Friday, February 28, 2014

There's beyond stupid then there's Rob Ford!

Good Day Readers:

It's hard to believe how batshit crazy Doug Ford and his brother Rob really are - of all the people to antagonize the Chief of Police while a criminal investigation is underway. Bill Blair must be licking his chops knowing more and more incriminating evidence is being gathered. So Rob Ford gets arrested, thrown in jail and can't run in the October election later this year. Smart! Real smart!

Toronto, how did you ever elect such a Big Goof ?

Sincerely,
Clare L. Pieuk



Thursday, February 27, 2014

The two questions?

Good Day Readers:

The video raises two questions:

(1) Assuming the investigation of Colin Kenny and the media coverage of it is accurate, how was he allowed to get away with such despicable behaviour for over 20-years? Why wasn't he looked at closely long before now? Who were the enablers?

(2) The CBC video goes to great lengths to hide the identities of the five women who've come forward quite recently. They are scared and feel threatened. Why and by whom? Mr. Kenny has been exposed and is not a threat to anyone save for himself.

Sincerely.
Clare L. Pieuk

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Mole family enbedded deep within Conservative Party invades Tory Senate Caucus ..... love it!

"Tory" just bit Claude Carignan in the ass!

"Tory" head of the mole family buried deep within the Conservative Party - good on you "Tory!"

Talking points in email to Tories reveal senate strategy
Althia Raj
althia.raj@huffingtonpost.com
Wednesday, February 26, 2014

OTTAWA - While the Senate Liberal caucus was busy telling Canadians how it plans to remove the shackles of partisan politics from the upper chamber, the Conservative Senate leader was issuing talking points to his troops.

The Huffington Post Canada obtained an email sent on behalf of Claude Carignan, the Leader of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government in the Senate, to all Conservative senators and their staff. In it, Carignan suggests “lines” to respond to each of the Liberals’ five points for reforms.

The suggested messaging urges the 57 Conservative senators to:

- Point out the Liberals’ “sketchy” attendance record when asked to comment about the Grits’ plan to hold open caucus meetings

- Attack the Grits for asking questions related to their own “pet peeves” when asked to comment on the Liberal plan to let Canadians probe the government directly during the daily Question Period

- Raise questions about the Liberal senators’ willingness to post their expenses online and stressing that Conservatives already do this. (The Liberal senators’ expenses were removed from the Liberal party website when they were kicked out of the Parliamentary caucus last month)

- Say the Conservatives have “no lesson to take from the Liberals on federal-provincial cooperation” in response to the Liberal senators’ plan to hold a national conversation on equalization.

When asked to comment on the Liberal senators’ move to hold only free votes in the upper chamber, the heavily whipped Tory caucus was told to respond:

“No surprise there, long ago has the Liberal leadership lost its ascendancy. The Liberal whip’s office receives a supplementary budget of more than $80,000. For what? So we now have a leader who doesn’t lead and a whip who doesn’t whip."

“We have no doubt that the Liberal senators will continue to act as liberals, will oppose whatever the Government proposes and will work to elect Justin Trudeau rather than improving the life of Canadians.”

In a surprise move, Justin Trudeau kicked the 32 Liberal senators out of the party's national caucus last month as part, he said, of his vision for a non-partisan Senate. They will continue to sit as Liberals but will no longer report to Trudeau.

The ex-Liberal senators pledged Thursday that although they are staying together, they will no longer take direction on how to vote on different pieces of legislation.

“There is a real excitement in our group about the opportunities that this independence has given to us,” James Cowan, the leader of the Senate Liberal caucus, said.

Cowan said Liberal senators would no longer be concerned about the impact their actions might have on their former colleagues in the House of Commons or the policies of the Liberal Party of Canada, he said.

“We didn’t run in the last election and we are not going to run in the next election,” Cowan said. “Electoral considerations… don’t concern us anymore.”

The speaking points were sent to Tory senators by Carignan’s communications coordinator, Sébastien Gariépy. He defended the move Wednesday by saying the new Liberal Senate caucus was going to be no less partisan than the Trudeau Liberal senators.

“I seriously doubt that what they said this morning will lead to less partisanship,” he said in a phone interview.

Talking points were not a new thing, Gariépy said, adding that it is entirely appropriate for the Conservative Senate leadership to suggest responses to their senators.

“We are not there with a hammer,” he said. “They are all suggestions, we are not telling people what to do.”

None of the Conservatives senators HuffPost contacted repeated the talking points verbatim.

Senator Marjory LeBreton, the Conservatives former Leader in the Senate, said that in all her years on the Hill she had never heard Liberals complain about the parliamentary process.

“For them I guess the old saying applies ‘That was then and this is now.’ I can only surmise that now that they are not the government and not the official opposition - all of a sudden they have problems with how Parliament operates!”

Liberal senators already ask questions from their respective regions, she said, singling out Senator Catherine Callbeck for always asking “pertinent questions” related to individuals or issues concerning Prince Edward Island.

Conservative Senator Linda Duncan told HuffPost in an email that Liberals in the Senate were trying to make the best out of a bad situation.

“Trudeau is trying to spin a fiction that he has reformed the Senate by taking partisanship out of it. However Senator Cowan reaffirmed once again today that the members of his caucus are still the ‘Liberal Senators,’” she wrote in an email.

Partisanship is a fact, she said.

“A fact that has not changed with these fake and phony reforms. So the Liberals won't be whipped into voting Liberal. They'll just do it anyway. Big deal. That is not meaningful reform.”

And how many free, scrumptious taxpayer breakfasts/lunches/dinners have you had Guy Giorno? Got any favourite Italian dishes .....eh?

Good Day Readers:

Don't you love the way politicians are quick to blame the bureaucrats and/or their staff when they get caught? The just don't get it wondering why average working Canadians - Six Pack Joe/Jane - call Ottawa Disneyland over the Rideau.

Sincerely,
Clare L. Pieuk
Harper's ex-Chief of Staff tries to deflect heat over questionable lunch expenses

Althia Raj
althia.raj@huffingtronpost.com

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

OTTAWA — The Prime Minister’s Office is taking heat for thousands in questionable lunch expenses, and the opposition parties say a former high-ranking member of Harper’s team wants to make sure other top public servants suffer the same fate.

Former Harper Chief of Staff Guy Giorno emailed The Huffington Post Canada on Tuesday after we reported that the Prime Minister’s Office had spent close to $68,000 over three years providing lunches for a weekly meeting with ministerial Chiefs of Staff — an apparent breach of Treasury Board guidelines. Chiefs make six-figure salaries that top off at $178,800.

Giorno wrote: “Are you going to update your article to include the weekly (Wednesday, I believe) Deputy Ministers’ breakfasts? 4th floor, Langevin. Every week for as long as anyone can remember.”

It was under Giorno’s leadership that the PMO started expensing the weekly staff lunches in the summer of 2010. The luncheons from Boston Pizza, House of Greek, Indian Express, Café Deluxe, Freshii’s, Southern Cross and El Mazaj averaged between $442 and $659 for 40 people.

Opposition parties seemed genuinely stunned to hear Giorno - who left the PMO in 2011 but was recently tapped to become a legal advisor to the Conservative Party - point the finger at bureaucrats.

NDP ethics critic Charlie Angus told HuffPost that getting caught and “ratting out public servants who do the same thing” is not ethical behaviour.

“It’s like ‘You catch me? Well, we’ll throw someone under the bus’,” Angus said.

Liberal Treasury Board critic Gerry Byrne said Giorno had not made the problem smaller but “made it much bigger.”

“If the Deputy Ministers are doing this as well, I don’t know that that provides an effective cover. Frankly, it means that there may be a sweeping problem in the government about an understanding of the government’s own rules and regulations,” he said.

