Tony Genco: Michael Ignatieff’s second, third, or tenth choice?

From Jordi Morgan’s Maritime Morning show on Rogers News Talk Radio in the Maritimes,

Michael Ignatieff initially courted Julian Fantino before being turned down by the former OPP commissioner now running for the Conservative Party in Vaughan. Mr. Ignatieff continues in the interview to say that the Liberals spoke to many people to run for them in Vaughan. Why did he have to settle for former Liberal staffer, Tony Genco? If Vaughan has been a Liberal seat for over 20 years, why did Ignatieff have any trouble filling the candidacy?

Jane Taber reports,

Stephen Harper’s star candidate, Julian Fantino, was asked by Michael Ignatieff to run for the Liberals in Vaughan – but turned him down, according to the Conservatives.

Now, on the eve of Monday’s vote, the former Toronto police chief and OPP commissioner is being subjected to what the Conservatives consider character assassination by the Liberals.

And so the Tories are fighting back. They are charging hypocrisy and are breaking their silence on a secret they’ve kept since the beginning of the by-election campaign.

“We were aware from the beginning of the campaign that Mr. Ignatieff asked him to run for the Liberals,” Conservative Party spokesman Fred DeLorey said. “We had no intention of making it public – but to see the Liberals actually attack his character and integrity, a man who has committed his career to public service and fighting crime, is just too much.

UPDATE: Greg Rickford’s SO-31 in the House today,

Tony Genco pops up at Queen’s Park

Peter Shurman alleges that Tony Genco handed out about $150,000 in bonuses to the the CEO of York Central Hospital and her chief of staff. He allegedly did so in his role as former treasurer and chair of the hospital. Shurman also points out that the CEO that received the bonus from Genco has also donated $1,500 to the McGuinty Liberals. York Central Hospital ran a $4 million deficit last year and an $11 million deficit this year.

In other news: $12 million landed on York Central Hospital’s doorstep yesterday, courtesy of the Ontario Health Minister:

An early Christmas gift was unwrapped at York Central Hospital Tuesday morning as Ontario’s Minister of Health and Long Term Care Dr. Deb Matthews announced $12.1 million in additional operating funding for the health centre.

Peek-a-boo politics

The Liberals are complaining that Julian Fantino, the Conservative by-election candidate for Vaughan is playing “Peek-a-boo politics” by skipping all-candidates debate. For Liberals, they hope, this plays into a bit of a weak narrative of a secretive and scripted government that doesn’t want to engage “real Canadians”.

“This type of ‘peek-a-boo’ politics is straight out of the Harper playbook where scripted, invite-only photo-ops keep candidates safely out of reach of real people with real questions.”

All-candidates debates, while they sound great in principle, have very little value to the candidates themselves, especially if they represent mainline parties. If you’ve ever been to one of these events you know that each candidate brings their staff and volunteers and cheers and jeers and “engagement” with the “voting public” comes in the form of planted question after planted question. All-candidates debates sound good on paper, but in practice they’ve become farcical. All-candidates debates are more accurately described as “all-decided”.

In fact, when we used to train campaign managers (of all stripes) at the Manning Centre, we advised that all-candidates debates should actually be avoided if possible. Why? Because more accessible (leaning or undecided) voters are met at the door or on the telephone. A candidate’s time is much better invested knocking on doors or by doing telephone canvassing. All-candidates debates turn into a competition for fevered applause versus exaggerated boos for all candidates. The media is disappointed when a candidate is a no-show, of course, because these “debates” are a lazier opportunity for “getting the pulse” of the “electorate”. In fact, we used to advise candidates show to as few as possible in order to check the box for the media.

The Liberals should also be careful with the “Peek-a-boo” label as they’ve been guilty of their own charge in the past,

From a Globe and Mail report during the Liberal leadership race of 2008,

The weekend brouhaha at a meeting of Liberals from Ontario made it clear that Mr. Ignatieff is viewed as the leading contender, and that Mr. Rae’s first goal is to ensure his opponent does not quietly coast through the race.

On Sunday, Mr. Rae boycotted a leadership “forum” where candidates were to take questions from riding presidents and other party officials, after Mr. Ignatieff refused calls from his two rivals to open the session to reporters and cameras.

Mr. Rae accused Mr. Ignatieff of preparing a “peekaboo” campaign.

“There is a fray: It’s called a leadership race. And you can’t very well stay above it. If you want to stay above it, you’re not going to be in it,” Mr. Rae said outside the meeting at a Mississauga hotel.

