Key Liberal adviser who resigned over SNC-Lavalin scandal is back on campaign team
Earlier this week, Liberal Minister Catherine Mckenna took the time to post the following tweet in which she attacked the Conservative Party for having Hamish Marshall, an individual who once set up the Rebel’s base tech stack, manage the party’s 2019 election campaign.
Interestingly, it seems she has forgotten the recent choices of virtually every serious party in the country.
The Greens hired Warren Kinsella, the Conservatives kept Hamish, and, what would you know, the Liberals brought back Gerald Butts.
According to multiple sources who have spoken to the National Post, Butts has been involved in campaign strategy for quite some time now.
Here is the key difference, though:
Warren and Hamish may be controversial, but neither resigned less than a few months ago due to their involvement in an active and potentially government shattering scandal.
Gerald Butts resigned because he was “involved up to his eyeballs in efforts to unduly pressure then-Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould to end the criminal prosecution of Montreal engineering firm SNC-Lavalin on serious corruption charges,” according to the Toronto Sun’s Lorne Gunter.
Butts has denied any wrongdoing in the SNC-Lavalin scandal.
While many voters seem to have grown tired of the subject right now, the implications are truly stunning.
Knowing full well that the party will be attacked for bringing back such a controversial figure during high stakes moments like the debates, possibly losing the faith of many moderates, they did so anyway.
Why? Because outside of their extremely close friendship, Butts, like very few other key strategists that exist in the country, can bring home a victory — even from the jaws of defeat.
He was a key person behind Trudeau’s last minute but dominant 2015 win, and before that, he was a key adviser to McGuinty.
And perhaps most importantly, he can put forward environmental policy that could potentially stop the growing Green Party’s momentum, which seems to have been the largest benefactor of Liberal weakness as of late.
Butts bleeds green policy, and “was intimately involved in all of the [Mcguinty] government’s significant environmental initiatives, from the Greenbelt and Boreal Conservation plan to the coal phase-out and toxic reduction strategy,” according to the Financial Post.
It is by no means underselling to say that to many within Liberal circles, he is considered a key part of any potential Liberal win in 2019.
It seems, for the most part, Liberal MP’s understand the value that Butts brings alongside the many risks and have decided to now return to a 2017 line of attack in order to distance themselves from the more risky parts of his participation.
Here is the problem, though: a serious government scandal is quite hard to truly move away from. And for most who look at the current news cycle, they will be left with only one thought.
“It’s incredibly disappointing that the Liberal Party’s national campaign involves someone who was involved in the SNC-Lavalin scandal. Yes, that SNC-Lavalin scandal.”
Teck Resources has withdrawn its $20-billion Frontier oilsands mine application according to a letter by CEO Don Lindsay to Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Jonathan Wilkinson.
“Teck put forward a socially and environmentally responsible project that was industry leading and had the potential to create significant economic benefits for Canadians,” Lindsay said.
According to the National Post, a source has revealed that the decision was made by Teck because of “ongoing political turmoil.” Canada has had its economy crippled by ongoing protests and train blockades by anti-pipeline protestors for over two weeks now.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney reacted by saying “The withdrawal of Teck’s Frontier Mine application is more devastating news for the Canadian economy, especially for Albertans & indigenous people. This decision is clearly the result of federal regulatory uncertainty & the current lawless opposition to resource development.”
Former Director of Policy to Prime Minister Stephen Harper Rachel Curran pulled no punches when reacting to the news:
“There’s no way Teck would be making this decision now unless they’d been given a heads up that a negative decision was coming from the Trudeau government.
I wonder if @realDonaldTrump will let us apply to the U.S. as economic refugees.”
Trudeau was due to make a decision about the future of the Teck mine project this week.
Air Canada confirmed a passenger on a Valentine’s Day flight from Montreal to Vancouver has tested positive for new deadly strain of the coronavirus, COVID-19.
This is a breaking story and will be updated.
Denis Tsarev and Sabrina Zuniga are co-founders of Truth and Consequences.
I have worked on several political campaigns in Toronto, always helping a Conservative candidate. Here, a Conservative candidate can rarely expect to win the majority of the votes in a riding. At most he/she can hope there will be a split between the NDP and the Liberal votes, helping him/her win with just a bit over one third of the vote. Part of the reason is the central campaign not explaining to the public the ethical values of conservatism.
In my lived experience, at school, university and work, I have been surrounded mainly by those who are not politically involved and do not follow current events closely. However, when a political issue comes up in a conservation, most of my acquaintances would eagerly exhibit their moral aversion to anything associated with conservatism. If I would say that I am a conservative or support some conservative policy, they would look at me as if I just told them I came from Mars.
