Tuesday, March 30, 2010



His fetching Designated Traveler

Lee Richardson MP for Calgary Center is in deep doo-doo. I feel sorry for the bloke because if there was a Conservative MP that I like it is Richardson. He is from that kinder and gentler ancestor of the Harperites, the now defunct federal Progressive Conservative Party. I’m sure you remember the old federal PCs. You know - the ones that gave us Dief, Joe Clark, Karlheinz Schreiber’s pal Brian Mulroney, and the asterisk Kim Campbell. The old federal PC party had a proud and noble history to be sure, and I still have respect for many of the old red Tories that ran it. They didn’t come any better than Alvin Hamilton, Flora Macdonald and Bob Stanfield. Because Richardson comes from that old red Tory strain and doesn’t hide his pedigree his chances of making the cabinet of Stephen Harper or even getting a decent sinecure for services rendered rate from zero to none.

Now, as a result of recently disclosed information Richardson’s bleak chances of a Harper-inspired reward have become much, much worse. And it’s all over an awe-inspiring blonde and one of the great babes on Canadian television these days – CBC-TV national political reporter Krista Erickson. See:

Richardson, a widower and a warm and cuddly guy, has admitted to being linked to the delectable newshound for a couple of years, and it’s something about which he is justly proud. After all, although he is reasonably well preserved and not quite ready for the glue factory or the Royal Tyrell Museum (for those of you from outside of Alberta, the Royal Tyrell is one of the finest Dinosaur museums in the world), he is several generations older than the dazzling Miss Erickson.

Richardson’s trouble arises as a result of Erickson being registered as the designated traveler for Richardson in his capacity as an MP. This qualifies her to fly on Canada’s airlines courtesy of guess who? Richardson? Nope. The Canadian taxpayer? Yep.

As a result, the pesky Canadian Taxpayers Federation is mightily pissed with Richardson. Not only does it want to find out just how much of the $143,850 worth of travel expenses he charged up during 2008-2009 was for his ravishing gal pal, its spokesman is convinced that this will be a problem for everybody including the Tories. Not surprisingly, both Richardson and his exquisite designated traveler claim they have no knowledge of she being on any tax payer sponsored trip.

While the dashing and debonair Richardson has the sumptuous Erickson as his designated traveler, it should be noted that defence minister Peter McKay – he who was unceremoniously dumped by the equally resplendent Belinda Stronach – has named his mother as his designated traveler. No surprise there.

But if Richardson is in the soup over this one, his gorgeous fellow traveler is in even deeper. The Canadian Association of Journalists is pissed with both Erickson and the CBC. According to the Association’s president Mary Agnes Welch, the Association’s Code of Ethics [the Canadian Association of Journalists’ Code of Ethics, now there’s an oxymoron for you!] says that journalists should not have a personal relationship with the people they report on. What’s even worse, she says, is flying free because of the relationship. Welch puts it this way: “It is one thing to have a personal relationship. It’s another thing entirely to be benefiting from that relationship. Actually being able to fly for free because of that relationship kind of brings it to a new level. A reporter who covers national politics in any way who is in a relationship with an MP is clearly in conflict.”

This is the second time that the ravishing Erickson has been accused of running afoul of the code of ethics. In 2007 during the Commons committee hearings looking into the sordid Mulroney – Schreiber affair she planted a few written questions with some Liberals to ask Mulroney. The Harperites screamed blue murder about the affair to the CBC which resulted in her being banished to the boring gulag of Toronto for almost two years.

What will happen to Erickson next is anybody’s guess. However, if the CBC gives her the pink slip she can always seek employment with the Calgary Herald whose conflict of interest rules for journalists are applied with much less rigor and severity - that is, if they are applied at all. For example, Tom Olsen happily continued writing his Herald column and reporting on the government of Ralph Klein even though his brother Gordon (with whom Tom obviously had a relationship) at the same time held various positions in Klein’s office including executive director of the premier’s south office, executive assistant to the premier, and the premier’s caucus liaison.

So, for Erickson, even if worse comes to worse – hell, it’s not the end of the world.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Harper (above) seen here lying low during Prorogation

The fetching and kvetching Guergis (left) with her long-suffering Husband-of-the-Year Award winner Jaffer (on the right)

At the time of the spontaneous public outburst against Prime Minister Harper for proroguing parliament, I told anyone who would listen that he probably had only one more gaffe left before the people decided to give him the boot.

