Nova Scotia NDP fined for illegal donations

During the last provincial election in Nova Scotia, I wrote a story about a large transfer of money to the NDP on a single day,

The provincial NDP has been caught in a funding scandal during this election regarding a massive influx of money on a single day of the campaign. The hive-like organization of the NDP spreads down to its union affiliates as well. On April 9th, a resolution at the Mainland Nova Scotia Building and Construction Trades Council was passed to reimburse member unions for their individual $5,000 donations to the NDP. Essentially, this packed the contributions into a $50,000 envelope and this was passed onto NDP party HQ. The scandal here is that what was essentially a $50,000 donation was made to look like 10 individual $5,000 donations (including one from the organizing union). The NDP received the cheques on the week of May 5th. Prior to this, they received a phone call to let them know these donations were coming.

The scandal broke on May 30th when a reporter got wind of what happened and called the NDP party office asking them about the donations. The party claimed to be unaware of the cheques. Two days later, the party felt it necessary to call a press conference to declare that they would return $45,000 worth of donations.

On June 5th, 2009, the CBC published a report on its website about the NDP complaining about “defamatory” radio ads against that party during the campaign,

The NDP is demanding seven radio stations around Nova Scotia pull election advertisements produced for and paid by the Conservative Party of Nova Scotia.

The radio spots, which began running Friday, state the NDP has accepted “$45,000 in illegal campaign contributions from union bosses.”

In a letter sent to the radio stations Friday by Michael Coyle, a lawyer for the NDP, claims these statements are “false, scandalous and seriously defamatory.”

“In truth, the Nova Scotia New Democratic Party is not, and has never been accused of, or investigated for, any ‘illegal donations,'” writes Coyle.

Today, Elections Nova Scotia put out the following press release notifying the public that NSNDP has been fined the maximum amount under the relevant elections Act for the transgression.

The latest on Omar Khadr

If you’ve been following the Omar Khadr saga in Canada, you’ve undoubtedly heard about the Supreme Court’s decision to allow the Canadian government jurisdiction in foreign affairs with respect to the repatriation of Khadr. The Minister of Justice released the following statement yesterday,

“In its ruling, the Supreme Court recognized the constitutional responsibility of the executive to make decisions on matters of foreign affairs, given the complex and ever-changing circumstances of diplomacy, and the need to take into account Canada’s broader interests. The Supreme Court did not require the Government to ask for accused terrorist Omar Khadr’s return.

“In response to the Supreme Court’s ruling, the Government of Canada today delivered a diplomatic note to the Government of the United States formally seeking assurances that any evidence or statements shared with U.S. authorities as a result of the interviews of Mr. Khadr by Canadian agents and officials in 2003 and 2004 not be used against him by U.S. authorities in the context of proceedings before the Military Commission or elsewhere.

“Omar Khadr faces very serious charges, including murder, attempted murder, conspiracy, material support for terrorism, and spying. The Government of Canada continues to provide consular services to Mr. Khadr.”

The part about the formal request seeking assurances regarding evidence is interesting. The Supreme Court ruled that Khadr’s Charter rights were violated as Canadian officials were party to an illegal interrogation. A formal request from the government to for the US to reject evidence acquired in collaboration with Canadians, may cure the breach of rights that the Supreme Court references.

Earlier today, Khadr’s lawyers filed an injunction against the formal request complaining that they were not first consulted on the government’s plans. It seems that the ultimate goal for Team Khadr is repatriation of the accused murderer. The legal reality is that the Supreme Court did not compel the government to seek Khadr’s return and it is no secret that this government will never do so. However, a future government may follow this course of action. A request to expunge evidence only can help Khadr’s case. Since repatriation is out of the question for the Harper government, Khadr’s lawyers may have more hope waiting for an Ignatieff government than for their client to face justice in the United States.

Khadr’s supporters seek the 23 year old’s repatriation and reintegration into Canadian society. In Toronto, this weekend a conference titled “Media War on Islam ” was held at a Toronto-area Islamic Centre. Here’s an excerpt from the National Post,

Western media have a “spiteful policy” toward Iran of inventing “fraudulent” news to “increase false national expectation” and “encourage disturbance,” according to the cultural attache in the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Hamid Mohammadi said media deception has caused hatred and fear of Muslims by presenting the “false belief that religion is incapable of running a country” and that Iran is therefore illegitimate. He said the result has been political “position changing” by Western countries against Muslims.

