Wednesday, April 11, 2007

W. E. Coyote to investigate Roadrunner anvil scandal

I know the Conservatives are trying to cut unemployment. And I know there aren't a lot of job openings for "separatist politician" these days. But I'm not sure if a former PQ Cabinet Minister was the best person for Michael Fortier to hire to look into Liberal polling contracts.

You see, optics is everything. And the optics of having a separatist decide if an embarrassing judicial inquiry into Liberal polling practices is necessary, might lead the casual observer to think this is pretty much a good old fashioned witch hunt ("Are you now or have you ever been a member of Earnscliffe?"). And if the said inquiry head doesn't even know the name of the auditor general at his first press conference, the casual observer might think he's not exactly the most qualified man for the job.

That's not to say that it isn't worth looking into this. After all, public tax dollars should never be spent on partisan polls. I think we can all agree that public tax dollars should only be spent on non-partisan things (like, investigating your predecessors' polling practices or taking out ads against Danny Williams).


UPDATE: Oops...

Liz Thompson over at The Gazette did better than dozens of staffers at the Liberal Research Bureau, none of whom managed to dig up this fact about Daniel Paillé, the Tories' new pay-for-play separatist Earnscliffe-slayer, which everal reporters
discovered yesterday after 3 minutes on the Google machine:

[...]

In short, this is the worst example of vetting in Canadian politics since somebody hired Jean-Daniel Lafond's wife. This guy Michael Fortier's turning out to be a real 40-watter, ain't he?

23 Comments:

  • it would be like hiring Brian Mulroney's principal secretary to investigate Jean Chretien....

    oh wait

    never mind

    By Blogger Antonio, at 5:27 PM  

  • "What's the point of being in power if you can't haul your enemies in for questioning?"
    -- Josh Lyman

    By Blogger A BCer in Toronto, at 7:26 PM  

  • CG: If only we knew someone who could make this point as well as you to the wider world, say, hypothetically, commenting on the story on the popular website of the country's only mass-market magazine of politics & general interest.

    By Blogger Eugene Forsey Liberal, at 7:40 PM  

  • "Nothing to see here,

    the investigation is illigitimate,

    millions of dollars on missappropriated funds is old news".

    Phew, that was a close one. I'm sure Earnscliff will stay buried now.

    I mean, who better to tell Canadians that this is misguided investigation,

    than Liberals.

    Love it.

    By Blogger biff, at 8:45 PM  

  • Well they couldn't hire a Conservative because..clearly there would be an appearance of bias in doing so. They aren't about to hire a Liberal to investigate Liberal polling contracts. That leaves you with dippers or seperatists. I'm fairly sure finding a prominent NDP member with experience in government in Quebec is basically impossible, so that leaves you with a seperatist as an independent figure.

    By Blogger Chris, at 12:15 AM  

  • Gee Chris - I suppose the notion that they might hire someone who is not involved with politics at all just did not occur to them? What about, I don't know...a judge - like Gomery.

    By Blogger Gayle, at 12:21 AM  

  • It's all hardball all the time from Harper. Deal with it Liberals, it won't stop any time soon.

    By Blogger Calgary Junkie, at 12:38 AM  

  • I hope he keeps it up cj - he is showing his true self - hard to complain about corruption when you use federal dollars to embark on such an obvious witch hunt.

    All he had to do was appoint someone non-partisan and he probably would have got away with it.

    By Blogger Gayle, at 12:45 AM  

  • Let's see how these moves play out in Quebec. Maybe Harper can build on the CPC's 10 % increase in Quebec in the latest SES poll ? And hey, I'll bet some Chretinite Liberals are cheering Harper on, looking forward to the investigation of Martin and Earnscliffe. You can't really blame Harper for passing up on another chance to divide the Liberals. A guy's gotta do what he's gotta do.

    By Blogger Calgary Junkie, at 1:03 AM  

  • Get aload of this!

    According to Robert Fife of CTV, Fortier may have done it without harper's permission.

    Is that the spin to justify another reversal in policy?

    By Blogger JimTan, at 3:01 AM  

  • This is great fun.

    Liberals bashing the investigator and not what's being investigated.
    I think I would be more interested in finding out how my tax dollars are spent rather than partisan bickering.
    Paille doesn't claim to be a separatist anymore and he seems more than qualified to carry out the job with a stellar resume.

    How about we just find out if former PMPM and Earnscliffe are retroactively caught with their hands in the taxpayer cookie jar.

    By Blogger Amanda, at 10:55 AM  

  • Somewhere in the ether a former public figure is having a beer at the 19th hole and saying:

    "I tellin you dat dat Martin is a shady guy. I toadally tink dat Arparr should cut dat guy's b@lls off..."

