PMO Scandal: A closer look at Criminal Code section 139(2)
Editor’s Note: This article is a quick overview for the reader and should not be construed as professional legal advice.
Shortly after Andrew Scheer’s accidental Conservative leadership victory, I was having beers with some dejected party faithful, who bemoaned the outcome and their fraught involvement with Dragon’s Den investment mogul Kevin O’Leary’s abandoned campaign.
My drinking compadres could best be described as the millennial generation of hardcore Conservative supporters. And by hardcore, I mean they volunteer for campaigns–municipal, provincial or federal, wherever a hopeful they like may be–engaging in the thankless campaign drudgery of door-knocking and pamphleting, sometimes for days on end.
The more experienced among them even contribute to strategy, and for their efforts are often rewarded with work with victorious MPs. Others in these tight-knit circles that exist among all parties, also end up in the bureaucracy or at NGOs in the Ottawa beltway’s revolving door of organized politics, PR and public service gigs.
All of us had witnessed U.S. President Donald Trump’s election victory the previous November, and argued how Mr. Wonderful’s similar bombast might have played in his favour. On that subject, we could agree that O’Leary’s no-nonsense, direct manner with the media was his strongest quality.
Take for example the answer to a question about his French speaking ability, early on in Conservative leadership campaign: “I speak the language of jobs”, was peak O’Leary and a beautiful response worth pounding away on. Jobs. Economy. Jobs. Economy.
But in the end, O’Leary loathed the grind of on-the-ground politicking and despite a decent chance of victory, he pulled the plug and threw his chips in with a loser.
Insofar as political stratagem, it’s the kind of choice that separates an O’Leary from a Trump. Trump would never leave this sort of thing to chance and plays to win, while Mr. Wonderful gambled that a third of his supporters would vault Maxime Bernier to a first-ballot victory.
But in the field of 12 remaining candidates that included now-viable successors to Scheer–Erin O’Toole and Lisa Raitt–thirteen rounds later, Scheer squeaked out the win and the rest was history.
Not withstanding searing bouts of rhetoric from stalwart front benchers like Pierre Poilievre or Michelle Rempel, federal Conservatives remained stuck behind a simpatico leadership approach that stretched through the last election.
Even as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s antics, scandals and world-stage gaffes piled up, including Time Magazine revelations of avid blackface enthusiasm through our PM’s 20s–during an increasingly bitter election, no less–Scheer could never quite convert that into his advantage.
And Scheer’s leadership strategy never really diverged from this idea he could win by being a regular Joe – easy to be around and in other words not the millionaire playboy that the country’s 2015 choice for PM was turning out to be.
This failed programme was ultimately compounded by Scheer’s inability to square his personal religious views in a manner that the wider public could trust, on incredibly polarizing issues of abortion or gay, lesbian and trans rights.
By the time Scheer got around to showing any gumption on this subject–the memorable “is being gay a sin” exchange–he was scrumming with reporters after surviving a losing election post-mortem revolt at the party’s national caucus.
This time around, Conservatives need to find a winner. It seems a no-brainer, but this winner, wherever he/she/they may be, needs to be the sort who prevails in more than a leadership race or internal review.
This leader has to be the type of person where winning courses through their veins and maybe require an outsider with more zest for the glad-handing politics’ of the rubber chicken circuit than Mr. Wonderful had.
TRIGGER WARNING: During his Coach’s Corner prime, Don Cherry would have brought the perfect sort of everyman, energy required for such work –a Ralph Klein on blades – if only the leadership came å la sidekick Ron Maclean, playing Grapes’ foil of course.
Back in a post “you people” matrix, outsiders like Alberta energy tycoon Brett Wilson–another Dragon’s Den alumnus–as well as behavioural psychologist Jordan Peterson, have been bandied about social media as great replacements.
But if yardstick be real-world experience, paired with an ability to communicate effectively with a wider public, either are credible options especially given that Trudeau’s relative inexperience outside of politics was often compared to Scheer’s own career-politics trajectory, outside of briefly flogging insurance.
