Sunday, May 26, 2013

"You're All A Bunch Of Cock-A-Roaches!"

After the Globe and Mail article allegedly outlining the alleged drug dealing past of the alleged Doug Ford (allegedly), he took to the airwaves in a loud and oft-times rambling attack on the media, the Globe and Mail editor in chief and pretty much anyone who stuck their finger through the cage.

It's hard to know what works  better - Rob Ford's stoney and uncomfortable silence or Doug's bombastic bluster.

All I know is that if you're going to deny allegations of a drug dealing past, maybe you should talk to a wardrobe consultant first...

"First you get the money, then you get the power,
then you get the fridge magnets..."

Saturday, May 25, 2013

"Robocall" Judgment - A Victory For The Conservative Party?

Conservative spokespeople have been making the rounds claiming the decision in the "robocall" vote suppression case vindicated them and was a clear victory for the Conservatives. (Actually, the calls were both live and recorded, so "robocall" is a bit of a misnomer.) 

While the case ultimately decided that the election results should not be overturned, it was hardly the unsullied victory the Conservatives want Canadians to believe.

First of all, in his decision released May 23, 2013, Federal Court Mr. Justice Mosley made a finding that "it has been established that misleading calls about the locations of polling stations were made to electors in ridings across the country, including the subject ridings, and that the purpose of those calls was to suppress the votes of electors who had indicated their voting preference in response to earlier voter identification calls." [p.88] 

He also points out that the calls "appear to have been targetted towards voters who had previously expressed a preference for an opposition party (or anyone other than the government party)..." [p. 92]  That statement alone makes it clear who was the only group supposed to benefit from the calls - the Conservative Party.

This, the court determined, was fraud: "I find that the threshold to establish that fraud occurred has been met by the applicants." [p. 88] 

Mr. Justice Mosley also determined that "the most likely source of the information used to make the misleading calls was the CIMS database maintained and controlled by the CPC, accessed for that purpose by a person or persons currently unknown to this Court." [p. 88]

Over a year ago I wrote about the CIMS database and the collection of non-supporter voter information and how this could only have come from Conservative campaign canvass information collection.

The Conservative claim to victory in the current case is in several findings by the judge. First, the judge said "There is no evidence to indicate that the use of the CIMS database in this manner was approved or condoned by the CPC. Rather the evidence points to elaborate efforts to conceal the identity of those accessing the database and arranging for the calls to be made." [p. 88]

The Conservatives are portraying this to mean that they have been cleared of any involvement in the voter-suppression calls. In fact, it means the "elaborate efforts to conceal the identity of those accessing the database and arranging for the calls to be made" successfully left no evidence of who made them. It's not exoneration - it is merely the absence of evidence. 

The Conservatives would like you to think that a finding of "no evidence" is the same as innocence. It isn't, especially when read together with the previous finding that "the evidence points to elaborate efforts to conceal the identity" of the perpetrators. The judge is saying we don't know who did it because they covered their tracks well.

After finding the conduct of person or persons unknown using the super-secure Conservative CIMS database to direct the voter suppression calls was fraud, Mr. Justice Mosley found that there was no available evidence (mostly, he says, due to the nature of the crime) that the voter suppression campaign had an impact on the election's outcome. He called it "thin and widespread". For that reason - essentially because it could not be proved that it was effective, although the applicants introduced polling data that suggested it could have been - he declined to overturn the election results.

That is a victory for the sitting Conservative MPs, if not for the integrity of our electoral process - something Mr. Justice Mosley expresses concern for and notes is the subject of an ongoing investigation.

Mr. Justice Mosley also affirms, by denying the Conservative motions to dismiss the case due to delay or because the Council of Canadians was partially funding the litigation ("champerty"), that the court will generously uphold the right of citizens to defend the integrity of our fundamental right to expect free, fair and clean elections regardless of technical arguments. [pp.44-48]

However, Mr. Justice Mosley kept his harshest comments about the conduct of the case by the Conservative Party of Canada and the respondent Conservative MPs for the end, when he made his ruling on costs.


The costs award and the reasons are nothing less than a public, pants-down spanking of the Conservatives and their counsel from a normally very reserved Federal Court.

In determining who should pay the costs of the case, the judge reviewed the conduct of the parties. He used the strongest judicial language to express his extreme displeasure with the Conservative respondents' conduct. It is worth looking at those paragraphs in whole:

[261] These proceedings have had partisan overtones from the outset. That was particularly evident in the submissions of the respondent MPs. In reviewing the procedural history and the evidence and considering the arguments advanced by the parties at the hearing, it has seemed to me that the applicants sought to achieve and hold the high ground of promoting the integrity of the electoral process while the respondent MPs engaged in trench warfare in an effort to prevent this case from coming to a hearing on the merits.