HuffPost attempted to add up the cost of the deputy ministers’ breakfasts over the past six years.

Raymond Rivet, a Spokesperson for the Privy Council Office, the department which organizes the breakfasts, said the tally for each Deputy Minister’s meal was transferred to their department. But figures posted online were either incomplete or missing.

According to the Privy Council’s website, it spent $7,774.35 on breakfasts for 16 individuals during the same 39-month period as the Chiefs of Staff’s luncheons. But documents obtained under Access to Information by researcher Ken Rubin, and reported by Sun Media, suggest the costs of the breakfasts over three years could be as high as $66,000.

“When the full group of Deputy Ministers are present, each breakfast bill can be as high as $805.69 as it was on September 21, 2011,” wrote reporter David Akin.

Deputy Ministers are top public servants who manage thousands of employees and earn between $190,500 and $449,109 a year.

In an email exchange, Giorno defended the PMO lunches - and the Deputy Ministers’ breakfasts - saying it was “entirely appropriate to furnish breakfast or lunch when a meeting is scheduled over a meal period.”

“The policy expressly provides for this,” he added.

The Treasury Board's hospitality policy states that federal employees can only be provided hospitality in situations that "extend beyond normal working hours," where employees are required to work during their normal break and meal periods, where there are no nearby facilities to obtain meals, or where staff dispersal is not efficient. (There are several restaurants and lunch counters near the Prime Minister's Office).

Treasury Board President Tony Clement told the House of Commons Tuesday that “the rules had not been broken” and he suggested routine working staff lunches fell under the guidelines.

In the House of Commons Wednesday, Byrne continued to question the Tories about the meal expenses.

"These $67,000 in lunches are part of the PMO disclosure," Byrne said. "The only person who could have approved them is the Prime Minister himself.

"So to the Prime Minister, what was on today's menu, compliments of the taxpayers?"

Treasury Board President Tony Clement replied by saying the Tories had cut expenses by 48% since they came to power.

"We are going to continue and respect the taxpayer," he said.

When pressed by HuffPost, neither Clement nor the Prime Minister’s Spokesperson, Jason MacDonald, provided any details about how the meals fell within the guidelines.

Byrne told HuffPost he disagrees with the view that weekly events are “working lunches.”

"These Conservative staffers are not being held in a budget lock-up, there is not an emergency session," he said, pointing out that the meals are routine occurrences.

“That is would not be my read of the policy and I am a former member of the Treasury Board [cabinet committee under Liberal prime minister Jean Chrétien].”

“On its face, it is pretty clear. [It] does not seem to me that they are keeping within the spirit or the letter of the law,” he said.

Norman Spector, a Chief of Staff to former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, suggested on Twitter that Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s team could have found a cheaper way to meet its staff.

Wonder what "Big Julie" thinks of this? CyberSmokeBlog likes it!

Good Day Readers:

This is the second time Maxime Bernier may be right. While it's fine, well and good the Liberals with their new found economic guru shining Larry Summers in armour on a white horse propose greater levels of public debt here's the problem.

The Harper government finally balanced the budget last year on the backs of Canadians at considerable pain. To make matters worse, there's a surplus now which could be put to work. However, the Harperites will sit on it until just before the 2015 election is announced, hand down another budget then distribute the surplus, "Jeeze taxpayers it's larger than we thought!" to buy votes - buying voters with their own money you might say. Further, Conservative politicians and their senior bureaucrats didn't suffer like the rest of you continuing to dine on fine cuisine as a spat of recent media reports suggest.

Larry Summers is not the savior on a white horse the Liberalites would have you believe. Besides, he comes with baggage something conveniently overlooked at the Liberal convention.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lawrence_Summers

After squeezing taxpayers to finally balance the books why not keep it that way? Run consecutive surpluses and use part to pay down debt. Do you not think foreign investors both public and private prefer to place their money in jurisdictions with a strong fiscal track record instead of a debt burdened economy?

And the second time? His choice of women - the little rascal!

Sincerely,
Clare L. Pieuk
Maxime Bernier: More liberal debt is not the road to growth

Maxime Bernier, Special to National Post

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


The "Debt Wagon" should be placed permanently outside the Langevin Block Building window to the Prime Minister's Office and placed on flashing mode during its weekly Wednesday scrumptious taxpayer lunches. A second should be anchored outside his bedroom window at 24 Sussex Drive so that's the last thing he sees before going to bed and the first when he arises. (CyberSmokeBlog)

Now that its Montreal convention is over, we know a little bit more about the Liberal party’s economic platform. One of its central planks is that budget deficits are a good way to grow the economy, and that we should not be afraid to go further into debt.

In a recent video posted on the Internet, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau explains that Canadian households are heavily indebted, just like provincial governments, while the federal government has considerably lowered its debt level compared with other developed countries since the 1990s. His conclusion: Ottawa is the only entity with the ability to spend money and rack up more debt. It, therefore, has to “step up” and do the spending that others are not able to do.
"Every time the government takes a dollar out of someone’s pocket, it’s a dollar that person will not be able to spend or invest."
At last weekend’s convention, Liberal delegates heard Larry Summers, an American economist, explain why we need “unconventional support policies” - economic jargon for “spending without restraint.” According to him, accumulating more debt is OK when it serves to stimulate the economy.

Are we in a recession? Does the current situation justify sending our public finances back into the red?

One could almost believe we’re back in the 1970s, when the federal debt, which until then was relatively modest, exploded as Justin Trudeau’s father launched one new program after another, most of the time by intervening in provincial jurisdictions. We saw where that led us in terms of public finance, but also with regard to federal-provincial relations.

Delegates at the Liberal convention discussed a whole set of “national strategies” on issues ranging from transportation to energy, mental health, children, water, pharmacare, youth jobs and science. This is the type of big spending, interventionist and centralizing federal government that Justin Trudeau is once again proposing.

They may claim they intend to remain fiscally responsible, but Liberals are actually going down a very slippery slope, as they adopt these kinds of policies.

The burden of debt diminished considerably during the first three years of the Conservative government — from 34% to 28% of GDP. It has gone back to 33% in the past couple of years due to measures taken to deal with the financial crisis. Our projections show that it should be scaled back to 25% of GDP by 2021.
"Servicing the debt costs taxpayers about $30-billion a year. This is as much money as the GST brings into government coffers."
This debt is not something abstract. Servicing the debt costs taxpayers about $30-billion a year. This is as much money as the GST brings into government coffers. The more we cut down the size of the debt, the fewer resources we will need to pay the interest and the more we will be able to afford to cut taxes.

Justin Trudeau and his American adviser still believe in the old Keynesian theory that says government can create wealth by spending more money.

In reality, every time the government takes an additional dollar in taxes out of someone’s pocket, it’s a dollar that person will not be able to spend or invest. When government spending goes up, private spending goes down. There is no net effect. No wealth creation.

Government borrowing has the same effect. The private lenders who lend money to the government will have less money to lend to private businesses. When government borrowing and spending go up, private borrowing and spending go down. There is no net effect. No wealth creation.

It is like taking a bucket of water in the deep end of a swimming pool and emptying it in the shallow end.

It’s these kind of policies that ruined our economy in the 1970s. This is not what Canada needs today.

To stimulate the economy, we need to give entrepreneurs the means to create wealth. We need to put in place the best possible conditions to allow the private sector to become more productive: by curtailing public spending, cutting taxes and signing free-trade agreements. Growth and progress depend on more economic freedom.

Maxime Bernier is the Minister of State for Small Business, Tourism and Agriculture.

It's M-a-r-j-o-r-y you dummies!

