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If Harper refuses to back down on Oda staying in Cabinet..try pulling the plug

Chantal Hebert makes her case in the Toronto Star this morning that the Bev Oda affair and Harper’s refusal to sack her because of her misleading Parliament is a far better reason to be pulling the plug on this government then even the Budget:

If Harper was the leader of the official opposition, he would already be taking steps to withdraw the confidence of the House from the government. In the spring of 2005, he reversed his support of a Liberal budget to step in front of an opposition parade to oust Paul Martin from office over revelations pertaining to the sponsorship scandal. At the time Harper argued persuasively that the damning evidence presented to the inquiry presided by Justice John Gomery cast such doubts as to the integrity of the Liberal government that he could not justify continuing to support it.

..What was true then is as true now. The Prime Minister — by virtue of his role and his authority — defines the culture of his government and Canadians deserve to decide whether a culture of ministerial deceit is what they expect from a party that came to power promising to restore the integrity of an abused system. …Surely the integrity of Canada’s democratic system — to borrow Ignatieff’s phrase — is an even better reason for an election than the tax regimen of corporate Canada or the need — as promoted by the NDP — for pension reform and home heating cost relief.

Everyone points to the polls being currently bad for the opposition parties. If you remember, however, the polls weren’t great for Harper either when he decided to do this.  It would be a very good opportunity to stand on principle – Parliamentary principle – and take that to the Canadian voters.  Obviously, the Liberals (whom my particular post is aimed at) would need NDP and Bloc support to down the government on a non-confidence vote.  At the very least, however, proclaiming that this latest flagrant abuse and contempt of Parliament meant the Liberals would be withdrawing confidence – as Harper did once – and proclaiming that the polls in this case don’t matter – that principle does – might be a help to the Liberals (and other parties) not a hindrance.

Perhaps there is a temptation to wait until the Speaker rules on this, or to see if Oda will finally be pushed out due to public pressure.. but I urge the opposition parties not to wait too long on this before it fades from view again.

UPDATE: I think this decision is made even more compelling by the fact it appears Harper and his PMO may be the ones behind all this.

This furor raises a number of questions. Did Oda initially approve the funding, as her signature on the document suggests? That’s what some suspect. “None of this washes,” Green Party Leader Elizabeth May said this week. “The most plausible explanation . . . is that Bev Oda signed the approval and the “NOT” was inserted subsequently.”

Did Harper or his office overrule her? Has Oda been a loyal trooper, carrying the can for her boss? Is that why Harper is defending the indefensible?

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20 comments to If Harper refuses to back down on Oda staying in Cabinet..try pulling the plug

  • TofKW

    Sir Francis, despite her appearance as a Yoko-wannabe in that photo where she takes a drag in the back alley behind the Centre Block; Bev Oda has quite a resume and list of accomplishments during her time as a commissioner with the CRTC and later with CTV.

    But then she became part of the Harper government and turned into a useful idiot like most of the CPC MPs.

  • …most of them think Bev Oda is some sort of bingo playing mom photographed at the intermission…

    Is that fundamentally inaccurate?

  • Tomm

    I think TofKW is right. If the oppositioon wants an election “now”, then this is the issue.

    But the election has to be “now”. If the opposition waits, votes for the budget and then allows October 2012 to loom toward us, then all of this becomes moot.

    For example, who in Canada is going to change their vote today because of Helena Geurgis, Rahim Jaffer, or Maxime Bernier? Nobody. If the opposition is going to strike, they need to strike while the iron is hot. And they need to pound the conservative’s with negative attack ads to change momentum, because like foottothefire, the public is presently not engaged and most of them think Bev Oda is some sort of bingo playing mom photographed at the intermission (given the recent photo’s).

  • marie R

    We do not speak for all Canadians. The only thing Harper is worrying about is keeping his job and to hell with the rest of Canadians. They are only helpful to him if they support his lies,getting their votes if they close their eyes and ears to his lack of credibility of his own very words on the many broken promises and his contempt for Parliamentarians and Canadians in general.

    Bring on the election, debate this man on live Television and let them both stand up at the podium without cheater q-cards. I wonder how long he practises in front of a mirror making his excuses for any possible question he may have to face. He simply looks like a man out of his comfort zone.If he were drowning in a stormy sea, I would not throw him a life jacket until he went down for the 3rd time and then maybe, give him a rope depending on how I felt at the time. I don’t have to like him which I don’t. I would walk across the street rather than meet him. He stinks to high heaven. I don’t even think he worries about the economy per say, more like worring about the shortage of tax dollars he can spend on his own campaign and photo ops.

  • foottothefire

    Canadians in general don’t give a rats heiny about this one.
    Get back to the economy and the fact Liberals are not being heard anywhere Canada.
    The only thing worrying Harper is the economy and the question of how long he can manipulate control over interest rates in Canada (and he does, believe it or not).

  • wilson

    p.s. KAIROS did not get a funding cut,
    this is not a government agency,
    their application for funding was rejected.
    And the Govt of Canada is not the only contributor to ‘cut’ KAIROS funding.

    • Redrum

      @wilson, stop twisting yourself in nots.

