Monday, May 26, 2014

Don't Expect An Explanation

Michael Harris writes that Stephen Harper should answer an important question:

How did a lawyer twice convicted of fraud, who went to jail for 18 months for stealing from his own clients, who was charged with influence peddling in 2012, and is now facing three new counts of illegal lobbying and another of influence peddling – how did such a talented guy get to sit at the right hand of power in the Prime Minister’s Office?

After all, it's passing strange that the prime minister -- who vowed that he would be tough on crime -- hired Carson. Harris suggests that there are several possible explanations:

  • Did officials in the PCO who did the vetting simply blow it when it came to Carson’s multiple convictions – 1982 and 1990, plus his bankruptcy?
  • Did the RCMP just drop the ball on his security check?
  • Did Carson lie about his past crimes?
  • Or did Carson’s manager in the PMO override the security check, as is possible? And who was that manager, the chief of staff of the day, or the Stephen Harper himself?

Carson is only one of Harper's questionable hires. The prime minister has simply multiplied the corruption he said he would stamp out:

  • Nigel Wright — fired by the PM for doing a deal the PM says he would never have approved, the $90,000 cheque to Senator Mike Duffy;
  • Arthur Porter — his choice to be watch dog for CSIS, in jail in Pan-ama fighting extradition to Canada where he faces multiple fraud charges;
  • Dean del Mastro — his former parliamentary secretary, up on charges of election cheating, and pleading not guilty;
  • Saulie Zajdel — Harper’s “shadow MP” in Irwin Cotler’s Montreal seat, facing five counts of breach of trust, fraud and corruption;
  • Suspended Senator Mike Duffy — under investigation by the RCMP;
  • Suspended Senator Patrick Brazeau — facing multiple charges and currently in rehab;
  • Suspended Senator Pamela Wallin — under RCMP investigation;

An explanation would merely muddy the waters. Don't expect one.



The Mound of Sound said...

Harper knew all about Carson from the outset because he, and senior PMO officials, were told by three Ottawa Tories that I know of. These were people who were in various levels of government when Carson began committing the crimes for which he was imprisoned. They told Harper & Co. that Carson was bad news and bound to cause them serious problems. Carson was well known in Ottawa circles and his record was notorious.

Recall that Harper at first blamed his staff for not vetting the guy properly. In fact Carson didn't even undergo RCMP security checks. Now ask yourself who served as RCMP Commish at that time? Obviously somebody, that rare individual with sufficient authority to direct the RCMP to waive a mandatory securing screening, intervened. That is even above the pay grade of a PMO chief of staff.

Recall that Harper later changed his story on Carson. At first he knew nothing. Later, when that lie faltered, Harper said he knew of just a small part of Carson's past but decided that everyone deserves a second chance and wanted to rehabilitate the guy. That's answering one lie with another lie.

Harper insisted on Carson as his liaison with the Oil Patch and, when the scandal broke out and he was forced to fire the jailbird, he installed him in a foundation in Calgary where he could continue the very same role only on the outside. This time, however, Carson's activities were deemed lobbying because he was no longer operating within the PMO.

askingtherightquestions said...

Owen, as Tom Flanagan said about Carson "whatever his personal problems are, he's a very capable adviser"!!! Mr. Harper record for questionable appointments (he has been given an almost complete pass so far on the Arthur Porter disaster) is certainly greater than any previous PM in living memory. For such a "tough on crime" government that deplores "moral relativism" the CPC certainly has some 'splainin' to do. Harris is one of the few MSM folks to regularly take him to task. Based on his responses in question period to queries regarding PMO comments about Chief Justice McLaughlin we can expect only obfuscation.

Owen Gray said...

Your Tory sources provide a very interesting back story, Mound. Harper continues to ensnare himself in a web of lies.

If senior people in the party know what's going on, why don't they blow the whistle?

Owen Gray said...

The late singer Mel Tormé went by the moniker, "The Velvet Fog." Harper apparently seeks to walk in the singer's footsteps.

He obviously sings off key -- and there is nothing velvet about him.

The Mound of Sound said...

My guess, Owen, is that you can't survive an environment like Harper's for very long without compromising yourself along the way. Harper's inner circle is very, very small and chosen for their willingness to do as he bids.

