Michael Ignatieff admits debt delinquency

Michael Ignatieff just sent me an email:

The email ends with a couple of links to his donation page.

What will be the consequences for Michael Ignatieff?

Will Elections Canada provide special treatment for Liberals that run afoul of its rules?

If so, what are the broader consequences for the Conservative Party’s argument that the government body is biased against them?

How much does Ignatieff owe?

Does this indicate that the Conservatives are better at raising money from their membership than the Liberals are? Why are Liberal members disengaged? Why aren’t Liberals giving?

Does the SHAMBA foundation risk losing its charitable status?

UPDATE: Globalive’s PR people gave me a call

UPDATE: Liberal/SHAMBA association suggested by form found on Liberal Party website

Gerard Kennedy, the former Liberal leadership contender and current Liberal candidate for Parkdale High Park is holding a fundraiser tonight in order to pay off his leadership debts.

Here is the Facebook page for the event

The fundraiser is to take place with the help of the SHAMBA foundation, an organization that oversees the SHAMBA space. The concept is simple but quite original; the SHAMBA space is a rooftop patio lent out to charitable organizations to hold events. According to the foundation’s website:

The fun part – and the cornerstone of the SHAMBA foundation – is the creation of a brand new 2,500 square foot rooftop terrace designed for fantastic events that raise money for great causes. The SHAMBA Space, as we call it, is available for local charities to use at no cost to host events. In addition to donating this exquisite space, SHAMBA also negotiates sponsorships with food and beverage partners to ensure that the bulk of funds raised at an event actually go directly to the cause.

The generous concept is that of Globalive CEO Anthony Lacavera, a Gerard Kennedy leadership supporter according to data at Elections Canada.

Gerard Kennedy, like some other Liberal leadership candidates, needs to pay off his Liberal leadership debts by June 3rd or else he will run afoul of Elections Canada. Anthony Lacavera seems like a good friend with a great foundation that is helping Kennedy pay off his debts. So what’s the problem here?

The SHAMBA foundation is a registered charitable organization according to the Canadian Revenue Agency. Also, registered charities are prohibited from partisan political activity under the law.

A registered charity cannot be created for a political purpose and cannot be involved in partisan political activities. A political activity is considered partisan if it involves direct or indirect support of, or opposition to, a political party or candidate for public office.

One hopes that Gerard Kennedy will move his fundraiser to a different venue because the purpose of the SHAMBA foundation is to provide free event space for charities. According to the Facebook page, the foundation is the location for the event. If the space is not being provided for free, one hopes that Kennedy is paying fair market value for event space that never seems to be rented for a fee. Even so, should this charity be mixed up with partisan political activity?

UPDATE 5/30 4:30pm: Globalive’s PR people just gave me a call to admit that the Gerard Kennedy fundraiser was erroneously billed/described by the promoters of the event. The SHAMBA space is used for charitable events but for the intents of the Gerard Kennedy event the space should be thought of within the Globalive domain (a company) rather than that of the SHAMBA foundation (a charity); the Gerard Kennedy fundraiser took place on Globalive property rather than that of the SHAMBA foundation and though it is the same space the space takes different identities depending on the – or rather this – context. I was assured that Gerard Kennedy paid fair market value for use of the space from Globalive and that the space was not made as a donation from the company.

UPDATE 5/31 5:55pm: Here is the registration form for the event (still live on the LPC(O) website). The form clearly has the logo of the SHAMBA foundation (a registered charity). This doesn’t seem to simply be an erroneously written Facebook listing. The event is officially billed as a SHAMBA foundation/Gerard Kennedy event. I think that the earlier PR call may have been a sort of after-the-fact damage control revision of history. Charities cannot participate in partisan political activity. This form from the Liberal Party website suggests that the SHAMBA foundation and the Liberal Party have an association.

Read this doc on Scribd: Political Ideals Celebration

Maxime Bernier resigns

At 7pm this evening, the Prime Minister announced that he received an offer of resignation of Foreign Affairs minister Maxime Bernier this afternoon and accepted it. Bernier informed the Prime Minister that he had been careless in keeping classified documents secure while he was in a relationship with Julie Couillard. The Prime Minister has emphasized that the personal relationship of Mr. Bernier wasn’t the business of the state – or of the public.

