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"I would, Mr. Speaker, indicate to you that the way in which this case has been handled, including by myself, has been unfortunate."
February 18, 2011 6:27 AM   Subscribe

The power of three letters "N - O - T". Canada's "International Cooperation Minister Bev Oda on Monday admitted she was behind the mysterious “not” that was handwritten on a government document that ended funding for church-backed aid organization KAIROS and its international relief work. Reversing her earlier testimony at a Commons committee — where she had claimed not to know who penned the extra word — Oda revealed she had, in fact, directed an unnamed official to add the word “not.” “The funding decision was mine. The ‘not' was inserted at my direction,” Oda said in a surprise statement in the Commons." Opposition parties claim that Oda is shielding the PM's office.
posted by Fizz (53 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
I really enjoyed this:

In fact, the Tory MPs suggest Ms. Oda was not misleading the committee when she said she didn’t know who changed the document – because she “did not know who in her office had actually written the word on the document, as accurately reflected in her answer, ‘I do not know’.” -- The Globe & Mail - Opposition puts Bev Oda’s fate in Speaker’s hands
posted by papercrane at 6:48 AM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


A better Wayne's World reference than 'schwing!' I suppose.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 6:51 AM on February 18, 2011


It has been interesting to watch the way the Conversvative government has tried to downplay the seriousness of lying in public office.
posted by Fizz at 6:52 AM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


So it seems that She did not NOT know who in her office had actually written the word on the document, as accurately reflected in her answer, ‘I do NOT not know’.”

There. Fixed that for her.
posted by three blind mice at 6:55 AM on February 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


"International Cooperation Minister" sounds like Newspeak and she behaves accordingly.
posted by Jode at 6:57 AM on February 18, 2011


God these reptilian creeps leave a bad taste in my mouth.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:59 AM on February 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is the new way in Canada. I hear the CRTC is about to usher in a golden age of Corporate Canadian bullshit.

As long as broadcasters don't know anything about the bullshit they spout, and as long as no-one can prove in court that it directly endangers public safety, Sun TV can spout anything its backers want.

In fact, I hear Sun TV says that Michael Ignatieff did the exact same thing when he formed a coalition with the Bloc to enforce the gun registry on tax-payers threatened with the long-form census.
posted by anthill at 7:05 AM on February 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Truth balanced with fiction
posted by anthill at 7:08 AM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Then again, Iggy is a reptilian creep, too. Give us Bob Rae!
posted by KokuRyu at 7:09 AM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


It has been interesting to watch the way the Conversvative government has tried to downplay the seriousness of lying in public office.

It's just another symptom of a general contempt for parliament.
posted by papercrane at 7:10 AM on February 18, 2011


Say what you will about Bev Oda-- the lady can SING.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 7:18 AM on February 18, 2011


The fact that their support base in the polls hasn't wavered much through all this crap is endlessly disappointing to me. I'd go off on a rant, but Dan Gardner of the Ottawa Citizen's already done the job for me:

Harper is governing by sledgehammer

Pull quote: "An executive who managed a two-bit toy factory like this would be out on his ear."

And Andrew Coyne's done a pretty good job of outlining the stakes in the game: A test of our democracy.

I have to think, given what a game player Harper is, that this is his ultimate aim with all this: How far can I push it? Forty percent of Canadians don't seem to care if I take a shit on the Charter on the front steps of Parliament, so why even pretend I have any respect for due process or democracy or the law?

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Worst PM & worst government in my lifetime. Maybe the worst ever. Every day they remain in power is a day of decline for the country.
posted by gompa at 7:22 AM on February 18, 2011 [23 favorites]


So, these were they guys elected to bring 'honesty and transparency' back to Government, eh?

I never thought I would miss Chretien.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 7:24 AM on February 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


I moved away from the states (TX) because I wanted to get away from the growing xenophobia and culture of division. I've been a Canadian citizen for 10 years now and the way this country is moving politically is making me think that I should have moved to another country.
posted by Fizz at 7:26 AM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just stumbled onto this, very amusing: THE PMO guide to doctoring documents.
posted by Fizz at 7:31 AM on February 18, 2011


I never thought I would miss Chretien.

If only that was the end of it. I never thought I'd miss Mulroney.
posted by gompa at 7:32 AM on February 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


Worst PM & worst government in my lifetime.

