Scandals, Conservative Party of Canada. 2006-2011 (Always under construction)

Ottawa: Den of Iniquity

UPDATE 2012: I’ve fallen down on the job documenting Tory Scandals. Good thing The Sixth Estate has a more current list of their own.

UPDATE 2012 2: The Globe and Mail’s Lawrence Martin has another excellent list focusing on the abuses of democratic processes by HarperGov[tm]

Every government has scandals. Every. Single. One. But some have more and have them faster than others. And in that regard, the Conservative government seems to have been out the gate at a very good clip. This is a list of what I consider to be the most serious scandals of the CPC. In no particular order, and constantly updated.

Prorogation

Prorogued Parliament twice. Once to avoid a vote of no-confidence, the second ostensibly for the 2010 Olympics, but suspected to avoid discussion of uncomfortable issues. See Afghan Detainee Affair. Notable Media:

Milliken Contempt Rulings

Speaker of the House of Commons Peter Milliken finds government in contempt of Parliament on 2 counts. See Bev Oda; Withholding Information from Parliament.

Notable Media:

In and out scandal

Allegations of improper election spending during the 2006 federal election. Notable quotes:

Earlier, a Conservative MP claimed Elections Canada is showing bias towards his party in its handling of the election advertising controversy. “We’re very concerned with the conduct of Elections Canada,” Pierre Poilievre told Canada AM. -CTV

Bev Oda

Minister for International Cooperation accused of misleading Parliament. See Milliken Contempt Rulings.

Withholding Information from Parliament

Accused of withholding financial costs of specific non-classified programs to relevant Parliamentary committees and using funds not for stated purposes. See Milliken Contempt Rulings. Notable Links: Globe and Mail, CBC

Notable Quote:

The Auditor-General says the Harper government misinformed Parliament to win approval for a $50-million G8 fund that lavished money on dubious projects in a Conservative riding. And she suggests the process may have been illegal. -G&M

Notable Quote 2:

The Conservatives’ report, presented as a dissenting opinion to the Commons the morning Parliament was dissolved last month, quotes Sheila Fraser giving high marks to the Harper government for prudent spending on the summits.

The report quoted the auditor general as saying: “We found that the processes and controls around that were very good, and that the monies were spent as they were intended to be spent.”

But in a scathing letter addressed to members of a Commons committee on Friday, which was received by the clerk and members on Monday, Fraser said the quote had nothing to do with the summits.

Instead, she said, the Conservatives inserted an 2010 comment she made during a CBC News interview on security spending by a previous Liberal government after the 9/11 terrorist attacks a decade ago.CBC

Joint Strike Fighter: No bid contract

Awarded largest defence contract in Canadian history bypassing standard bidding processes. Tories estimate on price half that of most other experts. Ex. Norway purchases 4 F-35s at $219mil/ea, almost 3x’s the Tories $77mil/ea claim. Notable links: Impolitical, Globe and Mail

“To get to that number, they use several crude, disingenuous tricks. And they sprinkle a little fairy dust, in terms of ‘learning curve’ and other magical potions, to pretend it’s got some science behind it,” he said. “It’s all hogwash.”

“Ultimately,” Mr. Wheeler predicted, “the cost of this airplane is going to be about $200-million per airplane.” – G&M

Notable Quote 2:

The F-35 stealth fighter jets could cost Canada $29.3 billion, according to the parliamentary budget office — nearly double the government’s initial estimate of $16 billion. -CNEWS

Notable Link 3:

The multi-million dollar F-35 stealth fighter that the Conservatives want to purchase comes with all the accoutrements of a high-tech aircraft — everything, that is, except an engine.

The government will be required to provide engines for the 65 planes to be delivered by U.S. manufacturer Lockheed Martin, according to newly released Defence Department documents.

And…

The DND documents, which outline answers to questions about the F-35, also note that the stealth fighter could be used in a secondary role for search-and-rescue. – Ottawa Citizen

Editorial snark: Because there’s nothing you need more in a search and rescue operation than your rescue glider to be invisible.

Bruce Carson

Former adviser of the PM accused of violating lobbying regulations for the personal benefit of his spouse, amongst others. Influence peddling. Notable links: Edmonton Journal; Vancouver Sun; Tyee.