    Yep. Definitely...

    By Blogger fair sailing, at 11:16 AM  

  • "And hey, I'll bet some Chretinite Liberals are cheering Harper on"

    Kinsella pointing out that the other shoe (the one Martin kept in the air) has finally dropped:

    In or about 2002, the Auditor General was urged by Jean Chrétien, and his relevant minister, to look at contracting practices at Public Works – both advertising and polling...The sponsorship part of the AG’s report became the basis for Paul Martin’s celebrated “Mad As Hell” tour...In crafting the terms of reference for Gomery, Martin and his brain trust carefully ensured that there would be no examination of polling practices – despite the fact that the same Chuck Guité controlled polling as much as he controlled advertising. Odd, that.


    "Is that the spin to justify another reversal in policy?"

    Fife's head must have been up his bum if he didn't hear Harper promising this on the hustings. Explains a lot.

    By Blogger anonymous, at 11:28 AM  

  • Amanada said

    "Liberals bashing the investigator and not what's being investigated.
    I think I would be more interested in finding out how my tax dollars are spent rather than partisan bickering."

    Actually, both CTV and CBC have said that Sheila examined the polling contracts and passed on them.

    It was Sheila's report on the advertising contracts that formed the basis for the Gomery Inquiry.

    For this reason, Fortier and harper has to explain carefully what value a private consultant would add.

    Bear in mind that much/most advertising and polling contracts are non-competitive. It makes no sense to hire a private consultant without a bidding process.

    It's bound to stir controversy, and partisan observers will say that the liberals are trying to hide something.

    By Blogger JimTan, at 11:48 AM  

  • "Actually, both CTV and CBC have said that Sheila examined the polling contracts and passed on them".

    One letter off. She pissed on it. (Martin passed on it).

    kinsella:

    She said that, in a number of cases, “departments did not establish a clear statement of the need for undertaking public opinion research”

    She said that the “government had failed to follow its own guidelines in effect at the time”

    She said that she was “concerned about the use of public funds in some cases to acquire syndicated studies on voting intentions and party image.”

    She said that she was “concerned that… practices prevented other potential suppliers from competing”

    She said that “many large contracts were awarded to a single supplier based on one bid”

    She said that “we saw no document showing the rationale for awarding a contract to any one supplier out of the several on the list”

    She said that, in some cases, “documentation was largely incomplete”

    She said that, repeatedly, “files did not demonstrate that the survey(s) provided good value for the cost”

    She said – permit me to place this in capitals, so that even Keith Boag can see it – that she was, overall, “TROUBLED” by polling practices

    By Blogger anonymous, at 2:06 PM  

  • This will be small potatoes in comparison to the coming investigation as to where the billion$ was spent on the Gun Registry. This will really make it hit the fan!

    By Blogger islandconservative, at 2:47 PM  

  • anonymous said

    "She said – permit me to place this in capitals, so that even Keith Boag can see it – that she was, overall, “TROUBLED” by polling practices"

    I wonder how harper is doing it?

    At any rate, I wonder if Sheila would be bothered by the way that Paille is being hired?

    What would be the proper way of holding an inquiry into government processes?

    a) The government could ask Sheila to follow through on her observations.
    b) The government could ask a multi-party parliamentary committee to look into the matter.
    c) The government could convene an independent inquiry with Sheila's report as the starter.
    d) The Treasury Board or Public Works could launch an internal investigation and report the findings.

    What did Fortier do?

    By Blogger JimTan, at 3:08 PM  

  • Islandconservative said

    “This will be small potatoes in comparison to the coming investigation as to where the billion$ was spent on the Gun Registry.”

    Apparently, Sheila has already audited the program. You can get more details at wikipedia under Canadian Gun Registry.

    Yes! The program was very poorly thought out and implemented. There are many legitimate complaints. The RCMP investigated a Liberal Party official (Kim Doran) about a lobbying contract. She has not been charged.

    “The causes of the cost overruns have been blamed on the inexperience of the Justice Department in managing a project of such scale. Especially crucial was that the scope of the project was in continuous flux requiring continuous changes to the basic set-up of the registry. This excuse, however, does not explain the extreme lengths the government went to in order to mislead Parliament about the cost and hide the actual amounts of money being spent.”

    In summary, the conduct of the government was unprofessional and plain wrong. However, there doesn’t seem to be the criminality that we saw in the Sponsorship Scandal.