Look at Duffy. Nigel Wright effectively corrupted the Senate when he intervened to get Tkachuk and Stewart-Olsen to launder Duffy's audit report. Duffy's e-mail, leaked to CTV, makes clear that 'fixing' the Senate audit process was part and parcel of the $90G deal.

That the RCMP decided not to pursue corruption and bribery charges against Wright is a reflection of what has happened to the Royal Conservative Mounted Police going back three commissioners. Like the public service and the armed forces, Harper has turned the RCMP into a partisan, political agency. It began with the Zaccardelli/Goodale election scam, that helped topple Martin, followed by the appointment of a veteran Tory bureaucrat (my lawschool classmate) to be the first 'outside' commissioner, to the current stooge, Paulson, who ordered senior officers not to speak to reporters or opposition politicians without his (read PMO's) prior approval. That's a bent nail if ever there was one.

Dana said...

"If senior people in the party know what's going on, why don't they blow the whistle?"

As deflating a realization as it is it must be at least considered that there are no senior people in the Conservative Party of Canada with either the integrity or courage or for that matter love of Canada to step up to the plate.

Owen Gray said...

That's entirely possible, Dana. Perhaps Harper has banished them all. Perhaps they are powerless. Perhaps they don't want to take him on.

Owen Gray said...

You provide the context for Dana's observation, Mound. Harper railed at corruption. The truth is, he is corruption personified.

Scotian said...

Blogger Owen Gray said...

"You provide the context for Dana's observation, Mound. Harper railed at corruption. The truth is, he is corruption personified." 12:38 pm

A point I made many years back, and that his corruption was not around money but abuse of power. If he was just a thief of money I wouldn't have been so hard core against him, because as bad as that is money scandals are nothing new in this country and lets face it compared to power abuse is something far less dangerous, corrupt, and long lasting as abuse of power type corruption is.

He and his love to go on and on about the money stolen in Adscam/Sponsorship, but really it was a fairly benign corruption overall compared to even Harper's lighter abuse of power scandals/issues. His heavier ones have no fair comparisons in our history, which was what made him so obviously dangerous, which is why I have the anger and bitterness I do towards those actors who had to have seen the same things I did, were in a position to prevent this horror, and instead for their own narrow interests chose to allow this monster to gain the PMO.

I cared so much about stopping this one unlike prior leaders I disliked because he was qualitatively different in the nature of his corruption and the type of damage it would do to our national institutions. It was why I equated his rising to the PMO even in minority as a threat on par with the Quebecois Separatists. This was all stuff I said back when it could still have made the difference too, this is not any Monday morning quarterbacking either. For which I was roundly mocked, jeered, and told that such could never happen here and would not be anywhere near as bad as leaving Martin and the Libs in power. Well, I wonder how many people would seriously try to make that argument now, because one has to be either an incredible LIAR or deluded FOOL to even try to make such a case based on everything we have seen since, and that is only with what we know for sure about which I am certain is not the whole story of corruption and damage Harper has truly done.

Sorry Owen Gray, I know I tend to be rather pointed on this topic, and I tend to make this point a lot, but Harper was something alien to our political culture and what he would do with power really was that obvious to anyone who actually studied the man's actions since his first rise to policy power in early Reform back in the late 80s. It is not like he came out of nowhere and caught us all by surprise, that I could have excused people for, but that really isn't what happened here now is it.

Anonymous said...

I find a lot of humor in? Harper the election cheat sending observers, to make sure the vote in Ukraine is democratic.

Prince Charles got it all wrong. Putin isn't Hitler, Harper is. Putin even called Harper a fascist.

Harper would dearly love, to get control of the Supreme Court. That would have Harper, as the supreme dictator of Canada.

Harper should have his police state RCMP, change their shirt color to brown. Wright did aid, abet, cover-up and pay the bill for a Senator, who was stealing our tax dollars. The PMO also *sanitized* Senators expense claims.

The RCMP have had this corruption, added to their wall of shame.

Owen Gray said...

Harper's record speaks for itself, Anon. We should not be fooled.

Owen Gray said...

There were lots of folks on the conservative side of the spectrum who -- like you, Scotian -- warned us about Harper. Dalton Camp warned us. Joe Clark warned us.

