Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A how-to guide

How to accuse public figures of drug use and murder (and make $200,000) without repercussion:

Step one: make your left-wing bias as obvious as possible, so you can justify attacking conservatives without evidence.

2. Target controversial conservative public figure who has never liked you because of step one.

3. Accuse public figure of illegal drug use.

4. When asked for evidence, refer to top secret video taped by Somalian drug dealers seen only by yourself.

5. Somalian drug dealers demand $200,000 ransom for video.  Set up website soliciting public donations.

6. Reach $200,000 goal.  Claim to have lost touch with Somalian drug dealers.

7. Somalian drug dealer turns up dead.  Accuse mayor’s office of murdering drug dealer.

8. Politely request Somalian drug dealers provide video in exchange for $200,000.

(These steps are written in advance of them actually taking place)

9. When Somalian drug dealers don't respond, pocket $200,000.  Apologize profusely for those unreliable drug dealers going missing.

10. Have forever changed the history of Toronto politics, a man's life and career, and markedly defamed Canada's (now former) reputation for journalism conducted with at least a little bit of integrity.  All without ever producing a shred of proof!

… Really, this is a disgusting and disappointing time for Canadian journalism.

Has anyone ever stopped to ask: were there ever any Somalian drug dealers?  Is there any video?  Or was this just a way to libel a public figure and make $200,000?

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Questions for Justin Trudeau

"Pierre Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada, for better or worse, depending on how you feel, smoked hashish, and his son has smoked with me four or five times, so it really pisses me off when I see Justin Trudeau, who took big gaggers with me, is in parliament, actually voting for Bill C-15."
- Marc Emery


Questions for Justin Trudeau:

1. Are the claims above true?

2. If so, did Justin Trudeau accept that his drug use was in direct contravention of Canadian law?

3. Did the Liberal Party of Canada leadership know there were allegations of illegal drug use against their star candidate?

4. Did the Liberal Party of Canada voting membership know at least one candidate had allegations of illegal drug use?

5. Will the Liberal Party of Canada support their leader, a supposed "Prime Minister-in waiting" with allegations of illegal drug use behind him?

And finally, for the RCMP: will the RCMP investigate the allegations made against Justin Trudeau?

Part 4: Conclusion of robocalls investigation still leaves serious questions for Elections Canada

For the past few months I've covered extensively the responses from Elections Canada in regards to their investigation into the possible robocalls conducted in the 2011 federal election.

Their responses (and lack thereof) have been shocking.

Investigators who have publicly donated money to the Liberals and Bloc Quebecois hired to investigate another political party, in precise violation of Elections Canada's own political neutrality rules.

Investigators hired with no business addresses, no phone numbers, and no websites.

Contracts for investigation services increased by thousands of dollars without justification.

Investigators hired by purposely avoiding the competitive bidding process.

The deck was purposely stacked against the Conservatives, and in such a public manner that they were assumed guilty until proven innocent.

Here, for the fourth and final part, is Elections Canada's latest response to my Access to Information requests:

“This request is made further to [my original] ATI request A-2012-00071/GB:

1. What work did the Nuclear Safety Commission bill Elections Canada for in relation to the robocalls investigation?

2. How were the contracted investigators chosen to work on this case?

3. Why was the March 12, 2013 to March 31, 2013 contract for 7147660 Canada Inc increased by almost $30,000?

4. What are the names of individual employees contracted to work under the contracts given to: John Dickson Professional Corp, SH Neville and Associates, Raymond Lincourt and Associates, and Raymond Chabot Grant Thompson?

5. Is there a projected time frame of when the investigation will be completed? In other words, will these contracts which expire on March 31, 2013 be renewed past that date?

6. Why do the contracts for this investigation all seem to be in the odd amount of $78,444.35?”

Unfortunately, judging by their previous responses, you can already guess that Elections Canada’s responses won’t be responses at all.

Question One
Brennan Ouimet, a Nuclear Safety Commission employee, was hired under the Interchange Canada policy in October 2008, which allows public servants to take on a temporary assignment with another public, private, non-profit, or international organization.  The exchange is supposed to encourage the public servant’s professional development and assist the receiving organization by giving them a qualified, experienced person.

