Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Lost Boys of Neverland Have Been Discovered

In March of 2001, Rahim Jaffer, an Alliance MP, got into a bit of trouble when a hoax he had helped to perpetrate, blew up in his face.

Jaffer then owned a string of coffee shops in Edmonton, one of them set to open on the very day that he was supposed to do a radio interview with Peter Warren, on Corus Radio Network.

To solve the problem, Jaffer had his administrative assistant, Matthew Johnston, appear in his place.  However, when the show was aired, someone recognized Johnston's voice and called into the station to complain.
Peter Warren, the show's host, says the hoax was eventually revealed, but not before both Johnston and Jaffer tried to cover it up. Warren says his producer asked Jaffer directly if they had talked to him on the air.

"She reached him [Jaffer] at his cafe in Edmonton and said to him, 'Was that you on the interview with Peter Warren on the Corus Radio Network an hour ago?' and his answer was, 'Yes it was. I was happy to do the interview'."   Warren says they finally got an admission from Johnston and Jaffer when they asked them to put their version in writing.
Jaffer's friend, Ezra Levant, would later say that "Matthew had acted entirely on his own".

However, Preston Manning, leader of the Reform Party that had morphed into Alliance, gives a slightly different version of the story, one far more believable.  (Think Big: My Adventures in Life and Politics, p. 379-80)

After realizing that he had set up the radio interview on the day that he would be opening his new coffee shop, Jaffer made arrangements himself with Matthew Johnston, to appear in his place. Since it was radio no one would see him, and the Edmonton-Strathcona MP drilled his replacement on potential answers to specific questions.

When the media got wind of the hoax, Jaffer and "his team" went into damage control.  According to Manning:
Chuck Strahl, the House leader, first learned of all this from Jason Kenney at a strategy meeting at Stornoway. Chuck told Jason that Rahim's account had better be the whole truth, because the media would be looking for contradictions, and if they found any Rahim would be in even greater trouble. Jason [Kenney] then said "I wouldn't worry about that. $40,000.00 buys a lot of silence."
Apparently that was the amount of taxpayer funded 'severance' given to Matthew Johnston for keeping quiet.
The reference to $ 40,000.00 was made without elaboration. The next day the same statement about $40,000.00 was repeated by Ezra Levant to both Chuck Cadman and Deborah Grey, who at his time demanded an explanation. Ezra then said that it meant nothing, that he was just shooting off his mouth and it was no big deal.
I would say that fraud is a pretty big deal. Matthew Johnston was later named senior vice-president of Levant's magazine, the Western Standard.

Jason Kenney, Rahim Jaffer and Ezra Levant were once known as the "Snack Pack".  All young Reformers, all single (Jaffer later married Helena Guergis) and all products of the Fraser Institute.

A decade later the two remaining members, Kenney and Levant, have become more like the Lost Boys of Neverland, from J. M. Barrie's play Peter Pan.
They are boys who fall out of their prams when the nurse isn't looking and were lost by their nannies in places such as Kensington Gardens. Having gone unclaimed for seven days, they were whisked off to Neverland, where they live with Peter Pan. There are no "lost girls", because girls are much too clever to fall out of their prams and be lost in this manner.
A little tumble out of a pram does explain a lot, and when we hear of another hoax involving Jason Kenney and Ezra Levant, it becomes clear that this pair simply refuse to grow up.
Bureaucrats working in Jason Kenney’s department posed as immigrants to pull off an elaborate stunt for Sun TV News, according to documents obtained by CP’s Jennifer Ditchburn. (Wait. What? How is this real?)  According to Ditchburn, what happened was this: Sun TV was supposed to film a citizenship reaffirmation ceremony in their studios, but the department could only find three people willing to participate. Instead of cancelling the stunt, they had federal employees, presumably on the federal clock, stand in for the rest of the crowd.
And in typical fashion, Kenney is blaming someone else.
" I want always to be a boy, and have fun. Come with me where you'll never, never have to worry about grown up things again " Peter Pan

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