Really? That's a pretty high bar.
Brian Mulroney: almost breaking up the country (twice), not quite taking bribes in office
Jean Chretien: almost breaking up the country (once), taking bribes in office (or was it just golfballs?), abusing civil rights.

Paul Martin and Kim Campbell don't really rate as neither were in long enough to do real damage.

I think Mulroney is still ahead on points.
posted by bonehead at 7:35 AM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


the way this country is moving politically

Wouldn't make you any promises, Fizz, but my suspicion and my hope - which I've backed with a standing bet with two of my uncles that'll net me two bottles of single malt next election - is that we're past the highwater mark for Harperism. They've tried every dirty trick they can think of, ran the most nakedly conniving, manipulative and poll-driven government they know, and still they can't get into majority territory.

If the Liberals could find their spine, a real vision and a leader who wasn't irredeemably distasteful to maybe 3/4s of Canadians, this thing would already be over. (Frank McKenna, come back. Canada needs you!)

And on preview, bonehead, I agree there were many awful things about Chretien and many, many more about Mulroney, but even the Chin That Walked Like A Man seemed to have some respect for the basic institutions of the country and the vision of the place as a calm, moderate, pluralistic democracy. He was a venal, self-interested crook, but he wasn't interested in dismantling several generations of progress. Whereas Harper is openly contemptuous of every value I hold dear.
posted by gompa at 7:42 AM on February 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


Brian Mulroney: almost breaking up the country (twice)

I think he tried his best; the failure of Meech Lake was not his fault, it was the fault of the provinces, and led directly to the birth of the Bloc Quebecois and the mess (minority governments, regional political parties) that we're in today.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:42 AM on February 18, 2011


Canada deserves Harper and his clowns. Small, mean-minded mediocrity breeds the same.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:43 AM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


three blind mice: "There. Fixed that for her"

Nah nah nah. She had it right the first time, just poorly emphasized and in bad English.

"I do NOT. Know."
posted by graventy at 7:45 AM on February 18, 2011


Wouldn't make you any promises, Fizz, but my suspicion and my hope - which I've backed with a standing bet with two of my uncles that'll net me two bottles of single malt next election - is that we're past the highwater mark for Harperism.

Conservative government will most likely be elected in Newfoundland.
Conservative government most likely be elected in Ontario.
Rob Ford in Toronto.
Conservative government in Sask
Far right party most likely will be elected in Alta
Kevin Falcon (a Con) most likely will be elected as BC Lib leader; resurgence of populist politics (HST, Christy Clark)
posted by KokuRyu at 7:47 AM on February 18, 2011


Chretien was a fucking baller. I remember his Sponsorship Scandal testimony, after he had left office. He was ripping apart the prosecutor, and when they tried to shut him down he said, "no, no, this is too much fun." Not saying I was a devoted fan, but he wasn't afraid of anything.

As for Oda, what I find fascinating about the cravenness of the Conservatives' approach here is the basic lack of understanding about how government works:

Staff write memos and make recommendations. As a bureaucrat myself, the one thing smart bureaucrats understand is that they don't make decisions. We just make sure politicians can make decisions with their eyes open. If they had left the memo as is, and simply decided to go against staff advice, this would be a total non-story. Happens all the time. But the Conservatives messed with the staff memo to make it seem like they were following staff advice. Cowardice, pure and simple. The tried to pull this off with the Census last year, and then got burned when the head of Statistics Canada resigned so he could tell everybody that scrapping the long form questionnaire was definitely not what staff recommended.
posted by dry white toast at 7:47 AM on February 18, 2011 [11 favorites]


Ministerial Resignations.

Not surprisingly, when the Conservatives are in power, there are more resignations, and the reasons are more often for corrupt behavior.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:48 AM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Parliamentary procedure also allows for the customary handshake to be replaced with a feint consisting of a casual brushing of the hair and the utterance of "psyche!".
posted by dr_dank at 7:49 AM on February 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Canada deserves Harper and his clowns. Small, mean-minded mediocrity breeds the same.

I wouldn't phrase it quite that harshly, Alvy, but that's definitely what's so disappointing about Harper - he has demonstrated just how far you can get in this country by speaking to its worst traits and impulses. There's just enough smug complacency and mean self-interest out there - just enough I got mine - to string together a viable minority government as long as the economy's left in reasonably good shape.

