It’s the last day of this marathon campaign and the issue on which Monday’s vote may turn is ethics — specifically, the questionable ethics of our notorious… Dan Gagnier!
*record scratch* Whaaa-a-a? Seriously? Trudeau’s campaign co-chair sending emails to a pipeline company is the scandal that could decide the fate of Harper’s government?
What the living fuck?!?
I have been waiting all election for ethics to become a voting issue. It is the thing that Harper is most vulnerable on. But there were five leaders debates and exactly how many times was the Duffy trial brought up? Was it zero? By my count, it was zero.
So it’s kind of infuriating to have to sit through days of Stephen Harper smugly telling Canadians that the Gagnier scandal proves that the Liberals haven’t changed a whit from the days of the Sponsorship Scandal, while the Prime Minister himself sits at the centre of a vast web of evil, surrounded by shady characters, dubious personalities, liars, villains and felons.
Let’s run through the names of Harper’s sketchy pals, associates and appointees. But I’ll have to put them after the jump because the list is so long…
STEPHEN HARPER’S ROGUES GALLERY
Dean Del Mastro:The summer of 2015 kicked off with video of the former Conservative MP for Peterborough being hauled off to jail in irons. He was convicted in June of knowingly exceeding campaign spending limits in the 2008 election and they trying to cover it up. He’s already spent a night in jail and is presently appealing his conviction of a month in jail, four months of house arrest and 18 months of probation. He’s been barred from running for office again for five years. Del Mastro was once the Conservative government’s spokesperson on ethics issues and he also served as the parliamentary secretary for Stephen Harper.
Bruce Carson: Charged with five counts of illegal lobbying and influence peddling and currently on trial for one of those charges. Carson, a former lawyer, who is known for his dalliances with and marriage proposals to escorts half his age, was disbarred in the 1980s for defrauding clients. He was also charged with three more counts of fraud in the 1990s. And it seems that officials in the Prime Minister’s Office knew about Carson’s criminal past when he was hired to act as a chief policy analyst and aide to Stephen Harper.
Arthur Porter: Arrested for fraud in Panama for alleged involvement in $22.5 million kick-back scheme in construction of McGill University Health Centre hospital — the biggest fraud investigation in Canadian history. He died in a Panamanian cancer hospital in June of this year. Porter was the privy councillor and chair of the Canadian Security Intelligence Review Committee, the committee which oversees CSIS’s security activities. He was appointed to this sensitive position by Stephen Harper.
Don Meredith: The Toronto Star revealed that this 50-year old minister with the GTA Faith Alliance faces accusations that he had a sexual relationship with a woman beginning when she was only 16. Meredith is also facing an ethics probe over allegations that he harasses and bullies his staff. While he has since been expelled from the Conservative caucus, he had been appointed to the senate in 2010 by Stephen Harper.
Peter Penashue: During the 2011 election, this MP for Labrador accepted 28 ineligible campaign contributions totalling over $47,000 in cash and in-kind donations. He resigned his seat in 2013 and lost a re-election bid in a byelection. He is currently running to recapture his seat.
Julian Fantino: In 2012, three campaign workers who worked for Fantino in the 2010 by-election signed affidavits requesting Elections Canada investigate irregularities in Fantino’s campaign. They allege Fantino had a second, secret, illegal campaign bank account holding over $300,000. (During an election, candidates can only have one bank account.) Charges have not been laid. Fantino is currently running to retain his seat in Vaughan.
Bev Oda: In 2011, this former MP for Durham ON lied about and later confessed to changing a 2009 committee recommendation so that KAIROS, a human rights organization, would be denied funding. She eventually resigned over charging for notoriously expensive hotel rooms and glasses of orange juice.
Helena Guergis: In 2010, this MP for Simcoe–Grey was investigated by RCMP for allegedly allowing her husband (Rahim Jaffer) to conduct commercial business out of her office. She was expelled from Conservative caucus in April 2010 due to mysterious allegations. The RCMP found no evidence of wrongdoing on Guergis’ part and in 2011 she launched a defamation lawsuit against Stephen Harper.
Rahim Jaffer: This former MP for Edmonton–Strathcona was once named the laziest MP by the Hill Times and had one of his aides impersonate him in a radio interview. Though he ran ads in the 2008 election claiming Jack Layton was soft on marijuana, Jaffer was stopped for drunk driving in 2009 and fined for careless driving and cocaine possession. The drunk driving charges were dropped.
Chuck Strahl: In January 2014, the former Conservative cabinet minister stepped down as chair of SIRC — the civilian agency that is supposed to provide oversight of the country’s spy and security agencies — after it came to light that he was a paid lobbyist for the pipeline company Enbridge. One of the big concerns about Bill C–51 is that it could be used to intimidate and limit the ability of First Nations, environmental groups and others to advocate against government-backed projects such as the Northern Gateway pipeline that Enbridge is proposing to deliver bitumen to the west coast. So with Strahl as head of SIRC it was a pretty cozy relationship. [This blurb was written by Greg Beatty in the comments.]
