Re: Trudeau GUILTY of Conflict of Interest.4 days ago
You dare me to open that up? OK. How many times was Stephen Harper cited for violating ethics issues by the ethics commissioner again? I’m going to have to go do a Google search to verify my answer before I give it though just in case....
..... and it seems the answer is zero.
Harper, Serial Abuser of Power: The Evidence Compiled
The Tyee’s full, updated list of 70 Harper government assaults on democracy and the law.
Stephen Harper and his Conservatives have racked up dozens of serious abuses of power since forming government in 2006. From scams to smears, monkey-wrenching opponents to intimidating public servants like an Orwellian gorilla, some offences are criminal, others just offend human decency.
Last week we published 59 examples in two parts, and asked our readers to suggest any we may have missed. Among the many suggestions we gratefully received, we concluded that 11 more meet the criteria for “abuses of power.” Today we compile all 70 items into one omnibus of abuse by the Stephen Harper government.
This list is now also available as a tablet-friendly pdf which you can download for free here. Thanks, once more, to friends of The Tyee who helped with this list.
SECTION I. ABUSING PARLIAMENT: SABOTAGE, SCANDALS, CORRUPTION AND CONTEMPT
This section includes examples of willful misgoverning by the PM and his team, 31 times they have lied, flouted rules and stymied democracy to achieve political and ideological ends.
PMO Tied to Senate Hush Money Scandal
An RCMP affidavit reported widespread involvement by PMO staffers in a secret payment to Senator Mike Duffy to try and make a political problem go away. The Senate expenses scandal brought on allegations of a cover-up, a breach of the public trust, and a whitewashing of a Senate report. The PMO was found to have hand in the altering of a damning Deloitte audit.
Harper Found in Contempt of Parliament
For refusing to disclose information on the costing of programs to Parliament, which Parliament was entitled to receive, the Harper government became the first in Canadian history to be found in contempt of Parliament.
Against Court Order, Refusal to Share Budget Info
Even though it lost a court case and was ordered to comply, the Harper government nevertheless refused to share 170 times reasons and impacts for cuts with Canada’s independent budget watchdog, mocking Parliament’s right to control the public purse.
Conservative Cabinet Staffers Granted Immunity from Testimony
A PMO edict absolved political staffers from ever having to testify before parliamentary committees.
Conservatives Falsify Reports and Documents
Among documents deliberately altered in the writing or the quoting by the government: CIDA document by Bev Oda’s office on Kairos; the Senate Committee Report on the Duffy affair; a report by former auditor general Sheila Fraser on financial management.
Repeated Duplicity in Afghan Detainees Controversy
Among the abuses: Parliament was misled and denied documents. An inquiry was shut down. Tories attempted to discredit diplomat Richard Colvin whose testimony diverted from the government’s line.
Repeated Duplicity on Costing of F-35 Fighter Jets
An auditor general’s report revealed serial deceptive practices used by the Conservatives in misleading the public and Parliament on the projected cost of the fighter jets.
Harper Minister Lies, Blames Statistics Canada for Killing Long Form Census
Under fire for Conservatives killing the long form census, Industry Minister Tony Clement falsely stated that StatsCan backed the idea and assured the voluntary substitute would yield valid statistical data. Neither was true, outraged StatsCan sources confirmed.
Conservative MP Admits He Lied to Parliament
As opposition members claimed the Harper government was out to rig election rules in its favour, Conservative MP Brad Butt rose in the House of Commons to say why the bill was needed -- all the voter fraud he had personally witnessed. Weeks later he rose again to say his statements were false. Delivering his strained apology, he failed to explain why he lied in the first place.
Conservative House Leader Admits to Mockery of Question Period
Criticized far and wide for farcical answers in question period, Paul Calandra, parliamentary secretary to Harper, made a tearful apology for abuse of the democratic process.
Harper Maligns the Supreme Court Chief Justice
The Prime Minister took the unprecedented step of alleging inappropriate conduct by Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin. Facts undermined the credibility of the PM’s position.
Conservatives Engage in Abuse of Process with Omnibus Bills
Harper’s party pushed legislation through Parliament via omnibus bills, the scale of which Parliament had never seen. Such bills are widely condemned as an abuse of the democratic process, because they blend and bury so many controversial laws within one dense package. Harper himself once railed against them, and his born again love for them made his own MPs queasy. Referencing such bills, former auditor general Sheila Fraser said that “Parliament has become so undermined that it is almost unable to do the job that people expect of it.”