Indeed, close relations of cabinet ministers including spouses, other romantic interests or family are neither cleared for such information (rated at Top Secret or even TS:SA), and they are not vetted by those that protect the government. Essentially, keeping of department and state secrets is the role of each and every minister and Bernier has admitted an inexcusable lapse in judgment regarding the security of classified information.

The Prime Minister is to board a Challenger jet within the hour for an extended multinational European trip and the settling of this business was urgent prior to his departure. Ms. Couilliard’s interview this evening with French-language network TVA would have heightened the opposition’s tone to fever pitch and it’s no secret that all three opposition parties were to focus on asking for Mr. Bernier’s resignation over the next week and up until Parliament rises for the summer break. In resolving this matter, the government gets somewhat of a reprieve from a scandal-obsessed opposition, still hungry despite recent setbacks in their narrative as the RCMP cited no evidence in the Cadman affair and the recent absolution of the Prime Minister’s outgoing chief Ian Brodie in the NAFTA-related leak which now seems to be refocused on the Canadian embassy and consulates in the US rather than upon PMO. By clearing the deck of the Bernier issue, the Prime Minister’s office will construct a narrative of promptly dealing with issues of substance and holding the line on fabrications from the opposition.

The opposition gets a trophy today in Bernier’s resignation. The context of failed fishing trips by the Liberals will be sadly neglected by the Press Gallery; the vicious mood among a number of scribes in this town is not that Cadman and Brodie were simply fish tales, but rather the ones that got away.

Today was a bad day for Conservatives, but it represents an opportunity for the government move forward on its agenda without this distraction.

UPDATE: Here is Maxime Bernier’s letter of resignation.

The Right Honourable Stephen Harper
Prime Minister
Room 313-S, Centre Block
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6

Prime Minister,

This is to inform you that I am resigning my post as Minister of Foreign Affairs, effective immediately.

I informed you late this afternoon that last night I became aware that I had left behind classified government documents at a private residence.

Prime Minister, the security breach that occurred was my fault and my fault alone and I take full responsibility for my actions.

I have asked the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade to conduct a thorough review of the situation.

Thank you for the trust you have shown in me. I will do everything I can to serve the government well in my capacity as Member of Parliament.

Yours truly,

Maxime Bernier

Liberal boulevard lined by glass houses

while a boy named Iggy throws stones.

CTV (May 25th, 2008):

Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier has embarrassed this country and it should be for the last time, says Deputy Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff.

The House of Commons resumes Monday after a week-long break. The official opposition is expected to ask Bernier to resign from his cabinet post after the minister made an empty-handed promise to an aid agency.

How soon Michael Ignatieff forgets.

National Post (October 11th, 2006):

MONTREAL – Michael Ignatieff, the front-runner in the race for the federal Liberal leadership, has accused Israel of committing “a war crime” during its conflict with Hezbollah last summer.In an interview on a widely watched Quebec talk show, Mr. Ignatieff apologized for comments in August when he told a newspaper he was “not losing sleep” over an Israeli bombing that killed dozens of civilians in the Lebanese village of Qana.

It was a mistake. I showed a lack of compassion. It was a mistake and when you make a mistake like that, you have to admit it,” he told the French-language Radio-Canada program Tout le monde en parle.

The brightest bulb in energy conservation

As a follow-up to my earlier David Suzuki post, here’s a picture that was taken on a trip to Kingston last fall. I’ve been looking for a reason to post it since. My friend Rob told me he had spotted something interesting on Highway 15 South and that I’d get a laugh out of it. So, we packed the camera equipment and set out sometime after midnight. A short drive just outside of the city we spotted it, but only first after doubling back; though monstrous, it was difficult to locate due to partial obstruction from some small trees and brush and to its government-mandated minimum distance from the road lest anyone be so captivated by its message that it could cause harm on our highways. Thankfully, we have regulations on road-side advertising in this country.

