Tories name new RCMP HQ after commish who abided illegal activities

In an absolutely bizarre move, the Harper government today continued its building-naming spree by christening the Royal Canadian Mounted Police headquarters in Ottawa “The M.J. Nadon Government of Canada Building,” just a few weeks after naming a government building on Sussex Drive after former Prime Minister John Diefenbaker.

The Mounties’ new shop is named for former RCMP Commissioner Maurice Nadon.  Pop open any of three volumes of the McDonald Commission reports into the RCMP’s barn burning, mail opening and other illegal activities in the 1970s, and you’ll quickly come across Nadon’s name.

A sample, from this conclusion section on the physical surveillance techniques used by the Horsemen:

Commissioner Nadon was aware of the violation of provincial laws and municipal by-laws as a result of physical surveillance activities, including speeding, the use of fabricated identification documents and the use of false licence plates. Yet Mr. Nadon took no steps to stop those practices, which he knew to be illegal. He was also aware of the practices of registering in hotels under false names and entering garages in order to determine the presence of target vehicles, although he was uncertain as to the legality of those practices. We accept that he had no knowledge that documents or licence plates were being manufactured by the R .C.M.P. themselves. With respect to such practices he ought to have made the necessary inquiries to determine whether they were legal . Mr. Nadon’s failure to stop practices which he knew to be illegal and his failure to determine the legality of those practices as to which he was uncertain as to their legality were unacceptable. (bold type = mine).

And then there’s the allegation that Nadon kept then Solicitor General Francis Fox out of the loop on the dirty tricks. An 1972 operation called “Operation Bricole (Handyman)” saw RCMP security services members break-in and steal records from  Agence de Presse Libre du Québec (A .P.L.Q.). From the McDonald Commission report:  

Following the meeting of January 25, 1977, Mr . Fox asked Mr. (Roger) Tassé to prepare a letter for his signature, asking the R.C.M .P. for written assurances confirming what they had told him verbally. In that letter Mr. Fox pointed out that at the meeting Commissioner Nadon had assured him that the activities of the Security Service were carried out within the law and that members of the Security Service had received precise directions on the subject from the Director General in May 1975 .

Keep in mind that the RCMP’s insane behaviour documented by the McDonald Commission led to a cleavage of Canada’s national security apparatus from the federal police force.

And also keep in mind that the targets of many of these illegal activities were Parti Quebecois members and others suspected of being Commies — many of them now in the NDP.

For more McDonald Commission highlights, try a CTRL-F on any of these.

“Raised lettering, pale nimbus”: business cards via Bret Easton Ellis

In a laugh-out-loud tweet this morning, Globe and Mail online politics guy Stephen Wicary (@wicary) made the jump from this to a classic scene in American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis‘ satire on the shallowness of the 1980s, in which a bunch of Wall Street sharpies compare their business cards.

The scene, as rendered in the Christian Bale film, just for posterity:

NDP MP shuts down his Hill office as staff work Ontario election

Don’t come knocking on Malcolm Allen‘s door until after October 6.

The NDP MP from Welland, Ont., has closed up his Parliament Hill office until after the Ontario provincial election. A note on the door refers visitors to his constituency office, which remains open.

Apparently, Allen’s Hill staffer, Rona Merritt, has taken leave to help out with the Ontario NDP campaign.

 

Conservative MPs call Sun Media journalists to testify before CBC probe

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The Access to Information and Ethics Committee today passed Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro‘s motion to begin calling witnesses to testify about the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s record on Access requests.

On the witness list are CBC president Hubert Lacroix and Quebecor boss Pierre-Karl Peladeau. But the Tories have taken the bizarre step of calling as witnesses Sun Media journalists who regularly write and comment on the CBC — Brian Lilley and Ezra Levant.

Sun Media is apparently relevant to this inquiry because it has filed hundreds of ATIP requests to the CBC. I’ll leave it to readers to decide on whether this is because Sun papers are crusading for accountability, or whether a de-funded CBC is congruent with Quebecor’s corporate interests, or both.

Both Lilley and Levant use their Sun platforms to denounce the “state broadcaster” as a waste of $1 billion of taxpayer’s money. Lilley has written numerous stories based on his company’s ATIP requests to the CBC. (Who can forget his revelations about Peter Mansbridge‘s desk chair?)

