Saturday, July 11, 2009

Will Dimitri Soudas Be Fired This Time?

A member of Stephen Harper's communication staff, Dimitri Soudas, made two huge gaffes recently that damaged the Prime Ministers creditability even more than it has been already.

First, when there was a question about what Harper did with the communion wafer at Romeo Leblanc's funeral, Soudas lied the wrong way, making either explanation wrong.

He said that his boss immediately consumed it, though video clearly revealed that he did not. However, that lie brought a more important issue into question.

As a Protestant he wasn't supposed to accept it all. He should have remained seated or if he really needed that photo-op, stand with hands crossed so that the Bishop knew that he wasn't to offer him one (the PM actually reached for it).

Now if an ordinary citizen made this mistake, it would be different. But this is the leader of our country. Maybe his staff should focus on learning these things beforehand, instead of working 24/7 to cherry pick Michael Ignatieff's massive body of work, hoping to find just the right quote for attack ad fodder.

This brings me to this staffer's next blunder. He chose just the right quote for Harper to spew partisan venom, on the international stage no less, but darned if it wasn't something that Ignatieff had never said. It was someone else. They've spent so much time reading his books and speeches that they've forgotten his name obviously. Dimitri's explanation:

"Because in politics you do have exchanges between political opponents but you have to make sure those exchanged happen within a certain reality of things that people actually say." What!!!??? Within a certain reality???

Of course these are not isolated incidents and Dimitri Soudas has discredited the PMO, several times; though before it was mostly unethical behaviour that landed him in hot water, and that's actually viewed as a strength in this new Conservative Party.

Harper aide investigated by ethics commissioner
Elizabeth Thompson,
Canwest News Service
February 27 2008

OTTAWA - Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Quebec adviser and deputy press secretary is under investigation by the government's ethics commissioner in connection with allegations that he tried to intervene in a dispute that pitted the Department of Public Works against a Montreal developer.

The news of the investigation into the actions of Dimitri Soudas came to light on the eve of hearings by a parliamentary committee into the affair. Soudas is among those scheduled to testify.

The investigation centres on reports that Soudas intervened in a legal dispute that has pitted Montreal developer Michael Rosenberg of Rosdev Group against the Department of Public Works over an office tower located downtown Ottawa.

Soudas is reported to have summoned senior ministerial staffers from public works to a meeting on Aug. 2, 2006 to intervene on Rosdev's behalf, allegedly because Conservative organizers like his longtime friend Leo Housakos believed Rosenberg could become a strong ally in the party's battle to win seats in Quebec.

The meeting came only a few months after Harper came to power on a promise of bringing higher ethical standards to the government.

Soudas denied he had done anything wrong and said he was simply acting as a responsible government employee.

The news of the ethics probe came in a letter sent from Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson to New Democratic Party MP Charlie Angus, who had filed a complaint following reports suggesting Soudas had tried to intervene in favour of the Montreal developer for political reasons.

The letter, which was also sent to Soudas, was dated Feb. 6 and received by Angus's office Feb. 7, however he waited until the eve of the committee hearing to reveal its existence.

While Dawson has the power to ignore complaints she judges are "frivolous, vexatious or made in bad faith" Dawson said she has decided to examine the allegations that Soudas violated the ethics code.

Dimitri Soudas and newly appointed senator, Leo Housakos, also teamed up to try to influence a military contract for a Tory supporter. They make quite a team.

Back to - The Dimitri Soudas Story: And We Pay This Man a Salary, Why?

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