These aren't the obvious things, like 130 million for self promo television ads, 45 million for signs or 100 million for opinion polls, and then ignoring our opinions completely.
These took a lot more work. A lot more cunning. And a lot more deceit. And several of them you may not have even been aware of until now.
I'm listing them as David Letterman presents his top ten lists, beginning with the last.
10. The creation of an AstroTurf group called Canadians for Afghanistan, whose role was to change public opinion on the war. Turns out it was funded by military companies eager to continue their lucrative contracts, and run by party insiders.
A self-described grassroots youth organization that wants Canada to continue its mission in Afghanistan was organized with help from a lobbyist who, until recently, worked for a prominent Conservative MP. The group, Canadians for Afghanistan, introduced itself to the national media on Parliament Hill yesterday by calling on Canada to remain committed to ongoing military and humanitarian support.9. The appointment of a big Pharma Vice-President to a government agency responsible for distributing funds to the industry.
The Canadians For Afghanistan website lists its main contact as Josh McJannett, a former Conservative staffer who worked for government whip Jay Hill until September. He had previously worked as an aide to Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer. After leaving the Hill, Mr. McJannett became a lobbyist with Summa Strategies, an Ottawa government-relations firm that counts some defence contractors, including U.S. aircraft manufacturer Boeing, among its clients.
Last October, the Harper government appointed Bernard Prigent to the governing council of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the federal agency that distributes about a billion dollars annually for health research. That appointment was met with near-universal condemnation from medical ethicists, because Prigent is a vice-president of Pfizer Canada, a firm that stands to profit from the decisions made at CIHR.8. The creation of an AstroTurf group promoting the continued subsidy of the coal industry, mostly American, by having the operation of Ridley Terminals, paid for by tax payers.
In the great scheme of Canada’s economy, Ridley Terminals Inc. is no big deal. With annual revenue of just under $25-million, the Crown corporation operates a bulk-commodity handling facility off Ridley Island in Prince Rupert, B.C., 1,000 kilometres north of Vancouver. FP Comment’s editorial team has never been to Ridley Terminals, and wouldn’t know a bulk handling facility from the Coney Island Cyclone Ride. What we do know, when we see it, is big time corporate subsidy seeking, backroom politics, scheming lobbyists and cabinet ministers throwing their weight around to satisfy the big time corporate interests.The AstroTurfers were the Ridley Terminals Users Group and they were financed by the Houston based (with ties to G.W. Bush) Global Public Affairs.
The focus of opposition activity is the Ridley Terminals Users Group, a cabal of major B.C. and Alberta coal mine operators, including such giants as Husky Energy, Suncor Energy, Tech Coal and Coal Valley Resources, headquartered in Mr. [Rob] Merrifield’s riding. The listed federal lobbyist for Ridley Terminal Users Group is Philip Cartwright, of Global Public Affairs in Ottawa. With Global Public Affairs leading the campaign, a sudden un-spontaneous groundswell of opposition is sweeping local governments in and around Prince Rupert. The National Post called them Harper's Ridley terminators.And to avoid the problem of pandering to an American organization, Harper broke the rules of his own accountability act, by removing Erin Wall, assistant to Brian Jean, Member of Parliament and Parliamentary Secretary for the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities [John Baird] and sent her to work for Global Public Affairs.
Ms Wall was then registered as a lobbyist for the Houston based International Commodity Export Corporation, the largest beneficiary of government subsidies to the [Ridley] terminals. Her appointment took place on June 19, 2009; just before the firing of Dan Veniez (the operator of the terminals who went public), and on the same day that ICEC underwent a name change to give it the appearance of a Canadian company. And they get 25 million dollars annually, as a gift from Canadian taxpayers.
7. Breaking election laws by allowing a non-profit organization, then headed up by Kory Teneycke, to campaign for the Conservatives under the guise of promoting renewable energies. The Conservatives 2005-06 election platform on environmental issues, was called 'Made in Canada'. Coincidentally the same 'Made in Canada' solutions promoted by Canadian Renewable Energies, which was funded in part by the oil and gas industry. They were also given a two billion dollar grant by Jim Flaherty.
The brochure used to be available on-line, but it has conveniently disappeared (I have a printed copy that I'll scan and show later). However, it was filled with pictures of Harper Conservatives and headed 'Made in Canada'. A steal at two billion dollars.
6. After Dr. John O'Connor, a family physician who was a visiting doctor to the small northern Alberta community of Fort Chipewyan, reported high levels of a rare cancer in those living downstream from the Tar Sands, the Harper government set out to destroy him.
... the family physician never anticipated that speaking out about his concerns would land him in a career-threatening struggle against the federal government with his medical licence on the line."Looking back, it's been a nightmare for me," O'Connor said in an interview. "It's just something I never expected in a million years. I just wanted to be the family doctor that I was when I went up there."In April of 2009, Dr. O'Connor and Andrew Nikiforuk, author of Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent; were asked to speak at a special parliamentary committee on 'the impact of world's largest energy project on water: 130 square kilometres of waste water, acid rain, fish deformities, rare cancers and city-scale withdrawals of freshwater.'Expecting to be treated as the experts that they were , they were instead ambushed by, for lack of a better term, a gang of thugs, all from the Conservative goon squad. As Nikiforuk recounts:
But both O'Connor and I made a terrible mistake. We assumed that all committee members would be interested in rigorous dialogue regardless of political affiliation. But that's not what Ottawa delivered. Instead, several Tory MPs subjected us to abusive Republican tactics geared to dismiss, discredit and dishonour.And yet they claimed they didn't know about deformed fish in the Tar Sands rivers.