So why am I a conservative after all? Because I firmly believe that the key conservative principles, such as government transparency and promotion of free market economy, have not only proven themselves to be effective at solving many of our societal and economic problems, but also have strong ethical foundations.
My opponents, and many average people living in Toronto, firmly believe the opposite; namely that conservative principles are inherently unethical and selfish, are aimed at benefitting the rich at the expense of the poor, perpetuate inequality and poverty, or some other cliche phrase that the left often uses to define us.
Clearly, this popular perception does not result merely from how well each party campaigns during election periods, whose leader performs better on the national debate, or whose three policy points on a flyer sound most convincing. This perception is formed by the public beyond and outside of election periods. And this is why I argue that as conservatives, we need to work harder between elections on getting our message out, explaining and defending our values.
The left side of the political spectrum is much more than just the Liberal Party, the NDP and the Green Party. It’s an ideological movement that has permeated many spheres of our society, including education, academia, media and journalism, entertainment and much more. It seems to have also managed to convince the majority of people that its principles are the right principles.
The left leaning political parties simply claim to represent these principles and promise to implement them. Their focus is not to help the voters discover and accept these principles, but to solicit the votes of the people already inclined to share these views on the ethical level. The NDP, Liberals and Greens seem simply to compete at who represents these principles the best and who will have better capacity to implement these once in government (or who will be able best to prevent conservatives from coming to power and hindering their implementation).
Hence, it seems appropriate to denominate the left-leaning political parties not as movements of their own, but simply as political arms or the tip of the iceberg of a movement already existing, wide and populous, with its already formed and solidified ideological, theoretical and ethical frameworks.
Conservatism in Canada seems to operate very differently. It has the manifestation of registered political parties, often well-organized, well-funded, and capable of carrying out strong campaigns during election periods.
However, what it lacks is a strong movement, with its own ethical and theoretical frameworks anywhere closely comparable in magnitude to those of the left.
The Conservative Party is the tip of the iceberg without the iceberg itself.
Each election conservatives appeal and concentrate on practical political and economic issues, current events, the mistakes and scandals of the Liberals and/or NDP, and specific government policies. Outside of the rather small core base of committed conservatives, this approach might win the support of the people who both have no strong ideological preferences and are also tangibly experiencing the negative effects of Liberal or NDP policies, or benefitting from Conservative policies, if they happen to be in government.
Conservative strategists often emphasize the fact that most voters don’t pay attention to and don’t care about politics outside of election time, and therefore they don’t want to discuss ideas in depth.
While I agree that many people don’t pay attention to specific policy outside of election times, in the back of their minds, people all the time do care a lot about the more profound aspect of politics–the ethical and ideological frameworks.
The average voter may not know the platform of each party, their policies on taxation, budget or trade, but the average voter always wants to make the ethically “right” decision, “to be on the right side of history” and to feel like he or she is doing something good for society.
There is absolutely nothing wrong or misguided about this. Wanting to be ethical and helping society are really important human qualities.
During the federal 2019 election, the Conservative campaign focused the most on the issue of affordability, with the recurring line “putting more money in your pockets” featuring in many materials and statements. However, while canvassing door to door, I noticed that this did not resonate well with many, if not most voters here in Toronto.
What many people cared about was solving “big” problems like climate change, poverty, racism, and inequality and they were eagerly willing to contribute their tax dollars to help save the world.
I found many people at the door were indifferent to the policies aimed at “putting more money in their pockets”, and to some we came off as unethical and selfish, appearing to care more about tax credits than about helping the vulnerable and addressing the big problems and injustices. Many people admitted to highly disapproving of Trudeau over the scandals, but felt the Liberal party at least was tackling the right issues and was “on the right side of history”.
I know personally some people who are economically struggling, and admit that conservative policies will benefit them, but claim they will never vote conservative, because it’s unethical and “just wrong”.
The left is very good at exploiting the feelings of wanting to make the ethical choice even if the individual thinking this will be negatively affected. That’s why their message focuses so much on the big issues and appeals to people’s ethical and deep emotional, not immediate, considerations. They make people feel that by voting Liberal or NDP, they will feel morally good, be “progressive” and contribute to saving the world and that by voting Conservative, they will act selfishly and let the world down.
How can Conservatives counter this?
First we must note that the Liberals and the NDP are not trying to create new moral and ideological frameworks during election periods–they are simply appealing to and invoking the already formed popular perceptions about what’s right and what’s wrong that were instilled into the majority of people by education, media, entertainment, academia, etc.