David Suzuki Billboard – Click to enlarge

There it was, shining like a beacon over the city. Long after the destruction of our civilization by tidal waves and mass flooding, future archaeologists may discover this among the ruins and may only speculate as to its significance. Was this man their god, or perhaps a king that ruled over the land? Previous civilizations have worshiped the sun, but what was this object that hovered supernaturally in this figure’s hand? Was it iconic of that which they revered? The archaeologists may speculate that our civilization fought wars over much of the same that ancient history has taught befell previous peoples; they will wonder whether if it was war over resources, or perhaps adherence to an ancient and mystic religion that destroyed us or whether it was a mix of both. Did we perish due to battles fought between those that adhered to the mysticism dictated to us by our elder shamans and the agnostics and atheists that dared to disagree with their dogma? Past civilizations have fallen due to rogue invaders and barbarians outside of their borders. Future historians may question why we may have perished due to the same while we were distracted by the bright and so-called illuminated.

You’ve got the power, Dave. And your slightly obstructed billboard situated about 500 feet from a rural road does too.

How fine of a line is David Suzuki walking?

David Suzuki is the head of the eponymous David Suzuki Foundation, a registered Canadian charity that advocates on environmental issues.

Among the issues that are central to the Suzuki Foundation’s main issue campaign of climate change awareness is the introduction of a carbon tax. The Suzuki Foundation website states:

Canadian businesses and individuals can dump as much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as they want–free of charge. We used to think that was OK, but global warming unveiled the limited capacity of the earth’s atmosphere.

Putting a price on carbon, through a carbon tax or through a cap-and-trade system, has been widely accepted as the most effective instrument to reduce carbon dioxide—a greenhouse gas.

Fair enough. The Foundation is advocating on a particular policy issue to effect political and social change.

Today, from CTV.ca’s summary of David Suzuki’s interview on that program,

Famed environmentalist David Suzuki has strongly backed Liberal leader Stephane Dion’s emerging carbon tax plan and slammed the NDP and Conservatives.

After hearing the NDP’s criticism of Dion’s plan, Suzuki said: “I’m really shocked with the NDP with this. I thought that they had a very progressive environmental outlook.”

“To oppose (the carbon tax plan), its just nonsense. It’s certainly the way we got to go,” he said Sunday on CTV’s Question Period.

QP’s host, Jane Taber asked Suzuki,

Taber: “So are you saying that the Harper government is failing us on the environment?”

Suzuki: “Absolutely, absolutely”

David Suzuki, as an individual, is entitled to his opinion.

Consider Revenue Canada’s restriction on political activities by registered charities:

A registered charity cannot be created for a political purpose and cannot be involved in partisan political activities. A political activity is considered partisan if it involves direct or indirect support of, or opposition to, a political party or candidate for public office.

CTV’s Question Period interviewed Suzuki for the purpose of commenting upon Dion’s carbon tax plan. While slamming the previous Liberal governments for inaction on climate change, Suzuki’s condemnation of the NDP and Conservatives and support for Dion’s position could be interpreted as partisan political activity.

The technical loophole here that keeps this legal is that David Suzuki and the David Suzuki Foundation are two entities whose activities are separate.

However, as the David Suzuki Foundation advocates for a carbon tax while David Suzuki supports one party’s position on carbon tax while condemning the policies of the other two parties, how nuanced is the difference?

ADDENDUM: I don’t fault Suzuki for walking a fine line. In fact, I believe that any level of political activity should be considered charitable. Political parties shouldn’t be the only organized political entities that should have the ability to issue tax receipts. Until that time, David Suzuki treads carefully.

UPDATE: Treading a fine line? He may have already crossed it here,

Environmentalist David Suzuki savaged Prime Minister Harper over global warming in front of a gymnasium full of elementary school students and their parents on Friday.

Later, he furiously lashed out at Albertans, calling rapid development of the oilsands “insanity” and a “disaster.”

Suzuki, who was invited to speak at Altadore elementary school and accept $835 collected by the students for his foundation, asked the kids what Harper’s main priority was after being elected last year.

He told the room some of his message was directed at the adults, because the youngsters don’t vote and Harper and other politicians don’t care about them.

“It’s up to your mom and dads to ensure your futures and livelihoods are part of the agenda,” he said to about 185 students ranging from kindergarten to Grade 6.

Collecting money for your charitable foundation while blasting the Prime Minister on policy and encouraging children to have their parents put an issue on the agenda could easily be deemed political activity and very inappropriateby the government. Again, according to Revenue Canada,

“A political activity is considered partisan if it involves direct or indirect support of, or opposition to, a political party or candidate for public office.

Does David Suzuki’s Foundation still qualify for charitable status?

