got whacked if the monthly service charge on his debt is $2,700!

Clare L. Pieuk
Unions help pay legal debt
Martin insists trust fund donations are ethical

By Larry Kurch
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
"Mr. Beyond Stupid"

Winnipeg MP Pat Martin is counting heavily on his friends in organized labour to help dig him out of a big financial hole after he settled a $5-million defamation suit last year filed by an Edmonton-based company.

The federal Ethics Commissioner's website says about two dozen organizations (mainly unions) and individuals have contributed $500 or more to a trust fund established to pay off Martin's legal debts. The website does not state how much each donor contributed.

Although union donations to federal political parties are prohibited, Martin has been scrupulous in ensuring the union gifts are legally on the up and up.

In an interview Tuesday, he said the fund's trustees sought the advice of the Ethics Commissioner, as well as that of Elections Canada and Revenue Canada, before establishing it.

Edmonton-based automated calls firm RackNine sued Martin for comments directed at the company during the robocalls controversy that erupted following the 2011 federal election. Martin later apologized, but his mea culpa did not stop the lawsuit.

Martin, 57, won't say how much he had to pay to end the lawsuit. A non-disclosure clause was part of the settlement.

But he said Tuesday the cost of servicing the debt alone is $2,700 a month.

"It's a massive amount of money. We've raised a massive amount of money to date and there's still a massive amount outstanding," the former journeyman carpenter and Manitoba Carpenters Union Business Manager said.

Unions and union leaders have not been the only contributors, Martin said. "There's been literally hundreds of personal donations."

University of Manitoba political scientist Royce Koop says while Martin appears to have covered himself from a legal standpoint, the optics are a different matter.

"I don't think it looks good," Koop said Tuesday, adding Martin must have been in "an extremely difficult situation."

The Winnipeg Centre MP borrowed money from the federal New Democratic Party to pay off RackNine and his legal debts. The trust fund is helping him repay the party.

"This is a guy who is very critical not only of any impropriety on the part of the government but any appearance of impropriety. So he knows that it doesn't look good to have unions giving him a gift," Koop said.

He said it will be up to Winnipeg Centre voters to judge Martin in the next election, which is slated for the fall of 2015. Martin, first elected in 1997, received 6,755 more votes than his nearest rival in 2011.

Several unions and union leaders listed as large donors on the Ethics Commissioner's website declined comment Tuesday.

Martin laughed off the notion he would be beholden to organized labour for their financial support. "That's an absurd notion to anybody that knows me ... If anybody thinks that I could be any more friendly to unions because of a donation they don't know me very well," he said.

He said every donation received by the trust fund is scrutinized. He noted the Ethics Commissioner's Office has directed he return more than $20,000 worth of donations so far. He would not say why the Office felt some donations were inappropriate.

How problematic is Pat Martin’s use of union donations to deal with the costs of his defamation case? Join the conversation in the comments below.

Labour lines up to help MP

Groups and individuals who have donated $500 or more to a trust fund set up to pay off MP Pat Martin's legal debts:
  • The Alberta and NWT Building Trades Council
  • The Canada Labour Congress
  • The Millwrights Union Local 2736
  • The United Steelworkers
  • The International Union of Painters and Allied Trades
  • The British Columbia Regional Council of Carpenters
  • The Canadian Union of Public Employees
  • The Canadian Machinist Political League
  • The International Brotherhood of Boilermakers Canada (Western Canadian Boilermakers)
  • The International Union of Painters and Allied Trades Local 739
  • Susan Atherton
  • The Atlantic Canada Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights and Allied Workers
  • The Prairie Arctic Regional Council of Canada
  • The United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America
  • The United Food and Commercial Workers ch. 19
  • The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 2085
  • The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 2038
  • Jean-François Larose
  • Hélène Leblanc
  • The Canadian Union of Public Employees
  • The CAW-Canada
  • Paul Moist
  • The Federal NDP Caucus Fund
Source: Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner website

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 25, 2013 A12


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