Harperites Deliberately Sabotage, Stymie Committee System
Conservatives used tactics such as barring witnesses, closure, time limitations, and in camera sessions to an extent rarely, if ever, witnessed in Canada. In their early days in power, top Conservatives prepared a handbook instructing committee chairpersons how to obstruct proceedings.
Harper’s Own MPs Protest Muzzling
In a caucus known for his tight discipline, in 2014 some members finally rose up to contest being censored at question period by the Prime Minister’s Office. Former Conservative backbencher Brent Rathgeber turned independent and published a book, Irresponsible Government, decrying anti-democratic practices.
Conservative Bill Rewrites History to Protect Mounties from Potential Criminal Charges
To protect the RCMP, the government retroactively made an old bill come into force before it was passed by Parliament.
Harper Minister Caught in Advertising Scam with Public Funds
The Globe and Mail revealed that Harper’s chosen Minister for Democratic Reform Pierre Poilievre commissioned a team of public servants for overtime work on a Sunday to film him glad-handing constituents. The vanity video on the taxpayer dime was to promote the government’s benefits for families.
Corrupt Conservative Cronies
The Senate scandal is just the latest eruption of crony corruption in Harperite ranks. Take Bruce Carson. He was a convicted fraudster before Harper made him a key advisor in the PMO. There, Carson was lobbied for money for a new University of Calgary eco-think tank. He then left the PMO to run the same think tank, converting it to an oil industry booster with a $15-million grant from the Harper government. The complex saga added one more criminal charge to others Carson faces for allegedly illegally working his connections with the Harper government.
Access to Information System Impeded
Many new roadblocks have been put up by the Harper Conservatives. Former Information Commissioner Robert Marleau concluded that having obtained absolute power, the prime minister “has absolutely abused that power to the maximum.”
The Silencing of the Public Service
The PMO took an unprecedented step in instituting a system wherein the bureaucracy has all its communications vetted by the political nerve centre. The policy contribution role of the public service is significantly reduced. Complaints from insiders allege that the Privy Council office has become increasingly politicized.
Loyalty Oaths Imposed on Public Servants
Archivists and librarians were made to swear strict oaths of allegiance and were hit with restrictions on freedom of speech that editorialists of the right and left described as chilling.
Harper Government Sued by Justice Department Whistleblower
Time and again the Harper government proposes bills that end up being shot down by the courts, prompting critics to say such legislation is more about making political statements than lasting policy. The wasted efforts bothered senior justice department lawyer Edgar Schmidt so much he finally sued the government for breaking the law by inadequately evaluating whether proposed bills violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. He was promptly suspended without pay.
Conservatives Block Accreditation for Opposition MPs
In another example of partisanship taken to new heights, the PMO blocked opposition members from being accredited for international environment conferences and from visiting military bases.
Tactic Borrowed from North Korea’s Dear Leader
Ostensibly neutral public servants were used as stooges, falsely posing as new citizens in a staged Citizenship Renewal public relations exercise by the Immigration Department. Media critics had a field day comparing the charade to practices undertaken by North Korean dictators.
Clampdown on Freedom of Speech of Diplomatic Corps
Ottawa’s diplomats must get all communications approved from Conservative political operatives. Under Harper, the country’s ambassadors are hardly heard from any more. In a recent speech, former United Nations ambassador Stephen Lewis said our political culture under the Conservatives has descended into “a nadir of indignity.”
Aquatic Science Libraries Decimated
The Harper government’s downsizing of federal libraries included sudden closing of seven world famous Department of Fisheries and Oceans archives. A leaked memo revealed the destruction and consolidation would save less than half a million dollars. Scientist patrons of the libraries, who witnessed chaotic chucking of rare literature, called it a “book burning” with no logical purpose other than to restrict environmental information. The Harper government claimed vital works would be digitally preserved, but never provided a plan or cost for doing so, nor any proof it had happened. No scientists interviewed by The Tyee believed digitizing would or could replace what was lost.
UN Blasts Canada’s Treatment of Immigrants
Changes made to the Canada’s immigration and refugee system under Harper were investigated by the United Nations Human Rights Committee, whose report blasted how thousands of migrants are detained indefinitely without due process, many for over a year or more, as well as poor mental health support for those incarcerated.
