The video that the Liberals don’t want you to see

According to ThePolitic.com, YouTube user “liberalvideo” has complained to Youtube and had the now famous “shipping label” video removed because of a trumped up and false “copyright claim by liberalvideo”. I posted about the video here (the YouTube video on that post is now broken). Obviously, “liberalvideo” is the Liberal OLO. Why are the Liberals only now concerned about property rights? This is somewhat ironic given that this scandal is based upon a massive violation of Conservative property rights by Liberals. I present the original video below, from a “journalistic perspective” (fair use/dealings) since this story (and now, the cover-up) is newsworthy. The video is hosted at Blogging Tories, far from Liberal reach and manipulation. The “shipping label” video will remain there, as an archive, so that future generations may appreciate and study this dreadful chapter of Canadian politics. It will become known as the “Holland/Jennings Incident”.

The forbidden video:

What’s one of the cardinal rules of politics? Cover-ups make the news even bigger.

Sorry Stéphane, you might think that this is unfair, but it’s politics.

An interesting question

When Mark Holland and Marlene Jennings carted property of the Conservative Party of Canada outside of the Wellington building, did they enter into another legal jurisdiction?

The Liberals retained the Conservative boxes full of confidential documents for over one year and rifled through them, looking for dirt. This while documentation was available to them that clearly indicated that these boxes were processed for delivery from the former Conservative OLO to the Conservative Resource Group. One might argue that the boxes were stolen. (If one intercepts your mail, opens it, keeps it for a year, photographs it and then returns it, did one in fact steal it?)

Parliamentary precinct security is the purview of the Speaker. The Wellington building, of course, falls under the Speaker’s jurisdiction. The boxes were to be delivered to the third floor of the same building to the Conservative Resource Group. However, Holland and Jennings took Conservative property outside of the building and paraded it down Wellington street down to Langevin Block and to the PMO. Wellington street is outside of the jurisdiction of the Speaker and indeed within the jurisdiction of the Ottawa Police Service. If Holland and Jennings had returned the boxes without fanfare, one could reasonably argue that they were finally doing the right thing and returning property that clearly wasn’t theirs (albeit their actions still suspect). However, since they coordinated a media stunt around the returning of the boxes, one could argue that the two Liberal MPs were not only in possession of stolen property but that they got use of that property in the municipal jurisdiction of Ottawa.

Do Holland and Jennings have to worry about the possibility of having committed a crime outside of the comfort of the Speaker’s jurisdiction and within that of the Ottawa Police Service? Were Jennings and Holland in possession (and use) of stolen property on Wellington street in Ottawa?

The case of the missing boxes

Yesterday, I had a good chuckle at the manufactured stunt recorded on video and displayed on the Liberal Party website. Apparently, Liberal MPs Mark Holland and Marlene Jennings called the media in to help them deliver some boxes “left over” at the OLO (Office of the Leader of the Opposition) at 180 Wellington st. to the PMO just a few blocks away.

You can view the Liberal video here

In the video, Holland states that

  • documents were “left behind” in the OLO
  • documents contain personal evaluations of OLO staff (documents marked confidential)
  • Holland’s argument is that this represents “gross negligence” on behalf of the Conservatives (now the government). In fact, the Liberals are playing this into a theme of “accountability just being a buzzword to the Conservatives” etc.
  • Jennings repeats the talking point of government negligence with private information.
  • Holland states that the government will have to “answer for its negligence”

    Now, take a look at the following video found on Bourque:

    This video includes a closeup of the delivery slip attached to one of the boxes which includes “From: 145 Well / To: 320-3”. 145 Well is the room number of the OLO in the Wellington Building, and 320-3 is the office number of the Conservative Resource Group (CRG), an outfit working out of the same building.

    When Mark Holland made his triumphant parade down the street from the OLO to the PMO, he could have just taken the elevator in the building which houses the OLO to the CRG on the third floor.

    This brings up another interesting point. The boxes were clearly marked with a delivery slip and were thus not “negligently” left behind, but were ready for moving (presumably during January 2006 when the Conservatives formed government). What got in the way of the delivery process? Did the Liberals find some boxes with highly confidential information in them only this week? If not, how come they waited so long to “return” the documents? What got in between the processing of the boxes for delivery and the actual delivery of the boxes (by House of Commons movers)? When they discovered “private” and “confidential” information, did the “accountable” Liberals do the right thing? Or did they videotape the documents, publish the video and play the offended party?

Earthquake in Quebec

Mario Dumont is the big story in Quebec tonight. The right-of-centre populist leader of the ADQ came from five seats to 41. Dumont himself had predicted 12-15 seats. He now finds himself as the rudder of a censured Liberal minority government.

Indeed, because of the very fresh breakthrough of the ADQ, it was unknown how the seats would be distributed and at certain points of the night, it appeared as though the party might even form government.

Now Dumont has a solid opposition against Charest’s Liberal minority. Since Charest and the bloodied Boisclair will likely face leadership contests during this next sitting of the Quebec Parliament, Dumont will have a chance to show Quebec that his party can be a responsible political broker, much like Stephen Harper is showing Canada with respect to his own right-of-centre party.