The Duffy Scandal: Do I even have to summarize this one? Senator Mike Duffy, a Stephen Harper appointee, was caught claiming expenses for living in Ottawa because his primary residence was in Prince Edward Island when, it turns out, PEI wasn’t his main home. And, he’d claimed a bunch of other unnecessary expenses as well. When he couldn’t pay them back, Stephen Harper’s chief of staff, Nigel Wright, stepped in and personally cut him a cheque for $90,000. Wright and PMO staffers — guys like Ray Novak, Chris Woodcock and Nick Koolsbergen — tried and failed to cover all this up, going so far as to make some really dubious statements on the stand. Duffy is being tried for accepting a bribe and his trial will resume after the election. Wright and co. escaped prosecution.
The Senate Scandal: And Duffy was far from the only Conservative senator making suspicious expense claims. Patrick Brazeau and Saskatchewan’s own Pamela Wallin were also suspended for their activities. Brazeau was later charged with assault, sexual assault and driving under the influence. And Brazeau and Wallin were just the tip of the scuzzy senate iceberg! Fourteen Conservative senators were included in the Dirty Thirty list of senators under investigation for improper expense claims. Most notable among them are Leo Housakos and Claude Carignan, the Speaker of the Senate and the Leader of the Government respectively. And of the 30 senators under suspicion, the cases of Conservatives Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu, Donald Oliver and Gerry St. Germain have been passed on to the RCMP for further investigation.
The In-and-Out Scandal: This was a scheme to transfer money between Conservative head offices and candidate accounts to avoid spending limitations in the 2006 federal election. Four prominent Conservatives were charged with wrong doing by Elections Canada: Michael Donison, former executive director of the Conservative Party; Susan Kehoe, the interim director of the CPC and its financial officer; and Doug Finley and Irving Gerstein who were both appointed to the senate in 2009 by Stephen Harper.
The Robocall Scandal: This was a vote-suppression scheme during the 2011 election which attempted to mislead thousands of voters about where and how to vote through automated phone calls. The RCMP was called in to investigate. Elections Canada alleged that the Conservative Party refused to cooperate with the investigation. In the end, only a young party staffer in Guelph was tried and convicted, Michael Sona.
The Buffoons Stumbling Out Of The Conservative Clown Car: Over the course of the election, a cavalcade of Conservatives have paraded onto the national stage for various stupid statements, boneheaded actions and general dumbassery. Those who dropped out of the campaign as a result of their actions are Jerry Bance, Tim Dutaud, Gilles Buibord, Augustin Ali Kitoko, Blair Dale and Jagdish Grewal. Those who made asses of themselves but have hung around are Marilyn Gladu, Gordon Geisbrecht, Konstantin Toubis and William Moughrabi.
The Ford Endorsement: Just this weekend, Stephen Harper attended a campaign event organized by Toronto’s most notorious brothers, Rob and Doug Ford. Harper even had a photo taken with the whole Ford family. Rob Ford is infamous for his crack-fueled meltdown during his term as mayor that made Toronto a laughing stock of the world. Less well known, The Globe and Mail revealed that Doug Ford was a hash dealer in his youth.
The PM Himself: Stephen Harper is the only Prime Minister in the history of the country to have been found in contempt of the parliament he leads (in 2011, for refusing to disclose information on program costs). His office also requested the RCMP illegally destroy the long gun registry database while there was an outstanding ATIP request for it. This would mean the PMO was complicit in a crime. To avoid anyone facing any charges, Harper included a provision in the budget omnibus bill that retroactively outlawed any ATIP requests for the long gun registry information. And, to top all this off, as you can see from the above list, the CPC under his leadership — a party that he founded — has faced charges of misconduct in every election its won (In-and-Out scandal in 2006, Del Mastro’s overspending in 2008, the Robocall scandal in 2011).
That’s it. Harper’s Rogues Gallery: 39 names not including Stephen Harper’s. I’ve probably missed a few and I know I’ve left out a lot of Conservative characters who haven’t been found to have committed any firing offences but are still notable for egregious and/or clownish behaviour — Paul Calandra, Chris Alexander and Vic Toews, for instance.
I’ve also skipped mention of a story that just broke this weekend about a criminal investigation into the actions of members of Conservative MP Bal Gosal‘s reelection team — they were caught destroying NDP and Liberal election signs. I left that story off the list because it’s unclear at this point who within Gosal’s team was responsible for the sign destruction.
So, yeah… ethics. Stephen Harper has demonstrated repeatedly a shocking lack of it.