He quoted an “American thinker,” whose name did not come clearly through his strong accent, to the effect that “future wars are in the hands of the media, and their words are more effective than bullets.”

Somehow, his brief scripted remarks were among the least controversial at a conference about the “Media War on Islam” on Sunday night at a Toronto-area Islamic centre, in which the Christmas Day underwear bomber was described as the tool of an Israeli plot; Barack Obama was referred to as “Mr. Black Man”; al-Qaeda was called “the figment of the imagination of the West”; and a video was shown that mocked 9/11 by putting the Muppet Show logo over slow-motion footage of the second plane’s impact, with screams of terror for audio.

According to the Post, the main organizer of the event was a man named Zafar Bangash. Bangash is the director of the Islamic Society of York region. Here are a few quotes from Zafar Bangash,

“Obama could never have been elected president if he were not a slave of the American establishment.”

“Under Obama, there is a greater chance that the US would now launch wars in Africa. A black man in the white house would be better able to pacify African-American sentiment than a white man.”

“Immediately after winning the Democratic Party nomination for president, he went to prostrate before America’s real masters: the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee.”

“The first appointment Obama made after winning the election was that of Rahm Israel Emmanuel as his White House chief of staff.”

“Obama’s presidency will not usher change; it will mean more of the same: American and Zionist crimes under a different face with a smooth tongue.”

and other troubling quotes from Bangash,

The West is “murderous, racist and virulent”

Canada is a “fully paid-up member of the Anglo-Saxon mafia, which is responsible for most of the recorded genocides in the world”

“Muslims must strive to overthrow the oppressive systems in their societies through Islamic revolutions, and not by participating in fraudulent elections organized by the elites operating through various political parties that actually divide the people.”

“Muslims have to get their own act together and unite their efforts under a single leadership — that of the leading edge of the Islamic movement, Islamic Iran — to work toward the common goals of the Ummah [Muslim World].”

you can read more here, here and here.

So, what does this have to do with Omar Khadr? Here’s Zafar Bangash with Khadr’s lawyer Dennis Edney,

CTV reported that Bangash made the following statement regarding Omar Khadr,

We have put in place arrangements whereby [Omar Khadr] will be accommodated with another family and he will be under close supervision as you can see this plan has the support of members of different faith communities and we of course are one of them, the Muslim community in Canada. He would be provided spiritual counselling as well as assessed periodically to see what kind of progress he is making.

That’s quite a support group. Here’s the CBC’s report,

Later Wednesday, Khadr’s lawyers and Muslim leaders unveiled details of a plan they say will help Khadr gradually integrate back into Canadian society during a news conference in Toronto.

The group, which included lawyer Dennis Edney, Islamic Society of York Region president Zafar Bangash and Canadian Arab Federation head Mohamed Boudjenane, urged Harper to meet with them before Obama’s visit so he can pass along a formal request.

“Call us. Meet with us. Whatever it takes. But your obligation, Mr. Harper, is to bring Omar home and allow him to heal,” said Edney.

The group has signed and delivered a three-page letter to Harper outlining details of the plan.

“We urge you to act expeditiously and request the repatriation of Omar Khadr to Canada, without further delay,” says the letter.

“Our plan is designed to allow eminent organizations, representing a broad cross-section of Canadian institutions and agencies, to take legal responsibility for designing, implementing and supervising all aspects of Omar’s life in Canada, until such time as he is able to become a fully functioning member of the Canadian mosaic.”

Khadr will live with host families and receive spiritual counselling from leading Muslim clerics, it says. Much of his living costs will be paid for by dozens of Canadian Muslim organizations.

Ignatieff the tall poppy?

Michael Ignatieff’s year in Canadian politics has been marked by ups and downs. He walked into the Liberal leadership earlier last year acclaimed as the new leader of that party after the failed attempt by Stephane Dion. In order to differentiate himself as a different kind of leader — one that could stand tall — he sought to wrestle a concession from the Conservative government on EI reform in May. Indeed, what has plagued the previous two leaders, first Martin and then Dion, was the lack of firm roots in the ground. The Liberal crop blew about as the party that defines itself as the broader middle, and one that tries to be everything to everyone, was finding itself without a firm foothold. Martin tried to branch out in all directions while Dion let the budding weeds of the Conservative party grow throughout the parliamentary plot.

