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Avaaz.ca lays the smackdown on John Baird’s campaign

This is an amusing story and typical of how John Baird operates (like a clown). Avaaz.ca officially launched their campaign today taking on the Harper government’s inactivity on climate change. Avaaz falls under third-party status during an Canadian election whereby a third party is allowed to spend a maximum of 150 grand on a national scale during the election period.

The news conference itself was rather ho-hum according to Kady O’Malley, at least until one of John Baird’s staffers – the Environment Minister and one of the Conservative MP’s that Avaaz is going to be targeting in their ad campaign – showed up with some literature:

…a stack of freshly printed press releases bearing the fabulously evocative headline: “SHADOWY FOREIGN ORGANIZATION ATTEMPTING TO INFLUENCE CANADIAN ELECTION” – which would be awesome enough all on its own, but the subhead made it even better: Apparently – their words, not mine – a “Wall Street Billionaire” is “bankrolling [the] campaign”. What Wall Street Billionaire might that be? Oh, my ears and whiskers, you’ll never guess — the man whose very existence can spark six American C/conservative conspiracy theories before breakfast: George Soros.

Baird’s campaign charged that Avaaz was a “foreign organization” and filed an official complaint with Elections Canada trying to bar them from launching their ad campaign. Problem for them was, as Kady O’Malley explains in a later update – the Avaaz folks already had their i’s dotted and their t’s crossed, and Elections Canada didn’t think they were shadowy OR foreign and perfectly legal within Canadian election laws:

In fact, the Avaaz campaign is exclusively run and funded by Canadians, and has been fully reviewed and registered as a legitimate third party by Elections Canada and is listed on its website. Avaaz pro actively initiated full consultations with Elections Canada lawyers, who approved the application. “Our campaign is of, by, and for Canadians, and strictly Canadian money is being used, that’s verified by an auditor registered with Elections Canada”, said Avaaz Executive Director Ricken Patel. “We have been very careful about this, to even go beyond normal procedure to discuss our campaign with Elections Canada lawyers, and we are 100% in compliance with Canadian law.”

Furthermore, they talked to Baird’s staff about their complaints and encouraged them to ask Elections Canada, but they didn’t bother, and decide to distribute their press releases anyhow.

Cue the Conservative outrage and whining again about how Elections Canada is “biased” against the Conservatives, or how they’re now involved in a conspiracy with a bunch of shadowy foreigners from Avaaz (who happen to have, by the way, an office in Ottawa). You can see this coming a mile away, can’t you?

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Canadian music artists join together to defeat Harper, fight climate change.

The press release here. The song they recorded is here. A who’s who of the Canadian musical scene:

The Canadian artists who rallied together for this effort include: K-OS, Ed Robertson of the Barenaked Ladies, Ben Kowalewicz of Billy Talent, Adam Gontier of Three Days Grace, Sarah Harmer, Hawksley Workman, Jason Collett of Broken Social Scene, Darren Dumas of The Salads and the Arts Offstage Choir under the direction of David Reed.

They’ll also be sending this recording to Canadian radio stations and to get it played prior to the October 14th vote.

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