Tag Archives: Peter McKay

Are Harper’s Allies Fleeing

There is this feeling that he will be defeated in 2015.

After nearly a decade as prime minister, Harper’s capacity to reward loyalty is no longer what it used to be; nor is his latitude to punish those who cross him.
The prime minister can technically still appoint senators but a lingering scandal makes that politically suicidal. And on the heels of a string of bad appointments his judgment has widely been called into question.
Meanwhile, the more ambitious Conservatives are looking beyond Harper’s reign. The more timorous are afraid he might take them down with him.
Harper’s approval rating has fallen below 30 per cent. So have party fortunes in voting intentions. This is not a passing slump. It has endured for more than a year. And that can only exacerbate pre-existing tensions within a jittery party.
The coming-together of the Reform/Alliance and the Progressive Conservatives was never more than a marriage of convenience. Now the Tory wing of Harper’s reconstituted party is reasserting itself.
Brian Mulroney — a predecessor that the prime minister declared persona non grata over his dealings with lobbyist Karlheinz Shreiber a few years ago — is back on the Conservative celebrity speaking circuit.
Last week droves of Conservative aides, MPs and ministers came out to hear Mulroney deliver a keynote speech on energy policy. They gave him two standing ovations. Ministers John Baird and Peter MacKay respectively introduced and thanked the former prime minister.
In Harper’s own Calgary backyard last weekend, Conservative members removed loyalist Rob Anders — a six-term backbencher — as their 2015 candidate for the riding of Signal Hill.
They selected former Alberta minister Ron Liepert in defiance of the recommendation of Jason Kenney, the jobs minister, who doubles as Harper’s most influential Alberta cabinet member.
Former Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe once compared leading his party to a devastating defeat in 2011 to being trapped on an elevator in free fall. It is time to put a safety warning on the door of Harper 2015 re-election ride.

Then the mother of all civil wars then the Blue Tories and the Red Tories will battle for the leadership of the Conservative Party.

The Defence Department Investigates Leak that Was Published in US Navy Press Release

Well this would be funny if it wasn’t so ridiculous

The office of Defence Minister Peter MacKay requested an investigation by the military’s elite investigative arm last year after an Ottawa Citizen journalist published information contained in a press release.

MacKay’s office alleged that the information was the result of a leak, even though Citizen reporter David Pugliese identified on four occasions that the details came from a U.S. Navy news release.

According to documents released under access to information, MacKay’s office requested that the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service (NIS), which is called in for serious crimes or sensitive matters, track down how Pugliese obtained information, setting in motion a month-long probe.

Pugliese, the Citizen’s defence reporter, provided details of Canada’s involvement in RIMPAC, the world’s largest international maritime exercise, in a May 10, 2012 item on his Defence Watch blog, repeatedly attributing the information to the U.S. Navy.

Despite that, the NIS conducted a thorough “investigative assessment,” including a search of email traffic through DND’s firewall, in an effort to identify the source of the “leak” before concluding that no offence had occurred.

Citizen editor-in-chief Gerry Nott said the conduct of the NIS “would be humorous if it wasn’t outrageous. For investigators to be tied up chasing a phantom leak of publicly available information speaks to both paranoia and incompetence.’

Not only was the information “leaked” by the U.S. Navy in a press release, it wasn’t confidential.

O’Brien also reported that Touchette was “aware there was no security classification or designation of the information and as such there was likely no offence present.”

The following day, O’Brien interviewed Brigadier-General Sylvain Bedard, DND’s director general of public affairs, who also told him there was likely no criminal or National Defence Act offence applicable in the case.

It gets better.

But the NIS wasn’t finished with the file quite yet. Three months later, on Sept. 11, 2012, Lieutenant-Colonel Brian Frei, the new commanding officer of NIS, briefed Bedard and two senior officials from MacKay’s office — Paxton and John MacDonell, MacKay’s chief of staff — on the results of the investigative assessment.

Frei summarized the results in a letter, saying documents provided by Touchette’s officials — including Pugliese’s blog item — “clearly identify his source of information … as a United States Third Fleet news release.” Pugliese, he said, “had ample information from which to extract and produce his subsequent news article.

“The only information that could be deemed to have been leaked is the fact that the Government of Canada’s news release had not yet been authorized for release,” Frei wrote.