Back on the inside, former Conservative MPs who earned their stripes in previous Stephen Harper governments–former cabinet ministers Peter MacKay and Rona Ambrose–remain potential and formidable contenders if they choose to throw in their hats.
While MacKay has not ruled it out, Ambrose has indicated she’s not interested. Nevertheless, it’s early days with plenty of time to convince Ambrose she’s the perfect counterpoint to Trudeau.
Unlike MacKay’s Laurentien elite provenance, Ambrose’s Albertan roots would provide the West strong representation in Parliament and “because it’s 2015”, Conservatives could walk Trudeau’s often empty, gender talk.
What MacKay has going for him is a deeper cabinet resume, having served as attorney general, foreign affairs and national defence minister in former Harper cabinets. In terms of pure political calculations, the West is already solidly blue while MacKay’s corner of the country could use his ability to attract Maritimes voters back into the Conservative fold.
At the moment, all comers would be considered in the context of taking on a Trudeau-led Liberal Party in the next federal election. And if Trudeau’s insatiable appetite for attention, or another SNC-Lavalin level scandal emerges, from which there are no reasonable escapes; the caucus could oust golden boy and all bets are off.
In the meantime, former Canadian Forces navigator and minister of Veteran Affairs Erin O’Toole – another competent Harper’s crewman – is the first to jump in, having announced his leadership intentions at a Thursday night soirée.
Jasmine Pickel is an entrepreneur and the Interim Ontario Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.
Our politicians are addicted to spending. Even though they speak poetically about their good intentions and virtue signal whilst cheque-signing on our behalf, much of that spending is wasteful and sinks us further into debt.
Here are five phrases that usually indicate that a politician is about to waste your money.
1) Politicians will say they’re “investing”
When politicians say they’re investing government money, what they really mean is that they’re spending taxpayer dollars. Unfortunately, politicians at all levels of government in this country have a poor track record in this regard.
In Newfoundland, the government lost $260,000 when it tried to operate a Tim Hortons. Likewise, the Ontario government lost $42 million trying to sell marijuana.
Given that governments can’t make money selling double-doubles or weed brownies, they should let taxpayers keep more of their own money to invest it themselves.
2) “It’s not a spending problem–it’s a revenue problem!”
Imagine saying that in the context of your own life – that it’s not your fault you spent so much, it’s just that your job doesn’t pay what you’d like to spend. Unfortunately, our politicians just keep adding to our credit card bill.
A recent Ontario government report shows why it is in fact a spending problem. It found that Ontario would have spent $330 billion less in the 15-year period the former Liberal government was in power if it had simply kept spending in line with population growth.
Instead, spending increased in real terms by $2,200 per person, and now Ontario’s debt has surpassed $350 billion, making the province the largest subnational debtor on the planet.
Politicians love painting deficits as a revenue problem so they can raise taxes. Don’t fall for it. Tell politicians to manage their own budgets instead of taking more out of yours.
3) Politicians say they’re spending to “help the middle class”
While big government apologists like to pretend all of our tax dollars go toward vital services such as health care and education, the reality is that politicians will often take tax money from hard working Canadians to hand it over to large, profitable corporations.
Take for example the $12 million the Trudeau government gave to Loblaws to buy more energy efficient fridges (even though the company posted net earnings exceeding $800 million that fiscal year). That’s nothing in comparison to the $4 billion of taxpayer money that has been given to Bombardier though, a company owned by one of Canada’s wealthiest families worth close to $3 billion.
Taxes are the single largest expense for most Canadians, taking up approximately 45 percent of the average Canadian’s annual household income. If politicians really wanted to help the middle class, they’d stop giving corporate welfare handouts and instead lower our taxes.
4) Politicians justify their overspending by saying they’re on “a responsible path to budgetary balance”
Translation: “We’re going to keep adding to the debt for the next few years at least.” There’s simply nothing responsible about overspending, especially in good economic times.
