Dr.Dawg

The deepening shadows of Canadian politics

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Darkness.jpg

Canadian Conservatives work best under cover of darkness. In government, committees are now routinely forced into in camera sessions. Documents and records are withheld to the point that the Harper government has twice been found in contempt of Parliament. Vital facts and figures are suppressed. Scientists are muzzled, to international opprobrium. Legitimate opposition questions are ruled out of order by Harper catspaw Andrew Scheer, or simply go unanswered.

But that’s not the half of it.

In the country formerly known as Canada, the Conservatives have made a practice of appointing pseudo-MPs in ridings actually held by other parties. Only a constitutional lawyer can determine if the elected MPs have had their privileges breached, but it is a sleazy and unethical practice: unprecedented, as so many Conservative attacks on democracy have been.

The most recent pseudo-MP is none other than Saulie Zajdel, the man Irwin Cotler defeated in the last election. Cotler was, as readers will remember, the victim of a “reprehensible” Conservative robocall scam—the word is House of Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer’s.*

Zajdel is settling nicely into his pseudo-MP role:

Zajdel, a former Montreal city councillor, ran second to Liberal incumbent Irwin Cotler in the 2011 election and was named a “regional adviser” to Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore last October.

He told the Suburban weekly his new role would be “going out into the community, in Montreal, in the anglophone and allophone communities, ensuring that what the government is doing is understood, and determining how we, the government of Canada, can help the communities and municipalities within the anglophone and allophone communities.”

In keeping with the government’s all-round sneakiness, Zajdel ran away after journalists had determined he’s getting taxpayers’ dollars to hang around the riding he lost and play MP:

Questioned by reporters Friday, Zajdel confirmed he is on the federal payroll.

“It’s been almost six months,” he said.

But when asked what his job is and how much he is paid, Zajdel, on the other side of a chain cordoning off journalists, threw up his hands in silence and beat a hasty retreat.

Turning now, as one inevitably must, to the roboscam and related electoral dirty doings, let us first take note of former Toronto Chief of Police Julian Fantino, and his riding of Vaughan.

Setting aside for now the smelly matter of two bank accounts allegedly set up for the same campaign—there will, I guarantee it, be more on this forthcoming—there is the rather more obvious involvement of a US Republican noise generator called Front Porch Strategies.

As is becoming more common these days, bloggers are doing the requisite dot-connecting. Alison at Creekside was the first to provide solid details of this, and Dave of Galloping Beaver provided chapter and verse to demonstrate its glaring illegality under the Canada Elections Act.

As usual, Elections Canada, upon whom most of the country is forced to depend to get the bottom of this mess, is not saying a word. We don’t even know if it is bothering to investigate. It operates in near-total secrecy. More shadows, more darkness.

But that’s a less-than-amusing sideshow. The robocalls and telephone bank chicanery has now reportedly affected 94 ridings. Elections Canada has its hands full, but not likely nearly enough hands for the job. And every day, there are new revelations.

Odd, as blogger Sixth Estate notes, how no one in the CPC knows who “Pierre Poutine” is, but the party is nevertheless able to turn over his phone records. And now we have another mysterious figure in the shadows: a fellow named “Rick McKnight,” supposedly a senior official of robocall firm RackNine prowling in the Guelph part of the forest, but who, upon closer inspection, doesn’t appear to exist.

Hear that crashing sound? Why, I do believe it’s RackNine’s defamation case against Pat Martin.

Curiouser and curiouser, said Alice. And the Mad Harper’s Tea Party continues.

[H/t softgrasswalker] and Seana Finlay

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* As a Harper loyalist, the Speaker proceeded to wash his hands of the affair, saying that Cotler’s parliamentary privilege had not been breached. He ruled differently, however, when disgraced government minister Vic Toews came under attack by “Anonymous.” Some privileges are more equal than others.

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This page contains a single entry by Dr.Dawg published on March 20, 2012 10:58 AM.

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