Ouimet’s formal title is that of Investigator for Elections Canada, and under the interchange agreement, Ouimet’s remuneration continues to come from the NSC, even though Elections Canada reimburses the NSC.  (This is why it appeared the NSC was billing Elections Canada for robocalls investigations services.)

Ouimet’s contract also specifically states that he shall not engage in any federal or provincial partisan politics or activities.  Which is strange, since that is Elections Canada’s policy but it hasn’t been applied to any other investigator.

It’s actually refreshing to receive such a thorough and up front response from Elections Canada – almost like that’s exactly what they are required to do by law!

However, some questions remain.  Particularly:

  1. What was Ouimet’s role at the NSC?
  2. Why was he chosen to participate in the Interchange Canada program?
  3. Did Elections Canada request Ouimet specifically, or did the NSC offer up Ouimet to any department that wanted him?
  4. When does this temporary assignment end (he’s been a temporary investigator for almost five years now)?

Question Two
By sole source, apparently, as Elections Canada once again cited their sole source rationale from December 2012.

In other words, it is becoming ever clearer that Elections Canada has no intent (did it ever?) to hire the most qualified, competent, and best-valued investigators to conduct a thorough, neutral, and complete investigation into robocalls during the 2011 federal election. They would much rather hire who they choose without the slightest regard for appearance, qualifications, or a meaningful conclusion to the robocalls investigation.

Question Three
“No records were located for this part of your request.” However, it was likely due to “an addition of hours to the contract.”

Nothing in writing justifying a $30,000 salary increase? What a great deal!

Question Four
The particulars of this request were withheld in accordance with the personal and confidential financial information exclusionary clauses of the Access to Information Act.  However, they would state the positions hired and the salaries for those positions (under the Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton contract):

Project Manager: $7,500.00
Senior Auditor: $36,000.00
Auditor: $29,250.00
Auditor: $48,750.00
Audit Support Specialist: $11,700.00
Audit Support Specialist: $37,050.00
TOTAL: $170,250.00
+ Travel and Living Costs: $19,750

Question Five
Another non-answer.  Elections Canada provided three letters dated March 4, 2013 in which the Commissioner of Canada Elections extends the contracts of Ace Thouin Consultant Inc., 7147660 Canada Inc., and Raymond Lincourt & Associes by one month, to the end of April 30, 2013.

If this really is a response to the question I asked, does this mean the robocalls investigation concluded on April 30, 2013?

Question Six
This question has puzzled me since the beginning, and Elections Canada has done nothing to answer the question.  They once again referred to the pricing table for investigators hired to investigate the robocalls.  But, as I have asked before and will continue to ask, if investigators are paid to a maximum of $70,000.00 including travel, why are so many of the contracts at $78,000+?

Back to the odd amount of $78,444.35 – why?  As one commenter suggested, did someone have a $706,000 budget and split it nine ways ($78,444.35 * 9 = $705,999.15)?  Or a $2 million budget, meaning they could split it 25 ways ($78,444.35 * 25 = $1,961,108.75)?

Or, was it something more sinister, where they purposely kept the contracts below $80,000.00 to avoid a rule or extra requirement?

Yet, beyond the odds stacked enormously against the Conservative Party of Canada, they were amazingly cleared of any wrong doing by a federal court judge:


It's astonishing that, despite their committed and obvious attempts to throw everything possible at the Conservative Party - "anonymous" tips, accusations, and outright fabricated quotes - Elections Canada must have now wasted well over $1 million investigating a fantasy.

Canadians deserve answers.  And they have deserved answers for the past two years.

Those answers need to come from Elections Canada and the Chief Electoral Officer.  They can start with:

1. Did Elections Canada investigators completely botch the investigation, meaning they could do nothing but declare that no wrong doing took place?

2. Or was this an unfounded witch hunt from the start, and after two years of Canadians asking questions without any response Elections Canada was forced to finally admit it had nothing against the Conservative Party?


Answers to those questions are desperately needed for all Canadians who just witnessed the enormous $1 million + waste of chasing a fantasy.

Elections Canada: outsourcing one of its most vital roles as guardians of Canada's electoral system

A fundamental principle of government contracting is the competitive bidding process.  Canadian taxpayers deserve the best work from the most qualified individuals at the cheapest possible cost.