Le Breton featured guest at Tory fundraiser

By Glen McGregor
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
We haven’t  heard much from Conservative Senator Marjory LeBreton since she left her position as government house leader in the Senate last summer, amid the fracas over attempts by the Prime Minister’s Office to, allegedly, meddle with a report on then-Conservative Senator Mike Duffy’s expenses.

As evidenced by emails obtained by the RCMP, the PMO attempted to lubricate a happy end to the Deloitte audit with the suggestion that, since Duffy had repaid $90,000 in expenses, it should be case-closed.
Unsurprisingly, the sub-committee of the Senate’s committee on the internal economy — dominated by Conservatives — reached exactly that conclusion.

Shortly after, we learned that Duffy had been made whole on the $90,000 by Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Chief of Staff, Nigel Wright, and … well, you the know the rest.

In the ensuing hail of bullets, Harper attempted to distance his office from the Senate by removing LeBreton from his cabinet.

At the time, The Toronto Star quoted an unnamed government official saying the Tories  wanted to “draw a black line” between PMO and the Senate. The following month, LeBreton announced she would not continue as Government House Leader, either.

Then, in November, LeBreton was named among two other Conservative senators interviewed by the RCMP’s Corporal Greg Horton.

The Mountie was skeptical about some of the information coming from the three senators about the audit and PMO’s role in it, according to a court document made public in November. LeBreton responded, “I answered all their questions honestly and I conducted myself properly throughout the whole process.”

Nevertheless, LeBreton is still apparently a draw for local Tories.

She was scheduled as the speaker at a breakfast event to raise funds for the Conservative riding association in Nepean, a new riding created when Democratic Reform Minister Pierre Poilievre’s Nepean - Carleton was sliced in two.

The event was held at the Barrhaven Legion on Feb. 15, according to the invite page. Guests were asked to pay the royal sum of, uh, $25 (or $10 for students). The invitation circulated by email also misspelled LeBreton’s first name.

Exactly which Conservative candidate’s campaign would benefit from the event is uncertain.

While Poilievre is the MP for Barrhaven currently, he is expected to run in the new adjacent riding of Rideau - Carleton, while Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird will run in Nepean, the seat he represented as an Ontario MPP and where he still lives.

So, whichever, it looks like LeBreton’s aide to the Nepean riding association will ultimately assist at least one Conservative cabinet minister on the other side of the “black line.”

UPDATE: It appears that the fundraiser in Barrhaven was organized by Bill Ayyad, the General Manager of Ottawa’s Park ‘n’ Fly service.

Ayyad was listed on the official delegation that accompanied Harper to the Middle East earlier this year.  Indeed, his open Facebook page shows photos of him standing next to Harper on the trip. 
Bill Ayyad, second from left, on Prime Minister Stephen Harper's trip to the Middle East.

Further Update: Ayyad's wife, Sue, is a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal. She was photographed receiving the bauble from Poilievre in 2012.

Beware the copyright troll ..... could be hiding under a bridge near you!

Scared by a downloading lawsuit? It might be a troll

And Canadian courts just made it harder for unnecessary copyright suits to launch

By Michael Geist
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
You could still be ht for downloading illegally, but now infringement notices will go through the courts. (Download button via Shutterstock)

The outbreak of copyright trolling cases in the United States and Britain in recent years has sparked considerable anger from courts, Internet providers and subscribers. These cases, which typically involve sending thousands of legal letters alleging copyright infringement and demanding thousands of dollars to settle, rely on ill-informed and frightened subscribers, who would rather pay the settlement than fight in court.

Canada was largely spared these cases until 2012, when Voltage Pictures, a United States film company, filed a lawsuit demanding that TekSavvy, a leading independent Internet provider, disclose the names and addresses of thousands of subscribers who it claimed infringed its copyright. TekSavvy did not formally oppose the request, but it did ensure that its subscribers were informed about the lawsuit and it supported an intervention from the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic, a technology law clinic, that brought the privacy and copyright trolling concerns to the court's attention (I sit on the CIPPIC Advisory Board).

The federal court issued its much-anticipated decision on Thursday, granting Voltage's request for the subscriber names, but adding numerous safeguards designed to discourage copyright trolling lawsuits in Canada. The safeguards include court oversight of the "demand letter" that will be sent to subscribers, with a case management judge assigned to review and approve its contents before being sent to any subscriber. Moreover, the letter must include a message in bold type that "no Court has yet made a determination that such subscriber has infringed or is liable in any way for payment of damages."

Safeguards for privacy set

While Voltage argued that privacy issues should not be a concern, the court was extremely troubled by the prospect of copyright trolling. It expressed fear of the "mischief" created by compelling Internet providers to reveal private information about their customers and the danger of flooding the courts with thousands of cases involving subscribers who have good defences to the alleged infringement. Further, the court noted that given recent changes to Canadian copyright law that create a $5,000 cap on liability for non-commercial infringement, the damages "may be miniscule compared to the cost, time and effort in pursuing a claim against the subscriber."

Having cited the dangers of copyright trolling, the court ruled that where there is compelling evidence of "improper motive" of a plaintiff, it might consider denying the motion to disclose subscriber names entirely. Alternatively, if such evidence is unavailable, there are many safeguards that can be established.

In this case, the court ruled that there was some evidence that Voltage has been engaged in litigation which may have an improper purposes, but not enough to deny the motion altogether. The court therefore established safeguards such as court oversight over demand letters, a requirement that Voltage pay TekSavvy's legal fees before the disclosure of subscriber information, and assurances that the information released by TekSavvy will remain confidential, not be disclosed to other parties, not be used for other purposes and not made available to the general public or the media.

The safeguards are significant, since they ensure the active involvement of the courts in the sending of demand letters and likely eliminate unwarranted scare tactics about potential liability.

The remaining big question is whether copyright trolls will now view Canada as hostile territory. Given the cap on liability that the government implemented in the last round of copyright reform, court oversight on sending demand letters, the requirements to compensate Internet providers for their costs and the increased expense the court's involvement will create, copyright trolls may wish to look elsewhere as Canada could prove too costly for such dubious legal tactics.  [Tyee]

Read more: Science + Tech


"Jeezus, did you see this 'Business Card Tony?' Well did you?" Still within Treasury Board guidelines are we?

Taxpayers pick up tab for $7,000 Tory pizza lunch

By David Akin
National Bureau Chief
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Parliament Hill. (Tony Caldwell/QMI Agency)

OTTAWA — Taxpayers have paid for more than $130,000 in meals for Conservative political staff and the country's top bureacrats since 2010.

One single lunch bill alone, QMI Agency has learned, was for nearly $7,000 so 330 Conservative political aides could eat pizza, garlic bread, caesar salad and fettucine at a Professional Development day held on the political equivalent of the last day of school in late June, 2012.

And who signed off on that June 28, 2012, PD day? None other than Nigel Wright, the Bay Street millionaire Chief of Staff to Prime Minister Stephen Harper who would be fired within a year for cutting a $90,000 cheque from his own bank account to try to hush up the Mike Duffy affair.

Liberal MP Gerry Byrne said that kind of spending — lunch for Conservative political staff only - is clearly offside.

"That really does seem to be more of a Party event. That's an awful lot of money," Byrne said.

The professional development day was held at the Government Conference Centre, steps from Parliament Hill where government-run cafeterias serve a decent hot lunch for reasonable prices.

The Conference Centre is also right across the street from a major downtown Ottawa shopping mall with a sprawling food court.

Instead, the PMO ordered in 70 large pizzas, 34 chicken and mushroom fettucines and other food from Boston Pizza. The Boston Pizza bill alone that day was $4,601.93 - all paid for by the taxpayer.

And that was just one of dozens of Parliament Hill political chow-downs where taxpayers footed the bill over the last few years.