Unfortunately, too many people plugged their ears.

Scotian said...

Owen Gray:

I know I was far from the only voice out there, and intellectually I do understand the elements involved that ended up creating this mess, but I still cannot get past the essential point that Harper was a truly known quality to ANYONE who paid attention to federal politics in any real depth since his first rise to prominence as a policy aid to Manning in the early Reform days. It is not the average voters I am truly pissed at, they were preyed upon by those who understood the manipulation game. No, I reserve my fury for the political professions in the media and the various parties who had to know what I did. This is why the Libs get some slack from me, they were the only ones who consistently did try to show Harper for what he was, granted in was in their own interests to do so but then in a sane world it would have been in everyones now wouldn't it. The reason why the NDP gets the bulk of my rage is not because of partisanship, it is because they truly were the ones with the power to stop the rise of Harper and chose not to for their own narrow expediency desires.

The NDP wear it because if they had joined the Libs in denouncing Harper for what he clearly was they would have made his attempt to make himself over as more in the PCPC mold impossible, would have made it far harder for his allies in the political media to make that sale, because it would normally have been in the political partisan interests for the NDP to not side with the Libs, so if they were then clearly Harper represented a threat unlike the usual (which of course was only reality after all). The Libs were too weakened by their history and scandal to be able to make this argument alone, which is what makes the NDP the ones with the power to either prevent or enable the rise of Harper. I believe in assigning responsibility to those with the power/authority/position to act in/impact on a situation, THAT is why I am so harsh towards Layton and the NDP for following him. It is also that inability of Dippers to acknowledge their pivotal role in the rise of Harper to power and instead call it nothing but Liberal whining that makes them come off as unfit to govern for me, because they refuse to accept that actions/choices carry consequences except when it is to their advantage, they refuse to accept the simple ugly reality that they more than any other actor enabled Harper to rise to the PMO instead of losing his gamble in the creation of the CPC, because in late summer 2005 his leadership was hanging by a thread, had Martin held on even 3-6 months longer Harper was facing internal revolt, and this was also obvious to anyone watching.

I don't do shooting the messenger, I don't blame those who could not have made a difference to a situation either. I assign such to those who actually have the responsibility and/or the power/position to act in such situations. This is where the partisan blinders of Dippers becomes most obvious for me, despite the clear and obvious recent historical record they cannot either see or bear to acknowledge that because their leadership placed beating Libs electorally (actually. linking up with Harper to try and destroy the Lib party is the more accurate description IMHO) as more important than stopping Harper rising to the PMO that they created the national nightmare of the past eight years. For me this is a political sin hard to overlook, because it shows not just the sins of their past but that they also continue to maintain that sin to this day, and that makes me very nervous about therefor a potential government.

Even now, how often do we still hear Lib Tory same old story or some variant from Dipper partisans? Anyone that cannot see the vast difference between Harper and his CPC and all other parties has in my view disqualified themselves from being considered connect to reality. His corruption is unique in our history, and I still fear for the long term survival of our nation because of it.

Owen Gray said...

The same pattern seems to be repeating itself in the Ontario election, Scotian. One wonders if the Dippers have learned anything from recent history.

Scotian said...

Owen Gray:

Yes, watching the decisions Horvath make was really baffling for me, but at least the Ontario wing of the NDP is calling their leader out for her decision, unlike what we saw happen with Layton and the federal NDP supporters. Still though I see far too many Dipper voices praise Horvath despite what was clearly an opportunistic decision not rooted in principle, and it underscores yet again that no matter how idealistic the beliefs may be the blinders produced by ideological purity are truly scary and dangerous no matter where they come from.

The NDP for all their smugness about being ideological purists aka principled have demonstrated too often that they combine the worst vices of such with the willingness to embrace expediency when they think it is in their interests. That is not a much better mix than the intentional corruption we have gotten from the Harper approach to governing in my view.

Another similarity between the Harper CPC and the NDP is how everyone that dares disagree with them is some sort of enemy Liberal, they tend to mirror image each other on this point to a frightening degree. They refuse to believe for example that the single largest block of voters are actually unaligned, they blamed their loss of government and the majority in 2011 on "Blue Liberals" selling them out for Harper, they never seemed to consider that these voters weren't Liberals but unaligned swing centrist voters who shift parties from election to election depending on what they see as being in their best interests. This inability to understand the Canadian voting demographic shows a rather disturbing blind spot in their thinking and in their perception abilities for reality, and this is supposed to recommend them to be a government. Really?