Dumont will have a bigger microphone (and conversely, a brighter spotlight) as he stands on the platform of opposition leader. The time that Dumont spends during this sitting of the Quebec Parliament will give his party an opportunity to mature (in shadow cabinet rather than in the actual one).

On the sovereigntist Parti Quebecois, this election represents a disastrous result as the party hasn’t been so battered since 1970. We may not even see another referendum on sovereignty for another decade or more.

Again, this represents good news for Quebec as the governance of that province can focus upon real issues for Quebeckers (finance, healthcare and education) and we may see a reconfiguration of the Quebec political scene on a left-right axis rather than the now classic federalist/sovereignist one. Dumont signaled that the province has turned the page politically and has “entered the 21st century”.

Even the PQ’s Boiclair noted that Quebec needs to develop in Canada and in the world. This represents an interesting insight into the evolving political scene in Quebec.

I think that it may be too soon to declare that Dumont’s success represents a new wave of conservatism in Quebec as some of Dumont’s electoral fortune was likely a result of a protest vote against the other two parties embroiled in the old Canada/Quebec debate. However, Dumont did run on family issues (such as a childcare benefit, similarly styled after the Harper plan), the economy, taxes and integration of immigrants. Notably, the only significant region that Dumont couldn’t confidently crack was the island of Montreal. The regions and the middle class delivered for Dumont (again, this sounds like Harper). The election of the ADQ to opposition status may not represent a tidal wave of conservatism, but there’s certainly a strong undercurrent.

Dumont and Harper’s electoral fortunes may be closely linked as the autonomist is now on the radar of the decentralizing federalist. Political observers will remember the so-called “Harper fluke” of 10 seats that the Prime Minister won in Quebec during the past federal election. However, Harper came in second place in more than 40 other Quebec ridings and these regions overlap with many of the 41 ridings won by Dumont.

The Prime Minister had two solid allies in the Quebec election and they both did well. Stephen Harper will be able to tell Quebec-nervous Ontarians that the Parti Quebecois fell to third place under his Prime Ministership.

Misfire on O’Connor

Lately, in the House of Commons, Defense Minister Gordon O’Connor has found himself facing attack from the opposition benches for something he assumed was true regarding reporting of the treatment of Afghan detainees by the Afghan government.

Minister O’Connor erroneously stated that the Canadian government would be updated as to the status of detainees by an overseeing body (the International Committee of the Red Cross) after transfer to the Afghani government.

The Minister has publicly corrected the record:

OTTAWA – I would like to respond to the article in the Globe & Mail of March 8 entitled “Red Cross contradicts Ottawa on detainees”

At the outset, I would like to clarify one point. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has indeed carried out several visits to detainees in temporary Canadian custody in Kandahar. This is consistent with Canada’s commitment to cooperate with the ICRC in fulfilling its mandated responsibilities under international humanitarian law to monitor conditions of detention.

On December 18, 2005, the previous Liberal government signed an arrangement with the Government of Afghanistan regarding the transfer of detainees from the Canadian Forces to the Afghan authorities. As per this arrangement, we continue to transfer all persons detained by the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan to Afghan authorities, and to notify the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

The article makes reference to comments that I made in the House of Commons last May. It was my understanding that the ICRC could share information concerning detainee treatment with Canada. I have recently learned that they would in fact provide this information to the detaining nation, in this case Afghanistan. …

It appears that the Minister received some bad information.

The Liberals have seized upon the mistake in a press release issued on their website:

…Earlier this month Mr. O’Connor was forced to admit his assertions that the International Committee of the Red Cross would notify Canada of any mistreatment of prisoners in Afghan custody were false. The Red Cross is not required to notify Canada concerning the treatment of detainees transferred to Afghan prisons, and unlike Britain and the Netherlands, Canada has not retained the right to verify that transferred detainees receive proper treatment. …

The Liberals are piling on O’Connor for his mistaken impression. The Liberals, if they had been in power would not have made the same mistake, would they? Perhaps they would have ignored the assertions of departmental officials and bureaucrats regarding the ICRC and Afghan detainees.

Consider a National Defence Joint Doctrine Manual on the topic of how to handle detainees in international operations. On page 133, in a section titled “The Transfer of Prisoners of War”, section 2c states:

Even after PW (prisoner of war) captured by Canada have been transferred to the custody of another nation, there is still a residual responsibility placed on Canada regarding their treatment. If the Government of Canada is notified by the Protecting Power, usually the ICRC, that the Detaining Power to whom the PW have been transferred is not complying with the provisions of the GCs (Geneva Conventions), Canada has a duty to correct the problem, or to take the PW back into Canadian custody.

It appears that the Minister may have received bad advice from the department officials and one should conclude that the error is not reflective of the competence of Minister O’Connor.

How long has this incorrect, official government document been floating through the system?

Since August 1st, 2004. This is long before O’Connor took over as Minister of Defense. In fact, a Liberal Defense Minister (Bill Graham) was operating under an erroneous policy since the time this document was drafted (perhaps earlier).

It would seem that the fault on this issue lies with department bureaucrats rather than our Conservative and Liberal Defense Ministers.