Deputy Ministers, the top non-political aides who run various government departments and earn $300,000 or more a year after bonuses are factored in, have their breakfast bill paid when they meet as a group once a week.

Those breakfast bills have cost taxpayers as much as $66,000 for the three years from 2011 to 2013. When the full group of deputy ministers are present, each breakfast bill can be as high as $805.69 as it was on September 21, 2011.

Those spending details were in government records obtained through Access to Information requests by researcher Ken Rubin.

"The Conservatives rode into town promising to tighten the belts," Byrne said. "There would be no free lunches literally or figuratively."

Last fall, Byrne combed through the expense reports published online every month by the Prime Minister's Office and found more than $68,000 worth of takeout food orders from various Greek, Lebanase, Indian and Mexican restaurants were billed to the taxpayer.

The food was served at weekly meetings between Harper's top political aides and the top political aides of his ministers.

Byrne said the circumstances of those purchases clearly contravene government spending guidelines. But in the House of Commons Tuesday, Treasury Board President Tony Clement said no rules had been broken and that spending on hospitality had been cut by nearly half sine 2006.

"Since coming into power, this government has spent less on hospitality than the previous government," Clement said.

New employment opportunities for Canadian Senators?

Good Day Readers:

This just goes to show senators are not totally useless. Patrick Brazeau is managing a strip club. What about Colin Kenny as a pitchman?
Now, if the RCMP/Auditor General of Canada could only find alternative employment for Pamela Wallin, Mike Duffy, Mac Harb et. al.

Sincerely,
Clare L. Pieuk
Preliminary report has new allegations against Senator Colin Kenny

CTV NatNews.ca Staff
Turesday, February 25, 2014

A preliminary report into a complaint of inappropriate behaviour by Senator Colin Kenny has uncovered new allegations, CTV News has learned.

Kenny left the Liberal caucus last November after a complaint was filed by a former staff member, who accused him of abuse of power and sexual harassment.

The massive report was done by outside investigators, who combed through hundreds of emails between Kenny and his former staffer.
Senate Defence Committee Chairman Colin Kenny responds to reporters questions at a news conference in Ottawa, Monday, February 12, 2007. (Tom Hanson/The Canadian Press)

The report contains allegations Kenny asked the staffer to do non-Senate work, including:
  • hiring a handy man
  • arranging the tailoring of his clothes
  • getting his drug prescriptions, including pills for erectile dysfunction
  • paying a dog-walker, and
  • arranging for the pick-up of keys to a Florida condominium
According to Senate rules, Kenny is not allowed to allocate, authorize the use of, or use a Senate resource except to carry out parliamentary functions.

The preliminary report does not draw any conclusions, and Kenny has denied the allegations.

With a report by CTV’s Deputy Ottawa Bureau Chief Laurie Graham

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

What's for lunch "taxpayer Wednesday" in the Prime Minister's Office?

Good Day Readers:

Get this, Treasury Board President Tony "Business Card" Clement insisted no rules had been broken the same fellow who twice had his business cards rejected because they were gold embossed (below). You've got to figure those attending today's taxpayers' free lunch in the Langevin Block must be a tad paranoid. Hopefully, one of the family of moles buried deep within the Conservative Party will tell us on what they dined.

CyberSmokeBlog's Plan For Rescuing The Freeloaders

Everyone by now knows Stephen Harper's attempt at video has been an abject failure with ratings going through the floor because, like him, it's so b-o-r-i-n-g, therefore, here's what CSERT (Conservative Strategic Election Readiness Team) should immediately swing into action to do:
(1) Since Laureen Harper is going to be leveraged as a proxy for her husband's cold fish, humourless personality, she should Chair next Wednesday's lunch. In front of each attendee would be a brown paper lunch bag familiar to millions and millions and millions of Canadians. Those present will be shown eating dry sandwiches they brought from home

(2) She displays a firm hand at the helm cutting directly to the chase not ...-balling around hike her husband. On her agenda? An update on the PMO's role in the Wallin-Duffy-Wright-Brazeau-Harb (and others to be named) senate scandal. An in depth discussion of the Jason Kenney-Jim Flaherty-Stephen Harper feud over income splitting. The Conservative strategy for managing the rising debate and public anger over the "Fair" Elections Act legislation. How to dig up more dirt on Justin Trudeau. Stemming the Party's dwindling support in the polls ..... etc., etc., etc.

(3) If Laureen Harper can pull this off the 24 SEVEN series be re-named 24 SEVEN With Leveraged Laureen.

Sound like a plan?

Sincerely,
Clare L. Pieuk
Conservatives defend questionable lunches for political staff

Althia Raj
althia.raj@huffingtonpost.com

Tuesday, February 25, 2014
The Conservative government defended the practice of spending taxapyers' money for political staff Tuesday despite being hammered over the three-yeaty $68,000 tab by opposition parties. (Canadian Press)

OTTAWA — The Conservative government defended the practice of spending taxpayers' money on a weekly free lunch for political staff Tuesday, despite being hammered over the three-year, $68,000 tab by opposition parties.

"Regular people don't try to get hard working Canadian taxpayers to pay for their lunch," NDP MP Dan Harris told the Commons.

NDP MP Charlie Angus told HuffPost the Prime Minister's Office has blatantly disregarded the Treasury Board's rules about hospitality expenses.

"Here is a government that is telling veterans, senior citizens that the cupboard is bare. And they are breaking their own guidelines and dining very well off the taxpayers," he said.

"These Conservative staffers are not being held in a budget lock-up, there is not an emergency session," said Liberal MP Gerry Byrne.

"[Tomorrow] like every Wednesday for the last ten years, they will enjoy a free lunch from taxpayers. Will the President of the Treasury Board end this practice? Will he comply with the rules?" he asked.

Treasury Board President Tony Clement insisted the rules had not been broken.

"This has been referred to officials, politicians don't get to make these decisions," he said.

Neither his department nor the Privy Council Office, however, have responded to HuffPost's questions on the matter.

The costs, $67,789.48 over three years, for a weekly Wednesday lunch meeting with the PMO and Ministers' Chiefs of Staff, was first reported by The Huffington Post Canada Tuesday morning.

The vast majority of staffers who took advantage of the free lunch earn six-figure salaries. Chiefs of Staff are paid up to $178,800, according to guidelines posted on the Treasury Board website.

The Treasury Board's hospitality policy states federal employees can only be provided hospitality in situations that "extend beyond normal working hours," where employees are required to work during their normal break and meal periods, where there are no nearby facilities to obtain meals, or where staff dispersal is not efficient.

There are more than a dozen restaurants and lunch counters within two blocks of the Prime Minister's Office.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Prime Minister's Spokesperson, Jason MacDonald, told HuffPost the "rules allow meals for working lunches when, for example, staff need to attend a meeting outside of normal working hours (during a meal period, for example.)"

Byrne told HuffPost that he could understand if it was an occasional get-together or an emergency situation where staff were required to work through lunch. These lunches, he said, were not that, they were a routine occurrence and therefore were contrary to Treasury Board guidelines for hospitality, he said.
"It's a breach of the rules. It's a free lunch."

The weekly Wednesday lunches - bi-weekly in the summer - began in July, 2010. The costs of the lunches were disclosed on a government website and include bills up until October 31, 2013. The practice was still in place last week when staff ordered almost $500 worth of food from Indian Express.

And then there was this from "Business Card" Tony ..... Dhhhhh?


Tony Clement pays back taxpayers for 2nd set of gold business cards

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Treasury Board President Tony Clement

Among Tony Clement's stack of Christmas bills this year was one to pay back taxpayers for a second set of gold-embossed business cards that broke government rules.

Clement, the Treasury Board President, used his personal credit card last week to reimburse his department $195.98 for gold-embossed cards that were ordered back in 2011, when he first took the cabinet post.