Well like a lot of things in life, we will just blame the United States Third Fleet (which has 5 aircraft carrier groups under it’s command!).  In defence of Peter McKay, every military has stories like this and I am sure they come from over zealous political staffers that want to please the boss.  Still i find it funny that this ‘investigation’ would not die.  It really does make McKay look both bad and paranoid.

Big Yellow Taxi

Why Peter McKay’s “taxi” ride in a search & rescue helicopter strikes a nerve in Newfoundland.

Cormorant CH-149 helicopter

For centuries, families in Newfoundland and Labrador have grieved for those who went to sea and didn’t come home.

The risk continues. Fishing is among the most deadly jobs in the country, and the dangers inherent in travelling to the offshore oil rigs were made clear in the 2009 helicopter crash that killed 17.

Against this backdrop, search and rescue (SAR) is never just about dollars and cents for people in the province. There has been heated debate and raucous protests about the appropriate level of protection. All of which explains why the controversial helicopter ride by Peter MacKay, the ranking political minister in Atlantic Canada, touches such a hot button.

“In the context of cutbacks to basic [rescue] services, that’s pretty hard to swallow,” said Earle McCurdy, president of the Fish, Food and Allied Workers union. “Since 1973 there’s been 193 Newfoundlanders lost their lives in the fishery.”

What makes people really upset is that McKay took a helicopter that was really needed elsewhere.

Search and rescue for the province is handled out of a central location in Gander, where 103 Squadron gets twice the national average of distress calls. There, approximately 50 military personnel and 26 civilians, a unit that calls itself “Outcasts” and features on its badge a rescue dog named Albert, operate three Cormorant CH-149 helicopters.

Each of these choppers – the same type that fetched Mr. MacKay – can carry 12 stretchers and operate in icy conditions. A base spokesman could not be reached Friday afternoon, but the squadron’s website speaks proudly of covering “the lower Arctic, the Maritimes, Newfoundland and Labrador and all offshore waters in the region,” with round-the-clock capability.

But dissenting locals argue that the base is too far from the busy waters off the southeast part of the province, and that overnight response time is sub-par.

Military standards require that SAR crews be airborne within 30 minutes of receiving a call that comes in on a weekday, between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. But the rest of the time they have two hours to get in the air. The latter standard falls below international norms and, given that work at sea doesn’t necessarily align with office hours, has sparked much criticism about a two-tier system.

Yeah, if I was a fisherman, I would be upset at McKay using the helicopter as well.  The Calgary Herald has this

Taking a search-and-rescue helicopter out of service to pick him up at a fishing lodge is, frankly, appalling. As opposition members asked Friday, would MacKay use an ambulance as a taxi?

In e-mails uncovered under access-to-information requests, search-and-rescue personnel crossed their fingers after the request came in to pick up MacKay and hoped for "a slow night" so that the helicopter – one of three stationed in the area – wouldn’t be needed for a rescue mission.

This is worse than Canada’s top general using government jets to whisk him about the country.

This is like taking a fire truck off the street and using it as a limousine for a cabinet minister.

The issue is not that cabinet ministers should never use military aircraft. Pilots need to log airtime to stay sharp. If a minister can hitch a ride, it’s not a big deal. But when a minister orders one up when he’s on a fishing vacation, and there is a chance that public safety could be compromised by diminished search-and rescue capabilities, that is inexcusable.

MacKay has long argued that he used the helicopter as part of a planned search-and rescue exercise in July 2010, but recently released Defence Department e-mails suggest otherwise. One military official said in an e-mail that they would use the "guise" of a training mission to explain why the helicopter was sent to pick up MacKay.

The e-mails are damning. They show officials scrambling to accommodate MacKay’s request to be picked up at a private fishing lodge at the end of a vacation and expressed concern that the Cormorant chopper might be needed for a real rescue mission.

I am a big Peter McKay fan but I am starting to wonder if Harper should drop him from cabinet on this one.  I know it won’t happen but this was an abuse of power.  This is how governments lose power.  It’s why we got tired of the Liberals and it’s why Canadians will grow tired of the Conservatives.  It’s not usually a big thing, it’s things like McKay’s user of a helicopter,  the Conservatives lying about Irwin Cotler and Clement’s G8 legacy fund.  It death by a thousand self-inflicted cuts.