[262] Despite the obvious public interest in getting to the bottom of the allegations, the CPC made little effort to assist with the investigation at the outset despite early requests. I note that counsel for the CPC was informed while the election was taking place that the calls about polling station changes were improper. While it was begrudgingly conceded during oral argument that what occurred was “absolutely outrageous”, the record indicates that the stance taken by the respondent MPs from the outset was to block these proceedings by any means.

[263] The preliminary stages were marked by numerous objections to the evidence adduced by the applicants. The respondent MPs sought to strike the applications on the ground that they were frivolous and vexatious, to have them dismissed as champertous and to require excessive security for costs, in transparent attempts to derail this case. 

As to the costs of the case itself - who pays for the long and costly legal proceedings - the judge made his displeasure with the Conservative MPs and Conservative Party keenly felt.

He wrote: 

[260] I am mindful of the fact that in this instance the applicants have received guarantees of indemnification by a non-governmental organization which has been raising funds for that purpose. But it is also apparent that the respondent MPs are supported by the resources of the party to which they belong, resources which are underwritten by taxpayers. 

Justice Mosley begins by awarding the Applicants their costs for the numerous and time consuming pre-trial motions:

"The applicants are, in my view, entitled to be awarded costs on each of the pre-hearing motions in which they have been successful on a solicitor and client basis to be paid jointly and severally by the respondent MPs. This applies also to the champerty motion and the motion to exclude the Graves evidence which was brought initially in relation to the Don Valley East application and then deemed to apply to each of the other applications." [p. 94]

These motions likely make up the bulk of the time and cost of the action. This is where the big money in legal fees probably is. Most importantly, the judge awards these costs on a scale called "solicitor and client". That means actual costs paid by the applicants to their lawyers, which is the most expensive and punitive scale available. Usually costs are awarded on a lesser "party and party scale". 

Almost always costs go to the winner of a case, but not this time. Mr. Justice Mosley explains that there is a public interest involved, but he also makes it abundantly clear he was penalizing the Conservatives with costs for their combative and obstructionist conduct of the case.

On the respondent MPs' costs, he says: "Apart from the motion costs, and with the above considerations in mind, I am inclined to order a modest fixed amount for the costs of the hearing." He emphasizes the word "modest", as in, don't expect much. No soup for you.

As for any other respondents who opposed the application, the judge orders them to pay their own costs.  

So, a victory for the Conservatives? Yes. Their MPs get to keep their seats, and in the end that's all they care about.   

But we have a legal finding that the 2011 General Election was in fact marred by fraud; that the source of the fraud was likely the Conservative Party's CIMS; that whomever committed the fraud went to great lengths to cover their tracks; and that the Conservative Party and its representatives will go to great lengths to "block these proceedings by any means" and "derail" justice.  

So, a victory? Only if you don't count a judicial finding of election fraud, a scathing indictment of the Conservatives from the Federal Court that reveals their low opinion of justice and democracy, and the way they do business.  

Read the complete 95-page judgment here:  

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Harper's View on Government Corruption - 2005

In his speech to caucus on May 21, 2013 in response to (if not actually about) the PMO-Senate-Duffy $90,000 cheque scandal, Harper invoked his commitment from 2005 to cleaning up government and the highest ethical standards.

I looked up Harper's public response on April 21, 2005 to Prime Minister Paul Martin's address to the nation regarding the sponsorship scandal. It makes interesting reading in light of the Wright / Duffy / Wallin scandal [ironic emphasis highlighted]:

Harper's reaction to the PM's speech
CBC News Online | April 21, 2005

Here is the full text of Conservative Leader Stephen Harper's speech in reaction to Paul Martin's address to the nation.
My fellow Canadians.

We have all just witnessed a sad spectacle -- a prime minister so burdened with corruption in his own party that he is unable to do his job and lead the country, a party leader playing for time, begging for another chance.

This is not how a prime minister should act.
A prime minister should not be addressing the population on this partisan issue, but rather on the concerns and challenges with which we are confronted: the health-care system, international trade, agriculture, the fiscal imbalance, safer communities, stronger families and a cleaner environment.

In the last election, Canadians elected a minority Parliament.

Over the past year, we Conservatives have worked productively with the other parties, particularly the other opposition parties, to make this Parliament effective.

Even last night, after months of resistance on the part of the government, we adopted a motion to ensure full compensation to all victims of hepatitis C through tainted blood.

If this Parliament is not working today, it is because the government has not made it work, because the government has no vision for the nation, because Mr. Martin is consumed by the image of corruption, crippled by dithering instead of deciding.

But we have now a more serious problem.

Mr. Martin received his mandate by holding an election before any of the facts of the sponsorship scandal were known.