Muzzling of Environment Canada scientists

Senior Federal scientist now require government permission to speak to media as well as approval of their responses. Notable links: Tyee

End of the Mandatory Long-Form Census

Replaced Mandatory Long-Form Census with voluntary version, which overwhelming majority of statisticians, business, and NGO groups strongly feel is less useful. Rationales for doing this considered weak and shifting. Notable links: Stephen Gordon I, II

Julie Couillard Affair

Former Defence Minister Maxine Bernier was forced to resign after leaving classified documents at the home of his girlfriend, who had ties to the Hell’s Angels. Personal note: Recently, when discussing Bev Oda, my Dad was dismissive on the grounds “we don’t have scandals like we used to”. He specifically referenced the Munsinger Affair. Well Dad, this one’s for you.

Afghan Detainee Affair

Accused of foot-dragging and withholding information on Canadian Forces complicity with the torture of detainees by Afghan Army/Security forces. Notable links: Pogge. Notable quotes:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper says Canadians aren’t really concerned about allegations that the government engaged in a cover-up over the abuse of Afghan detainees.

“I think polls have been pretty clear that that’s not on the top of the radar of most Canadians,” Harper said in an interview with CBC-TV correspondent Peter Mansbridge. -TorStar

Canada Action Plan ad campaign

At $26 million over 3 months (for a program that has already ended), the most expensive ad campaign in Canadian government history. Perceived as using taxpayer dollars for Conservative Party election ads. Notable media:

Suspending the ability of Federal civil servants to strike

De facto stripping of Federal civil servants of their collective bargaining rights. See Prorogation.

Chuck Cadman Affair

Allegation of the attempted bribery of an independent MP in return for vote. Includes an unprecedented libel suit against the Liberal Party. The suit was eventually settled out of court, with both parties agreeing not to discuss the matter further. Notable link: Toronto Star

More Ethics Troubles

Christian Paradis, Sebastien Togneri, Agop Evereklian, Giulio Maturi, Dale Saip, Kasra Nejatian Notable Quote:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s administration is often described as highly centralized and controlled, but disgraced staffers almost uniformly insist they were acting on their own when they broke the rules. – CTV

General anti-democratic behaviour

Limiting access of press to Prime Minister; Misusing RCMP; Screening attendees of political rallies: Joanna MacDonald, Awish Aslam, Ali Aref Hamadi, Jim Lowther/Gary Zwicker.

Notable quote [1]:

“The RCMP assisted the party organizers in restricting access to persons not registered for the private event,” Sgt. Greg Cox said in the statement.

“This was not in accordance with the RCMP’s mandate, and RCMP members have been reminded of our responsibilities.” -CBC

Notable Quote [2]

When she pressed officials further, she was asked if she had ever been involved with any on-campus clubs. When MacDonald replied that she had been involved with various environmental groups — including one advocating for the removal of bottled water from the university grounds — she said the official responded, saying: “Well, that’s probably why.” -TorStar

Notable media:

Patronage

Not necessarily a scandal per se, but having taken a strong stance against patronage appointments while in opposition, the CPC have partaken of it in a big way. Notable links: The Sixth Estate

Monitoring and Responding to Online Communications of Private Citizens

Tory government has embarked on a program to monitor and respond to online communications on internet bulletin boards, chatrooms and blog posts.

Notable Quote:

UBC Computer Science professor and President of the BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association, Richard Rosenberg, says it seems unnecessary for the government to be going this far.  “The government has a lot of power, that it feels the need to monitor public bulletin boards, or places where people express views and then to respond to that, seems to me going beyond a reasonable action the government should be taking.” -News1130

Dimitri Soudas – The “Boss of Quebec”

Prime Minister’s long-time Communications Director faces questions over alleged kickback scandal involving the Montreal Port Authority. Notable Links: TorStar

Notable Quote:

In what sounds like a telephone conversation, two people discuss how they would work to influence the appointment process to choose the next chief executive of the Montreal Port Authority. Their choice, just like that of the federal government and the city of Montreal, was Robert Abdallah, a former executive director of the city up until 2006. He was subsequently employed by one of Accurso’s companies.

“It’s not through Leo’s relationship to (Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence) Cannon that he’s good, it’s through Dimitri Soudas,” said the voice identified as Poulin. “So far, he appears to be very capable of delivering the goods.”

They discuss “compensation” for Soudas if he can “deliver something” for them on the appointment process.

“What do you see him being able to do, Soudas?” the voice identified as Accurso says.

“He’s the boss of Quebec, the real boss of Quebec,” explains the voice identified as Poulin. – TorStar

Defunding of organizations for ideological reasons

Defunding, or cutting funding to, organizations based not on performance, but ideology and religious belief. Notable links: Pulpit & Politics

This post always incomplete! Always under construction!

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