Since then, there have been four of them – his continued stonewalling of the detainee issue, his over-the-top pandering to the ladies by proposing to change the words of the National Anthem, the profane hissy fit of status of women minister Helena Guergis and his failure to do anything about it, and now the embarrassing kid gloves treatment given by a Tory appointed judge to the ideal husband of the fetching Ms. Guergis after he copped out to a careless driving charge.

Although Harper’s klutziness and ministerial incompetence is nothing new (See: STEPHEN HARPER AT THE G8: HOW TO MAKE A SOW'S EAR OUT OF A SILK PURSE; PRIME MINISTER HARPER: CANADA'S INSPECTOR CLOSEAU; KEVIN LYNCH RESIGNS AFTER A BELLY FULL OF CLOSEAU AND MAN SERVANT KATO), these events which follow so closely his sly and cowardly attempt to bury the detainee issue by proroguing parliament, will surely do him in.

On the detainee issue, his stonewalling shows that his education has been too directed towards the Milton Friedmans, William Kristols, and perhaps the collected works of Margaret Thatcher. He should have left some time for Woodward and Bernstein and Daniel Ellsberg. If he had he would have known that stonewalling and cover-ups are a mug’s game, something like paying off a blackmailer. The guy who covers up, just like the blackmailer’s victim who pays, almost always winds up on the short end of the stick. In politics, the cover-up usually leads to a leak, then another, and then another. With each leak the politician loses support and credibility – something like Chinese water torture does to one’s sanity. If the cover-up and leaks go on long enough, there is no support or credibility left. The detainee issue is starting to rain leaks and they are likely to continue given the popularity of Harper and his government within the Canadian bureaucracy. See: http://impolitical.blogspot.com/2010/02/big-leak-in-afghan-detainee-file.html

About the shortcomings of cover-ups Harper should have read a Nixon biography, or drew some lessons from Brian Mulroney’s excellent adventure with Karlheinz Schreiber. Alas, he didn’t. He was too busy studying his lecture notes from Tom Flanagan and Ted Morton and plotting how he was going to stab his former boss, ex-Tory MP Jim Hawkes, in the back.

The ‘O Canada’ lyric change proposal so that our Anthem would become gender neutral was Harper at his pandering worst. What made it so outrageous was that while he and most of his Conservative followers have always ranted against political correctness, here he was acting as a champion of the movement. Even his followers couldn’t swallow it, and forced him to quickly abandon his crazy idea to get the girls on side - after he had trashed their $ 5 billion child care program, closed a dozen status of women offices and reduced by half the number of women in cabinet.

The fetching and kvetching Ms. Guergis’ behaviour at the Charlottetown airport was not the fault of Harper. The former beauty queen was late for her flight and in a hurry to get home to her prize of a husband and former super-stud, Edmonton MP Rahim Jaffer so they could celebrate their birthday together. Arriving late for her flight, Guergis gave the security and airline staff hell for being slow and even called the very charming Charlottetown “a shit hole.” When asked by security to remove her boots she said, “Happy fucking birthday to me. I guess I’m stuck in this hell hole.” She continued her class act by chewing out an Air Canada employee who was trying to explain to her the rules, saying, “I don’t need to be lectured about flight time by you. I’ve been down here working my ass off for you people.” See: http://www.thestar.com/opinion/article/775222--goar-no-medal-for-guergis-s-performance-at-un

Although Guergis apologized for the outburst, her temperamental display of arrogance, pique and entitlement screamed for further disciplinary action from her boss. Sadly, none was forthcoming from tough-guy Harper. That was a big mistake. This incident will linger over Harper’s political world like the smell of rotting, dead fish - which when you come to think about it, is altogether appropriate given that the dust-up took place in the Maritimes, which Harper has insulted before. See: Culture of Defeatism http://www.cbc.ca/news/story/2002/05/29/harper_atlntc020529.html

The Guergis event and Harper’s failure to act as well as his past Maritime sins spell big trouble for Harper in Atlantic Canada in the next election.

