Friday, April 25, 2008

"Leaders Don't Mislead"

A quote from Duff Conacher of Democracy Watch. Mr. Conacher is demanding an apology from Peter Van Loan, as well as urging the Prime Minister to strip Van Loan of some of his duties, in light of his misrepresentation of Democracy Watch's position on the "in and out" scandal. Conacher appeared on the CBC today, and the formal request is here.

Here is what Peter Van Loan said during Question Period on April 16, in response to opposition questions of illegalities:
“In terms of our spending practices, I would like to quote Duff Conacher of Democracy Watch, who was on CTV today. He said, “The Conservatives did something in the last election that all parties have done for years. That's legal, and parties can donate as much as they want to a local candidate and often do to candidates that don't have a lot of local support and can't raise money on their own. And then what happens is those candidates use some of that money to buy materials for national headquarters, like pamphlets, signs, platforms to hand out to people. That's all--”

Another question:
“Mr. Speaker, let us remember that this was a dispute initiated in the courts by the Conservative Party of Canada because of the unequal treatment of the Conservative Party compared with other parties, including the NDP, which engages in the transfer of funds between riding associations from its central party to assist in local targeted ridings. It has been going on for years. Duff Conacher said that on television. He said it is legal.

There is no question Van Loan was using Democracy Watch as evidence to support the Conservative claim of legal use of funds. However, what Van Loan didn't reveal, Conacher actually thinks the scheme is entirely illegal and the Conservatives will lose in court.

From the CBC:

"He said that I said it was legal. In fact, that was only half of what I said. Part of it was legal, having the central part transfer money to local candidates, that is allowed under the Elections Act. But, the entire scheme, I went on to say I believed was illegal and they will lose in court. He said I said it was legal, when in fact I said it is illegal."

"He quoted half of what I said, leaving the clear impression that Democracy Watch's position was that this whole scheme is legal, when in fact Democracy Watch's position is this whole scheme was illegal and the Conservatives will lose in court, and I said that very specifically....Mr. Van Loan can't use half of what someone says and then claim that's the position of the organization, when the other half of what was said contradicts that entirely. It's a half truth, a half measure, and claiming it's the full truth. Leaders don't mislead."

What Duff doesn't realize, these people have never been leaders and will twist anything to serve their purposes.

Conacher's letter:
Either you knew the other half of what I said on Canada AM, and deliberately made a false statement, or you did not know the other half of what I said, in which case you are negligent for not checking whether I had said anything else about the situation. In either case, you made completely false public statements about Democracy Watch’s position on the situation.

As I am sure you are aware, the “Ethical Guidelines for Public Office Holders” contained in Annex G of “Accountable Government: A Guide for Ministers and Secretaries of State-2007” require ministers to be honest.

As well, section V.1. “Ministerial Conduct” of the Guide states:

“Ministers and Secretaries of State must act with honesty and must uphold the highest ethical standards so that public confidence and trust in the integrity, objectivity and impartiality of government are maintained and enhanced. As public office holders, Ministers and Secretaries of State are subject to the Ethical Guidelines for Public Office Holders and Guidelines for the Political Activities of Public Office Holders, set out in Annexes G and H. Moreover, they have an obligation to perform their official duties and arrange their private affairs in a manner that will bear the closest public scrutiny. This obligation is not fully discharged merely by acting within the law.”

The first guideline in the Annex G Ethical Guidelines is as follows:

“Ethical Standards: Public office holders shall act with honesty and uphold the highest ethical standards so that public confidence and trust in the integrity, objectivity and impartiality of the government are conserved and enhanced.”
Therefore, I demand an apology from you for violating this guideline by falsifying Democracy Watch’s position on the Conservative Party’s TV ad election spending scheme so blatantly.

Given that you made your false statements publicly in the House of Commons, the appropriate place to make your apology to myself and Democracy Watch is also publicly in the House of Commons.

This isn't the first time the Conservatives have pulled this nonsense in the House, attributing false positions to people or organizations, when in fact their opinion is the exact opposite. People will remember Baird using a Al Gore quote to support the government, when in fact Gore was SCATHING in his criticism.

I see the need to misrepresent people, to create false allies, as a sign of desperation, an admission that you have no backing, you must project dishonesty to create an argument. It really is amazing, that Van Loan needed to use a respectable organization for cover, even though he knew full well that they rejected the claims.

Don't hold your breath waiting for an apology Mr. Conacher, that's not how these people operate.


900 ft Jesus said...

thanks for that, Steve. I caught Van Loan quoting Duff and meant to look up the entire quote, sure that Van Loan selected only what would sound favourable. Leave it to Conacher to set the record straight.

Nice catch!

Steve V said...

Isn't it sad, that Van Loan can't find any expert support, so he is forced to misquote someone, someone who actually thought it was illegal. If that doesn't speak to desperation, I don't know what does.