Chuck Cadman, RCMP closure and the last Liberal stretch

RCMP:

[the] “investigation disclosed no evidence to support a charge under the Criminal Code or under the Parliament of Canada Act” (emphasis added)

The Liberal Party of Canada:

“The ethical standards of a Prime Minister must be above those of the evidentiary rules for prosecution under the Criminal Code” — Dominic Leblanc

Incongruent spin from the Liberals:

Mr. LeBlanc said while he fully accepts the RCMP’s determination that there is insufficient evidence to proceed with criminal prosecution, he believes Mr. Harper and the Conservatives have a duty to give Canadians all the details of the offer that was made to Mr. Cadman.

If Dominic Leblanc “fully accepts” the RCMP’s assessment, how can “no evidence” to support a charge become “insufficient evidence” for the same? Mathematically, “no evidence” equals zero, while “insufficient evidence” is less than one.

The only ongoing legal proceeding on this matter is a result of Stephane Dion’s inappropriate and allegedly libelous statements against the Prime Minister. The Liberals should stop stretching the truth to smear the Prime Minister and accept that this issue with provide no more mileage and that their gamble on this attack only weakens their credibility on the other scandal narratives that the party has constructed.

We get letters: In response to Jeffrey Simpson

The following comes from a good friend who read Jeffery Simpson’s Globe and Mail column today and found himself a bit perturbed at the lacking quality of Simpson’s arguments for the National Portrait Gallery to be located in Ottawa. My friend doesn’t get to do a lot of this sort of creative writing in his job, so I’m glad to post it here with his permission.

Mr. Simpson makes the quite excellent point that the private sector really shouldn’t house our portrait gallery and that the portrait gallery shouldn’t leave the capital because, after all, no other country does it that way.

No! Its not about the potential beauty of some new facility in some new city. After all, what could be more arrestingly beautiful than the status quo? It’s certainly not about the efficient use of tax dollars. How crass to worry about how we spend other peoples money when the issue is the arts. I mean….just look at the CBC. Who but a philistine would begrudge those tax dollars given the artistic sitcoms that the CBC produces. The new Portrait Gallery could even model itself after the CBC except the CBC has moved to Toronto which is impossible because it should be in Ottawa where all the other art stuff is, except for the other art stuff like Telefilm that moved to Montreal.

And of course it’s certainly not about putting the Portrait Gallery where whole new swaths of the country could appreciate it. What kind of ugly ideology would support that? I’ll tell you what kind, a very, very ugly one.

Anyway….if anyone has an ideology that is worth following it is Jeff Simpson who is easily Canada’s most articulate proponent of the ideology of sameness. We should do it the same way as we always have, because that’s the way we’ve always done it. We should do it the same as the Americans because its the only thing that they’ve ever done right.

I see now where Jeff is leading us. He’s saying that we can lead the world if we do everything the same way, but do it with even more vigour and enthusiasm than we have in the past, except we do it the same way, because that’s the way we’ve always done it. You know….I feel exactly the same way.

Former CBC News head Tony Burman to Al Jazeera

TORONTO – Tony Burman, the one-time head of CBC news, has been appointed managing director of Al Jazeera’s English operations.

Burman, 60, takes over from Nigel Parsons, who has held the position since the network’s launch two years ago. Parsons is now managing director of business acquisition and development.

“In the months ahead, I will … put an emphasis on the expansion of Al Jazeera’s vast audience reach into important new areas of the world, most notably North America,” Burman said in a news release.

He called Al Jazeera’s newsrooms the most diverse in the world with a presence in more than 50 countries.

“I look forward to capitalizing on this strength through increased investment in investigative journalism, more provocative and insightful current affairs and expansion of the network’s large worldwide network of more than 60 news bureaus.”

Burman, an award-winning news and documentary producer, left the CBC last year after 35 years at the public broadcaster, including seven as editor in chief.

In 2006, Burman oversaw CBC News’s introduction of a new look and attitude on all its platforms in response to demands that the public broadcaster try to be hipper and cooler. A survey of Canadians found that parts of the CBC News operation didn’t appeal to young people.

Al Jazeera’s English channel was launched in November 2006 and is now available to more than 100 million households worldwide.

Somehow, this makes sense for the former CBC News editor-in-chief.