In fact, it’s very irresponsible for politicians to ignore the opportunity costs of running up large debts. For example, this year Ontario will spend about $13 billion on interest payments. That’s more money than it will spend on colleges and universities put together!
Politicians should stop making excuses as to why they can’t balance budgets, and they should start paying down the debt.
5) Politicians say “we can keep spending as long as the debt-to-GDP ratio stays in check”
Although this is a favourite excuse used by our current prime minister, the reality is that this economic ratio isn’t reliable. For example, if Canada were to encounter tough economic times and our debt were to increase more sharply than planned, the ratio would be thrown out of whack. All of a sudden, we’d be in a position where we’d be saying “wow, we really need to pay down debt, but now we’re not in a financial position to do so.”
Conversely, even if our GDP were to increase sharply thereby lowering the ratio relative to our G7 counterparts, it doesn’t necessarily follow that more spending is justifiable or a good idea.
Canadians live within their means. It’s time our politicians followed suit.
A former government employee told HuffPost Canada she was punished for giving comment to the news outlet on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s use of blackface when it became an international story during the 2019 federal election.
39-year-old Manjot Bains told HuffPo she was reprimanded and commanded to not speak about racism publicly after she spoke to a HuffPo reporter in a September story where she wasn’t identified as a federal employee. Bains faced a lot of backlash at work where she was a senior program adviser, which led to her quitting her job at the Multiculturalism and Anti-Racism Initiatives program that’s part of the Department of Canadian Heritage.
“The prime minister is the one who performed blackface, not me. But somehow I faced repercussions for his actions,” Bains said to HuffPost.
Bains was hired last May and was cleared by her new employer to still continue contributing to her media website, Jugni Style, that covers South Asian culture, so she thought it wouldn’t be a problem to comment on Trudeau’s history of blackface.
Bains told HuffPo she passed along the story to her manager when it was published and was swiftly told she shouldn’t have spoken to the media and had lost her manager’s trust.
Bains then had a meeting with her superiors and was told that public servants aren’t allowed to speak critically of Trudeau publicly, and would have to do “loyalty training” and redo ethics training.
Bains cited her union actually promotes political activity and her contract stated, “the right to engage in political activities while maintaining the principles of political impartiality in the public service.”
Public servants are expected to show a “duty of loyalty” to the Canadian government.
In a much more clear cut case of political activism, a federal public servant was put on leave from his job after releasing an anti-Harper folk song during the 2015 election.
Bains also wrote her own personal account of the ordeal she faced after speaking about her thoughts on Trudeau’s blackface incidents publicly, published by HuffPo as well on Thursday.
Chevron’s plan to offload its 50 percent share of the nascent Kitimat LNG project was another blow to Canada’s energy industry on Wednesday.
The massive British Columbia natural gas facility and export hub was so crucial for the Canadian economy, the Trudeau government gave a tariff break to China last summer so the communist regime’s cheap, fabricated steel could fast-track construction.
But word that the California-based Chevron wanted to sell its Kitimat LNG interest–$125 million of book-value assets in a $10-billion write-down for the U.S. oil giant–sparked a political fight on Twitter.
Enter Conservatives’ natural resources critic Shannon Stubbs:
Less than an hour later Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan corrected Stubbs. But either way Chevron’s big write-down reveal on Wednesday morning was bad news for the domestic energy sector.
Over the past five years, a combination of discounted Canadian bitumen sales–landlocked inside North American markets by lack of new tidewater projects like the proposed TMX–along with federal policies that have chilled investment, have hampered the energy sector.
At the end of October, Canadian petroleum company EnCana uprooted its Calgary headquarters to move to Denver, Colorado, and a rebrand; the latest news is just the latest in notable capital flight from domestic energy markets that’s witnessed 175,000 jobs shed from the Alberta oil patch in less than five years.