    AS a new Liberal Party member, I do not support the old guard. They lost their way, squandered money and proved incompetent in many aspects. They have paid for it in various ways. I do not support a witch-hunt looking for sacrificial victims.

    It might be instructive if harper’s government could show how it could and should be done. Unfortunately, harper is proving to be as bad as the old guard.

    The message from the new party’s membership is reform. The old guard is resisting, but they are fading away one by one. I am willing to see what the new people can do.

    By Blogger JimTan, at 3:36 PM  

  • Would it be a witch hunt to ask where the missing 8 million from the Canada Space Agency is, as the news reports said the missing funds were connected to former mob employee/Liberal cabinet minister Alfonso Gagliano? Where are Andre Oulettes receipts for the expenses he claimed at Canada Post? Where is the missing 40 million from the Adscam theft? The victims are the Canadian taxpayers, not the shady people in the Liberal party.

    By Blogger nuna d. above, at 4:49 PM  

  • Now, isn't this special. My Liberal friends are, in effect, saying, "Hey, look at the speck in the CPC's eye" while ignoring the great big plank in their own party's eye.

    By Blogger Brian in Calgary, at 9:30 PM  

  • Nuna is not the most reliable person to lay accusations. However, this is what I gather from a search of the internet.

    After the fright of the 1995 referendum, Chretien decided or was induced to take extreme measures. Operating out of the PMO, Chretien’s personal advisors and party loyalists undertook a covert and illegal program of diverting money intended for PR projects.

    The program channeled about $100 million (out of $250 million) to associates who did little or no work. Only $1 million was funneled back to the Liberal Party in Quebec. $100,000 ended up with the PQ (?).

    The associates (Coffin, Brault and Corriveau) have been charged with fraud. Coffin received a sentence of community service because he refunded $1 million (out of $1,5 million). Brault served only 5months because he testified and pleaded guilty. Civil servant Guite received 42 months.

    Lafleur was just arrested. He is being charged for fraud of $1.5 million (out of total billings of $37 million). Does anyone know what happened to Corriveau?

    Chretien rewarded his advisors and loyalists (Pelletier, Quellet, Gagliano etc) with appointments to government corporations. This is often done by political parties in power.

    Quellet is said to have done a good job, but some of his substantial expenses were not backed by documentation. As far as I could see, there were allegations of non-tendered contracts. However, there does not seem to have been outright fraud as in the Sponsorship Scandal.

    IMO, the most serious implications from this scandal were the organizational failures within the government and the Liberal Party. It was these weaknesses that allowed corruption to fester.

    Guite was able to order/intimidate civil servants to violate SOP and legal requirements. And, to overlook non-completion of contracts. This must not happen again. There must be a process for civil servants to ‘report’ to parliament and bypass the executive branch.

    Auditor Sheila Fraser (who reports to parliament) attempted to look into the irregularities but was thwarted. Should the Auditor General be given greater powers.

    The Federal Accountability Act was passed in 2006. We will see how well it works.

    Apparently, members of the Liberal party became aware of the irregularities. However, Chretien’s gatekeepers foiled attempts to intervene. Paul Martin seemed to have been told, but preferred to see no evil… Their reputations are now mud.

    In summary, it appears that all the conspirators have accounted for. The Gomery inquiry seems to have done its job in this respect. The testimony of Guite and Bault (if they were telling the whole truth) uncovered the cozy world of insider deals.

    Could the party insiders have been charged? The evidence was not available. There was a paper trail of payments, but no direct incriminating evidence. It was the word of Guite and Brault against the others.

    In a criminal court, the prosecutor has to prove its case. The defense merely needs to sow doubt. Should we change the rules of evidence to ‘fix’ the bums? Can we survive a change of the law every time there is a lynch mob?

    Apparently, the government has recovered what money it could. Otherwise, harper’s governments would be issuing writs against the conspirators. Take note that harper has now moved on to the polling contracts.

    What we, Canadians, need to do is to move on and address the policy issues of the future. We must not be distracted by the hate generated in this sordid affair. Harper is distracted and he is doing us a disfavour.

    By Blogger JimTan, at 12:52 AM  

  • This will come back to haunt Stephen Harper.

    The investigator, Daniel Paille', is clearly unethical and unqualified.

    By Blogger Down & Out in L A, at 9:33 AM  

  • I tend to agree with IslandConservative -- small potatoes next to the gun registry. Those numbers don't make any sense, and I'm sure fascinated to find out, when the day comes, where all that money went to.

    It does appear, CG, that Fortier sure coasted into a really lame error here. The commenter who said a Conservative would be a bad choice, and so would a Liberal, is right - but surely they could do better than this!

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 9:53 AM  

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