      The passages you’ve extracted do NOT get to the heart of the issue.

      The relevant facts are these: (with * denoting the clearly agreed to parts, and ^ the murky)

      - * CIDA, the gov’t agency, having reviewed the NGO’s proposal, find that KAIROS DOES meet the criteria & guidelines the gov’t has directed it to evaluate international development funding applications by, so in Sept., its directors, incl. the ADM, recommends to the Minister that it BE funded;

      - ^ it sits in the Minister’s “in” box for 2 months; and it gets date stamped & “robo-signed” & the word “NOT” totally reversing that rec. are all inserted at some point by person(s) unknown during that period, and reportedly, the minister herself was not even in Ottawa on the date it was
      ostensibly signed (Nov. 29, 1999);

      - * CIDA carries out its new marching orders, and issues KAIROS a “Dear John: it’s over” call, claiming their proposal didn’t meet their criteria [even tho' nothing about the proposal or agency had changed from, er, when CIDA had determined that it DID, except for the mysterious addition of the vetoing "NOT," above]

      - * KAIROS never gets an adequate explanation; bitches about it; a bunch of articles are written thru late 2009/ early 2010

      - * an FOI request is sent by a newspaper to get whatever documentation was behind said rejection, which finally materializes in Nov. or Dec., 2010

      - * the crayon-y, uninitialed amendment makes it look like it may’ve come from CIDA itself instead of the Ministers “NOT” comes to light, the Opposition freaks, ask about it in Committee, asks the Speaker to rule on it…. everyone else agrees it’s pretty darn hinkey;

      - * Oda herself testifies that she didn’t add the “NOT” or know who did, at that Dec. 9, 2010 Committee hearing, and questions why anyone should care; while the CIDA officials indicate it wasn’t them, and that they did not reverse themselves on their rec., but faithfully carried out & of course won’t gainsay their new directions to support the Minister’s position

      - * on Feb. 14, 2011, the Minister — along with Minister Baird & the PM over the next few days — states in QP that “The ‘not’ was inserted at my direction.”

      I agree that the last, if true, is consistent with her not knowing the precise identity of whatever lackey in her Ministry sketched in the word, “Not,” and that everything she said to the Committee may have been literally, if narrowly, true. However, whether or not she was actually sworn in for that testimony, part of the expectation of an Honourable Cabinet Minister in addressing an official HOC proceedings is surely that they tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth — which makes leaving out the later (alleged) truth that she ordered the change (even if she didn’t know which clerk actually carried it out) if not a lie, at least a sin of omission: enough to qualify as “Misleading the House,” which is all that this Breach of Privilege / Contempt of the House ruling is about.

      Plus there’s also the inconvenient fact that her subordinate may’ve lied — or at least inadvertently told a falsehood, after being misled like the rest of the House had been — when Jim Abbott, Oda’s parliamentary secretary, told the House of Commons on March 15, 2010: “CIDA thoroughly analyzed KAIROS’ program proposal and determined, with regret, that it did not meet the agency’s current priorities.”

      www + .winnipegfreepress.com/canada/breakingnews/quotes-on-the-oda-controversy-116320364.html

      And there’s still the whole tampering with the document without initialing it or making it clear that it does not represent the views of the other signatories issue, which may itself constitute a type of fraud; that’s a legal issue best left to the courts.

      • Redrum

        Coyne has another go at it, here,

        http + ://www2.macleans.ca/2011/02/18/more-ado-about-oda/

        with this most damning quote “from Oda herself
        in answer to an order paper question, April 23, 2010: “The CIDA decision not to continue funding Kairos was based on the overall assessment of the proposal, not on any single criterion.” ”

        – which is certainly about the proposal being rejected by CIDA — which it wasn’t, at least, not until she or the PMO did it on their behalf; in fact, they were giving it extra bridge financing while the Minister was dithering about the decision — as opposed to the organization being rejected for its advocacy work or whatever.

  • wilson

    CIDA tells KAIROS their program did not fit CIDA’s priorities,
    Minister repeats that statement much later,
    and it somehow makes her a liar……

    KAIROS:

    - On November 30, we received a call from CIDA informing us that our 2009-2013 program proposal had been rejected and that KAIROS would no longer be receiving funding from CIDA. We asked for an explanation and were informed that our program did not fit CIDA’s priorities. This was the last day of an extension to our current proposal. No written explanation was provided.

    http://www.kairoscanada.org/en/who-we-are/cida-funding-cuts/

  • Gayle

    Yes wilson, let us look at the Minister steadfastly refusing to answer a direct question. That is really helpful to your position.