However, under Ignatieff, the Liberals have not fared too much better and any planting has soon after been uprooted. On EI, for example, the ultimatum given was then rescinded — a concession for a “blue ribbon” panel to study the policy, insincerely under the watch of the Conservative Party’s Pierre Poilievre and the Liberal’s Marlene Jennings. And then inthe fall, Ignatieff must have too believed that it was a firm and definitive stand that the party lacked in supply. Ignatieff made another bold pronouncement, this time that the Liberals would no longer support the government. He hoped to give the Grits new growth, but at the same he marked the party for a brutal harvesting.

Canadians, both in the media and those that follow politics to a lesser degree, apply the tall poppy syndrome to those that would deal in our trust in our democracy. When Michael Ignatieff famously told Stephen Harper that “[his] time was up”, this focused attention squarely upon Ignatieff. The questions shifted from Stephen Harper to Michael Ignatieff.

Why do you say his time is up?
Why are you seeking an election?
Why are you seeking an election now?
What is your plan, Mr. Ignatieff?

And as the tall poppy syndrome goes for Canadians, suddenly we saw an opposition leader that we hardly knew ready to take down the government, for no real comprehensible reason. The Conservative narrative built around Ignatieff was that he was “just visiting” and that “he’s only in it for himself”. Ignatieff found that while he may have been trying to shift focus off of himself and onto the other parties supporting the government in the House, he found that now he was getting too much sunlight. Subsequently, Ignatieff’s poll numbers were pecked at and the Conservatives got new space to grow while journalists started to mention “majority”.

And then Stephen Harper prorogued Parliament. For what seemed like a routine parliamentary procedure for anyone who, well, knows parliamentary procedure, the media-driven perception was that Mr. Harper was tempting the Tall Poppy prejudice of Canadians. Whereas Mr. Ignatieff sought power for no discernible reason, rightly or wrongly the prorogation of parliament was perceived by many observers as an arrogance of power. The narrative worked, the sunlight became too intense and the Prime Minister’s poll numbers wilted. This time, Stephen Harper’s poppies got a trim from the Canadian public.

Perhaps this is to be the lesson learned about Canadian politics in the past 16 months. The first example of slicing our politics back down to size during this period was the coalition attempt by the Liberals and NDP supported by the Bloc Quebecois in December of 2008. Just seven weeks after an election that had returned a Prime Minister to power, the opposition sought to reverse the perceived order that had come from ballots. This time, the arrogance and ambition of power befell the opposition. While many Canadians saw the Bloc’s involvement in brokering a government as poison, many others were appalled by the perceived unfairness of the move. The opposition tried to stand too tall and were trimmed.

Now, as Michael Ignatieff faces poll numbers on par with Stephen Harper, will he be tempted by power? How will he manage the perceptions of the Canadian electorate? Will a defeat of the government now be perceived to be opportunism?

Anyone that seeks power to govern possesses a certain arrogance and anyone that attains power possesses the strategic skill. Therefore, in Canadian politics, arrogance and crass raw political strategy must be seen to be the character of one’s opponent. When government falls to trigger an election, Ignatieff and Harper will do their best to let the other poppy be boastful and stand too tall.

Ed Clark, CEO of TD Bank, is Ignatieff’s economic czar?

Bill Curry and Tara Perkins have the byline on a Globe story today that reports on the politics that are going back and forth between Ignatieff and the Conservatives over recent statements by Ed Clark, the CEO of TD bank regarding the deficit and raising taxes.

Here’s an excerpt,

Last week at a conference in Florida, TD Bank CEO Ed Clark said Prime Minister Stephen Harper isn’t listening to the overwhelming view of Canadian CEOs that tax increases are the best way to reduce a record deficit.

He told the conference that almost every person at a recent meeting of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives said “raise my taxes” to erase it.

The Conservatives then fired off an internal e-mail titled “Millionaire Ignatieff Economic Czar Calls for Higher Taxes.”

Mr. Ignatieff on Thursday demanded that the Prime Minister apologize to the senior banker. He said in a statement that the e-mail is the latest Conservative attack on non-partisan citizens who challenge the government’s direction, citing former deputy finance minister Scott Clark, former Nuclear Safety Commission president Linda Keen, Peter Tinsley, former Military Police Complaints Commission chair, and former RCMP complaints commissioner Paul Kennedy.