That said, I think if there were a strong leader or party speaking to our best side - our tolerance and generosity, our sense of fair play and our desire to be on the right side of history - we could undo Stephen Harper and every nasty thought he's ever spreadsheeted and cross-calculated with polling data in a couple of months of good campaigning.
posted by gompa at 7:50 AM on February 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


Here's one of the thing I haven’t figured out. Both sides of any given two party system are prone to pulling bullshit and attempting to lie to get out of it. Why does it seem to me that the difference is those with progressive leanings do eventually get to the point where they go “Hey, ok. I was lying. But I had good reasons. Please let me appeal to your empathy and maybe get forgiveness for my utter douchebaggery.”

But with conservatives, it seems to me, they will not relent. No.matter.what.

Media: “Sources suggest you lied about your employment record when you said you were CEO of Vandelay Industries.”
NeoCon: “Well, that’s just a smear campaign by the liberal media.”
Media: “Ok, but that company swears it has never even heard of you until we called them.”
NeoCon: “Yeah, well look at their campaign donations. Almost all of it to Obama.”
Media: “Not quite, in recent govenor’s races, they contributed mostly to conservative candidates…”
NeoCon: “But you’re looking at private donations, not the company itself.”
Media: “Actually, we’re looking at both.”
NeoCon: “This is preposterous. It’s obvious you both are working for the socialists trying to take over this country.”
Media: “We have your tax statements for the last two decades, and you do not report any income from their company, nor did they file a W-2, or anything.”
NeoCon: “I was reimbursed with stock options…”
Media: “But still there would be…”
NeoCon: “Listen, I don’t have to get into this with you.”
Media: “Right, but an independent investigation performed by a Congressional committee…”
NeoCon: “That committee had a liberal majority!”
Media: “…voted unanimously to censure you…”
NeoCon: “Well, there’s turn coats in our party, apparently,”
Media: “…after they had video evidence of you telling an associate that you were going to try to pad your resume with false claims…”
NeoCon: “It was taken out of context, and it was a joke between he and I!”
Media: “…and the associate was appalled, and said ‘I hope you’re joking…’”
NeoCon: “Which I was!!”
Media: “To which you replied, ‘Hell no.’”
NeoCon: “I AM JOHN GALT!”
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 7:50 AM on February 18, 2011 [12 favorites]


I think [Mulroney] tried his best

I do too, but don't think he should have tried in the first place.

Trudeau patriated the constitution and Mulroney was jealous: he'd never have his name in the books as a father of confederation. That drove him to "finish the job" and try to get Quebec to sign. His ego and glory-seeking led him to completely misjudge the political situation. He is personally responsible for reigniting separatism in Quebec and leading to the ineffective mess we have now on the Federal level, with a quarter of the country refusing to participate in confederation. BM's ego precipitated a political crisis that's persisted for thirty years.

That was Mulroney's best.
posted by bonehead at 7:50 AM on February 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


bonehead - I think Mulroney is still ahead on points.

We're derailing here...and I detest Mulroney for all kinds of reasons. But how many politicians these days would take the risks that he did? He put his legacy and place in Canadian history at risk to solve an intractable constitutional problem. He touched the third rail of Canadian politics twice. Sure, he was arrogant, but so is Harper. I'm racking my brain to try and think of a political risk Harper has taken and for the life of me, can't come up with one. He's by the numbers down the line.
posted by dry white toast at 7:55 AM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I also do not understand why they did not just reject the recommendation to fund KAIROS and move on. I may or may not have agreed with that decision -- I do not know enough about the group, though in general I am good with nto funding faith-based groups -- but it's perfectly reasonable. Instead we have this entire circus which somehow seems like it must be a lot of smoke and mirrors and intended to hide something else that we'd find even worse.

If I were a mod it would be so tempting to edit this post to put the word "NOT" in. I cannot be trusted with power.
posted by jeather at 7:55 AM on February 18, 2011


The PMO spin on this amazes me. The opposition parties have accused Minister Oda of lying to parliament. The PMO's response is that she has the right to overrule recommendations from bureaucrats, which has nothing to do with anything.