Here it is, explained by the Treasury Board:
Government contracting shall be conducted in a manner that will:
  1. stand the test of public scrutiny in matters of prudence and probity, facilitate access, encourage competition, and reflect fairness in the spending of public funds;
  2. ensure the pre-eminence of operational requirements…

Competitive bids must be sought unless one of the four exceptions as set out in the Government Contracts Regulations, outlined below apply.
  1. The need is one of pressing emergency in which delay would be injurious to the public interest;
  2. The estimated expenditure is less than $25,000;
  3. The nature of the work is such that it would not be in the public interest to solicit bids; or
  4. Only one person or firm is capable of performing the work.
For some unexplained reason, Elections Canada outsourced one of its most important mandates: maintaining the integrity of Canada’s electoral system. But if that’s the route Elections Canada chose to take, at least they followed the competitive bidding process to ensure Canadians got the best investigators at the best price, right?

Wrong!

Elections Canada justifies its rationale for using sole source contracts to hire robocalls investigators by starting “Although there is no specific circumstance that may be identified above to substantiate the sole source contracts…” In other words, they acknowledge the Treasury Board and PWGSC rules and that Elections Canada can’t possibly justify sole sourcing investigators.

But hey, let’s try anyway!



Here's an excerpt of some of the amusing rationale presented in the document above: 

 “The original contracts [based on a three-day work week] were presented in the spring of 2012 and approved for a period of one year [until March 31, 2013].  The number of investigations has increased dramatically over the past months, and robocalls are a priority matter for the Commissioner.  There exists a backlog of complaints which we are having difficulty in attending to in a timely manner.

The increased workload… requires that the contractual investigators work more [than their originally agreed upon three-day work week].  For this reason, the total estimated cost of the current contracts are higher than what was anticipated and there are not enough funds outstanding in these contracts to cover the remaining months.

We are seeking new sole source contracts for Raymond Lincourt & Associes, Ace Thouin Consultants, Thomas Ritchie, and SH Neville & Associates.

In addition, we are seeking one new sole source contract for John Dickson Professional Corporation… that would start immediately and end on March 31, 2014.”

Oddly enough, I can’t find “we’re too busy to run the competitive bidding process” anywhere in the Treasury Board or PWGSC policy statement.


But then when has Elections Canada ever shown the slightest interest in following the rules in this botched investigation?

Saturday, May 25, 2013

A week in review for the NDP


NDP MP Tyrone Benskin is demoted from his critic role for "his chronic, long-term failure" to pay over $50,000 in taxes.

NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair is outed for his involvement in the Quebec corruption scandal, revealing he's been keeping a secret for the past 17 years.

Scandal and shame would be putting it mildly. Canadians deserve better from their Loyal Opposition.

It's also shameful these stories will barely see the light of day beyond Maclean's and The Winnipeg Free Press.

Friday, May 24, 2013

No finding Conservative Party, Conservative candidates, RMG, or RackNine were involved in any campaign to mislead voters


“In reaching this conclusion, I make no finding that the Conservative Party of Canada or any CPC candidates or RMG and RackNine Inc., were directly involved in any campaign to mislead voters" - Federal Court Judge Richard Mosley

Of course, we've already known electoral fraud did take place: the Guelph Liberals were fined - and remain the only party to be fined - for illegal robocalls in the days leading up to the 2011 federal election!

It's great to see the Conservative Party and its candidates cleared of any of the baseless allegations being thrown by Opposition members.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Ordering 7Up in French reaches Supreme Court

I first wrote about Michel Thibodeau back in September 2011 when his ridiculous complaint of not being able to order 7Up on a flight to the United States gained some media attention.

Somehow his case is going to the Supreme Court of Canada, and I can't wait to hear what the court has to say about imposing official languages policy on a private company operating in a foreign country where less than one percent speak the language Thibodeau feels he was entitled to be served in.

Unfortunately, Bill C-17: An Act to Amend the Air Canada Public Participation Act, which could amend certain provisions requiring Air Canada to be bound to the Official Languages Act, remains at First Reading in the House.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Part 3: Elections Canada breaking its own political neutrality rules to hire robocalls investigators

My investigation into what’s really happening in the “robocalls” investigation has revealed a botched investigation and openly partisan individuals partaking in what must absolutely be an independent, non-partisan investigation.


My research has required the extensive use of Access to Information requests, the most recent of which was responded to last week.

