Sunday, November 17, 2013

Republican Dirty Politics Still Crossing the Northern Border – But THERE It IS Prosecuted, Conservatives ARE Fined

Robo-caller, if they were cute
The GOP plays dirty; and as of 2011, following the Tea Party putsch of 2010, the Canadian Conservatives imported the GOP strategies, and dirty politics into Canada — and are paying the price.  To understand the GOP in the U.S., we also need to follow what they have been up to in our neighbor to the north.

Not too many Americans have followed the scandals, plural, of dirty tricks American Conservative style crossing the border to contaminate Canadian Conservative politics. Time to update those scandals, and to educate the isolationists among us about American style dirty tricks by firms that specialize in GOP strategy that have been active in Canada.

We should be looking to the same dirty tricks on OUR side of the border.

Following the 2010 year of the Tea Party wins, Canadian conservatives decided to try to emulate the voter suppression tactics that worked so well for those “value voter” right wing nuts in the U.S. They did so by employing the same right wing strategists.

A little background – this sums up the claims about voter suppression made back in March 2012 regarding the 2011 election cycle in Canada:
UVic professor claims voter suppression promoted at conservative campaign school
By Andy Radia | Canada Politics
Wed, 7 Mar, 2012
While the Conservatives continue to deny their involvement in the robocall
The latest link is courtesy of John Fryer, a member of the Order of Canada and an adjunct professor at the University of Victoria.
In the wake of the robocall scandal, last week, Fryer penned an open letter describing a campaign school he attended two years ago, at the Conservative-aligned Manning Centre for Democracy.
“In January, 2010, my UVic inbox had an e-mail invite from a democracy centre to attend a campaign school. Intrigued, I signed up for the three-day event,” Fryer wrote in the letter published in the Globe and Mail.
“Topics covered included voter identification. Discussion ensued about suppression techniques. Instructors explained voter suppression tactics were borrowed from those used by the U.S. Republican Party. Many kinds of suppression calls were canvassed. Another instructor gave detailed explanations of how robo-calls worked, techniques for recording messages, plus costs involved.
“Instructors made it clear that robo-calling and voter suppression were an acceptable and normal part of winning political campaigns.”
In a later interview with Emma Pullman of the Vancouver Observer, Fryer claims that in a question and answer session, attendees discussed voter suppression tactics. They talked about posing as a member of another party, and about making rude calls at inconvenient times as a strategy to get the supporter of another party to not go out and vote for their candidate.
Pullman did some research into the so-called “campaign school” and found several Conservative links.
“The event’s star-studded slate of speakers included former Press Secretary to Stephen Harper (and current President of Sun Media) Kory Teneycke and David Akin, the National Bureau Chief for Sun Media,” Pullman wrote in a column published Wednesday.
“Other headliners were Stephen Taylor, founder of the Blogging Tories, and Dimitri Pantazopoulos, a former pollster for the federal Conservatives, the Canadian Alliance and the Reform Party who is now the Principal Secretary to Premier Christy Clark.”
Pullman claims the school was organized by Fraser McDonald of the Manning Centre in addition to Richard Ciano and Nick Kouvalis, both founding partners of Campaign Research Inc.
According to a recently Ottawa Citizen article, Campaign Research did work for at least 39 Conservative candidates in the last election, and was paid nearly $400,000 for the work.
Campaign Research was also the firm implicated in the campaign against Irwin Cotler. In December, the company allegedly placed misleading calls to the Liberal MP’s constituents falsely claiming he was resigning his seat.
There is no indication, however, that Campaign Research was in any way involved in the robocall scandal.
Since then, additional claims have resulted in fines and expanded investigations into voter suppression, including that related to a Republican strategy firm, Front Porch Strategies. As of this past September, Front Porch Strategies continues to be linked to NEW conservative scandals in Canada, while the 2011 election investigations continue and expand, beyond substantial fines last spring:
Front Porch Strategies’ Harper Connection
Front Porch Strategies may ring a bell for Canadians because of the firm’s efforts in the 2011 federal election in which, “Fourteen Conservative MPs signed on with a well-connected Republican company during last year’s election campaign, contrary to the party’s claims.” Among their clients was Peterborough MP Dean Del Mastro, the Conservative Party’s point man on the Robocall scandal, whose campaign spending in the 2008 election is being investigated by Elections Canada.
Despite working on 14 Conservative campaigns, some Conservatives tried to cover up Front Porch’s involvement. “Four of the 14 Conservative MPs who hired US political strategists in the 2011 election do not list the voter contact firm on their Elections Canada expense reports,” according to findings by the Vancouver Observer.
“It’s not clear whether Front Porch stuck to teleforum work or handled other types of voter outreach — such as robo-calling — for its 14 Conservative clients,” the Toronto Star reported, adding that “the company’s website notes it has worked for the Conservative caucus as well as MPs.”
But Front Porch definitely went even further in some ridings on behalf of its Conservative clients, and the Conservatives tried to cover it up. As reported in the Vancouver Observer, “In at least two Conservative-won ridings with reported election irregularities, Front Porch Strategies had US staff on the ground – possibly against Elections Canada rules barring foreign campaigning. In the wake of the ‘robocall’ voter suppression scandal, the Republican-tied U.S. firm hired by 14 Conservative campaigns admitted on Friday to having had U.S. staff working ‘in the trenches’ during the 2011 elections, in an apparent violation of the Canada Election Act which bars foreign political involvement.”
The connection between the Conservative Party and Front Porch Strategies goes even deeper. Prior to the federal election, Front Porch hired Jim Ross, a long-time Conservative operative and former staffer for Conservative MP Rick Dykstra, as a consultant for its Canadian operations. Front Porch also hired Erin Wall, a former communications adviser to Treasury Board President Tony Clement.
And Front Porch doesn’t hide its pro-Harper-Conservative leanings, with the CBC reporting that Front Porch’s “website features a gushing report on Harper and the Conservatives winning last year’s election, calling the prime minister ‘the most powerful conservative leader in the Americas.’”
When the revelations about Front Porch surfaced last spring, Democracy Watch’s Duff Conacher commented that “it’s very disturbing to see the Conservative Party using companies with these kinds of partisan (Republican) ties.”