The January 8 payment was in addition to the $434 he reimbursed taxpayers last month for another set of forbidden gold-embossed cards. Clement has now paid back $630 for improper stationery, which he says was ordered in error by a staff member.

Each set of his cards featured the Arms of Canada decorated with gold leaf, a costly stationery option that has been banned across government since 1994.

Minister repaid costs of earlier order in December

Through the Access to Information Act, the Canadian Press obtained invoices, emails and other documents on December 3 showing Clement's office ignored the rules shortly after the Conservatives won a majority in 2011.

The same day the documents were released to the news agency, Clement used his Visa card to pay back taxpayers for the first set of business cards. The amount repaid was calculated as the extra cost for having the gold leaf applied.

Other documents released this month, however, reveal a second set of Clement business cards with the same gold-leaf problem. The second set, also ordered in 2011, added a reference on the card to the Minister's secondary portfolio, the FedNor Development Agency.

'No remaining amount owing': spokesperson

Clement paid back the second amount on January 8, a day before these other documents were released to The Canadian Press.

"We have been assured by Treasury Board officials there is no remaining amount owing," the Minister's Spokeswoman, Heather Domereckyj, said in an email Monday.

"Minister Clement personally reimbursed the cost as soon as he was alerted. This was brought to the Minister's attention when the department provided additional documentation for the ATIP (Access-To-Information request)."

Not the first card controversy for Conservatives

Laurie Hawn, a Conservative MP appointed temporarily to a cabinet cost-cutting committee, also got his own set of gold-embossed cards in 2011.

His spokesperson, Jordan Fraser, has said Hawn also reimbursed taxpayers for the error but did not provide the date or amount.

Another cabinet member, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, in 2011 ordered a set of English-only business cards, violating government policy against unilingual communications.

Ministers' business cards must include French and English. Baird's cards also featured a gold-embossed Arms of Canada, breaking the same stationery rule as Clement and Hawn.

Clement's Department, the Treasury Board, sets out the rules for all Ministers' stationery, which specify that Canada's coat of arms on business cards must be in black.  The only colour permitted is the red of a small Canadian flag above the Canada wordmark. The rules date from 1994 during the Liberal government of Jean Chretien.

Baird has never acknowledged any "error" for his unilingual, gold-embossed cards.

He has defended his unilingual cards by saying he also ordered a second set of bilingual cards that were always available for distribution.

Baird yet to respond to language concerns

Canada's official-languages commissioner, Graham Fraser, issued a report last August slamming Baird for ignoring language policies, and demanded the English-only cards be dumped.

Fraser's office, which rejected the argument there was no violation because other bilingual cards were also available, said this week the commissioner was still waiting to hear whether Baird will abide by last summer's ruling.

An official open invitation from the Prime Minister of Canada's Office!

Dear Canadian Taxpayers:

You are cordially invited to lunch with us for free once weekly or bi-weekly during the summer. Enjoy a wide variety of dishes such as butter chicken, chicken biryani, one vegetable dish, like mixed vegetable or veggie korma, rice, pakoras, naan bread or the Prime Minister's favourite the brochette platter - to name but a few.

Show up at the Langevin Block directly across from the Parliament Buildings around 11:30 a.m. If you're a taxpayer you're welcome!
Bring your Member of Parliament or better yet Senator doesn't mater if they're Liberal or New Democratic Party. Schmooze with Treasury Board President Tony Clement.

Sincerely,
The Boys in Short Pants and Girls in Short Skirts
Prime Minister's Office

"Spending your hard earned taxpayer dollars with you!"
PMO charged $67,789.48 in questionable lunch expenses

Althia Raj
althia.raj@huffington post.com
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
UPDATE: Just before Question Period Tuesday, the Prime Minister's spokesperson Jason MacDonald told HuffPost the PMO had broken no rules. But he did not offer any explanation why he thought so. "The story is false; no rules were broken," he wrote in an email, 20 hours after HuffPost contacted him.
OTTAWA -The Prime Minister’s Office isn’t following the rules when it comes to hospitality expenses.
Over the span of the past three years, taxpayers have been on the hook for $67,789.48 to cover weekly catered lunch meetings for PMO staffers and ministerial chiefs of staff — an apparent violation of Treasury Board policy.

“This is a consistent ongoing initiative to basically feed the Prime Minister’s Office lunches,” Liberal Treasury Board critic Gerry Byrne told The Huffington Post Canada Monday.

The weekly Wednesday lunches - bi-weekly in the summer - began in July 2010. The costs of the lunches were disclosed on a government website and include bills up until October 31, 2013.

But the practice continues to this day with Indian Express catering last Wednesday’s lunch.

“They order butter chicken, chicken biryani, one vegetable dish, like mixed vegetable or veggie korma, rice, pakoras, naan bread, stuff like that,” said the clerk who answered the phone at the Ottawa restaurant.

Records suggest meal preferences for Boston Pizza ($7,724.26 over three years), Mexican restaurant Southern Cross ($9,024.28 over three years), Lebanese restaurant, El Mazaj ($8,471.70 over three years), the House of Greek ($10,020.03 over three years), and Indian Express ($8,442.54 over three years).

As time went on, the weekly orders for 40 people started to weigh heavily in favour of healthier options such as sandwiches and wraps from Café Deluxe ($18,857.16 over three years) and Freshii’s ($5,249.51 since 2011). Freshii’s is 60 footsteps away from the Langevin block, where the meeting takes place.

The Wednesday meetings were for Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s chief of staff to meet with the ministers' chiefs of staff, said two sources, who insisted on anonymity because they weren’t supposed to speak to the media.

One restaurant, House of Greek, used to advertise its connection with the PMO, encouraging patrons to order the Prime Minister’s favourite dish, the brochette platter. It also displays a letter from October 2011 from the Prime Minister’s Office thanking “Rahim” for the “excellent service provided by House of Greek to the Office of The Prime Minister.”

“Your dependability, professionalism, and especially the delicious food have been greatly appreciated over the past two and a half years," says the letter, which is oddly signed by the Office of the Chief of Staff. It goes on to say that the PMO hopes to continue to enjoy the restaurant’s food.

Three Treasury Board directives covered the period under which the meals were ordered. They all state that federal employees can only be provided hospitality in situations that “extend beyond normal working hours.”
“This includes situations where employees are required to work through normal break and meal periods. It may include situations where there are no nearby or appropriate facilities to obtain refreshments or meals and/or where staff dispersal is not effective or efficient,” the policies state.

The Treasury Board Secretariat and its Minister Tony Clement’s office refused to respond to questions about the policy.

The Prime Minister’s Office did not respond to requests for comments. All emails went unanswered.
The Liberal MP, who brought the issue to HuffPost's attention, was happy to fill the blanks.

“If it was a working lunch that was not scheduled or predicted but based on an emergency, one could understand,” Byrne said. “If it was an occasional get together, one would be a little bit more understanding of it. This is regular, it is consistent. [Staffers] probably put it in their calendar, week after week this lunch will occur and it will be paid by taxpayers. That’s what makes it contrary to Treasury Board Guidelines for hospitality,” he added.

Byrne said he didn’t think public servants would be allowed to expense such hospitality expenses and he noted there were several restaurants nearby for staffers to grab a bite.

“These staffers are surrounded by some great restaurants, take-outs and fast food establishments and they could bring their own bag lunches, so it does seem rich,” he said.

“It’s a breach of the rules. It’s a free lunch."

“The Prime Minister and his entourage came to Ottawa preaching that there would be no free lunches, and this is in stark contrast, both literally and figuratively, to what the Prime Minister’s stated objectives were,” Byrne added.

No taxpayer financed senator is totally useless!