Last May, it was Mr. Martin's decision to shut down the public accounts committee in its attempt to get to the truth.

It was Mr. Martin's decision to call an election last year before a single witness had been heard by Justice Gomery.

And it was Mr. Martin's decision to turn a blind eye to it all when he was minister of finance.

Do Canadians really believe that the No. 2 man in a government now under a cloud of corruption, is the person to clean up that mess today?

Do Canadians really believe that the Gomery inquiry would be operating if the Liberals had won a majority?

And do you really believe that the Liberals will ultimately prosecute themselves and hold their own to account?

I don't believe that. I don't think you believe that.

All of this creates a great deal of difficulty for us as the official Opposition.

The two other parties, the Bloc Quebecois and the New Democratic Party, have already voted to defeat this government several weeks ago.

The Conservative Party has tried to work with the government on issues where we can support its initiatives.

But how can we continue -- politically, ethically, or morally -- to prop up a government that is under criminal investigation and accusation of criminal conspiracy?

That's the real hard question that our caucus will address as they travel across the country the next week.

Let's be under no illusion.

However, the partisan politics of the next election play out, the Liberal Party of Canada has done tremendous damage to this country's institutions, particularly in Quebec.

Never forget that the sponsorship scandal is not a Quebec scandal.

It is a Liberal scandal that took place in Quebec, a Liberal scandal that took place in Quebec in the name of Canada and in the name of national unity.

The Liberal Party has turned federal politics in Quebec into a choice between separation and corruption.

And one thing is now clear -- the Liberal Party can no longer speak for federalism in Quebec.

It is tarnished beyond redemption, because Quebecers know it is beyond redemption.

Federalism must be rebuilt in Quebec by democratic options, founded on principles.

We are going to offer a democratic Conservative option.

We want Quebecers to choose Canada, and given an honest choice, Quebecers will always choose Canada.

But we must realize that what Quebecers will not do is choose corruption. They will not choose the Liberal Party.

The challenge for people outside Quebec is to show that we are equally prepared to demand accountability; to hold Mr. Martin and his party responsible and to build a united Canada where Liberal corruption has no place whatsoever.

Fellow Canadians, we all have difficult decisions to make.

Our party will make those decisions in our own way and in our own time, as we've done all along and we will do with your guidance.

Fellow Canadians, Mr. Martin's speech tonight was not about saving this country. It was about saving the Liberal Party.

That's a question for the voters to decide, but let me assure you there's no need to save this country. There's only a need to move it forward.

The Conservative Party wants to give this country direction. We want, and we believe you want, to end corruption and restore honest financial management; to have a health-care system that Canadians can count on when they need it; to better use the talents and credentials of new Canadians; to fix the fiscal imbalance plaguing our provinces and municipalities; to act on a made-in-Canada plan for cleaner air, water and land; to help our hard-pressed agricultural community and resource sectors; to give tax relief for Canadian families; and safety and security for our streets and our communities.

I look forward to sharing all of this with you, and more, in the near future.

Thank you, and good night.

Ethical Amnesia - Too Good To Be True

As the Duffy / Nigel Wright / Harper mess unravels and casts a light under the mossy rocks of Harper's government, someone pointed me to this quote that has been making the Twitter rounds:
“At worst, he personally ordered it done and chose the people who executed the plan. At the very least, he fostered an attitude within the party [...], chose the managers of the people who committed these crimes and completely and utterly failed to exercise any oversight, supervision or leadership. In the end, it doesn’t really matter where [his] actions or lack of them fall on that scale. He is the leader and a leader is responsible for the actions of the people he leads. If he had a right or honourable bone in his body, he’d admit that and resign immediately.”
This was reported to have come from Harper during the Gomery Inquiry. I tried to find the source for it and couldn't find any reference back beyond March, 2012. Turns out that even though it has appeared on numerous media outlet sites and politicians' webpages, it was  written about Harper, and not by him. It does mimic his pre-PM 'Holier Than Thou' voice well.

In the meantime, have a look at the longer genuine statement Harper made on corruption that I posted here - almost as full of ironic goodness - Harper's View on Government Corruption - 2005.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Poster time!

Seriously, I spend more time updating my satirical Conservative posters to keep on top of the scandals. I think this is my 3rd and 4th (and probably not my last) Mike Duffy posters

Then there's Commander Hadfield's return to Earth to find Canada a very different place...

"You Maniacs! You blew it up! God damn you all to hell!"

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Hipster Harper?

There was actually a meme about Harper being a hipster - don't ask me, I don't make these things up. I just jump on bandwagons. So here's my contribution.

Harper Drunk Tweets

The title really says it all. The #HarperDrunkTweets Twitter hashtag was created by @torquilcampbell. Here are my contributions for posterity.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013