The latest is an attempt, after the Conservative Party has been fined, and while it is up to it’s metaphorical eyeballs in other scandals, notably involving campaigning in that same election by conservative senators, it appears that a young volunteer may be being scapegoated. Sona was charged in May, but has not yet come to trial, which is scheduled for June 2014.

Now a ban has been lifted on Conservative staffers who accused Sona, against whom there was no direct evidence, AND it turns otu that there are some very serious charges of questionable involvement by the lawyer for the Conservative party, who with his law firm, are embroiled in that OTHER Canadian Conservative politics scandal.
Hamilton’s involvement in the interviews with witnesses has raised questions about the independence of the Elections Canada investigation into calls that the agency believes were made using records extracted from the Conservative Party’s voter-tracking database.
On Monday, Hamilton was drawn into the political drama over the Senate expense scandal when Senator Mike Duffy tabled a copy of a cheque for $13,560 from Hamilton’s law firm, which Duffy said was used to pay his legal fees.
Elections Canada continues to investigate more than 1,300 complaints about misleading live and recorded election phone calls in 200 other ridings across the country, which were reported to the agency after the Citizen and Postmedia News reported on the Guelph investigation last year.
That other scandal involving conservatives is the basis for an effort to either permanently dissolve the upper house of the federal Canadian government, equivalent to and modeled after the American bicameral legislative branch, or to radically reform it.
OTTAWA—By revealing the Conservatives used their own funds to secretly help Sen. Mike Duffy during the investigation of his questionable Senate expenses, the embattled senator thrust Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s party squarely into the alleged cover-up of the scandal.
The possible role of the Conservative Party, which counts on the public for support through tax-deductible donations, has been looming in the background of the Senate scandal for months.
In a court document in June, the RCMP said lawyers for Nigel Wright, the former chief of staff for Harper, told police the Conservative Party was initially going to repay the Senate for Duffy’s questionable expense claims from party funds. That was when it was estimated that Duffy’s questionable expenses totalled about $32,000, the lawyers told the RCMP.
“When it was realized that the cost was actually $90,000, it was too much money to ask the Conservative Party to cover,” according to information provided by RCMP Cpl. Greg Horton. Wright then offered to cover the cost of Duffy’s expense problem to protect taxpayers, his lawyers told police.
The only two conditions were that the money be repaid promptly and that Duffy “stop talking to the media about it,” according to Horton. The investigation is ongoing.
The police probe came after it became public that Wright had personally written a $90,000 cheque to Duffy to allow the senator to pay back his questionable expenses. This also led to Wright’s departure from the PMO. Recently, Harper has been pushing for senators to suspend Duffy — along with senators Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau — from the Senate without pay over alleged misuse of Senate funds.
But on Monday, the saga took a new turn as Conservative Party officials were forced to confirm Duffy’s revelation that he received a $13,560 cheque from the Tories to pay his legal bills.
Relishing the irony of the situation, Duffy told the Senate: “Mike Duffy, the man they now claim is a cheat, had more than $13,000 in legal expenses paid by Arthur Hamilton, the Conservative Party’s lawyer.”
Looks like the Canadian Conservatives are starting to distance themselves from American Conservative politics. Maybe we would get OUR Conservatives to give up dirty politics too — if we start putting them in jail, and making them pay hefty fines for illegal and unethical behavior during elections.

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