5. Another AstroTurf group was created to sell Canadians on the notion that Climate Change was a hoax. Calling themselves Friends of Science, they ran ads on radio stations aping Harper's environmental policies.
David McGuinty was baffled when he first heard provocative advertising about global warming in the midst of the 2006 federal election.The radio spots criticized a consumer energy conservation program along with the climate change policies of the government of the day and appeared to come from nowhere.But Charles Montgomery, from the Globe and Mail, uncovered the truth:
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.4. The Listeriosis outbreak that was the direct result of Stephen Harper allowing meat processing firms to inspect themselves. Twenty Canadians died and hundreds more fell ill from tainted meat that came from Maple Leaf Foods.
According to Council of Canadians:
"At the heart of [the system] is a reliance on industry reporting and monitoring, rather than independent government testing, and an emphasis on cleaning up the mess (to the environment or human lives) caused by bad products after the fact. They call this “risk management,” an about-face from the “precautionary principle” of better safe than sorry."And despite promising to put meat inspectors back on the job, nothing has been done.
3. The hiring of Nigel Wright as Harper's new Chief of Staff, secured the contract for the F-35s.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper's designated new chief of staff was until last week a director of a major U.S. aircraft manufacturer that is partnered with defence industry giant Lockheed Martin in a bid to sell a fleet of precision attack and reconnaissance warplanes to the U.S. Air Force. Opposition MPs are raising red flags over the link between Nigel Wright, expected to take over as Prime Minister Harper's (Calgary Southwest, Alta.) chief of staff in January, and the U.S. defence bid because of the controversial $17-billion sole-source contract Prime Minister Harper's Cabinet is awarding to Lockheed Martin to supply Canada with 65 stealth fighter jets.And Canada recently won a golden lemon award for the purchase of these planes from an American foreign policy magazine.
The Golden Lemon Award goes to the Conservative government of Canada for shelling out $8.5 billion to buy 65 Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighters. According to Defense Minister Peter MacKay, “This multi-role stealth fighter will help the Canadian forces defend the sovereignty of Canadian airspace.” Exactly whom that airspace is being defended from is not clear.The contract also includes a $6.6 billion maintenance agreement, which is a good thing because the F-35 has a number of “problems.” For instance, its engine shoots out sparks, and no one can figure out why. It is generally thought a bad idea for an engine to do that.They are junk that no one wants, so why not pawn them off on the Canadian taxpayer?
2. The "In and Out" election financing scheme that took place in 2006. The Conservative Party HQ deposited large sums of money into the bank accounts of candidates who would not be spending their maximum. They then used that money to buy national ads, meaning that they were able to spend over a million dollars more than the opposition, in direct violation of the Elections Act.
But to top it off, those candidates were able to claim those expenses as their own, receiving large cheques in the mail on behalf of us again. In one case a Quebec hopeful had only raised $ 1500.00 but got a nice bonus of over $ 12,000.00.
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 the investigation.
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.1. And my number one favourite Conservative misdeed, that has certainly flown under the radar, was the secret bailing out of our banks. This was necessary after allowing sub-prime mortgages to infiltrate our once sound banking industry.
And not only did Flaherty give them 150 billion dollars of our money, but they also tapped the U.S. government for 111 billion dollars more. And yet everywhere they go, Flaherty and Harper sing their praises.
And you would think that after such a generous gift, our banks would ease up on service charges. Nope. Instead they gave their execs bonuses of 8 billion in 2009 and 10 billion in 2010. Rewarded for the fine job they are doing.
In the November 2009 "Markets At A Glance" investment newsletter by Eric Sprott and David Franklin, they revealed:
"Acknowledging the leverage levels above, you may wonder how the Canadian banks escaped the 2008 meltdown unscathed. The answer is that they received significant assistance from the Canadian government. First, they received $65 billion in liquidity injections from the Insured Mortgage Purchase Program (IMPP), whereby Canada Mortgage and Housing (CMHC) purchased insured mortgages from Canadian banks to provide additional liquidity on the asset side of their balance sheets. Next, the Bank of Canada provided them with an additional $45 billion in temporary liquidity facilities. Finally, a Canadian Bank (that shall remain nameless) also received assistance from the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) through the purchase of $4 billion in mortgages prior to the IMPP program, for a total government expenditure of $114 billion. For reference, the entire tangible common equity of the Canadian Banks in 2008 was $68 billion. Can you put two and two together? The Canadian government injected a sum through mortgage purchases worth more than the entire tangible common equity of the Canadian banking system!The incident was reported on randomly in Canada when it hit 150 billion, but is now alleged to be in the neighborhood of about 186 billion dollars of our money (I haven't been able to confirm the additional 36). And another 111 billion dollars of American money.
So there you have it folks. My top ten. But let's not forget all the people Harper has fired, simply because they dared to cross him. Afghan Detainee abuse and the attacks on Richard Colvin. Two self-serving prorogations. Abolishing the mandatory long-form census. Selling us off to the Americans with an aggressive trade deal. Cardboard cheques ....
Maybe I'll need to make another list.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
1. My Next Top Ten List of Conservative Misdeeds
2. Another List of Conservative Misdeeds
3. Today's Top Ten Conservative Misdeeds
4. Ten More Conservative Misdeeds for TGIF
5. My Next Ten Reasons to Throw the Bums Out