La Air Ticket: Tabernouche! C'est quoi ce bordel?

"Attention! At ease taxpayers?"

A $6,000 plane ticket to the wife of a general

Joel-Denis Bellavance
Monday, February 24, 2014

Rob Nicholson (Photo: The Canadian Press)

(Ottawa) As he slays the retired General Andrew Leslie for moving expenses of $72,000 passed on to taxpayers, the Defence Minister, Rob Nicholson, has approved the purchase of an airline ticket $ 6,060 to allow the joint Chief of Staff of the Canadian Armed Forces Tom Lawson to accompany the latter to a NATO conference in Budapest last September.

Documents obtained by The Press under the Law on Access to Information show that Minister Nicholson has endorsed the expenditure for a return ticket first class between Ottawa and Budapest for Kelly Lawson.

The Deputy Minister of Defense, Richard Fadden, wrote a four-page memo to Mr. Nicholson asking him to authorize the expenditure, arguing that the presence of Ms. Lawson in the capital of Hungary would "facilitate the conduct of events and strengthen relationships and linkages between the various parties involved."

Ms. Lawson finally participated in activities organized for military spouses at the conference.

The delegation to the NATO conference consisted of six people, including General Tom Lawson and his wife. Two of the six participants were in Brussels and went to Budapest at the expense of the hosts of the conference.

Travel expenses and subsistence for the delegation amounted to $ 37,961. On their own, the transportation costs for four people was about $ 25,000. During this conference, the generals were given an update on the situation in Afghanistan while NATO troops were preparing to leave the country ravaged by decades of war.

The office of Minister Nicholson would not answer questions from the press about the expense. He just referred La Presse to the Ministry of Defence for an explanation.

In accordance with the Treasury Board, the Minister must approve each such expense when it comes to pay travel expenses of a spouse or a spouse of a senior officer, including the Chief of Staff of the Canadian Armed Forces.

The Ministry of Defence confirmed that the taxpayers had paid the travel expenses for Ms. Lawson last September. The latter also accompanied her husband to another NATO meeting in Brussels in January. She traveled first class and the fare was $2,231. Minister Nicholson also approved the trip.

Output rule

Last week, Mr. Nicholson made an exit rule against the former General Andrew Leslie, who acts as an Advisor to the Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, after it was revealed that his last move within the city of Ottawa had cost taxpayers $ 72,000.

Mr. Nicholson has asked his department to investigate, saying it was an excessive amount. "It is important Andrew Leslie explains why he thinks it is reasonable to absorb Canadian workers expense. It's a matter of judgment and respect for the responsible use of taxpayers' money, "he said. The problem is that this resettlement program for retired military has been in effect for several years, and Mr. Leslie is not the first to benefit.

Mr. Leslie, who led Canadian troops in Afghanistan and who expects to be a candidate in the next federal election in a constituency in the Ottawa region, has accused the Conservatives of engaging in a "personal attack" because it s' is committed to the Liberal Party of Canada

With files from William Leclerc

Well at least he didn't pee on it in a drunken stupor!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Build a hi-tech Trojan Horse you dummies!

Good Day Readers:

It's amusing how the Harper government is blowing off the Toronto Star's leak of their 2015 election strategy but what if a family of moles has indeed invaded the Party's inner sanctum? How ironic given its obsession for secrecy bordering on paranoia.

Part of the master plan is to role out Laureen Harper through a video series to compensate for her b-o-r-i-n-g, cold fish, humourless husband. When was the last time the Prime Minister said something so funny you doubled over in laughter peeing yourself in the process?

Laureen 24 Eleven? Don't think so. The current version is an unmitigated disaster losing half it's audience weekly because it's so, that's right you guessed it, b-o-r-i-n-g.

CyberSmokeBlog's Plan to Resuscitate the Conservatives

Go ahead laugh as you will but build a hi-tech Trojan Horse it worked for the ancient Greeks didn't it? Campaign election spending is not an issue ... right?

The Plan

(1) The project must be top secret so call in the RCMP, CSIS and CSEC

(2) Build a camouflaged warehouse in the backyard of 24 Sussex Drive using government tradespersons. If necessary it can later be explained away as a youth make work project

(3) Construct a large wooden Trojan Horse with unmarked mobile transporter jammed with the latest communications equipment

(4) Construct a baby Trojan Horse exclusively for Laureen Harper

(4) Repaint the Air Harper plane and one of the challenger jets midnight black re-configuring the interiors so they can accommodate Big Trojan and little Trojan respectively

Operationalizing The Plan

(1) Under cover of darkness stuff Big Trojan with all the Conservatives running in a particular area packing just enough food and water for their survival. Ventilation is optional

(2) Land Big Trojan at a major city's airport on a special runway removed from public view. Have an ancient (how apropos) repainted, (black naturally), unmarked Canadian Forces Sea King helicopter at the ready

(3) Transport the load to a major high volume traffic area. In the case of Winnipeg that might include the intersection of Portage and Main or perhaps The Forks

(4) After Big Trojan has changed it's load of candidates it's on to the next location

(5) Follow up with Laureen Harper in little Trojan. Repeat the protocol as you move across Canada

Great idea don't you think Justin Trudeau? Sure beats those boring television ads!

Sincerely,
Clare L. Pieuk
Some Conservatives don't buy Star leak story, just looking at long game to win

By Mark Burgess and Abbas Rana
Monday, February 24, 2014
Election strategy: Conservative Party Executive Director Dimitri Soudas made a presentation to the party's national council earlier this month in Toronto outlining a strategy to get Prime Minister Stephen Harper re-elected in the next election. (The Hill Times photographs by Jake Wright)

Some Conservatives don’t buy the explanation given for how internal party strategy documents made it to The Toronto Star earlier this month, a senior Conservative source said, and they’re worried such breaches could become more common.

While Tories contacted for this article were unfazed by the content of the leaked documents, the leak itself was worrisome.

“The concern is more about the leak than the substance, just how it got out,” a Conservative source told The Hill Times on a not-for-attribution basis.

A 70-page slideshow presentation the Conservative Party’s executive director, Dimitri Soudas, delivered to its national council earlier this month at a downtown Toronto hotel and other documents were sent anonymously to The Toronto Star on February 9. The paper immediately broke several stories outlining the contents in what made for fascinating reading for those outside the Conservative bubble.

Rumours about the leak’s origin have circulated since the documents landed in a Star inbox. Some speculated the leak was planned but reporter Susan Delacourt dismissed that in a blog post, as did public editor Kathy English in a February 14 piece explaining why the paper reported on the documents. Ms. English said the Conservatives told the Star not to publish the material, saying it was stolen, and considered going to court to stop publication.

Others speculated there was a mole within the party, but The Globe and Mail reported that Mr. Soudas dismissed this claim in a meeting with the party caucus after the leaked documents were reported on. The paper reported that Conservative sources blamed the leak on someone with access to a computer used by the Conservative Party’s national council for a meeting at a Toronto hotel.

A Conservative source confirmed this version to The Hill Times, saying two computers were used at the conference for projecting and printing. It was clear where the documents came from, the source said, because all those files were only ever together on those two computers.

But another Conservative wasn’t convinced by this explanation and was concerned about a leak from inside.
Most of the Conservatives the source talked to don’t believe the explanation offered by the party, either, the source said.

“No, I don’t [believe the explanation]. I would never use an in-house computer for something like that. It defies logic. If they did, they need a new technology person,” the source said.

The Harper Conservatives are known for strong message discipline and tight control by the upper echelons of the party. The source said Conservative insiders are concerned that if these leaks become an ongoing practice, it could damage the party.

The reason for the leak, according to Conservative insiders the source spoke to, is that the party has been in power for about eight years and over time, like any other party, individuals have developed “grudges”; with the possibility of a leadership campaign before or after the next federal election, these leaks could become even more frequent.

