Wednesday, July 1, 2009

John Baird to Auction Off Accountability Act on Ebay

Here's your chance to own a piece of history. A never used accountability act, just like new and still in it's original folder.

So place your bid now, before it's too late!

This message is brought to you by the Conservative Party of Canada.

Not that any of us are really surprised, but John Baird has once again proven that his so-called accountability act is a farce.

The Conservatives are constantly moving their staff into lobbying positions and then allowing them to represent special interests with the minister they had just worked for.

The unearthing of this latest scheme was revealed to me when I was researching a different government corruption story: the Maxime Bernier and Julie Couillard story, but tied in with yet another government corruption story: coal companies and Ridley Terminals.

I wish the Conservatives would just spend a couple of days trying to be honest and above board. I'm getting dizzy.

How the story has unfolded so far:

1. 2005 and the government plans to sell the crown corporation, Ridley Terminals Inc., because it is a money pit.

2. 2006 election campaign, Stephen Harper is lobbied by coal industry to retain government subsidies to the terminals. (Most represent American firms)

3. Harper wins election and appoints Dan Veniez to selvage RTI

4. Mr. Veniez is successful, but tells Harper that RTI should be sold since it will require hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade. He even has a buyer.

5. Professional media blitz spear headed by quasi grassroots group.

6. Rob Merrifield and Jay Hill cozy up to coal industry and snub the Canadian taxpayer.

7. Merrifield fires Dan Veniez.

However, so far, that is only part of the story. On June 29, 2009; John Baird announced (right after the firing of Dan Veniez); "... the appointment of Mr. Stuart Douglas Boland (Bud) Smith as Interim Chairperson of the Ridley Terminals Inc. (RTI) Board of Directors."

Mr Boland's name came up in another story I was covering Harper ramps up patronage posts in British Columbia (the story included the fact that Julie Couillard's mother was given a patronage appointment): Stuart Douglas Boland (Bud) Smith, the former Social Credit minister who had close ties to the federal party, was appointed director of the Prince Rupert Port Authority.

And again in Dan Vaniez's letter to Rob Merrifield, where he exposed the government corruption in the mishandling of Ripley Terminals. Apparently the Prince Rupert Port Authority, who lease the property to Ridley, was going to raise the rent in a further attempt to squeeze out and discredit Mr. Vaniez: "The economics of PRPA's proposed rent did not meet the basic test of common sense. Moreover, the proposed lease did not include an option for land that's required to eventually expand RTI. That option is fundamentally critical to RTI's future. We could not accept such a proposal."

Another important argument brought up by Mr. Veniez was:

The Financial Administration Act makes clear that a Crown Corporation operates at arm's length from the government, and Cabinet appoints a board to ensure that the interests of taxpayers are safeguarded.

That arrangement should protect ministers and allow boards to act in the best interests of the enterprise, and thereby the taxpayer.

When special interest groups find advocates in ministers, and when those ministers do not hesitate to intervene on behalf of the special interests, accountability breaks down and Crown performance suffers.

Our mandate as cabinet appointed trustees of a public asset is to secure, protect, and enhance it for all Canadian taxpayers, not the interests of lobby groups aggressively promoting special dispensation.

Since when has something so trivial as the law stopped John Baird? Once again he stuck his nose in and stuck it deep.

Breaking the rules of his own accountability act, he removes Erin Wall, assistant to Brian Jean, Member of Parliament and Parliamentary Secretary for the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities. (aka John Baird) and sends her to work for Global Public Affairs. Ms Wall is then registered as a lobbyist for the Houston based International Commodity Export Corporation, the largest beneficiary of government subsidies to the terminals. You will notice here that her appointment took place on June 19, 2009; just before the firing of Dan Veniez, and on the same day that ICEC underwent a name change to give it the appearance of a Canadian company.

This government is transparent, but accountable? Not by a long shot.

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