Have the Liberals Passed the Point of No Return

Chantal Hebert asks some hard questions about the future of the Liberal Party

Moving from east to west the NDP has pushed back the frontiers of its territory in every region of the country over the past decade. More often than not it has done so at Liberal expense.

In the early 90s, the NDP had little presence in Atlantic Canada. But today the New Democrats are well on the way to become a force to contend with in every province of the region except P.E.I.

They make up the government in Nova Scotia. On Tuesday they came within one seat of beating the Liberals to the title of official opposition in Newfoundland and Labrador.

In Quebec, the federal NDP has gone from one seat to 59 over the span of a single decade.

The Liberals under Jean Chrétien used to sweep Ontario throughout the ’90s. Last May, the NDP elected twice as many MPs as the Liberals in Canada’s largest province.

In the Prairies, the Liberal party is virtually extinct.

Out of 254 federal and provincial seats in the three provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, the Liberals currently hold 12.

Only two of those are federal seats and personal popularity has more to do with the survival of a lone federal Liberal flag-bearer in Saskatchewan and Manitoba last May than party brand.

The same is true in Quebec where most of the seven Liberal survivors of the federal election — MPs like Marc Garneau, Stéphane Dion, Denis Coderre, Irwin Cotler and Justin Trudeau — owe their survival to who they are (or who they have been).

Watching the receding Liberal tide, one can reasonably wonder whether the party as a major national presence has reached the point of no return.

The current Liberal establishment — rooted as it is in Ontario and somewhat blinded by its proximity to Queen’s Park — will swear that it is not so.

To shore up their faith in a brighter future for their party, diehard federal Liberals point to the leadership travails of the NDP and the resilience of their provincial cousins in Ontario.

There was a time not so long ago when the federal Tories drank the same bathwater.

They too clung to their party’s hold on provincial capitals such as Edmonton, Winnipeg and Toronto as proof positive of their own inevitable triumph over the Reform/Alliance.

Not to shine on Hebert’s rainy parade but the federal Tories changes, adapted, and merged and became… the federal Tories and the last time I checked, were in power nationally.  The Liberals may or may not do the same thing but they are not in the same boat as the Progressive Conservatives, even if they are in a rut right now.  Will they survive?  Not sure but did anyone see Peter McKay and Stephen Harper in power after the disastrous 1993 campaign? 

I don’t know what to say

The Chronicle Herald is alleging that Peter McKay is in conflict of interest

Defence Minister Peter MacKay has violated the code of ethics for federal ministers by failing to declare his role in two family companies, The Chronicle Herald has learned.

Until Wednesday, Mr. MacKay was vice-president of Beaver Lumber and a director of Lorne Resources, both companies owned by his father, former federal minister Elmer MacKay.

Elmer MacKay owns thousands of hectares of woodland in the province, mostly in Pictou County.

Peter MacKay resigned from the boards of both companies on Wednesday after he learned that he was in violation of the act. He said he had forgotten that he was an officer of either company.

Some aren’t buying his excuse

Duff Conacher of the Ottawa ethics watchdog group Democracy Watch is skeptical of Mr. MacKay’s claim that he forgot about his role in the companies.

"His father never mentions the company or ever lets him know anything about it, as an officer, and we’re supposed to believe that?" Mr. Conacher said. "It’s his father’s primary source of income, and he’s an officer, and he forgot. So he manages but he doesn’t know that he manages it. Ignorance is not a defence of violation of the law."

Last Thursday, Mr. MacKay announced $7 million in federal funding for woodlot owners in Nova Scotia. He said Wednesday he did not know if his family’s business stood to benefit from that money, or other federal programs, but it has nothing to do with him.

"I have absolutely no involvement with the business, with the business of my father or brother, nor do I have any involvement in the administration of this money," he said. "My role was to do the announcement on behalf of the government of Canada. I don’t decide where the money goes."

Mr. MacKay called his failure to remove himself from the boards of the companies an oversight.

"My mistake, if anything, was not to have twigged to the fact that I should remove my name. I guess it sounds hard to believe but I completely forgot because I didn’t have any involvement with it."