Watching my local candidate Tim Laidler (the Conservative candidate in the newly established riding of Port Moody-Coquitlam) appear repeatedly in government sponsored, taxpayer-funded, partisan photo ops as detailed here, here, and here, I began to notice that it was not only Mr. Laidler that was turning up repeatedly to these various official government events. In actuality, in many cases, it was pretty much the same six (a six pack of candidates?) or sometimes seven, that were being paraded around from activity to activity and from photo op to photo op and, in one case, awkwardly being paraded on stage in front of a large audience at an official government event. It was to me clear after some doing some rudimentary online searching that all of these individuals (including Mr. Laidler) were unelected B.C. Conservative candidates from a variety of constituencies but I couldn’t quite put together what the link between them all was.
The link was finally provided to me by a post on JoJo Quimpo’s (the Conservative candidate in the riding of Vancouver-Kingsway) Facebook page which provided a virtual Rosetta Stone as to who was involved and what was going on (please see above). The post in question was a Facebook post of a staged photograph produced by the PMO showing the Prime Minister, Minister James Moore, and Minister Alice Wong pictured with (from left to right) Kenny Chui (Conservative candidate in the riding of Steveston-Richmond East), Marshall Neufeld (Conservative candidate in the riding of South Okanagan-West Kootenay), Harpreet Singh (Conservative candidate in the riding of Surrey-Newton), Tim Laidler (Conservative candidate in the riding of Port Moody-Coquitlam), Jojo Quimpo (Conservative candidate in the riding of Vancouver-Kingsway), Dean Drysdale (Conservative candidate in the riding of Cloverdale-Langley City), and Mike Little (Conservative candidate in the riding of Burnaby North-Seymour). Mr. Quimpo very kindly labelled all the individuals in the photo for me which helped greatly (big shout out for that!).
A few comments about this particular picture before proceeding. Again, one can see obvious evidence of the political partisan use of public taxpayer-funded resources (the office of the PMO) being used to promote Conservative candidates and the Conservative Party. Sigh. That goes almost without saying. There really can’t be any clearer example of that. Sad indeed.
Back to contents of the picture itself though, of the seven unelected Conservative candidates in the picture, six of the candidates (the six pack) represent all six of the Conservative candidates in the six newly established ridings in B.C. that will be in place for the upcoming election, the result of the redistribution of ridings ostensibly to create ridings with the same number of voters. These ridings include the ridings of:
- Steveston-Richmond East
- South Okanagan-West Kootenay
- Port Moody-Coquitlam
- Cloverdale-Langley City
- Burnaby North-Seymour
As suggested by the CBC however, the redistribution heavily favours the Conservatives and winning these six seats could be the difference between remaining in power or not. Therefore, the stakes are high and the Conservatives in B.C. know it.
So what are the Conservatives to do? A review of three additional separate events: (1) the Prime Minister’s visit to the Aberdeen Centre in Richmond late in the evening of Wednesday, February 18, 2015, (2) Prime Minister’s Modi’s arrival at the airport in Richmond on April 16, 2015, and (3) the 2015 Lunar New Year Parade in Vancouver’s Chinatown, February 22, 2015 (two of which were official events and one and obvious party event) reveals that these six and sometimes seven candidates are being paraded around (sometimes at the taxpayers expense) presumably in the hopes of raising their profiles in the hopes of winning these newly established ridings. Below is a review of these three events. Let’s first start though with the original candidates’ photo as it really constitutes the first in a series of four separate events.
Event 1: The Sitting for the “BC Conservatives Member of Parliament (MP) Candidates” Photograph (Prior to March 3, 2015) (Official Event)
As this photograph (please see above) was published by the Office of the Prime Minister, this by definition constitutes the partisan use of public, taxpayer-funded resources and an official event. The location and date of the photograph is unknown, likely in B.C, and would have had to have been taken definitely prior to March 3, 2015 for it to be posted on Mr. Quimpo’s Facebook page by that date. All of the Travelling Brotherhood of the Six Pack (+1) are present in the photo.
Event 2: Richmond Aberdeen Centre Feb. 18, 2015 (Official Event)
As part of the celebrations of the Chinese Lunar New Year, Prime Minister Harper visited the Aberdeen Centre in Richmond, B.C. on Feb. 18, 2015. As noted in the Province Newspaper Article describing the event, Prime Ministers don’t just turn up to events like this unannounced. Accordingly, a security delegation visited the venue many days before the event in order to assess the venue for security concerns and a significant security presence was with Harper at the event. Also at the event were official photographers from the PMO and presumably an entourage of others.
At the event, which took place close to midnight, the Prime Minister reportedly made a short speech and participated in the ceremony with him painting on the eyes, ears, tongue and back of two lions used in traditional dances.
Here’s how the PMO photographer recorded the event.
Contrast that view with a review of some of the photographs produced by the Richmond News of the event and from other sources that shows that this official event was clearly utilized for partisan political purposes as a way to promote the Conservative party. It seems that they had a booth at the mall, stacked the crowd with young Conservatives in matching T-shirts waving flags, and then put the seven unelected Conservative candidates on stage for the most significant part of the event.
Video footage provided by an onlooker (see below) suggests that during the eye dotting and other significant ceremonies, that the Brotherhood of the Travelling Six Pack (+1) were all awkwardly paraded up on stage and remained on the stage during the most significant parts of the ceremony.
