Monthly Archives: April 2011

Conservative Democracy Deficit on Vancouver Island

Green Party leader Elizabeth May attempts to make history on May 2, by winning in Saanich-Gulf Islands near Victoria and becoming Canada’s first Green MP. But the Victoria area has also been notable for the mysterious emergence of a plethora of supposedly independent “third party” advertisers supporting Conservative candidates in the closing days in each of the last two election campaigns in 2006 and 2008. The groups were mainly funded by Conservative contributors and their spouses, were facilitated by Conservative campaign managers, and used the local Conservative media planner, Treehouse Media. This overall pattern is evidence of possible collusion to circumvent Elections Canada campaign spending and contribution limits.

The battle between Green Party leader Elizabeth May and Conservative cabinet member Gary Lunn for the southern Vancouver Island riding of Saanich-Gulf Islands, just outside Victoria, is shaping up to be one of the  most hotly contested and closely watched races in the May 2 Canadian election. Not only is May seeking to make history as the Canada’s first ever Green MP, but the Victoria area has an interesting electoral story of its own.

Last time around in 2008, Lunn eked out a narrow victory over the Liberals’ Briony Penn, thanks in part to a shadowy network  of five local third-party advertisers that popped up to support Lunn on the last weekend of the campaign. Four of the five fly-by-night organizations shared the same financial agent and used the same contact address, which happened to be the  law office of Conservative riding association vice-president Bruce Hallsor. The resulting accusations of collusion to breach election spending limits have still not been resolved by Elections Canada.

Today, I’ll present new evidence about that case. It turns out that the tactic of dubious last-minute third-party advertising was first used in the neighbouring Victoria riding in the losing 2005-2006 election bid by Conservative Robin Baird. The links of the third parties to the Conservatives were, if anything, even more obvious – two of the ostensibly independent organizations showed involvement by contributors to Baird’s campaign, while the third was led by the wife of a local Conservative fund-raiser. Even worse, all three were apparently steered to the Conservatives’ regional media consultant, Steve Hutchinson of Treehouse Media, to co-ordinate creation and placement of advertising, a hitherto unnoticed pattern that was repeated in 2008. And in both 2006 and 2008, Conservative advertising was purchased up to the week before election, while the third parties took over all advertising spending after that date. Thus, there is now even clearer and more compelling evidence that these fictional “third parties” may be best understood as part of a Conservative initiative to fashion a last minute “push”, while circumventing election spending and contribution limits.

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2011 Canadian election: The other debate

What a difference two-and-a-half years can make. Environmental issues were front and centre in the 2008 election, when the Liberal proposal of a carbon tax made climate change a key election issue. In contrast, last week’s televised leader debate was most notable for its key omissions: Green Party leader Elizabeth May was excluded this time round, while environmental issues barely rated a passing comment, let alone being raised as a topic of debate.

National CBC radio’s The Current attempted to rectify both of those gaping holes with a special broadcast on climate change. First, Elizabeth May was featured in a solo interview by Current host Annamaria Tremonti. Then a panel consisting of Conservative environment minister Peter Kent,  along with environment critics Gerard Kennedy of the Liberals and Linda Duncan of the NDP, took on a series of pointed questions about climate change policy.

Unsurpisingly, Kent repeated his false claims that Canada was on track to meet its 2020 greenhouse gas emission targets and claimed Conservative policies were having a noticeable effect. Even more outrageously, Kent claimed that a carbon tax would be an “irresponsible measure that would kill Canadian jobs” and intimated that European countries were backing away from programs to meet emission targets because of their effect on the economy, while glibly misrepresenting the Kyoto accord. And not only did he rule out cap-and-trade, but he refused to answer a point blank question about regulation of the oil and gas industry, preferring instead to extol the new oil sands water monitoring program announced just before the election.

Neither Kennedy and Duncan provided much detail on their parties’ respective cap-and-trade proposals, but both managed effective rebuttals to Kent, who sounded more than ever like the minister of the oil sands, not the environment.

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Snapple on the Russian Connection

In several recent comments here, the blogger Snapple (Legend of Pine Ridge) has elucidated the indirect connections between Virginia Attorney-General Ken Cuccinelli Jr and Russian oil and gas interests. More recent comments focus on other aspects of the “Russian connection” with contrarian anti-science (see below).

Snapple’s previous comments on the activities of Ken Cuccinelli Sr can be found here and here (much of it overlapping with comments below), with more detail at this post at Legend of Pine Ridge . However, future comments on this subject should be made on this thread only.

Snapple’s recent comments follow.

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John Mashey lecture tour: The Machinery of Climate Anti-Science

[Update, April 9-12: John Mashey's presentation, entitled The Machinery of Climate Anti-Science, is now available at the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICS) website. The recorded video of Mashey's presentation is also now available from PICS.

PICS is a multidiscplinary institute headed up by Executive Director Tom Pedersen, and is well worth checking out. You can start with the PICS Home Page and PICS at a glance. ]

As some of you know, computer scientist and tireless climate contrarian debunker John Mashey has been on a short lecture tour of B.C. (on the west coast of Canada). The tour culminates with a lecture tonight (Thursday, April 7) for the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions at the University of Victoria.

Best of all (and the reason I wanted to post this), I’ve just found out the lecture will be streamed on the internet.The lecture starts at 7:30 PDT   (10:30 EDT). Go to:

http://www.pics.uvic.ca/broadcast.php

I’ll also post a link to John’s presentation when it’s available.  Here are the event details (which contain  a nod to yours truly).

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Open Thread #9

Here are some possible topics:

  • Discussion (or lack of thereof) concerning climate change issues in the Canadian election campaign.
  • Steve McIntyre’s recent attacks on Keith Briffa and Tim Osborn, which also happen to contradict earlier allegations that IPCC TAR lead author Michael Mann took it on himself to “delete” or “chop off” data in a key “spaghetti” figure of paleoclimate reconstructions (allegations I had previously shown to be false).

And to start things off, I’ve redirected a comment by “George Mason” (presumably a pseodonym), who reminds us that one rogue professor and a lackadaisical and complaisant administration are not necessarily representative of George Mason University as a whole.