“The longer you’re in power, the more internal fights and grudges that build up. It’s inevitable. After you’ve been around for about eight years, it’s personalities and conflicts and all that stuff. As we go further down the road, we’re going to see some leadership jockeying taking place,” the source said.

Former Conservative strategists were unfazed by the content of the documents, saying there wasn’t anything out of the ordinary in the strategy outlined in the 70-plus pages—except that it was all written down and shared in the national media.

“The main thing that jumped out at me was who was stupid enough to put it in writing?” said Keith Beardsley, a former Deputy Chief of Staff in Stephen Harper’s PMO, now a Partner at True North Public Affairs, in an interview.

“I guess I can’t fathom that someone would put that in writing.”

Otherwise, Mr. Beardsley called the documents a “standard game plan,” containing nothing particularly exciting, shocking or surprising. The type of discussion revealed in the leaks is “almost generic to any political party” a couple of years ahead of an election, he said.

Michele Austin, a Senior Adviser at Summa Strategies and a former Chief of Staff to Conservative Cabinet Ministers, also didn’t find anything too revealing in the reports.

Page 2 of 4

“It just reconfirmed everything that we’ve been talking about, that this is the long game, that Harper isn’t going anywhere, we’re entrenched, and we’re doing everything we can to make sure we get out the vote and keep everybody here and keep the majority. I didn’t find any of it surprising,” she said in an interview.

The documents lay out a quarter-by-quarter blueprint for 2014 to prepare for the 2015 election, the Star reported. The goal? “Ensure we don’t wake up on October 20, 2015 with Justin Trudeau as Prime Minister.”

The strategy features a “renewed focus” on communications, including “rapid response” and using strategists to be “proactive in the news,” the Star cited the documents as saying. The communications goal is to drive the party’s narrative contrasting Mr. Harper’s “strong, stable leadership” and Mr. Trudeau’s “poor judgment” through rallies with Mr. Harper and Cabinet ministers, a greater online presence and a grassroots focus.

This would begin at the Liberals’ biennial convention last weekend, where Conservatives would try to drive the narrative that Mr. Trudeau lacks judgment and is in over his head, including gimmicks like distributing Trudeau rolling papers to reinforce the idea the Liberal leader only cares about legalizing marijuana.

In an interview last week, Conservative MP Tom Lukiwski (Regina-Lumsden-Lake Centre, Saskatchewan) wouldn’t comment on the specifics of the leaked documents because he said even if the documents are authentic, he finds it inappropriate to comment on internal party strategy.

He declined to comment on why his party appears to be more concerned about Mr. Trudeau.

“In my riding, I will not be paying any more attention to one particular candidate over the other. I’ll be trying to convince the constituents of Moosejaw-Lake Centre-Lanigan that I would be the best representative for them and I concentrate on trying to win my particular election, not on what my opponents may or may not be doing,” Mr. Lukiwski said.

Conservative MP Peter Goldring (Edmonton East, Alberta) said he had not seen the documents. However, he speculated that if his party’s national strategy is indeed more concerned about the Liberals, it could be because they’ve won federal elections whereas the official opposition New Democrats have not.

Mr. Goldring said that the NDP’s key electoral victories in the last federal election were in the province of Quebec, and said it’s highly unlikely they would win back all the seats. He said that if some of the NDP-held seats swing to the Liberals, Mr. Trudeau’s party could become a formidable force in the next election.

The documents did not mention Opposition Leader Tom Mulcair.

NDP caucus chair Peter Julian (Burnaby-New Westminster, British Columbia) said that contrary to the Conservative Party’s wishes, the next federal election is going to be between the New Democrats and the Harper Conservatives.

“[Mr. Mulcair] dominated the Question Period over the course of the fall [sitting of Parliament] and the Conservatives’ biggest concern is that if it becomes a fight between Tom Mulcair and Stephen Harper, they can’t win that fight,” said Mr. Julian.

He said the documents failing to mention Mr. Mulcair is a ploy to distract the public.

“It’s an interesting ploy that the Conservatives are using and the journalists I’ve talked to can see through it,” said Mr. Julian.

He said the three Liberal leaders before Mr. Trudeau all enjoyed extended honeymoons in the polls before faltering.

“I’ve been an MP for 10 years. I saw Mr. Martin spike up when he became prime minister. I saw Mr. Dion spike up, I saw Mr. Ignatieff spike up. Every time there was a new Liberal leader, there was a spike up and people said, ‘Oh, gosh, this person is going to win.’ And what happened, inevitably—all of the problems, a sense of entitlement, all of the difficulties that the Liberal Party has were eventually exposed. People chose other parties,” he said.

According to an online poll of 1,034 Canadians by Ipsos-Reid-CTV released late last week, Liberals are leading the pack with 37 per cent support followed by the Conservatives with 29 per cent and the NDP at 24 per cent. The poll, which was conducted between February 14-18, had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Mr. Beardsley wasn’t surprised that the emphasis was on Mr. Trudeau in the documents.

Page 3 of 4

“You go after the one who seems to be rising and Trudeau’s the one,” he said. “He’s got a different approach to politics, at least on the surface, and he’s engaging. So he just becomes your target and over the next two years your aim is to at least knock his support down or have people question [him].”

Some of the broader strategy The Star reported includes connecting Prime Minister Stephen Harper (Calgary Centre, Alberta) more to people and leveraging his wife, Laureen, including through a “With Mrs. Harper” video series.

“You have to use the assets you have and she’s an asset, so put her out front and centre,” Ms. Austin said.
Mr. Beardsley said the discussions on Ms. Harper’s role have been taking place for years.

“She can certainly soften the image,” he said. “The Prime Minister comes across as stern. It’s unfortunate that his public profile isn’t the same as his private one but he comes across like that and she can certainly soften the image. She appeals to a broad spectrum of people.”

With the Harpers’ two kids getting older, Ms. Harper probably has some more freedom to get involved in politics, Ms. Austin said.

“I’m not sure she’ll be able to go out and convert people but she’s certainly, where voters waver, just send Laureen into the crowd and they come back into the fold. She’s much more of a people person,” she said.

Mr. Soudas outlined three priorities in the documents: raise more money, increase the Conservative vote, and motivate more volunteers, The Star reported, and the party plans to develop its war room this spring.
The documents laid out a strategy to create a “Conservative digital nation,” which involves ads on Facebook, YouTube promoted videos, Google ads, and Twitter Card buys and hashtag campaigns.

It includes a new donation page for mobile devices and a new conservative.ca website with “landing pages” to draw people in with issues before engaging them as donors, volunteers or voters. The Star used the example of a page on the Conservative site headlined, “Stop giving heroin to addicts,” which outlines its position on safe injection sites and says a Liberal or NDP government “would make this heroin-for-addicts program permanent,” asking readers to “stand with us” and sign up.

The documents also describe plans to scrape information from other sites to identify supporters. The example used in The Star article is a Facebook post by conservative Ottawa radio personality Lowell Green of CFRA that received 55 “likes”; the party was able to identify 38 constituents from the page, five of whom were current members or donors, which meant the other 33 “would be a ‘warm contact’ for engagement.”

The documents also showed the Tories looking to incorporate social media into election-day strategy. The party plans to use a Facebook application to “‘position an object in front of a precise group of people (defined by us)’ and ask the question: ‘Have you voted yet?’” The Star reported. Those who haven’t voted can then be targeted directly by phone while those who have will receive a badge their “friends” will see that says, “I Have Voted, Have you?” the article says.

Chad Rogers, a former Conservative staffer who’s now a partner with Crestview Strategy, said the Conservatives have always been ahead with digital tools and that the other parties are working hard to catch up, especially Mr. Trudeau’s Liberals.