Sun Media contends, not without evidence, that the CBC is obstructing ATIP requests by using its journalism exemption to deny requests on a wide range of topics, such as the costs of an invitation-only CBC party for celebrities at the Toronto Film Festival.

Del Mastro contends that the CBC is wasting taxpayer’s money by fighting in court against Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault.

Legault went to Federal Court over CBC’s refusal to give her access to certain records so that she can determine whether they can be legally released under the Access to Information Act.  Similar issues of the Information Commissioner’s right to examine documents came up in the “agendas case,” which pitted then Info Comm John Reid against the Jean Chretien government.

In the CBC case, the Federal Court ruled in Legault’s favour, but the Mother Corp. has appealed the ruling.  Amazingly, Del Mastro wants the judge who made that ruling, Mr. Justice Richard Boivin, to testify before the ethics committee, too. He won’t, of course.

But I digress. The fascinating question is whether Sun Media will allow its journalists to testify before a parliamentary committee about their journalism. That would be, as far as I can tell, largely unprecedented.

When he was a Canwest executive, my current editor, Gerry Nott, testified before a parliamentary committee exploring media concentration, but he spoke only about our corporate practices and start-up of our national news service.  And On The Take author Stevie Cameron was called to testify about the Airbus Affair, but again, it was about her role as a confidential informant, not as a journalist.

If Lilley and Levant appear, they will be exposed to questions about their journalism by opposition MPs. It would be, I’d dare say, an interesting committee hearing.

Other witnesses called by Del Mastro:

Konrad von Finckenstein, CRTC chairmain
Suzanne Legault, Information Commissioner
David Coletto, Abacus Data (Sun Media’s pollster)
Sylvain Lafrance, VP CBC French
Timothy Casgrain, chair of the CBC board
Howard Bernstein, “media critic”
Michel Drapeau, ATIP guy and U of Ottawa prof
And yet to be announced representatives of Bell Media, Rogers Media, Shaw Media and the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

UPDATE: According to Sun News itself, Peladeau will testify but Levant and Lilley will not.  I got a one-liner from Lavoie, via email: “No, our journalists will not appear.”

Backdoor Bob Dechert, hiding on the Hill

Bob Dechert, right, laying low in the House of Commons on Monday.

Conservative MP Bob Dechert hasn’t spoken publicly since revelations about his amorous emails to a Chinese journalists surfaced earlier this month.

Dechert put out a statement on Sept. 9 saying the “Love, Bob” emails sent to Xinhua News Agency Toronto correspondent Shi Rong were only “flirtatious” and insisted his relationship with her was but an innocent friendship. Since then, radio silence, even as Shi  relocated back the Middle Kingdom.

Dechert has been in the House of Commons this week, but has so far evaded reporters who might want to ask follows up questions about the relationship, given that it reportedly triggered CSIS and RCMP investigations to ensure state secrets were not passed onto Xinhua.

Dechert hasn’t been seen in the foyer outside the House of Commons before Question Period, where MPs traditionally enter, nor could he be seen arriving for Wednesday’s Conservative caucus meeting in Centre Block.

Yet, Houdini-like, he appears in the House chamber and can be seen CPAC coverage whenever a minister in front of him stands to speak, even as he remains elusive to reporters mere metres aways, outside in the foyer.

Today, my Press Gallery colleague Tom Korski, a Hill Times columnist, spotted Dechert arriving before Question Period via the loading dock at the back of Centre Block, in an apparent attempt to further dodge reporters.

Dechert pulled up in the back front seat of a maroon coloured mini-van, driven by a person unknown (as a parliamentary secretary, Dechert does qualify for a car and driver).

Korski managed to get off a few questions before Dechert fled inside through the loading bay at the back of the building.

Korski: “Did you ever discuss your trip to China with your Xinhua friend?”
Dechert: “No.”

Korski: “Did you discuss work of any kind?”
Dechert: “No.”

Korski: “Were you asked?”
Dechert: “No.”

Korski: “When you were travelling to Beijing, that never came up?”
Dechert: “No, never.”

Korski: “Can I ask why you are taking the loading dock to work?”
Dechert: “I have work to do.”