When accused of something, deny, if caught change the subject.
posted by papercrane at 7:56 AM on February 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


What gompa said. However, I'm not sure I fully agree with Dan Gardner (from gompa's link) when he says "Ladies and gentlemen, it’s my job to be blunt. So I’ll just say it: Stephen Harper is incompetent." Harper knows exactly what he's doing; he's just borrowed several chapters from the U.S. Republican playbook. He's spent and tax-cut the government into a deficit because that's how you justify cutting programs and social services conservatives don't like. He believes government doesn't shouldn't work, and now that he's in power he's doing everything he can to make sure it doesn't. And he's brought in an unprescedented (in my lifetime, anyway)

On preview, good lord I hope you win that bet. My lefty optimism kind of died a bit when my fellow Torontonians elected Rob Ford, though.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:58 AM on February 18, 2011


Coyne's piece, linked above by gompa, is one of the best round-ups of this I've seen so far.

The actual decision is not the issue. Political overrides of staff recommendations happen all the time. It's what politicians are paid for, to set policy. The issue, as always, is the cover-up.
posted by bonehead at 8:00 AM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oops...meant to add: he's brought in an unprecedented (in my lifetime, anyway) degree of the politics of division and grievance to Canada. CPC (and Rob Ford)'s support seems to be based on fear of and anger towards Others (immigrants, liberals (and Liberals), urban "elites," the poor, etc.).
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:06 AM on February 18, 2011


If the Liberals could find their spine, a real vision and a leader who wasn't irredeemably distasteful to maybe 3/4s of Canadians, this thing would already be over.

This speaks more to why Harper is in power more than anything. Iggy simply won't get the Libs elected and while I like Jack Layton, the NDP won't get enough votes and don't seem to be able to make any noise.

Same with BC - the NDP leader here got booted out as she seemed to almost go out of her way to avoid getting into the media. Hopefully they'll be able to find a leader who can make it work, but I'm not seeing one within their field of candidates.

Harper's group are benefiting from there not being anyone across the floor who can mount a serious challenge, which sucks.
posted by Salmonberry at 8:07 AM on February 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


> Harper's group are benefiting from there not being anyone across the floor who can mount a serious challenge, which sucks.

What really scares me is the thought of what Harper's gang could achieve if they find a suitably charming Reagan-esque figurehead to put a smiley face on their policies, instead of the Black Hole Of Charisma they're led by right now.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:12 AM on February 18, 2011


I also do not understand why they did not just reject the recommendation to fund KAIROS and move on.

Because they want to appear as if they are dispassionate, pragmatic, safe governors. They hide their agenda behind "expert advice" or in the case of axing the census, "public outcry".

Plainly rejecting CIDA's advice would have been the honest thing to do, but I suppose it would have risked actually being seen doing something for ideological reasons.
posted by anthill at 8:14 AM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I suppose it would have risked actually being seen doing something for ideological reasons.


And we know that conservatives never based their decisions on ideology.
posted by Fizz at 8:16 AM on February 18, 2011




Dear Canada:

Please cut this shit out. It depresses the fuck out of us and makes us drink more.


Allow us to introduce you to Steven Harper.
posted by Stagger Lee at 9:19 AM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


As a sort of complement to Stagger Lee's link, allow me to present a photo of everything that is wrong with Canada in a single frame. (A friend once called this the evilest picture ever. Not really hyperbole, if you ask me.)
posted by gompa at 9:28 AM on February 18, 2011 [12 favorites]


Harper's group are benefiting from there not being anyone across the floor who can mount a serious challenge, which sucks.

It doesn't matter how charismatic the leader of the Libs or the NDP is, you cannot win a majority government in Canada without Quebec. Blame Paul Martin for Gomery, blame the Liberals for the sponsorship scandal, blame Clyde Wells for wrecking Meech Lake.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:48 AM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was pretty close to giving up on the Conservatives as it is, this sordid cesspool of stupidity and lies has put the nail in the coffin. I'll be voting Liberal, even though I think Ignatieff is an idiot.

I don't mind the fact that Harper has all the charisma of a shoenail. I don't care...that's not what I voted him for. I do care that he doesn't have the balls to tell one of his members to admit the lie and resign. It's clearly the honourable thing to do and he won't do it.
posted by swimming naked when the tide goes out at 12:10 PM on February 18, 2011


I do care that he doesn't have the balls to tell one of his members to admit the lie and resign. It's clearly the honourable thing to do and he won't do it.