“I think the Conservatives are rightly deciding to raise their game and do the stuff that elected Barack Obama,” he said.

Mr. Beardsley said the election day Facebook strategy is just a modern extension of get-out-the-vote strategies.

The documents show the party is still working on replacing its “constituency information management system” (CIMS) database with a new system called CVote. The Star reported the Conservatives are working on upgrading CIMS and syncing it with CVote.

There was also information regarding how the Conservatives are adapting to the riding redistribution that will see 30 news ones contested in 2015. The Tories are speeding up nominations to help incumbents in nomination challenges and to “tap into parliamentary resources where possible,” The Star said. The party is developing “incumbency tactics” to help sitting MPs and will use touring Cabinet ministers to get regional organizers on board, the Toronto daily reported.

Page 4 of 4

Mr. Lukiwski said that his party has not made a final decision on whether they want to hold the nominations of incumbent MPs first or not. But he confirmed Mr. Soudas consulted Conservative MPs to get their input on when to hold nomination contests.
“Certainly, the party’s been very, very good about that. Dimitri Soudas, who is the new Executive Director, has spoken with all MPs, asked for their opinions and their advice as to the timing of when a nomination could or should be held. So, they’re taking all of that information into consideration before making a final decision,” said Mr. Lukiwski who will run in the newly created riding of Moosejaw-Lake Centre-Lanigan, Saskatchewan with his old riding eliminated in the redistribution.

Mr. Beardsley said this is the difficulty with open nominations - balancing the interests of challengers and strong MPs.

“Your better MPs are usually the busiest ones and have the least amount of time to spend in their ridings organizing,” he said.

Parties can help incumbents by limiting the amount of time to sign up new members and by raising the MP’s profile in the House of Commons, he said.

The documents also describe the need to rebuild relationships with the party caucus. “We need to rebuild confidence with caucus from the PMO and HQ,” Soudas’s presentation said, according to The Star.

Mr. Beardsley said this goes back to the much-discussed crisis within the Tory caucus last year following revelations that Mr. Harper’s former chief of staff, Nigel Wright, paid suspended Conservative Senator Mike Duffy $90,000 to cover his housing expense claims. The PMO has been looking to re-establish trust, Mr. Beardsley said.

“Caucus always gets nervous when they see things going wrong or if they see negative headlines. It’s a normal reaction for any politician who relies on the public for their job, so I think it’s a matter of PMO reaching out and reassuring caucus that they’re on the ball, they know what they’re doing, and they’re listening,” he said.

This becomes easier as an election approaches, bringing the team together, he said, with caucus feeding concerns from members’ ridings more into the PMO and to the party.

“Your survival depends on each other so as the election closes in you will get some people who will get nervous but at the same point you realize that you’ve got the guy who’s leading you, you better line up behind him and offer whatever advice you can but you’re on the same team so start playing,” Mr. Beardsley said.

mburgess@hilltimes.com
arana@hilltimes.com

Sunday, February 23, 2014

To serve and protect ..... seniors!


Exclusive footage of 'Helicopter Pete' dropping in on Andrew Leslie attempting to convert him to Conservatism!

Former Defence Minister 'Helicopter Pete' McKay getting ready to 'drop in' on Andrew Leslie.
Shortly after landing trying to convert him to Conservatism?

And now for the e-mail .....
Andrew Leslie, PMO discussed possible jobs emails show

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's office and the conservative Party had an extended conversation with Lieutenant-General Andrew Leslie about a number of possible positions, according to documents obtained by The Star. 
Andrew Leslie told the Liberal convention in Montreal on Friday that he had conversations with a number of political parties after his retirement in 2012 but came to the conclusion to join Justin Trudeau's team as an adviser. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

By Alex Boutilier
Staff Reporter
Friday, February 21, 2014


MONTREAL—Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s office and the Conservative Party had an extended conversation with Lieutenant-General Andrew Leslie about a number of possible positions after his retirement from the Canadian Armed Forces, according to documents obtained by the Star.

Leslie had been talking with key members of the Prime Minister’s Office about possible jobs, including a leadership position with the RCMP and at Ottawa’s Museum of Civilization, for at least two years before declaring himself for Justin Trudeau’s Liberals, emails show.

In addition, a Liberal source with knowledge of the discussions said Leslie was encouraged to run for the Conservatives against incumbent Liberal Mauril Bélanger in the Ottawa-area riding of Vanier, or in Conservative MP Gordon O’Connor’s riding of Carleton-Mississippi Mills.

Leslie told a crowd of Liberal supporters at the party’s biannual policy convention in Montreal that he had held discussions with several political parties, including the Conservatives, before settling on joining Justin Trudeau’s team as a Policy Adviser. He’s also widely expected to run in the 2015 election in the Ottawa-Orleans riding, although he declined to say so Friday.

Leslie also suggested recent attacks from the Conservatives, particularly surrounding media reports that taxpayers footed the bill for the retired general’s $72,000 in-city move in 2012, have been motivated by sour grapes.

“I’m a Liberal . . . I don’t know if any of you noticed, but one of the other political parties doesn’t seem to be taking the news so well,” Leslie told the delegates at Montreal’s Palais du congrès Friday afternoon.
“I want to tell them, ‘Look, it wasn’t you, it was me.’ But you know what? After this last week, it was really them.”

Requests for comment to the PMO and the Conservative Party about the email chain went unanswered Friday. Earlier in the day, Conservative Party Director of Communications Cory Hann said Leslie had approached the party - although he declined to elaborate on any details.

“His lack of judgment and defence of excessive taxpayer spending further underscores why he is Justin Trudeau’s Senior Adviser,” Hann said.

Leslie was not available for comment on the emails Friday afternoon.

The conversations between Leslie and the PMO date back as far as June 2011, with Leslie discussing a position at the former Museum of Civilization across from Parliament Hill in Gatineau, Quebec with Harper’s then Deputy Chief of Staff. When Leslie apparently wanted to pursue another opportunity, he was told no problem.

“I have now spoken with (former Minister of Heritage James) Moore. All is good on that front. The screening committee advanced two names to the Minister - and one of them was yours,” Derek Vanstone, who left the PMO for an executive job at Air Canada in June 2012, wrote.

“The minister will simply select the other candidate, and appreciates your interest and your honesty in these circumstances.”

Leslie again spoke with Vanstone in September 2012, according to the emails, about a possible position with the RCMP, which he ultimately declined.

“After a great deal of thinking, I have decided to not pursue the RCMP position,” Leslie wrote on September 28, 2011.

“If there were no other suitable candidates then duty would kick in, as I would never say no to the PM. But I do not think this is the case.”

It’s not clear what position Leslie was being considered for. The RCMP’s current Commissioner, Bob Paulson, was appointed November 21, 2011.

The emails reveal an abiding Conservative interest in Leslie, and a willingness on Leslie’s part to consider working with Harper’s office after leaving the military.

While Leslie admitted Friday that he had discussions with “several” political parties, including the Conservatives, he said the “divisive” politics of Stephen Harper’s Conservatives ultimately pushed him toward Trudeau’s team and message of positivity in politics.

Harper’s apparent divisive approach did not seem to bother Leslie in 2012, when he approached former Conservative Party Executive Director Jenni Byrne - widely seen to be one of the most rabidly partisan people in Harper’s inner circle — about life in politics.

“I am out of the country with my corporate team for about the next three weeks, off and on. When this settles down I wonder if we could talk about option B, continuing to serve my country but not in uniform,” Leslie wrote on September 4, 2012.

“Would love to sit down and chat again,” Byrne, who now serves as Harper’s Deputy Chief of Staff, replied the following day.