Where do the Conservatives get off labeling the CEO of TD bank an “Ignatieff economic czar”?

A review of Elections Canada financial contributions indicate that Edmund Clark gave $2000 to Ignatieff and $2000 to Rae during their runs for Liberal leadership in 2006. Clark has also given $10,857.56 to the Liberal Party since 2005. (and no others An Edmund Clark also gave a $1,100 to the Vaudreuil–Soulanges Conservative EDA in 2007).

It has been revealed that Clark had earned the nickname “Red Ed” for helping to craft the National Energy Program as an ADM in the Trudeau government in 1980. When Mulroney’s government was elected, Clark was sent walking and started his career on Bay street.

This is the first time Clark seems to have popped up in a political skirmish as reported by the mainstream press, so we’re still putting together the pieces of his partisan background.

Further, for names such as Amir Attaran and Errol Mendes which have been heavily bandied about as non-partisan experts for too long, let’s start providing some broader context shall we?

Have the Conservatives erred in labeling Clark as a died-in-the-wool Grit partisan? Digging a little deeper, we find that Clark’s full name is William Edmund Clark, and that “William E Clark” has donated roughly $11,000 to the Conservatives since 2005, whereas “Edmund Clark” (both names of the same postal code) has donated roughly $11,000 to the Liberal Party! Is Clark an equal opportunity donor to Grits and Tories but uses a more igconito name given name when donating to Tories? Inquiring minds would like to know! If true, then we cannot definitively say that Clark has acted as a Liberal agent recently despite his Ottawa tenure under Trudeau three decades ago. Are the Conservative right to label Clark Ignatieff’s czar? At this point, based solely upon donor data, we here at cannot support this conclusion.

Is Red Ed still red? The Tories say yes, the Liberals say no.

The latest in a proud history of meltdowns in our parliamentary history

New Brunswick MLA Abel Leblanc had a moment in the legislature yesterday:

I’m in a bit of a Friday mood, I’ll see if I can hunt down more youtube captured moments of parliamentarians behaving badly. Your tips are welcome in the comments.

UPDATE: Who could forget this recent highlight also from the New Brunswick legislature?

FIGHTING IRISH UPDATE: Paul Gogarty of the Irish Green Party uses some unparliamentary language (caution: language)

Libby Davies alienates Chinese Community and others over Insite

I just received this email report from Dimitri Soudas, the Prime Minister’s spokesman, today in Vancouver,

Here is Libby Davies’ tweet about the situation:

With “welcoming committe” as Harper arrives in DES. He should be in parl. Insite saves lives – crazy to appeal court decisions #fb

Insite is the program in Vancouver that is a “safe” place (as the website claims) where junkies can inject drugs. It has been an ideological flashpoint between those on the left and conservatives quite some time now.

Here are some photos from the protest in which Libby Davies and her friends are confining people, according to my source:

Davies tweeted again,

It was a peaceful protest in support of Insite (I didn’t organize). Didn’t see chains on doors. Police moved in and out freely @kady#fb

The Prime Minister’s office is claiming that the protesters put the chains on the doors that you can see above in the second and third photos.

Rob Ford set to run for Toronto mayor

Yesterday I heard this Toronto municipal news tidbit from a source close to Rob Ford’s camp who says that the conservative city councilor is “definitely in” for a shot at taking over the mayor’s office, a post to be vacated by David Miller in the next year. Today, I called Ford himself and confirmed that he had a couple of items to address with his business before he gets going on the campaign and that he plans to announce in March.

Those close to Ford say that he is building an organization and gathering the money needed to make a top tier shot at Toronto’s top job.

Ford won the #2 Etobicoke North ward with 66% of the vote during the last municipal election. Ford supporters that are concerned that the popular candidate is vacating a conservative seat on council may be relieved to hear that Ford’s brother plans on running in his place.

UPDATE: Ford is now denying the story. I should say that I spoke to him on his cell phone (last four digits: 2146) because I wanted to confirm it with the man himself. I had heard the rumour yesterday and sought to exercise due diligence by confirming it with Ford before running with the story. I told Ford exactly who I was and that I generally cover federal politics but was chasing down a municipal rumour. He told me in no uncertain terms that he’s looking to wrap up a few outstanding issues with his business (with clients in New Jersey, no less) and is looking to make the announcement in March. Excited by the scoop I thanked him and even told him that he’d probably be getting a few calls after I posted the story.