The truth is Conservative policies and principles are not selfish and petty like our opponents try to portray them. The concepts of government transparency and accountability, strong work ethic, support of business completion, reduction of red tape, focus on reduced deficits and economic prosperity, strong foreign policy, freedom of speech and individual liberties, fair and effective justice and immigration systems, respect for the rule of law, and many more, are grounded on solid ethical values and are supported by strong fact- and logic-based intellectual frameworks.
I believe these are much more profound and have stronger ethical justifications than the principles the Liberal and the NDP parties focus on.
These principles have also proven effective at helping improve our society, promoting fairness and opportunities for all, helping those who are vulnerable and struggling, taking care of the environment and increasing the world’s prosperity. These are much more potent than the left’s common approach of throwing money at problems and setting up bloated non-transparent committees and programs to control people’s lives and speech.
Moreover, the conservative principles have a very long and profound intellectual history. Whether in economics, political science, philosophy, or another discipline, we have a broad foundation of writings by thinkers such as John Locke, Adam Smith, Roger Scruton or Jeane Kirkpatrick, dating as far back as the 17th century.
What needs to be done, therefore, is to make these basic conservative principles known, understood, and popular. We need to help people understand conservative values, both ethical and practical. We are a movement that promotes a set of values and aims at implementing effective solutions to help our society prosper. We are much more than just a registered political entity with leader X or Y that mails flyers to people when it’s election time.
To promote these ideals, individuals operating outside of the party framework, need to step up and be heard. Conservative think tanks and conservative-led educational projects are the step we need to invest in further.
Grassroots movements of smart conservatives do exist and we need to support them further here in Canada. I am proud to be a conservative and I want people to know why, so I am stepping up and speaking out. It’s not just about election hot topics, tax credits and Liberal scandals–it’s also about important and solid ethical principles.
I am not the only one. Wherever you are as you read this, find the organizations and individuals you want to support and help as much as you can. Share and spread the messages, talk with your neighbours, and don’t stop.
By working together and not seceding the political discussion, Conservatives can build a solid iceberg underneath its tip.
An inmate has confessed to beating two convicted child molesters with a walking cane while inside prison walls. Inmate Jonathan Watson, 41, says he was being taunted by a convicted pedophile inmate who was watching PBS Kids in a common prisoner space.
Watson received a life sentence after being charged with first-degree murder and dicharging a firearm causing great bodily injury or death, of which he has already served 10 years.
David Bobb, 48, and Graham De Luis-Conti, 62, were both serving a life sentence after being convicted of aggravated sexual assault of a child under 14. one was watching children’s programming when the inmate allegedly began to taunt inmate Watson who then took a nearby walking cane and proceeded to beat the two men to death.
David Bobb died en route to the hospital and Graham De Luis-Conti died three days later.
Watson wrote a confession letter of the events and sent it to Mercury News earlier this week.
“Being a lifer, I’m in a unique position where I sometimes have access to these people and I have so little to lose,” Watson wrote in the letter. “And trust me, we get it, these people are every parents’ worst nightmare.”
Watson claims he attempted to prevent the murders by approaching the prison counsellor to ask for an “urgent” transfer after the first time the two were watching the children’s program. He warned the counselor that their behaviour was likely to make him violent however the counselor declined his request to be moved to a more secure facility.
The next day was when he says he saw PBS Kids on the television again.
“This time, someone else said something to the effect of, ‘Is this guy really going to watch this right in front of us?’” Watson wrote.
“And I recall saying, ‘I got this.’ And I picked up the cane and went to work on him.”
The prison guards did not notice the first attack, according to Watson’s account. He says he left the pod to tell a guard about what he’d done, but he stopped in his tracks when he spotted a “child trafficker” in a neighbouring cell.
“I figured I’d just do everybody a favour,” Watson wrote to the paper. “In for a penny, in for a pound.”
Immediately afterward, Watson went to a guard to report the killings. He claims the guard didn’t believe him until he looked in the dorm and “saw the mess I’d left.”
“I could not sleep having not done what every instinct told me I should’ve done right then and there, so I packed all of my things because I knew one way or another the situation would be resolved the following day,” Watson wrote.
Watson has yet to be charged although prison officials have identified him as the culprit in both murders and Watson says he will plead guilty to whatever charges are laid against him. Watson had only been at the facility for a week after being transferred to the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison in Corcoran, California, from a high security institution.
He gave prison staff a full confession.
“These families spend years carefully and articulately planning how to give their children every opportunity that they never had,” he wrote. “And one monster comes along and changes that child’s trajectory forever.” wrote Watson in his letter, describing that most prisoner are empathetic towards victims of sexual assault.
Watson has since been segregated from all other prisoners and a homicide investigation is currently underway.
“We can’t comment on an active investigation,” Dana Simas, a spokesperson for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.