The 2006 federal election was one of the most bizarre on record. Going in the Liberals had a ten point lead. And in a little Deja Vu, this was the news in July of 2005:
Stephen Harper moved yesterday to revive his political fortunes in the electoral heartland of Ontario even as a new poll shows that 59 per cent of Canadians want him replaced, including more than one-third of his own supporters.After losing the 2004 election, and his thwarted attempt to form a coalition with the Bloc and NDP to bring down Paul Martin at the throne speech, we had all but written Harper off. He couldn't be trusted.
The poll also found that the difficulties of the just-completed sitting of the House of Commons have left Canadians with an increasingly negative image of Mr. Harper, with 41 per cent saying their opinion of the Conservative Leader has worsened .... "The poll, which found that the Liberals continue to maintain a nine-point lead on the Tories in voting intention, came yesterday as Mr. Harper glad-handed in cottage country north of Toronto. The Conservative Leader is touring Canada this summer to build party support in preparation for an election next winter.
But what we couldn't have known was that the Harper team was engaged in political guerrilla warfare. Monopolizing on the Sponsorship Scandal, they were able to paint Paul Martin as a crook, despite the fact that he wasn't involved and it was he who ordered the Gomerey investigation.
And that summer, when Stephen Harper was glad-handing, what he was really doing was mobilizing the Religious Right. Helped along with radio spots, purchased in over a hundred Canadian stations by James Dobson, the American behind the group, Focus on the Family.
Many of Harper's stump speeches regaled against same-sex marriage, while these radio spots did the same.
A foreign country interfering in a Canadian election.
But that was only the tip of the iceberg.
Friends of Science
The Conservative policy on the environment was weak at best, offering only an abstract 'Made in Canada' solution. As a result, a group calling themselves Friends of Science, also began buying up radio spots to sell the Conservative message that Global Warming was a hoax.
An investigation into FOS revealed that the group was actually tied directly to Stephen Harper and the oil and gas industry.
From the Globe and Mail:
Friends of Science has taken undisclosed sums from Alberta oil and gas interests. The money was funneled through the Calgary Foundation, to the University of Calgary and on to the FOS though something called the “Science Education Fund.” All this appears to be orchestrated by Stephen Harper’s long-time political confidante and fishing buddy, U. Calgary Prof Dr. Barry Cooper. It seems the FOS has taken a page right out of the US climate change attack group’s playbook: funnel money through foundations and third party groups to “wipe the oil” off the dollars they receive. (1)And from the University of Calgary's Gauntlet:
The University of Calgary has discontinued its relationship with the controversial Friends of Science organization and, after the results of an internal audit released Mon., Apr. 14, the U of C will revise policies related to research funding. But the audit did not determine whether funding from two trust funds at the university for an anti-Kyoto ad campaign was in violation of the Canada Elections Act. (2)It was in fact in violation, but by the time this was made public, Harper had been in office two years, and this possible criminal act was buried in the larger scandal of another election financing scheme.
The RCMP Complicity
At a point when the Liberals were assured victory, former RCMP boss, Giuliano Zaccardelli, appeared to have engineered a smear campaign against Ralph Goodale, suggesting that he and the Liberal Party by association, were involved in a bit of insider trading.
That too got swept under the rug.
Following the election, there was no immediate call for an inquiry. For the defeated Liberals to have demanded one would have appeared self-serving. The NDP had played the role of willing enabler for the RCMP plan, so it was not keen to demand accountability. And Prime Minister Stephen Harper, unlike Paul Martin and his zeal to appoint Judge Gomery to uncover his own party's scandal, had no interest in investigating a scandal that had helped the Conservatives win. (3)The "In and Out"
In April of 2008, at about the same time as the Friends of Science scandal broke, the RCMP raided the Conservative Party headquarters, as part of an investigation into an election financing scheme.
During the campaign, the Conservative party conducted a series of financial transactions in which it wire-transferred money to Tory candidates, who then returned cash to the party in the form of advertising purchases. One campaign official interviewed by Elections Canada staff referred to these transactions as “in-and-outs.”Many of the ads in question were for the national party and the only reference to the local candidates who paid for them were small tag lines at the end.This enabled them to spend over a million dollars more than the other parties on advertising, in the final days of the campaign. A direct violation of the election act.
But what this also meant was that local candidates, who would receive rebates of up to 60% of their expenses, were able to claim credits they weren't entitled to on money they themselves never spent. Almost $800,000.00 in tax payer dollars. And while Elections Canada froze rebates after discovering the scheme, many had already been issued.
A Parliamentary committee was organized to look into the affair, but Stephen Harper directed those called, to ignore the subpoenas, closed down the committee, then broke his own law by calling a snap election, putting Canadian taxpayers on the hoof for another 300 million dollars, simply because he didn't want to deal with what could eventually lead to criminal charges.
Undemocratic, given that his was the only party ready for election, since they were the only party aware that he would make such a daring move.
Stephen Harper has kept this tied up in the courts, while he continues to govern like nothing happened. As though he has a legal right to be where he is.
During those five years that he has held office, he has stolen our reputation, our democracy, our money and our sovereignty.
And his entire right to govern may have been the result of a fraud. Or several frauds as it turns out.
But we will take this information into the next election campaign. He can't escape justice forever.
1. Oil Companies Funding Friends of Science, Tim Ball takes the brunt, Jim Hoggan, DeSmog Blog, August 12, 2006
2. Friends of Science audit released: University looks into policies regarding research funding, By Jon Roe, Features Editor, The Gauntlet, April 17, 2008
3. Losing Confidence: Power, Politics and Crisis in Canadians Democracy, By Elizabeth May, McClelland & Stewart, 2009, ISBN: 978-0-7710-5760-1, Pg. 132-147