There you go. An MP, accountable to the people.

Did Toews know about Dechert probe?

Citing unnamed sources, CTV News’ Bob Fife reported Sunday night that both the RCMP and CSIS have investigated Conservative MP Bob Dechert and his relationship with Xinhua News Agency reporter Shi Rong.

The Horsemen and Spooks found no breach of security, CTV reported, but one official did say that Dechert showed “colossal lack of judgment. He was incredibly stupid to get involved with her.”

This well could be the fig leaf that allows the Prime Minister to relieve Dechert of his duties as parliamentary secretary to the foreign minister — cashiered for bad judgment, not a security breach. No harm, no foul.

But the story seems oddly contrary to comments made by Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, who was asked about l’affaire Dechert by Evan Solomon on CBC’s Power and Politics on Thursday (around the 25 minute mark).

Toews is the minister responsible for CSIS and the RCMP, and were a political figure under investigation, one presumes he would know about it.

Here’s what Toews told Solomon:

“I understand the PMO has looked into this and there is no indication that anything untoward has occurred here.”

Solomon persists, asking again if there had been investigation beyond asking Dechert whether he did anything wrong.

Toews: “All I can say is this matter has been examined by the Prime Minister’s Office. It is a concern of the PM’s to ensure that the conduct of ministers and parliamentary secretaries is always appropriate. And they conduct that type of investigation. I can only direct you to the Prime Minister’s Office for any further ocmments.”

Solomon asks again, “So, you have no Public Safety concerns about that issue?”

Toews: “I’m not involved in this investigation.”

So, a couple of possibilities:

  1. Fife’s story is wrong. There was no CSIS or RCMP investigation. I highly doubt this possibility. Fife doesn’t make those kind of mistakes. Or
  2. there was an CSIS/RCMP probe and Toews didn’t know about it. He wasn’t in the loop. Or
  3. Toews’ response to Solomon was “misleading.”

 

That other Xinhua email

Another email sent out from Xinhua reporter Shi Rong‘s email was referenced by both The Star and Globe and Mail today. (Good on them).

Again, the identify of the sender is unclear but all signs point to Shi’s aggrieved husband — we think he might be named Liu — who was unhappy with what he believed was his wife’s affair with Conservative MP Bob Dechert. You know the backstory by now.

I asked @I_Am_Chinadian to do his own translation, just for the record:

蓉的老公发现了这些问题,经多次劝阻无效,想通过联系其派出单位新华社反应此情况。施蓉多次受到总社表扬,又面临任期将满等问题,为怕此事导致她经后的发展,竟然打911,以家庭暴力罪把他老公投入监狱,和长达5个月的官司。这是个什么样的女人啊,这种女人很可怕!

[TRANSLATION]  Rong’s husband discovered these problems, after many failed/unsuccessful persuasions to stop/end (it), thought about contacting Xinhua the employer who had sent her abroad, to express reaction to this situation. Shi Rong has been praised many times by the head office, while also facing the end of her term and related problems, for fear this will affect her future development/growth, actually called 911, using domestic violence as the crime to send her husband to jail, and a court case that lasted five months. What kind of woman is this? This kind of woman is very scary!

Karaoke and videotape: Chinese honey traps laid for MPs, staff, says Tory

On the subject of Chinese honey traps, consider the illuminating comments Conservative MP Rob Anders made last year in the Epoch Times, shortly after CSIS director Richard Fadden warned that foreign spies were courting Canadian politicians.

The comments seem particularly germane now that Anders’ caucus colleague, Mississauga-Erindale MP Bob Dechert, is under the microscope over his flirtatious relationship with a Xinhua News Agency columnist (see elsewhere on afewtastefulsnaps.net, ad infinitum)

I have pulled the highlights of Anders’ quotes from the Epoch Times piece.

“The reach is deep, and it’s very unfortunate.”

“I would argue that I’ve seen things happen on a federal level as well in our own government. And so I think there’s a lot more than he has even mentioned.”

“I think that Mr. Fadden only gingerly scratched the surface. I feel for him that he was dragged before an investigative committee with parliament, to have to explain, and I think that this situation is far worse that what he let on.”

“What will happen is MPs are given five-star treatment when they go to China, and they’re being introduced to young people who speak immaculate English … and given the impression that China wants to be just like Canada.”