Thus, I bring you part three of the investigation into what’s really happening in the robocalls investigation:

I asked:

“According to Elections Canada's Procurement and Contracting Guide (Version 1, September 1, 2011):

"In some cases, in order to achieve such political neutrality, it is necessary to restrict contractors who provide goods and services to Elections Canada from being engaged in politically partisan activities and from performing work for or on behalf of a political party, a candidate or a person, body, agency or institution with politically partisan purposes or objectives where the performance of such work raises a reasonable apprehension of political partisanship."

1.      What steps were taken by Elections Canada to ensure this guideline was followed in the hiring of "robocalls" investigators?

2.      What steps were taken by Elections Canada when it was revealed that these investigators were financially linked to the Liberal Party of Canada and Bloc Quebecois?"

As previously reported, Elections Canada already has guidelines in place to handle the political partisanship of its employees and contractors.  And it makes sense, considering the need to balance their employees’ rights with their responsibilities to be neutral, non-partisan individuals.

In response to question one, Elections Canada provided one copy of one contract – between Elections Canada and John Dickson Professional Corporation.  Indeed, despite several other contractors also being contracted to investigate robocalls, Elections Canada felt one example was sufficient:



Specifically, Annex C (Article 24 on page 37) deals with the contractor’s conflict of interest.  That the contractor is bound to follow Elections Canada’s Procurement and Contracting Guide should be there, right?

Shockingly, no.  Section 24.02 – No Conflict of Interest deals with the contractor “influencing” or “seeking to influence” an Elections Canada decision “knowing that the decision might further its private interest.”  The contractor is also not to have any financial interest in a third party (e.g. a political party), but I’m doubtful donations to a political party could be considered having “financial interest” in a political party.

The result: Elections Canada's own policy ensuring only politically neutral individuals are hired isn't being followed.

(Another interesting part of the investigators’ contracts: according to s. 9.01.01, Elections Canada’s “facilities, equipment, documentation, and personnel are not automatically at the disposal of the Contractor,” which sounds like most of these robocalls investigations are being done from home.)

In response to question two: Elections Canada’s response is quite simple: “no records can be located.”

The absolute disregard for its own policies and regulations just becomes ever more obvious.  Elections Canada has a clear policy which states in some cases its contractors and employees can be legally barred from being politically partisan.

Yet we have several contractors working on an investigation supposedly essential to Canada’s democracy, and they’re openly, financially supporting the Bloc Quebecois and Liberals!  This information isn’t groundbreaking – it’s data found in Elections Canada’s own contributor’s database!

What good are their rules if they’re not followed through self governance?

Is Elections Canada so incompetent that its contracting agents were unaware of their responsibilities to hire only non-partisan investigators?  Or were partisan contractors purposely hired to investigate the Conservative Party?

Are these responses acceptable to you? Has Elections Canada fulfilled their obligations in responding with open, accessible, transparent information related to the original questions I asked?

If not, you can help by submitting your own ATI request or by donating money to keep this investigation going.  ATI requests cost $5.00 each, which is a nominal amount, but it adds up after repeated and deliberate stonewalling to avoid answering the questions being asked.


Thursday, May 2, 2013

That "missing" $3.1 billion


Strange. Despite all the media reports and Opposition demands, I can't find any reference in the Auditor General's report saying anything close to "OMG! The Conservatives lost $3.1 billion!? Where did it go?!"


Oh wait, is this it?

8.21 As we noted, the Treasury Board allocated $12.9 billion for Initiative activities, but departments and agencies reported spending only $9.8 billion. We therefore asked the Secretariat for information that could help explain how the remaining $3.1 billion allocated between 2001 and 2009 was used.

8.22 We found that the Treasury Board generally restricted the way departments and agencies could use the funds, but it allowed reallocations. In such cases, the Secretariat was to receive assurance from departments and agencies that there would be no impact on the Initiative's activities for which funding had originally been allocated.


8.23 We asked Secretariat officials for information on whether such reallocations had occurred and whether assurances were provided by departments. We were informed that discussions took place between the departments and agencies and the Secretariat as part of the normal program challenge function. However, financial information on reallocations was not captured. The Secretariat, however, worked with us to identify several possible scenarios:


- The funding may have lapsed without being spent.

- It may have been spent on PSAT activities and reported as part of ongoing programs spending.
- It may have been carried forward and spent on programs not related to the Initiative.

Well, that was another fun non-scandal...