To further burst your bubble, I'd invite you to consider the line of reasoning laid out in the Andrew Coyne piece, which posits that Oda is holding her tongue - and Harper backing her down the line - because if she rolls she may come clean on who actually ordered the altering of the document.

Given everything we know about Harper's imperial PMO and his short-leash approach to caucus discipline, the most plausible scenario, by far, is Coyne's, wherein Oda approved the KAIROS funding and Harper ordered her to reverse the decision after she'd already signed off on it.
posted by gompa at 12:17 PM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is what counts as a political scandal in Canada? You guys are so lucky! You should hang on to this state of affairs as long as you can.
posted by Philosopher's Beard at 1:09 PM on February 18, 2011


I hope you're all watching Coyne and Colby Cosh going back and forth over twitter and over their blogs.
posted by Old Man Wilson at 1:33 PM on February 18, 2011


Harper knows exactly what he's doing; he's just borrowed several chapters from the U.S. Republican playbook.

Harper employs Republican consultants. AFAIK, he has been advised by Karl Rove. It would not surprise me in the least if the Cons astroturfing is paid by the likes of Koch.

Make no mistake: Canada's social-rights politics are the target of the same powerful, wealthy people who are currently dismantling the US.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:06 PM on February 18, 2011


I don't mind the fact that Harper has all the charisma of a shoenail. I don't care...that's not what I voted him for. I do care that he doesn't have the balls to tell one of his members to admit the lie and resign. It's clearly the honourable thing to do and he won't do it.

I don't read it this way (and nor do more than a few pundits). Ms Oda's lying for sure, but not about inserting the "NOT", because she didn't. It was done behind her back by the PMO (Prime Minister's Office), and she has been commanded to take the flack for it.

Or ...

She did do it but only because she was told to, again by the PMO. Either way, the reason she still has her position right now is because she's been a loyal soldier who's followed orders.

Or ...

more to the point, if Harper does dump her, she's told him she'll come clean about the whole sordid, stupid situation and lay the blame where it belongs. Here's hoping this particularly odious affair is the toxic straw that finally breaks the proverbial camel's back.

And Brian Mulroney was an odious prick, too. To this day, my single least proud Canadian moment was the day he was the first world leader to loudly applaud Bush Sr's 1989 incursion into Panama -- good ole OPERATION JUST CUZ.
posted by philip-random at 4:22 PM on February 18, 2011


It's very hard to decide whether Harper is more odious than Mulroney (mostly because present suffering is always worse than past suffering). Harper sux. It is that simple. I am continually disappointed in my fellow Canadians - each time, there's the hope "Surely this!..." that gets dashed by the poll numbers.

Unless, and this is my secret hope - Canadians have understood that Harper is desperate for a majority, and have decided to lie to the pollsters to make him think it is within his grasp, and then actually vote him into insignificance when the election takes place.
I am NOT holding my breath
posted by birdsquared at 7:10 PM on February 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


A bit late in posting a comment, just joined here.
Anyways, the difference between the Big Mulroo's odiousness and Harpo's odiousness is that Mulroney worked within a frame work(this thing understood as Canada) whereas Harper seems to be more intent on smashing the framework to pieces and replacing it entirely with some libertarian wet dream. His permanent election campaign, slavishness to polling, hiring based solely on loyalty to the conservative party, and willingness to out right lie about how Canada's constitution actually works are all taken to a level far beyond Mulroney's enterprise.
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 1:41 AM on February 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


I cannot wait for the next Federal election where I will take a bunch of Conservative pamphlets and find places to strategically write 'not' in before returning/redistributing them, cuz -- hey -- citizens are free to vote for whoever they want to, right?
posted by mazola at 8:38 PM on February 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


mazola - that's a hell of an idea. I recommend THINKING BIG with it (ie: get everybody doing it).
posted by philip-random at 1:07 PM on February 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


CRTC ditches bid to allow 'fake news'
posted by anthill at 2:23 PM on February 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Speaker rules Bev Oda's lie breached parlimentary privilege
posted by anthill at 2:15 PM on March 9, 2011


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