“The Liberal Party is a political party. It’s not a private club.”

Don Cherry calls Vaughan residents for Julian Fantino

The Cherry bump? Will Don Cherry’s endorsement of Fantino convince Vaughan residents to turn out to vote for the former OPP commish on November 29th? Ken Dryden supports Genco but how can you go wrong when you’ve got Grapes on your bench?

The Tony Genco ATIP request

The Tories are concerned that Downsview Park is stalling on releasing information regarding Tony Genco’s tenure as that organization’s CEO. Genco is the Liberal by-election candidate for Vaughan and was appointed CEO of Downsview Park in 2005 during a round of patronage appointments by Paul Martin’s PMO.

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Edmonton Expo 2017

In addition to Don Martin’s story in the National Post today, I’ve learned a few more details about the Edmonton Expo story:

The government’s top-line message on this has been one of fiscal restraint. This theme was starting to make rounds online last night and has been echoed by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty in Toronto today.

Shifting security costs were a main concern about the Expo bid. For example, original estimates of Olympic security had been about $175 million and rounded out to about $800 million when all was said and done. Organizers of the Edmonton Expo have projected security costs at $85 million, a figure which the Public Safety minister has dismissed as very conservative for a 90 day event. Actual security costs are projected closer to $1 Billion.

Alberta itself is in deficit and Alberta Finance minister Ted Morton released a provincial fiscal update describing a province in the red, projecting a deficit of $5 billion by year end.

The 2010 Shanghai World Expo had major cost overruns. Originally estimated to be $4 Billion, the cost ballooned to about $80 billion by some reports. Further, there is little evidence that a “world expo” does enough to promote the host country outside of its own borders. Olympic Games, however, are seen to be a major international success by most outside observers.

Don Martin has suggested that the nixing of the Edmonton Expo bid has also scuttled government funding for a Quebec arena. I’ve learned from sources in the PMO that this isn’t necessarily true. The government contends that funding for professional sports facilities remains the responsibility of the private sector. If any funding is to be granted it must be fair and evenly spread across the country. However, the government emphasizes that Canada is in a period of fiscal restraint.

George Galloway on the assassination of Rafik Hariri

“Everybody should be aware that the verdict of the Mehlis inquiry was already fixed before he began his investigation. This murder of Hariri was deliberately planned and executed precisely to implicate Syria and to set in train the events which have unfolded.” — George Galloway

Related: Neil MacDonald’s bombshell report on the network that allegedly assassinated former Lebanese PM Rafik Hariri.

MacDonald reports,

A months-long CBC investigation, relying on interviews with multiple sources from inside the UN inquiry and some of the commission’s own records, found examples of timidity, bureaucratic inertia and incompetence bordering on gross negligence.

Among other things, CBC News has learned that:

– Evidence gathered by Lebanese police and, much later, the UN, points overwhelmingly to the fact that the assassins were from Hezbollah, the militant Party of God that is largely sponsored by Syria and Iran. CBC News has obtained cellphone and other telecommunications evidence that is at the core of the case.

– UN investigators came to believe their inquiry was penetrated early by Hezbollah and that that the commission’s lax security likely led to the murder of a young, dedicated Lebanese policeman who had largely cracked the case on his own and was co-operating with the international inquiry.

– UN commission insiders also suspected Hariri’s own chief of protocol at the time, a man who now heads Lebanon’s intelligence service, of colluding with Hezbollah. But those suspicions, laid out in an extensive internal memo, were not pursued, basically for diplomatic reasons.

Of note: George Galloway is currently on tour in Canada

It gets better despite the United Nations

The Toronto Star’s Haroon Siddiqui describes how Canada suffered a “humiliating failure” at the United Nations for failing to get that coveted seat on the Security Council:

CAIRO—The sizeable Arab and Muslim bloc at the United Nations did play a big role last month in Canada’s humiliating failure to get elected to the Security Council.

This is the assessment of Amr Moussa, secretary-general of the Arab League, which represents 22 nations with 280 million people. These states are also members of the Organization of Islamic Conference, which represents 57 nations with 1.4 billion people worldwide.

When Canada failed for the first time in the history of the UN to win a council seat, it was speculated that Europe had voted as a bloc for Portugal, the winner.

Or that many African states may also have done so, because Stephen Harper had reduced foreign aid to parts of that continent.