“They get approached by people who offer them business deals that frankly are too good to be true, because these are deals that are being set up by the Communist Party, and are being done as an informal way to bribe Western politicians, because it sounds like a business deal, but they are business deals that never fail, and are very lucrative.”

“I’ve seen a lot with my own eyes…. It is so very troubling for me to see that.”

“I have heard of ministerial staffers who have been invited out to karaoke events… They’ll have a couple of girls who will say, ‘How long are you in town for? Maybe you’d like to have some fun. Maybe you’d like to go out for dinner. Maybe you’d like to go karaoke.’ And they work these guys, they put some alcohol in them, and then, pretty soon, one thing leads to another. And you know, they can video tape these types of things.”

 

A few cautions here: Neither Anders nor the Epoch Times are particularly friendly to the Chinese government.  Anders once wore a “Free Tibet” shirt to a reception for Chinese officials on Parliament Hill. The Epoch Times is part of the Falun Gong-linked media empire that rails against the Communist Party of China.

 

 

 

The Dechert preamble: Email hacker claimed Xinhua journo wanted divorce

Not sure how I missed this but props to the Falun Gong house organ, the Epoch Times, for spotting the preamble, written in Chinese, at the top of the leaked emails about Conservative MP Bob Dechert and Xinhua News correspondent Shi Rong.

In Chinese, it reads:

施蓉为了和这个国会议员相爱,不惜在驻外期间要求解除其现有婚姻关系,这才是你们应该了解的施蓉

The dreadful translation via Babelfish:

Shi Rong to fall in love with this member of national assembly, does not hesitate to relieve its existing marriage ties in the period request stationed abroad, this is Shi Rong who you should understand

 

I’ll trust that the Epoch Times translation is better:

To continue her love affair with this member of parliament, Shi Rong pitilessly asked to end her marriage while stationed overseas. This is the Shi Rong you should know about.

One might well assume this was appended to the top of the email by the person who allegedly hacked Rong’s Gmail account — she alleges it was her husband, and Dechert has said the email was hacked in the course of an unspecified domestic dispute.

Now, this is of course no evidence of an affair that would contradict Dechert’s claim that his relationship with Shi was an innocent friendship, a flirtation. But, clearly, whoever sent out the Dechert-Shi emails to her contact list believed theirs was a love affair that compelled her to ask for a divorce.

But, as the Prime Minister’s Office says:

Mr. Dechert has denied any inappropriate behaviour.

We have no information to suggest otherwise.

UPDATE: A Few Tasteful Snaps’ official Chinese translator, @I_Am_Chinadian, comes up with something similar:

Shi Rong, in order to love this member of congress, does not regret requesting to end the currently existing marriage relationship during time posted abroad, this is the Shi Rong you should understand.

 

He also provides an alternate and slightly smoother translation:

In order to love this MP, Shi Rong has not hesitated to ask to end her marriage while posted abroad, this is the Shi Rong you should know about.

Also of note, this text was proceeded by the line, written in English, “the follows is only one part.”

That suggest, to me, there might be more emails to come.

Dawson College, five years ago today

I’m not a crime reporter and didn’t have not much experience doing “pick ups,” when I was sent to Montreal. So I was incredibly grateful when the De Sousa family let me into their home the day they learned their daughter had been killed at Dawson College. Her mom was particularly graceful at an awful time.

The Ottawa Citizen
Fri Sep 15 2006
Page: A1 / FRONT
Section: News
Byline: Glen Mcgregor
Dateline: MONTREAL
Source: The Ottawa Citizen

MONTREAL – Standing at the foot of the stairs in her Montreal-area home yesterday, Louise DeSousa clutched a four-by-six photograph from prom night and spoke about the bubbly and sociable daughter she had just lost.

“She was the one who got a party going,” Ms. DeSousa said, her voice wavering slightly as she carefully enunciated in the past tense.

“She always tried to help me — except for cleaning her room, but that’s OK,” Ms. DeSousa said, smiling for just a moment.

Anastasia DeSousa, 18, was a first-year student who began studying at Dawson College in the international business program in August. She was shot during the attack at the CEGEP on Wednesday and died at the scene.

