Tim Laidler’s Political Past and Political Connections (That He’d Really Rather Not Talk About)

Laidler WelcomeFollowing closely the campaign of the Tim Laidler, the Conservative candidate in the newly established riding of Port Moody-Coquitlam, I have been puzzled as to why Mr. Laidler has seemingly insisted on downplaying his extensive past political experience as it seems to me that when you are running for political office, that one’s past political experience is highly relevant.  Instead, Mr. Laidler doesn’t appear to acknowledge any of his past political activities or connections in any of his bios, on his campaign website, or in any of the campaign materials.  I think that I finally may now know why.

As a backgrounder, according to Tim Laidler’s Linkedin profile, from September 2011 to March 2014, Mr. Laidler was a Board Member of the NPA (Non-Partisan Association) in Vancouver.  Below is a photo taken from a November 15, 2013 Georgia Straight Article showing Mr. Laidler at the announcement of the NPA candidates for the last civic election.  Mr. Laidler is quoted in the article.

Laidler Photo

Provincially, Mr. Laidler also worked extensively for the B.C. Liberals under Christy Clark during the last Provincial election, working as the campaign manager for Fatima Siddiqui, the wife of fellow NPA Board of Director and fellow former Alpha Delta Phi alumni Tanveer Siddiqui, in the riding of Vancouver-Hastings where Ms. Siddiqui managed to finish a distant second in the riding, garnering approximately 28% of the popular vote in comparison to Shane Simpson of the NDP who took the riding with almost 59% of the vote.  Below are a few photos of taken of Mr. Laidler out campaigning for Ms. Siddiqui in the riding of Vancouver-Hastings during the last Provincial election.  Mr. Laidler also worked as an event coordinator for the B.C. Liberal party for a year in 2009.

Mr. Laidler campaiging for BC Liberal Candidate Fatima Siddiqui in the riding of Vancouver Hastings.
Mr. Laidler campaiging for BC Liberal Candidate Fatima Siddiqui in the riding of Vancouver Hastings.

Mr. Laidler interestingly also seems to be quite connected politically to former Mayor, former NPA member, and current B.C. Liberal MLA for Vancouver-False Creek, Sam Sullivan.  Below is a photo of Mr. Laidler at a BBQ in honour of Candidate Siddiqui which was attended by Mr. Sullivan. Mr. Laidler also spoke Sam Sullivan’s Public Salon in September of 2012 and was one of the organizers of the “City Social” event put on by the NPA in 2013 at which Mr. Sullivan spoke.

BBQ

A review of the recently disclosed candidate financial statements associated with his campaign for the Conservative nomination in the riding of Port Moody-Coquitlam I believe finally provide clues as to the reasoning behind Mr. Laidler apparent desire to downplay his past political connections.  The original raw documentation can be found here.  Rather than reproduce the documents verbatim, I have chosen to highlight some selected information.

In regards to Mr. Laidler’s declared expenses arising from the nomination campaign, notable expenses include payments totalling $8,135.40 (representing 86% of the total expenditure of $9,413.68 incurred during the campaign) to ADDO Consulting with the remaining expenses being split between by what appears to be a photographer, Newclear (for a website template I’m sure, seen below confirming the earlier speculation here), his EDA, and two banks.

Welcome Pages
Go Newclear template shared apparently exclusively with selected Conservative candidates

Funds

Who or what is ADDO Consulting you might ask?  A quick Google search confirms that the Principal of ADDO Consulting is in fact Mr. Gavin Dew (see below).  From the expenses noted, it appears that Mr. Dew was presumably working as Mr. Laidler’s campaign manager during his nomination campaign and took care of almost everything for Mr. Laidler.

Gavin Dew

Mr. Dew, for those who are not familiar with him, is according to his Linkedin profile, a communications specialist who’s “sweetspot is at the intersection of business, politics, and communications”.  He specializes in “business and communications strategy, public relations, corporate communications, political campaigns, analysis, business development, community building, next-generation leadership.” Mr. Dew is “currently consulting on issues management, social license to operate for land development and resource companies, and business planning for startups and fledgling organizations”.  As such, Mr. Dew is currently working as a consultant working on the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion project for Kinder Morgan working on stakeholder engagement and communications for the project.  Mr. Laidler and Mr. Dew in fact go way, way back (back to even his UBC days I suspect) with them both being former directors of the Non-Partisan Association (NPA) at the same time (see photo below).

NPA Social
NPA Under 40 Chair, Eli Zbar, with Board Member, Tim Laidler and Gavin Dew in an image from 2012.

Mr. Dew was in fact described as the NPA’s former Social Media expert, and was part of former Premier Gordon Campbell’s constituency campaign, and along with Tim Laidler, was a founding member of the group known as the Build 2030 Public Engagement Society, a group loosely associated with the B.C. Liberals which was described as “a not-for-profit group which caters to what it calls the next generation of movers and shakers”.  Mr. Dew, like Tim Laidler, was also a campaign manager for the B.C. Liberals running a successful re-election campaign for Ralph Sultan in the riding of West Vancouver-Capilano.  Clearly, there are many parallels between Mr. Dew and Mr. Laidler’s political careers.  Additional details concerning Mr. Dew and his and Tim Laidler’s apparent ties to the Tar Sands Industry can be found here.

Pipeline Guys 2
Tweet from the Manager of the Campaigns [Christina Pilarski] for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) showing Donny Mr. van Dyk [Northern Gateway project] and Mr. Gavin Dew [Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion project] [“the pipeline guys!!”] at the 2015 Manning Networking Conference.
Tim Laidler (left) and Gavin Dew (right) waiting in the receiving line to meet Christie Clark after her speech at the 2015 Manning Networking Conference in March.

Those long time followers of the blog may remember that in an earlier post here that there was speculation that Gavin Dew was in fact Tim Laidler’s campaign manager for his nomination race.  The former appears to be confirmed.  Not sure if he is the current campaign manager for the election though however.

dew
Gavin Dew at the All Candidates Forum at Inlet Theatre at Port Moody City Hall, July 31, 2014

That actually remains to be established but given the recent gaff regarding the photoshopped campaign sign (see below), I sure for his sake hope not as I can’t imagine that someone as experienced as Mr. Dew would have let anything with Mr. Laidler’s name on it get out of the office without first reviewing it.

sign-compare-900x365

Also notable on the candidate’s financial filings is that the Mr. Laidler’s financial agent is identified as being Katerina Anastasiadis (see below), a former director and Under 40 Chair for the NPA, who was also a director and on the NPA executive at the same time that Tim Laidler.  Again another NPA connection.

Financial Agent

U40 post

Reviewing the actual campaign contributions themselves, there were a total of 41 contributors to Mr. Laidler’s nomination campaign.  Of those 41 contributors, 29 individuals contributed less than the $200 reportable amount and 12 individuals contributed more than the reportable $200 amount.  Below is a table summarizing the individual reportable contributions over $200.

There

Other than his Mum and a relative, notable contributors to Tim Laidler’s nomination campaign include:

Mark Angus: the former Vice President of the NPA and a current board appointee to the NPA.  Interestingly, Mr. Angus appears to be a prolific supporter of the Federal Liberal Party having contributed to the Federal Liberal Party, the campaigns of Justin Trudeau and Hedy Fry, as well as to various Liberal Party constituencies numerous times over many years.  The only donation to the Conservative Party appears to be that towards Tim Laidler’s Conservative nomination campaign.

Peter Armstrong: the past NPA President who served as the party president for three years

David Bassett: A former Conservative riding association president.

Greg D’Avignon: An apparent friend of MP James Moore, who is currently the President and CEO of the Business Council of British Columbia, and who is a strong proponent of resource extraction projects and pipeline developments with a focus on expanding Far Eastern economic trade relationships.  Interestingly, Mr. D’Avignon is, like Tim Laidler, also a fellow Diamond Jubilee Award winner. He received his medal at the same ceremony as Tim Laidler (presented by James Moore). He also notably spoke at a North Vancouver Chamber of Commerce event sponsored by Kinder Morgan/Trans Mountain Pipeline project with a number of representatives present including Gavin Dew.

Foster Eastman: Who appears to be a friend of Mr. Laidler’s, a multimedia artist who created the tribute pole project that Tim Laidler and other veterans participated in as documented here.

George Hungerford: a prominent Vancouver lawyer.

Michael Korenberg: the Deputy Chairman and Managing Director for the Jim Pattison Group.

Tanveer Siddiqui: A current director of the NPA and a fellow past NPA Board of Director and fellow former Alpha Delta Phi alumni who was on the NPA board with Tim Laidler during his time as a director with the NPA.  As noted previously, Tim Laidler worked as the campaign manager for Fatima Siddiqui his wife during the last Provincial election.

And lastly, Sam Sullivan, the Former NPA Vancouver Mayor, who’s only other recorded Federal campaign contribution other than to Tim Laidler’s Conservative nomination campaign has been to the Federal Liberal Party and Michael Ignatieff.

A few things about this list that should be pointed out.  First, for a supposedly local candidate with deep local roots and ties to the community, other than his Mum, only 1 of his other 12 major contributors (those who contributed more than $200 to his campaign and therefor reportable under the Elections Act) actually resides in the riding of Port Moody-Coquitlam.  Moreover, all of the remaining 10 identified contributors reside well outside of the riding, primarily in Vancouver.  This one could argue would be exactly the pattern that one would expect if one was a parachuted candidate who only recently moved back into the riding (by his own admission) rather than a candidate with deep local ties and extensive local support.  Moreover, being considered an outsider might also explain why despite outspending his rivals by approximately 2:1 (Bernie Hiller) and 9:1 (Janine Davies) margins respectively, that Mr. Laidler still did not win the nomination until the third ballot.  Perhaps being away from the riding so long made it difficult for local residents to remember Mr. Laidler?  I’m not sure.

Also notable of course, as you may have noticed, is that four of 12 contributors identified to his nomination campaign (specifically Mr. Angus, Mr., Armstrong, Mr. Siddiqui, and Mr. Sullivan) all have direct demonstrable ties to the NPA party, this being over and above the demonstrated ties to the NPA of both his presumed campaign manager (Gavin Dew) and his campaign financier Katerina Anastasiadis.

So why downplay the NPA associations and your past political ties you may ask?  He was a Director of a major political party for goodness sake!  Well for one thing, being associated with the NPA may not be considered much of a positive politically these days.  After all, this is the same NPA that was the subject of a defamation suit that was recently dropped after the NPA apologized, that was accused of spreading false personal rumours regarding Mayor Robertson during last mayoral campaign, and has been on a losing streak, losing the last two civic elections in Vancouver in a row.  Could it possibly be that being associated with the NPA and/or the BC Liberal Party could possibly be seen as a possibly detrimental to Mr. Laidler’s candidacy and being elected in the riding of Port Moody-Coquitlam given the recent influx of former Vancouver residents moving to the riding especially in the denser parts of Port Moody?  Maybe so.

NPA board
Composition of the NPA Board in 2014. Note the number of familiar names associated with Mr. Laidler’s nomination campaign.

Could it also be that acknowledging your past political experience could bring attention to that fact and might lead someone to research those connections?  Possibly.  Researching those connections could lead one to the inevitable conclusion that there is in fact quite an extensive association between Mr., Laidler’s current campaign and the NPA in Vancouver, something as an allegedly local candidate that he would understandably want to downplay.

Lastly, could it also be that acknowledging these past political accomplishments and connections does not fit the narrative that Mr. Laidler and his campaign are trying to portray: that of the selfless soldier wanting to pay back the community and support the Conservative government after the treatment that he had received from them while in the Reserves and the support that he had received from them as a Director of the Veterans Transition Network (VTN).  Instead, as mentioned previously elsewhere, it is abundantly clear that Mr. Laidler is in fact a highly connected right wing politico who just happens to be a Veteran and as such, he fits perfectly within the Conservatives plans to counter criticism regarding their treatment of Veterans under Harper’s regime while at the same time representing the new young face of the Conservative party, a party that is gradually greying and has largely tapped out their immigrant and minority support as suggested here previously.

It could very well be argued that Mr. Laidler would have been a far more appropriate candidate for the riding of Vancouver Quadra given his long-term residence in the City of Vancouver, his extensive experience at UBC, and his familiarity for the politics in the City of Vancouver at both the Civic and Provincial level.   One wonders why Mr. Laidler didn’t choose to run in that riding or some other riding in the City of Vancouver rather than in Port Moody-Coquitlam as he clearly has (as one can see from the preceding) more ties politically to Vancouver?  Was it that he thought (or others thought for him) that he would have an easier time getting elected in Port Moody-Coquitlam rather than in Vancouver Quadra or some other Vancouver riding?  Did he perceive (or others perceive for him) that it was going to be too difficult for Mr. Laidler to defeat Federal Liberal incumbent Joyce Murray or some of the other incumbents so instead it would be better for him to go “back to his roots”, a place that he hasn’t resided in for many, many years? Difficult to say.

What is clear though is that by not acknowledging his past political connections and his past political experience that Mr. Laidler is not being forthright with the constituents of the riding of Port Moody-Coquitlam.  It come down to a question of trust.  One has to wonder, if Mr. Laidler is guarded with this type of information, why would we suspect that he would do any better if he were elected to Ottawa?  Should we as voters trust him? As pointed out here and many, many other places elsewhere on this blog including here and here, Mr. Laidler’s lack of transparency is a constant theme associated with his campaign.  I can only hope that voters in the riding of Port Moody-Coquitlam will be able to see through the opportunistic candidacy of Mr. Laidler and vote for someone else (whomever that might be).   The constituents of Port Moody-Coquitlam deserve a representative in Ottawa working for us not a Harper representative in our riding working for him.

Laidler Welcome