Sunday, January 17, 2010

Harper's Memoirs Reveal a Pattern of Running Away

"... no other English-speaking nation with a system of government like ours — not Britain, Australia or New Zealand — has ever had its parliament prorogued in modern times, so that its ruling party could avoid an investigation, or a vote of confidence, by other elected legislators.

Only three times has this happened, all in Canada — first in 1873, when Sir John A. Macdonald asked the governor general to prorogue Parliament, in order to halt a House of Commons probe into the Pacific Scandal. Lord Dufferin gave in to the demand, but when Parliament reconvened Macdonald was forced to resign.

No prime minister dared use prorogation to such effect again, until Stephen Harper convinced Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean to suspend Parliament in 2008, so the Conservatives could evade a confidence vote.

About 12 months later, he did it again. Harper claims he shut down Parliament to "recalibrate" his government, but his critics say he did so to escape the rising pressure of the Afghan-detainee affair and its investigation by a House of Commons committee. (By Richard Foot, Canwest News Service, January 16, 2010)

That's it in a nutshell. Parliament was prorogued because the parliamentary committee was getting too close to uncovering the truth abut what Harper knew and when on the torture of Afghan Detainees.

But there was actually another time when Steve shut down a committee that was investigating his party's wrong doing. This involved the "in and Out" election financing scheme, that is still under investigation.

Dr. Joan Russow has suggested that Stephen Harper has no legal right to govern, with an ongoing criminal investigation against his party.

Canadian Election: Perhaps the most absurd in Canadian History

There should never have been an election in Canada. The Governor General should have refused to accept the Right Honourable Steven Harper’s request for an election when there was an outstanding investigation into the fraudulent practices of the Conservative Party during the 2006 election. The investigation was underway by the Parliamentary Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics. With the calling of the election, the Committee was disbanded. In addition, there was a similar investigation by Elections Canada.

August 14, 2008

CP Wire Tim Naumetz OTTAWA -- Three Conservative campaign agents ignored summonses they received more than a week ago to appear at a Commons inquiry into the Tory "in and out" advertising affair, MPs were told Wednesday. The chair of the Commons ethics committee also identified a fourth former Conservative campaign agent who informed a House official he and others who worked on the 2006 election campaign were instructed by the party not to testify.

Combined with earlier comments from yet another Conservative -- who said a party official informed him and other potential witnesses from Toronto they could ignore the summonses if they wished -- the news fuelled angry reactions from opposition MPs.

Wednesday marked the first time Liberal committee chair Paul Szabo has identified the specific agents whose comments have sparked accusations of a "conspiracy" in Conservative ranks to subvert the inquiry into $1.3 million in campaign advertising expenses.

Szabo quoted from a report he received from a bailiff firm the committee hired in an attempt to compel the former campaign agents and defeated candidates to appear.

It said a Conservative who was the official agent for Heritage Minister Josee Verner, another who was the campaign agent for Tory MP Sylvie Boucher, a parliamentary secretary to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and another who was official agent for Conservative MP Daniel Petit were all served summonses by Aug. 6.

Szabo also read from a report prepared by the committee's chief clerk that quoted another official agent, Marc Duval, saying he and others had been told to stay away. "He informed me that the party has told them to decline all invitations," the report quoted Duval as saying. Duval, who was the campaign agent for Tory MP Luc Harvey, could not be reached by summons-bearing bailiffs after that because he left for vacation, said Szabo.

The latest disclosures, which came on top of similar statements the previous day from the official campaign agent for a Toronto riding, prompted calls from opposition MPs for sanctions against those who failed to turn out for the hearings.

"It sets a terrible precedent for the committee, that people can just thumb their noses at us," said NDP MP Pat Martin. "Somebody co-ordinated this, it was a boycott of our committee." More than a dozen witnesses who were scheduled to appear Wednesday afternoon also failed to show, including Patrick Muttart, a close aide to Harper, and other senior party officials or former party officials.

The committee was into its third day of intermittent testimony over a Conservative advertising scheme that allegedly allowed the party to exceed its 2006 election spending limit by $1.1 million.

The party transferred thousands of dollars into the campaign bank accounts of 67 selected candidates and quickly transferred the money back out, ostensibly in payment for radio and television advertising on behalf of the candidates. But executives with the advertising firm that placed the ads testified Wednesday they dealt only with the national party.

They also said that at one point during the campaign they were so concerned about the legality of the transactions they held two conference calls with party officials and their lawyer.

One of the Conservative candidates who did show up for the hearing told MPs he and his official agent withheld their participation in the program until they were convinced it was legal.

Steve Halicki, the defeated Conservative candidate in the Toronto riding of York South Weston, nonetheless admitted it was presented as a way for his campaign to fill its coffers with money it could not raise in the riding.

-- The Canadian Press

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