Parliamentary Testimonies and Unintended Consequences

Conservative Minister Jason Kenney and Conservative Candidate Tim Laidler
Minister of National Defence and Minister for Multiculturalism Jason Kenney and Tim Laidler, Conservative Candidate in the riding of Port Moody-Coquitlam.

I recently had the opportunity to review the two testimonies of Tim Laidler, the Conservative candidate for the newly established riding of Port Moody-Coquitlam, that he provided before the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs on March 12, 2015 and on Feb. 25, 2014 respectively.  I did so at the suggestion of a veteran activist whom I had contacted in an effort to obtain some comments regarding Mr. Laidler’s candidacy and his activities during his candidacy.  Now I am not an expert in the workings of standing committees and/or the treatment of PTSD so I will refrain from commenting on any of those aspects of the testimony and I will leave that up to those more qualified to do so (see how that works James Moore?).  What I will comment on though however, are a number of issues that arise from something that Mr. Laidler said in his testimony on March 12, 2015, as it has a number of very interesting implications.  As part of his testimony on March 12, 2015, Mr. Laidler made the following statement.

March 12, testimony

Acknowledging the possibility that Mr. Laidler either misspoke (?) during the testimony or that the record is inaccurate (both of which seem unlikely), the fact that Mr. Laidler made the statement that “I’m still in the military. I’m still in the reserves” has a number of interesting implications as if he was/is in the reserves, a number of rules apply as to what you must do and what you can and can not do politically as a reserve force member.

Firstly, as a reserve force member, according to the Code of Values and Ethics 2012, section states that “…members of the Reserve Force must submit a confidential report to the Chief Review Services (CRS), declaring their intent to be a candidate in a federal, provincial, territorial, or municipal, band council, school board, or other local government election body election.”  Section also states that “The CRS will determine whether there is a conflict of interest or potential or appearance of conflict of interest that can be resolved through constraints imposed upon the Reserve Force member so that engaging in the political activity does not undermine the impartiality or the objectivity of the Government of Canada, DND, or the CF.”  I’ve clipped the section in the Code of Valued and Ethics concerning reserve force members and political activities and have provided it below.

From Code of Conduct-2

In an attempt to determine if indeed that Mr. Laidler, as a reserve force member had submitted a report to the CRS, a Freedom of Information (FOI) request was submitted to the Department of National Defence (DND) in an attempt to determine if Mr. Laidler had indeed followed the procedures outlined in the Code of Values and Ethics regarding reserve force members and political activities.   I was specifically interested in determining if Mr. Laidler had indeed declared his intent to the CRS to be a candidate in the Federal Election prior to and/or after his acceptance of the nomination in the riding of Port Moody-Coquitlam on August 12, 2014 and if so, if the CRS had determined whether or not there is/was a conflict of interest or potential or appearance of conflict of interest in Mr. Laidler seeking Federal office and if any constraints were imposed on Mr. Laidler as described in Section so as to avoid a conflict of interest or potential or appearance of conflict of interest.

The result of the FOI request is provided below.

FOI Redacted-3

As noted by the FOI response from DND, no record could be found of Mr. Laidler having submitted the report to the CRS prior to him seeking and/or accepting the CPC nomination for the riding of Port Moody-Coquitlam.  If the report doesn’t exist (as suggested by the DND) then it is my understanding, after consulting with someone currently in the military, that Mr. Laidler’s candidacy as the Conservative nominee for the riding of Port Moody-Coquitlam would appear to be a violation of the Military’s Code of Values and Ethics and, if indeed he is still in the reserves, it would appear that he would be subject to Queen’s Regulations and Orders Volume II Disciplinary or meaning in laymen’s terms, that he could potentially be subject to discipline for these actions (again if he is still in the reserve force).  If however, he is no longer in the reserve force the rules, of course, would no longer apply but it could still mean that he may have potentially in the past violated the Code of Values and Ethics (2012) while he was in the reserve force.  This all is of course a bit disconcerting as so much of Mr. Laidler’s candidacy is focused on him being in the military (see his campaign website here and him being a supporter of the Conservatives’ record with the military, veterans, and veterans affairs.

Another interesting aspect of Mr. Laidler being in the reserve force is that when Jason Kenney was taking partisan pictures of Mr. Laidler at the airport when greeting Prime Minister Modi as detailed in the blog post Greeting Prime Minister Modi and as seen below and in the excellent video produced by Press Progress (also see below),

Prime Minister Shot

(unless he had left the military after March 12, 2015 and that his departure was effective before April 16, 2015, the day of the photo op at the airport), he would have been at the time in the reserve forces having his picture taken for political purposes by the Minister of National Defence, Jason Kenney.  Mr. Kenney was in fact therefor at the time of the photo ultimately his commanding officer (as the Minister of National Defence).  As there was an unequal power relationship, perhaps Mr. Laidler didn’t have the option of not participating in the obviously partisan photo-op event at the airport.  Could he have refused the wishes of his ultimately commanding officer?  I’m not sure.  I’m not sure how that would play out ethically and/or according to military protocols and procedures. Again, I am not an expert in these matters.

Also notable, and seemingly a recurrent theme with Mr. Laidler’s candidacy, at no point during the testimony provided on March 12, 2015 did Mr. Laidler willingly disclose that he was the Conservative candidate for the riding of Port Moody-Coquitlam (since August 12, 2014).  The non-disclosure of his candidacy also occurred during Mr. Laidler’s made statements and asked questions during the NEB hearings in Port Moody concerning Kinder Morgan’s Transmountain pipeline expansion project as detailed in the blog post Where One’s Sympathies Lie as well as elsewhere.  One could argue that his candidacy for the Conservatives is a significant detail that should have been subject to disclosure.  Likewise, Mr. Laidler was quoted in a Oct. 1, 2014 Toronto Sun article lauding the Conservatives and their treatment of veterans again failing to mention that he was a Conservative candidate. This particular article annoyed a number of people in the military.  One wonders if Mr. Laidler had indeed submitted the report to the CRS whether or not full disclosure at all times of his candidacy would have been one of the conditions that he CRS would have imposed on his candidacy?  I tried contacting via e-mail the various other non-Conservative members of the Standing Committee of Veterans Affairs to ask them if they were aware of Mr. Laidler’s Conservative candidacy at the time of his testimony on March 12, 2015 and if not, whether or not that would have made a difference in their line of questioning and/or their interpretation of the testimony of Mr. Laidler before the standing committee.  Unfortunately, as of the writing of this post, I had yet to get a response from any of those on the committee that I had tried to contact.

It should not escape everyone’s attention that Mr. Erin O’Toole, the current Minister of Veterans Affairs, is also a member of the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs.  Mr. O’Toole was (and is) well aware of Mr. Laidler’s candidacy going so far as to tweet out his congratulations when Mr. Laidler was nominated in August of 2014,

congrats from O'Toole

coming to his defence when Press Progress questioned Mr. Laidler’s tendency to photobomb official taxpayer-funded events,

Akin o%22Toole

and even going so far as to provide a comment on this blog itself on Feb 7, 2015 after I published All on the Public’s Dime questioning why Mr. Laidler was promoted in an obviously partisan news release put out by the Office of the Minister of Veterans Affairs on Thursday, January 15, 2015 which did not identify Mr. Laidler as a Conservative candidate.  As such, Mr. O’Toole independently could have also chosen to acknowledge and disclose Mr. Laidler’s candidacy for the Conservative party but similar to Mr. Laidler, he seemingly choose not to voluntarily do so.

Now before anyone accuses me of attacking a veteran just for being a veteran [as James Moore suggested when Mr. Laidler’s repeated photobombs were questioned by the NDP in Parliament (see below)],

I would like to assure everyone that nothing could be further from the truth.  In fact I come from a military family myself.  My father, was a 26 year veteran with the British Military, primarily in the British Military Intelligence Corps but was also in the Canadian Militia in the 1970s.  My mother was a British Army nurse and my mother and father met and were married in Nairobi while my father was stationed in Kenya during the Mau Mau rebellion and my mother was stationed there as an army nurse in a MASH-style military hospital.  My uncle drove a tank in the 8th Army under Montgomery and was at El Alamein and my grandfather was a Captain in the British Merchant Navy of a Q-ship during WWI.  He met my grandmother while serving in the Navy (she was a Navy WREN) when they were based in the Scilly Islands.  Being anti-military is not in my DNA.  In fact, it is somewhat amazing in hindsight that I didn’t end up in the military myself.  Rather what I am doing is just acting locally.  As a voter not wanting to see the Conservatives retain power, this blog and the time that I have invested in it is my contribution to that goal.

Laidler, Harper, Moore

Three ConMigos

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