This was seemingly missed (avoided?) by the PMO’s official photographer at the event as were the pictures of the partisan obviously planted crowd.
The PMO actually published the speech that Prime Minister Harper gave that night. A copy of PM Harper’s speech at the Aberdeen centre can be found here and is reproduced below. I’m having trouble locating the part where Harper says, “these are the B.C. Conservative candidates that we are desperately trying to promote in an attempt to raise their profiles. We’re using this official event to promote our candidates in an obvious partisan manner and you guys are paying for it. Let’s give them a hand shall we?”. Must have been an oversight.
Event 3: Prime Minister Modi’s Arrival at the Airport in Vancouver, April 16, 2015 (Official Event)
Indian Prime Minister Modi’s arrival at the airport in Richmond and the partisan political use of his visit is detailed elsewhere here and here and I will only briefly refer to it here. Of the Brotherhood of the Travelling Six Pack (+1), only Mike Little (the Conservative candidate in the riding of Burnaby North-Seymour) appears not to have been present at the airport for the event. It is unclear whether Mr. Little had a moral epiphany (not wanting to be part of an obvious partisan political event on the taxpayer’s dime) or that he just had a prior engagement. I’m leaning towards the latter. Here is the photographic evidence of those candidates present at the airport (in all their glory or lack thereof). Brace yourself on a couple of them.
Event 4: 2015 Lunar New Year Parade in Vancouver’s Chinatown, February 22, 2015 (Public Event)
As part of the Lunar New Year parade, the Conservative Party like many other political parties participated in the Lunar New Year parade in Vancouver’s Chinatown. Unlike the other events, this event and the Conservatives’ behaviour at the event appears to be entirely appropriate. It does not appear that any taxpayer resources were utilized during the event. I only bring up the event as it again shows the Brotherhood of the Travelling Six Pack (+1) being present and together and being paraded around at an event.
You are probably noticing by now the (+1) that also appears at all these event. The rather odd man out in all this (the +1) is Jojo Quimpo (the Conservative candidate in the riding of Vancouver-Kingsway). Mr. Quimpo as you may remember was present with Mr. Laidler at one of the shameless taxpayer-funded photo op’s with Candace Bergen, the Minister of State for Social Development documented here, so he, like Mr. Laidler, is already a repeat offender when it
comes to the shameless partisan use of public resources for political purposes. I’m having a bit of tough time understanding why Jojo Quimpo was and is being included in with the Brotherhood of the Travelling Six Pack as his riding is not a new riding. Mr. Quimpo is definitely in tough race against Don Davies, the two time NDP MP who won the last election with over 50% of the popular vote. However, there are lots of other Conservative candidates in tough against strong NDP and Liberal candidates. Take for example Chloe Ellis who will be in tough against Peter Julian who is seeking his fourth term in the riding of New Westminster – Burnaby. Seeing that she was nominated in March, why was/is she not afforded the same opportunities as Mr. Quimpo to have their picture taken with dignitaries etc. Or was it that she was offered the opportunity and she declined, as it would have been inappropriate to do so? Mr. Quimpo had Jason Kenney kick off his campaign so I’m wondering if this is just another example of Jason Kenney in his capacity as the Minister of Multiculturalism pandering (as he often does) to the sizable ex-pat Filipino and South Asian vote by promoting Mr. Quimpo at every opportunity? That is more likely the case I would think as it would be par for the course with Mr. Kenney and the party as a whole.
Finally, I would be remiss in not acknowledging the “brains” behind all these operations. I ask you as the interested reader (who’s made it this far in the post), who is the one senior ministerial constant at all these events, that is also present in the obviously partisan photo?
Yes, I give you the puppetmaster of the Brotherhood of the Travelling Six Pack (+1), James Moore the senior regional Minister from B.C. There is in my opinion no way that Mr. Moore is/was unaware of the significance of this group as he attended at least four different functions with this specific group of candidates, three of which constituted official government functions and that involved the use of public resources. These public resources appears to have been utilized in an attempt to raise the profile of these seven candidates with the photos that are being produced at these events turning up on the candidates’ webpages and social media accounts as well as on the Prime Minister’s own website and social media accounts. It is pretty clear that Mr. Moore has some distinct difficulty differentiating between what is public and party business and that he doesn’t mind crossing that line if it will get him and his party ahead.
I’m looking forward to Mr. Moore answering questions regarding all this and to see if he can top this particularly ridiculous statement in QP (even for him) when asked specifically about the promotion of Tim Laidler using public funds.
Can James Moore top that ridiculous performance? I have faith in him and his ridiculousness so yes. Can’t wait to see what the sanctimonious obfuscation will look like this time.
And what about the candidates themselves? Do any of these seven candidates have any integrity at all or in their minds, does the end ultimately justify the means?
Finally, I do wonder if the same pattern is being repeated elsewhere? Are candidates in other Provinces with newly established ridings also being given the same preferential treatment or is this just the handiwork of James Moore and therefor only happening in B.C.? I would be interested to know so would other taxpayers I would imagine.
It should be noted too that unlike the airport incident with Prime Minister Modi, there is no plausible deniability on the part of Stephen Harper that he didn’t know what was going on at the Aberdeen Centre or during the photo shoot with the unelected candidates. There is no way that he would have been allowed to share the stage and/or have his picture taken with the unelected candidates without knowing exactly what was going on. To suggest anything else would be disingenuous.