Harper Government Denies Khadr Basic Rights
Defying court rulings, the Conservative government refused to accord Omar Khadr basic rights such as access to media. Editorialists of right and left persuasion described the move as unbefitting a democratic government.
Illegitimate Prorogation of Parliament, Twice
Prorogations are a legitimate procedure that can be abused depending on motivations. The Harper government provoked 60 protests across Canada and beyond its borders in 2010 after shutting the legislature’s doors to escape condemnation on the Afghan detainees’ file. It was the second prorogation in a year’s period.
Undue Interference with Independent Agencies
Command and control system was extended to meddling in bodies like National Energy Board and CRTC whose arms-length autonomy is significantly reduced. A special target was the Parliamentary Budget Office, which was hit with condemnations and budget cuts for its critical reports.
Billions Borrowed without Parliament’s Permission
The auditor general sounded alarms about the “prodigious” growth and size of federal borrowing. Those billions in “non-budgetary” spending used to get Parliament’s oversight, but no more. The finance minister can borrow what he wants without Parliament’s permission. Why? A loophole buried in a 2007 Harper omnibus bill.
Lapdogs Appointed as Watchdogs
The most controversial was the case of former Integrity Commissioner Christiane Ouimet. Her office reviewed more than 200 whistleblowing cases. Disciplinary action followed on none of them. Ouimet’s own angry staffers blew the whistle on their boss. The auditor general found Ouimet intimidated her employees, took “retaliatory action” against them and may have breached their privacy, all part of the Harper appointee’s “gross mismanagement.” Ouimet was paid more than $500,000 to leave her post.
SECTION II: ‘HARPER BRAND’ ABUSES: LIES, SPIES, AND THIS PORK SMELLS REALLY BAD
This election began the minute the last one ended. Since his first day as PM, Stephen Harper has reinforced his party’s ‘brand’ by rewarding cronies, slapping the Conservative logo on government cheques, perfecting the no questions photo-op, instructing bureaucrats to start calling Canada’s government “the Harper Government.” The flip side has been relentless monitoring, muzzling and attacks on anyone who might tarnish the image. Here are 22 instances of power abused to build the Harper brand.
PMO Attempts to Cover up Video Leak Putting Troops at Risk
On an Iraq visit, the PMO was caught lying to try and cover up the leak of a promo video, which constituted a security breach. The PMO, noted a National Post editorial, “stumbled from blunder to evasion and falsehood in the service of shamelessly manipulative partisanship, especially in using our troops as PR props.”
The ‘Harper Government’ Labelling Deception
Public servants were told to use “Harper Government” instead of “Government of Canada” in publicity releases. The Conservatives denied it was happening -- until internal memos revealed by the Canadian Press revealed the denial to be without basis.
Conservatives Place Party Logos on Government of Canada Cheques
Once “caught red-handed,” they backed off. The federal ethics commissioner, adopting the exasperated tone of an adult lecturing a child, noted: “Public spending announcements are government activities, not partisan political activities, and it is not appropriate to brand them with partisan or personal identifiers.”
Record Amounts of Partisan Political Advertising, on the Public Purse
Several media reports told how the Conservatives used taxpayer money for partisan political advertising in record quantity, costing the public treasury $750 million since Harper became PM. In one instance, the Tories spent lavishly on ads for the promotion of a jobs grant program that had yet to be made public or presented to parliament or the provinces. Even more nakedly partisan, a mailed blast, charged to the taxpayers, targeting Justin Trudeau.
Conservatives Stack Their Own Ridings with Infrastructure Funds
In a display of brazen pork barreling, the Conservatives arranged for no less than 83 percent of infrastructure fund projects go to Conservative ridings.
$50 Million Spending Deception as Documented by the Auditor General
The auditor general ruled Conservatives diverted $50-million from spending slated for border infrastructure to political spending on projects in Tony Clement’s riding at the time of the G-8 summit. Parliament was willfully misled.
Patronage Run Amok
After promising a new way, the prime minister dismantled his newly created Public Appointments Commission and reverted to old-styled patronage by the barrel. In June 2015, the PM made 98 patronage appointments. That included stocking the National Capital Commission with loyalists in advance of decisions on the controversial monument to the victims of communism.
(in part, shall I continue?)