UPDATE: In case you may be wondering, the Joint Doctrine Manual cited above is, to this date, the CF authority on PW and detainee handling. Of course, it is now known to contain false information which may lead current and future Defense Ministers down the wrong path.

The Code of the Centre Block Schoolyard

“The Prime Minister should apologize” whines Her Majesty’s Loyal Official Opposition in reaction to Stephen Harper’s latest attack on the sensibilities of the Liberal Party. This week in the House, in reaction to a call from Stephane Dion for the Defense Minister to resign, the Prime Minister retorted,

“I can understand the passion that the leader of the Opposition and members of his party feel for Taliban prisoners. I just wish occasionally they would show the same passion for Canadian soldiers.”

How dare he? Who does he think he is? Liberals are offended!

Of course, this brings up thoughts of the recent incident involving the Prime Minister and his quoting from a recent Kim Bolan article (which was included in Quorum that day, no less) which suggested familial ties between a Liberal MP and the Air India investigation. Outrage from the Liberal benches! How dare he? The Parliamentary Press Gallery went into a tizzy and questioned the Prime Minister’s tactics and found him to be quite rude in his reading.

Of course, baiting the Liberals is turning into a sport for Mr. Harper. The now famous attack ads on Stephane Dion famously put a spotlight on the Opposition Leader’s whine “This is unfair!” to then-opponent and fellow leadership candidate Michael Ignatieff.

The main street Canadian, as PMO strategic whiz Patrick Muttart’s psychographics must show, is not very likely to sympathize with the pain from the verbal bruises that Stephen Harper is handing out to the Liberal benches. Frankly, those of us who live outside of the Parliamentary bubble understand that tattling to the adults (the public and the press, in this case) in the face of Prime Ministerial bullying isn’t likely to earn much respect. In fact, this is a thread on which the press, by sympathizing with Dion, is finding itself out of touch with Canadians. When Peter MacKay allegedly implied that his former girlfriend Belinda Stronach was a dog, the press covered the incident for two weeks and while claiming that the public was being turned off by the degrading decorum in the House, the press felt that the story had enough traction to sell tons of newsprint. We weren’t sold on the outrage; we were tuned in because of the same reason why kids drop what they’re doing and converge whenever they hear the far off words “fight, fight, fight” during recess.

Similarly, when Stephane Dion whines that Stephen Harper is being unfair, he is not appealing to our sense of sympathy, he is unwittingly appealing to our schoolyard instincts. Nobody likes the whiner and his whiny mother in the press gallery who called our parents and the principal (besides, we’re pretty sure that our dad can beat up his dad). Instead, we all like the guy with the snappy comeback.

Too bad for Stephane, he can’t whine and take his ball home. This Parliament is Harper’s and our pal Steve is the king of the court.

LIBERAL DEBRIEF: I figured that this would be necessary. This article does not condone bullying. It is in fact a piece of creative writing that describes the parliamentary arena as if it were a schoolyard full of children. The piece describes the dramatis personae including the bullies, the victims, the other kids, the parents and even the principal. If Harper is the bully and Dion is the victim, we’re the other children and we act as such (like it or not), and we reinforce the model. As parliamentary observers, we tend to reflect the psychology of schoolyard children when it comes to observing Harper being aggressive with Dion. When Dion cries “unfair”, he doesn’t get sympathy from the rest of us.

Schoolyard analogies aside… Dion is all grown up now, and he has a job in federal politics.

UDPATE: The National Post weighs in (3/24):

“This is certainly a pattern,” Mr. Dion told Parliament, referring to the Prime Minister, “where he acts as a bully and I don’t want to follow this way, I don’t want to do that.”

Then don’t follow it, Mr. Dion. Or do. Either way, stop whining like a child whose older brother just got a bigger lollypop. Act like a leader, or at least a grownup politician. Accept that in the cut-and-thrust of political jousting your opponents are going to make allegations against you and your party every bit as outsized as the ones you make against them.

Stakeholder budget interviews (videos)

On budget day, “stakeholders” gathered in the Railway room of Parliament for interviews and to give their reaction to the budget to the pool feed for the television networks. I met a few interesting people who were representing various organizations. I interviewed a few of them on camera.

Green Party:

The Greens passed on the budget even though it was the most activist in history with respect to the environment. ($1.5B to fight carbon emissions, green levy on gas guzzlers and rebates on fuel-efficient/hybrids, $2B for renewable fuels, a national water strategy of $93 million).

Canola Council of Canada:

Canadian Federation of Agriculture:

Institute of Marriage and Family Canada:

Gen. (ret) Lewis MacKenzie:

MedicAlert Canada:

Phil Fontaine, National Chief of Assembly of First Nations:

(On the Aboriginal file: $300 million for aboriginal housing, $14.5 million over two years for aboriginal justice programs, $35 million over two years to get more natives into the labour force, $20 million over two years for native fishermen in Quebec and Atlantic Canada. — source: National Post)

Canadian Institute of Actuaries:

Canadian Alliance of Student Associations:

National Anti-Poverty Organization:

Work Research Foundation:

Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives: