Subsequent to the publishing of the post Parliamentary Testimonies and Unintended Consequences, in order to follow up and confirm various details concerning the timeline of Mr. Laidler’s candidacy for the Conservative Party in the newly established riding of Port Moody-Coquitlam and how it relates to his time in the Reserves, I decided to submit a second FOI request to DND. My primary goal in submitting the second FOI request was to obtain third party confirmation of Mr. Laidler’s retirement date from the Reserves as an interested party had informed me that they had been told by official sources that Mr. Laidler had indeed retired from the military but that his effective date of retirement remained unknown. Confirming when (and ultimately if) Mr. Laidler had retired from the Reserves would help to identify exactly how long his candidacy for the Conservative Party was potentially in breach of 126.96.36.199 of the DND and CF Code of Values and Ethics.
As a backgrounder, as a Reserve Force member, according to section 188.8.131.52 of the DND and CF Code of Values and Ethics “…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 184.108.40.206 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 Values and Ethics concerning reserve force members and political activities and have provided it below.
In my initial FOI request 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 220.127.116.11 of the DND and CF Code of Values and Ethics (2012) so as to avoid a conflict of interest or the potential appearance of a conflict of interest.
The result of the FOI request is provided below.
As is apparent from the results of the original FOI request, it appears that there is no record of the confidential report ever being submitted by Mr. Laidler to CRS. This therefor suggests that from the date that he submitted his application to be a Conservative candidate in the upcoming Federal Election up to his date of retirement from the Reserves, that he was potentially was in breach of the DND and CF Code of Values and Ethics (2012) and, while still in the military, he would have been possibly subject to Queen’s Regulations and Orders Volume II Disciplinary (or in laymen’s terms), meaning that he could have been potentially be subject to discipline for his actions had his candidacy for the Conservative Party had been brought to the attention of the appropriate DND and CF authorities during the time that he was still a Reserve Force member.
As such, in an effort to identify the exact date of Mr. Laidler’s retirement from the Reserves and therefor when he candidacy stopped potentially being in breach of the DND and CF Code of Values and Ethics 2012, I submitted the following FOI request to DND:
Any records held by DND that show that Mr. Tim Laidler has released, has submitted a request for release, and/or is in the process of releasing from the CF. The documents will show the effective release date and the date the subject member submitted the request for release.
The wording of the FOI request was suggested to me by the DND FOI folks themselves after a few back and forth email exchanges. Originally I was informed on the phone that there was “no problem” in requesting Mr. Laidler’s service records as they do that all the time. The results of my FOI request can be found here. For those not willing to download the physical document itself, I can easily describe it for you. The FOI request generated a 37 page document of which 36 pages were withheld according to Section 19(1) of the Access to Information Act.
The only page that was actually provided to me and which also had clearly been heavily redacted (see below) consists of the record of an email exchange that took place on January 21 and 22, 2015 which suggests that on the latter date (January 22, 2015) that Mr. Laidler was (at least as of that date) a Class A Reservist (note the present tense “is” in the email). This suggests that at least up to January 22, 2015, Mr. Laidler was still in the Reserves meaning that up to that date it does not appear that he followed the rules regarding his candidacy as outlined in Section 18.104.22.168 of the DND and CF Military Code and Ethics (2012).
The results of the FOI would suggest (given that it occurred less than two months later), that it is indeed very likely that Mr. Laidler didn’t “misspeak” when he testified before the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs on March 12, 2015 and that he indeed was very likely in the Reserves at that time as he stated in his testimony (see below).
Unfortunately I have also not yet to be able to determine if he was indeed still in the Reserves at the time that he was having his picture taken likely by the Minister of National Defense Jason Kenney greeting Prime Minister Modi at the airport in Vancouver and as documented in the blog post Greeting Prime Minister Modi and which can be seen here:
Possibly, but I can’t say for sure. Unfortunately given the time delays inherent in submitting FOI requests, there is probably not enough time to get an appeal submitted, processed, and returned before the upcoming election takes place.
So what is the takeaway here?
It appears very likely that during his time simultaneously as an active Reserve Force member and as a declared candidate for the Conservative Party (from at least as far back as May 27, 2014 as suggested in the post Who is Tim Laidler, the Politician? and the tweet below)
that Mr. Laidler without identifying himself both as a candidate for the Conservative Party and an active reservist, (1) participated in his candidacy for the Conservative Party, (2) testified to a parliamentary committee on Veterans Affairs, and (3) conducted newspaper interviews supporting the Conservative government and their treatment of veterans (such as the one here on Nov. 23, 2014 where he suggested that the Conservative government is the best ally of veterans or this Oct. 1, 2014 Toronto Sun Article in which he lauded the Conservatives and their treatment of veterans while apparently failing to mention that he was both a Conservative candidate and an active reservist at the time of the interview). During the time that he was participating in these activities, it appears that he was in breach of Section 22.214.171.124 of the DND and CF Code of Values and Ethics.
There is an obvious conflict of interest apparent in participating in these activities without full disclosure of both his candidacy for the Conservative Party and his status as an active Reserve Force member. One wonders if Mr. Laidler had actually submitted the requisite report under Section 126.96.36.199 of the DND and CF Code of Values and Ethics whether or not restrictions would have been placed on his candidacy due to the potential of a conflict of interest or a potential perceived conflict of interest as that indeed is exactly what the rules associated with the DND and CF Code of Values and Ethics are there to protect against. Would he have been allowed by DND to testify before the standing committee on Veterans Affairs and/or conduct interviews while still simultaneously being a Reservist and a declared candidate for the Conservative Party? Would one of his conditions of candidacy have been that he would have had to identify himself both as an active reservist and a Conservative candidate at all times? Unfortunately, we will never know as it appears that the CRS was never provided the opportunity to comment on his candidacy for the Conservative Party as required.