What really has started to scare me about the NDP is how they seem to be learning all the wrong lessons from the rise of Harper, certainly Horvath appears to have totally missed the lesson of the Layton decision with Martin, and she was given an even better deal that Layton was for their support which they spurned. While Hudak is more Dark Helmet than Darth Vader from what I've seen that does not make him anything resembling a good choice if you want anything remotely resembling good/competent government. You don't open the door for such folks to win unless there is a really pressing reason for it that cannot be avoided, and I do not see that in the Ontario election even more than I did not federally in 2005.

Owen Gray said...

Unfortunately, politics has become all about demonizing your opposition, Scotian.

Everything has become black or white, us against them. A society can't function on that basis. Neither can government.

Scotian said...

Owen Gray:

No it can't can it. There is a difference between the concepts of opponents and enemies, and in ANY form of democratic governing system one must be able to see ones political foes as opponents who also believe they have an honourable vision for the nation as yourself, you can think they are wrong but you still need to be able to recognize that they also want the society to succeed too. Indeed, Harper is the only time in my life where I have been forced to abandon that view of a political opponent because he has proven by word and deed that he really is an enemy to not just my political beliefs about Canada but the beliefs that have governed this nation from the outset. Harper has proven himself to be a true enemy by his actions and by his scorched earth approach to politics, not to mention his complete and total contempt for the rule of law when it comes to his decisions and actions.

For a party and leader who rode his way into power on the premise of "clean cut Conservative government" (boy was that ever a farce) and the importance of practicing law abiding government we have seen the worst example of hypocrisy I have ever seen in Canadian federal politics, no mean feat in itself. I look at Harper and I keep hearing Judge Dredd going "I am the Law!" without even having a Lawbook to be a guide/check on him. Your next post on the fight between him and the chief of the Supreme Court only continues to underscore this point.

I was always saying Harper had to be stopped because it was not just his policies that would be so damaging but also his way of doing politics, that it was imperative it not be allowed to be seen as a successful strategy because of just how corrosive and damaging it would be to our political and social fabric. We are a nation that has tried to follow the path of cooperation and compassion for the most part, not division, contempt, and combativeness. We reserve fighting to when it is absolutely necessary, not embrace it as our first choice. This is a fundamental part of the social contract which made up this nation, and this is why Harper, alone of all political leaders (outside of separatists who by definition have declared themselves enemies of Canada) I have been forced to view as an enemy, not an opponent, and it really offends me that he has forced me into that position because I am a true believer in the traditional Canadian way, the way my family helped create and define throughout our history since at least Confederation, like so many others.

Social contracts require being able to respect those who you disagree with and who disagree with you. Harper and his ilk represent the total lack of respect not just for those that differ from him significantly but even those who differ from him in the slightest deviation. In Harper's mind only he is a true Canadian and only his vision of what this nation is makes for a true Canada. The very definition of a dictator at heart in my view, and so inherently and fundamentally anti-democratic as it gets.

Which again is why I am so holding a grudge against those who saw this about him and failed to stop him. Harper was always clearly the greatest threat to Canadian society, ESPECIALLY progressive Canada that has ever existed by orders of magnitude, and the failure to stop him at all costs shows just how much progressive values truly meant to the self described party of progressiveness.

Owen Gray said...

John Ralston Saul claims that we are a Metis Nation, Scotian. Like Canada's first citizens, we try to reconcile differences.

Harper seeks to destroy differences. No one knows that better than Canada's First Nations.

e.a.f. said...

of course he was qualified. he was a crook and that is what the P.M. has around him, a lot of crooks. If the P.M. isn't a crook himself, he certainly has very poor judgement and ought to be relieved of his duties. Any CEO who made that many personnel mistakes would fine themselves out of a job.,

Owen Gray said...

That's the point, e.a.f. In the business world -- which Harper likes to think is the real world -- any CEO who had made as many poor personnel choices as he has made would be cashiered.