Family members yesterday gathered in the attractive home in the suburb of Laval where Anastasia lived with her parents, sister and brother. Ms. DeSousa held up the photo, showing an attractive, petite blond woman wearing a pink dress and surrounded by a group of handsome young men.

“She had guys lining up behind her. She had an entourage,” Ms. DeSousa said. “She loved to party, to go out on the weekend and enjoy herself.”

But Anastasia, she explained, had a steady boyfriend, Nick, whom she adored. They had been seeing each other for three years. The couple talked on the phone constantly.

With his eyes moist and red, Anastasia’s father, Nelson, embraced a relative who had just arrived. Mr. DeSousa, an auto mechanic who works for Honda, paused for a moment when asked to describe his daughter. “She was a bottle of champagne, filled to rim, ready to explode,” he said. “She was always the centre of attention.”

Anastasia had graduated from St. Pius X Comprehensive High School two years ago and spent the following year working as a sales verifier for a telemarketing company while taking math courses at night school.

She suffered from dyslexia, a learning disability, but worked hard to improve her grades. She was excited to be studying at Dawson.

“It was always a struggle for her,” her mother said. “But she had extremely big goals. One day, she wanted to own her own business.”

Anastasia enjoyed international travel. She went to Europe on a class trip in high school, according to her aunt, and in July, took a holiday in Cuba with friends. Her sister, Sarah, 16, said Anastasia loved going to downtown nightclubs such as Systems, Club 737, Dome and Opera. “She like classy clubs,” Sarah said. She liked dancing to hip-hop, reggae and salsa. “We were best friends,” Sarah said proudly.

Anastasia’s room is painted bright pink and most of her clothes are pink, too.

“When you open her drawers, all you see is pink,” Sarah said. The family joked that Anastasia’s colour preference was a holdover from playing with Barbie dolls as a child. “She was our princess,” one relative called out from the kitchen.

As his relatives buzzed around, Nick DeSousa, 11, sat on the stairs and peeked through the railing. He said he would remember his big sister as someone who “would always take me places,” like out to lunch at McDonalds or to buy video games.

Her cousin, Priscilla Rivas, 11, said Anastasia has been extremely supportive as she tried to overcome the same learning disability. “She told me I had to be strong.”

Her grandmother, whom Anastasia addressed with the Polish term “Babcia,” yesterday held up copies of poems her granddaughter had written for her, printed in flowery pink script.

She pointed at several images of Anastasia as a child in a framed collage of family photographs the young woman had made for her.

“That’s her, that’s her, and that’s her,” she said, weeping.

Louise DeSousa yesterday described how, on Wednesday morning, she had gone into her sleeping daughter’s bedroom and kissed her on the cheek before leaving for the day. Anastasia spent half an hour at home, working on an English paper, then rushed off to take the Metro to school. Although she got her driver’s licence last year, she usually took the subway or train downtown. Her father remembers smelling her perfume after she left.

When they heard about the shootings at Dawson, family members repeatedly called Anastasia on her cellphone, but couldn’t reach her. The phone company used a global positioning system chip to track the handset. It showed the phone was still around the college. The DeSousas went to the Montreal General Hospital to look for Anastasia, and asked reporters at the emergency room for help locating her.

Family members yesterday complained that information was slow to come from the police at the hospital, while Montreal broadcast media ran with the story of the young woman’s death.

“Everything was hush-hush,” Mr. DeSousa said. The police eventually told the family that they believed a body found at the college might be their daughter and warned them to prepare for bad news. The worst was confirmed when the Surete du Quebec positively identified her using scars from surgery she had had for scoliosis, a curvature of the spine.

Anastasia’s aunt and godmother, Natalya Hevey, said the family was frustrated they hadn’t been able to get more information about the shooting.

“We don’t know if she died instantly. We don’t know if she was in pain,” she said.

“It seems the body is still at the crime scene. She has been there all alone.”

Yesterday morning, the DeSousas were preparing for a horrible errand: a trip to the morgue to identify a photograph of their daughter.

They said they had never heard of Kimveer Gill, the alleged gunman, and said Anastasia had no involvement with the “Goth” subculture that Gill apparently favoured.

“She was too perfect and beautiful,” her mother said.

-30-