  • wilson

    By golly, when in doubt, let’s check out the testimony on Coynes conspiracy theory:

    Hon. Bev Oda: I cannot say who wrote the “not”. However, I will tell you the ultimate decision reflects the decision of the minister and the government.
    Hon. John McKay: Was this “not” put in by some interloper? Is there some override on a minister’s decision?
    Hon. Bev Oda: As I clearly said, the decision reflects the decision of the government, the minister.
    Hon. John McKay: So there’s a reasonable possibility that you signed off on this, and that someone put a “not” in later.
    Hon. Bev Oda: I would tell you that the document reflects the decision that—
    Hon. John McKay: It may well, but you just said that you didn’t put the “not” in. I’m assuming your president of CIDA didn’t put the “not” in. There’s only one other signatory who didn’t put the “not” in.
    So somehow or another, a “not” got put in after possibly all three of you recommended KAIROS’ funding.
    Hon. Bev Oda: That’s not true. As I said—
    Hon. John McKay: How could it not be true?
    Hon. Bev Oda: —the document reflects the decision of the government. I was entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring the government’s policies are being followed.

    the entire badgering of the witness can be read here, half way down the post:
    http://cornwallfreenews.com/2011/02/odagate-casts-odor-over-tough-on-crime-harper-government-not-is-a-big-word-when-you-need-funding-february-15-2011-cornwall-ontario/

  • Curtis YYC

    Bert, your comment is just common sense in my books.

  • Bert

    I have come to the conclusion that anyone who votes for these CONS is either uninformed of unethical. Very simple.

  • TofKW

    Pull the plug!

    The Harper government has been lying for years. Hiding the Afghan documents from Parliament, Prorogations, Clement saying StatsCan was behind the census changes, and now Oda committing fraud and lying to Parliament.

    Polls be damned …nothing crystallizes the public’s attention to a seriously unethical government like an election.

  • Curtis YYC

    “This furor raises a number of questions. Did Oda initially approve the funding, as her signature on the document suggests? That’s what some suspect. “None of this washes,” Green Party Leader Elizabeth May said this week. “The most plausible explanation . . . is that Bev Oda signed the approval and the “NOT” was inserted subsequently.”

    Did Harper or his office overrule her? Has Oda been a loyal trooper, carrying the can for her boss? Is that why Harper is defending the indefensible?”

    More or less what I’ve been saying since this whole thing blew up.

    Instead of signing the document, modifying it, failing to get all other signatories to initial the handwritten change, lying to Parliament, getting caught then finally admitting she doctored the document and thinking that a simple apology would suffice, wouldn’t it have been simpler to just not sign the original document? But, alas, we’re talking about one of many smug, arrogant, anti-democratic, entitled Harper cabinet ministers. Don’t do as I do. Do as I say.

    What will probably never be confirmed is the likely course this took through CIDA, Oda, cabinet and the PMO. It probably went like this:
    CIDA reviews request.
    CIDA determines that said request is valid.
    CIDA recommends funding in writing.
    Oda’s staff review funding request and forwards it to minister;
    Oda signs it.
    Request gets reviewed by cabinet but Kenney is away slandering KAIROS in Israel and Harper is away lecturing other countries on how to run their affairs of state and how great democracy is while ignoring Parliament and virtually every democratic institution here at home.
    Harper and Kenney return from their missions, er, ah, I mean holiday, er, ah, I mean ^ (not) important government business.
    They review the KAIROS proposal.
    They don’t like it as it doesn’t fit in to their world view and a desire to fulfill scripture regarding the Apocalypse and the Rapture.
    Harper tells Oda to find a way out.
    Oda reaches for the first crayon she finds – conveniently it’s in her purse.
    Oda edits the signed document. Not knowing even the tiniest little bit about fraud or the law, she smiles believing that she’s successfully reversed her fortunes in the eyes of Dear Leader™ Stevie.

  • Curtis YYC

    Missed a ‘p’ I presume. “might be a hel to the Liberals ”
    “might be a help to the Liberals”

    (You need not post this)

  • ck

    Kring, Roll Tide, am I missing something here? You don’t have a problem with a ‘lawnorder’ gov’t doctoring documents?? Are you that desperate to have that Conservative utopia in Canada that you’re willing to overlook any and all transgressions from the Harpercons?

    you can make all the excuses you like; There was no option to indicate a refusal on the document, or what have you…nonsense! I used to work as a page layout artist, if a page was flawed, we had to redo it. It could’ve been redone. Or Oda could’ve simply refused to sign the document or a big red stamp “REJECTED” emblazoned across the page. See? Simple, no?

    If a Liberal had doctored a document in this manner, you’d be calling for their heads on a silver platter.

  • Roll Tide

    I think Ignatieff wants an election soon. He hates being opposition leader, its PM or back to Harvard.

  • Kring

    I would LOVE to have an Opposition triggered election and go to the people over the word “no” being inserted into a document. Of course, you’ll inevitably say “it is about the trampling of democracy” or some similar type of blathering rhetoric. But esentially, it will all boil down to a Minister being in charge, saving the tax-payers from money being wasted, and the word “no”.

    Please, please, PLEASE try this. If there is a God, please!

    • Jon Pertwee

      @Kring, or it could boil down to the ethical ambiguity of the Harper Conservatives, the arrogance of a Government to think it can lie blatantly to parliament like Oda did and the governing style of Harper himself.

      But hey lets try this. If its against whatever fascism you like to blather on about in the comments here ( you know your belief that separatists dont have a right to a voice or to vote for who they want to because you dont like it, but I digress), then please!

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