Or that the Arab-Muslim states, the biggest UN bloc, may have retaliated for Harper abandoning Canada’s long-standing neutrality in the Middle East and making Ottawa an apologist for Israel. Moussa confirmed this in an interview here.

In the latest news from the UN,

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Arab and African nations succeeded Tuesday in getting a U.N. General Assembly panel to delete from a resolution condemning unjustified executions a specific reference to killings due to sexual orientation.

Western delegations expressed disappointment in the human rights committee’s vote to remove the reference to slayings due to sexual orientation from the resolution on extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions.

Canada should experience no shame in losing out on the Security Council seat.

In fact, our country is acting to make it better despite the best efforts of the United Nations,

OTTAWA – The cause of gay refugees who flee persecution in Iran only to face harassment in Turkey has caught the attention of the federal immigration minister, who says Canada is willing to facilitate their resettlement here.

Jason Kenney wrote the Canadian office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to urge quick processing of their applications after a story appeared last month in the Toronto Star.

That story centred on Iranian Arsham Parsi, now a Toronto-based advocate whose “Iranian Queer Railroad” project tries to help gay and lesbians in legal limbo in Turkey reach Canada or the United States.

“I can’t imagine more legitimate grounds for protection than folks who are facing potential execution in Iran for their sexuality,” Kenney said in an interview. “These are people who are clearly in need of protection, and Canada has already received a number of gay and lesbian Iranian refugee claimants through the UNHCR, typically through Turkey.”

Conservatives acted where Tony Genco refused

Tony Genco is the Liberal by-election candidate in Vaughan. He was appointed CEO of Downsview Park in a patronage spree by Paul Martin’s government in 2005:

Jack Aubry’s May 28, 2005 piece:

OTTAWA – With a snap election hanging over their heads, the Martin cabinet quietly oversaw a patronage spree during the last month as it neared a too-close-to-call vote in the House of Commons that threatened its hold on power.

The Liberal government hurriedly approved about 450 orders-in-council starting around the time in April when Prime Minister Paul Martin prepared to address the nation in a televised broadcast to plead his case for a delay in holding a federal election.

In the flurry of orders, Martin approved such patronage appointments for Liberal supporters Robert Fung, Hope Sealy, Tony Genco, Margaret Weir, Jean-Louis Hamel, Guy Saint-Pierre, Peter Clark, and the well-connected Marcel Aubut.

Genco landed the Downsview park gig.

One issue that challenged Genco when he was CEO comes to us via Rabble.ca,

After hearing complaints from the LGBT community about the controversial performer’s violently anti-gay lyrics (sample: “Queers must be killed!” “Give me the Tec-9/Shoot dem like bird”), Parc Downsview Park CEO Tony Genco has refused to pull dancehall act Elephant Man from an upcoming show scheduled for this Sunday Oct 10 at the federal park.

This is Elephant Man’s (real name O’Neil Bryan) second scheduled performance in the Toronto area this year. Back in August, he was scheduled to perform at Circa nightclub in downtown Toronto but the club decided to drop him from the concert after club officials received complaints and were informed of his homophobic lyrics. Word of the show had spread to the LGBT community via Twitter and Facebook and only hours after announcing the show, Circa sent this tweet: “Circa stands for peace, love and equality. Elephant Man has been removed from the Celebrity Ball.”

Now, over a week after receiving complaints and being fully briefed about some of his lyrics (eg. “Log on and step pon chi chi man/Log on and step on a queer man”), PDP CEO Tony Genco refuses to pull Elephant Man from the show at the federal venue even after a privately-owned club decided weeks ago — in the spirit of “peace, love and equality” — he should not perform on their stage.

So, what happened? John Baird, the federal minister in charge of Downsview Park was alerted to the controversy by Olivia Chow. The article continues,

[UPDATE]: An official release is expected from Parc Downsview Park but a spokesperson has confirmed that Elephant Man has been pulled from the show, saying “we have been directed by Ottawa to pull Elephant Man.” Earlier today after this article was posted to twitter and spread by dozens of users, MP Olivia Chow also shared it with her followers – adding: “Protest now & copy to Minister Baird #cdnpoli” (#cdnpoli is a popular Twitter hashtag amongst political tweeters). Her tweet with the link to this page found its way to Minister Baird and soon after the announcement was made by the Park that Elephant Man had been pulled. Later, Chow tweet: “From Downsview Park: directed by Ottawa to pull Elephant Man. Min Baird listened.”