And just yesterday Guergis’ dashing husband Rahim Jaffer had his day in court in respect to drunk driving, possession of cocaine and careless driving charges he faced as a result of an earlier encounter with the gendarmes in rural Ontario. A Tory appointed judge fined him a measly 500 bucks for a cop-out guilty plea on a careless driving charge. The ugly stuff had been withdrawn by the crown. Whether or not anything was untoward in the proceedings is unknown. What is known is the revealing statement of the judge when he said to Jaffer after he pronounced sentence, "I'm sure you can recognize a break when you see one." Ouch!

Its not Harper’s fault that Jaffer retained good lawyers or that the prosecutors gave him a sweetheart deal, or that the judge was terribly indiscreet in his choice of words. But politics being what they are, Harper has already began to take shots from opposition politicians and the public at large who are up-in-arms over what they view as special treatment for a high profile ex-MP of the law and order party. See: http://www.calgaryherald.com/columnists/verdict+sweetheart+sentence/2664956/story.html

So from here on in, it will be all down hill for Steve Harper. And you can take that to the bank.

Monday, March 01, 2010


Graham’s Thomson’s piece in the Edmonton Journal (and Calgary Herald) of March 1st deals with the departure of Paul Stanway as director of communications for Special Ed Stelmach. See: http://www.calgaryherald.com/entertainment/Gentleman+Stanway+bows+premier+office/2625768/story.html

In it, Thomson speculates as to whether Stanway was a rat leaving the seriously listing H.M.S. Dweeb, or told to walk the gang plank by Captain Dweeb himself. He poses the question, is Stanway the fall guy for the government’s lousy communications policy? Or is he actually taking the blame for it? Not that it matters anymore given that Dweeb is likely going down with the ship.

Thomson also observes that Stanway, and Stelmach’s press officer Tom Olsen, who are now leaving their employment at the same time, went to work for the Premier at the same time in 2007 and did so immediately upon leaving their posts as political columnists at their respective newspapers, Stanway at the Edmonton Sun, and Olsen at the Calgary Herald.

No doubt due to some misguided sense of professional courtesy Thomson fails to remind his readers that prior to the appointments of Stanway and Olsen to cushy government jobs both of them were shameless and consistent Tory propagandists who never wrote a word of even muted criticism of the inept and incompetent Alberta Tory administrations that they covered.
See: Darryl Raymaker blog Thursday, February 01, 2007 TORIES, STANWAY, 0LSEN: FINALLY CHURCHED

What Thomson finds interesting is not the pay-offs these political hookers received for the servicing of their Progressive Conservative johns, it is that there were two of them who came and left their well-paid, tax-payer funded jobs at the same time.

In fact Thomson even calls their hiring by Stelmach, “From watchdog to lapdog in a single bound.” Watchdog? Puleeeeze!!!! They were lapdogs, from beginning to end. He should have referred to the relationships as "From lapdog to lapdog via a thousand Tory kiss-ass columns."

Thomson says that their hiring by Stelmach rattled both reporters and PR types, who felt their professions had been insulted, and that they also added to public cynicism about ties between government and press. Well, it wasn’t so much their hiring that pissed off the discerning members of the public. It was because it was so obvious why they were hired. They were hired because they were Tory hacks!

Olsen’s case was even more flagrant. He was a young pup of a reporter who was present at the dawning of the bleak Conrad Black era of media dominance in Canada (which understandably coincided with the collapse of good and decent journalistic ethics). It has been said that Olsen was a Black favorite because he sided with management during the Herald’s infamous strike in 1999. The story makes some sense in that Olsen’s rise within the organization was inexorable from there on – from cub reporter, to legislature reporter, to bureau chief, to legislature columnist, and finally to senior columnist – all in a few short years with Olsen currying the favour of the Tory party all the way.

During Olsen’s tenure in the Klein years, as luck would have it, his brother Gordon served as a senior policy advisor to none other than Ralph Klein, as well as Executive Director of the Premier’s Southern Alberta office. The Herald concluded that such a comfy arrangement between brothers as they tended to their respective jobs - one protecting the subject and the other supposedly objectively commenting and reporting on the same subject - still passed the stink test!

For more on the careers of these two Tory mouthpieces read: http://www.vueweekly.com/article.php?id=5577

Anyway, Thomson goes on to say that Stanway is a nice guy and a gentleman. He is silent on Olsen.