A couple of items recently came to my attention following the recent all-candidates meetings in the riding of Port Moody-Coquitlam this past week. While I could have added this items to the A Campaign to Forget Post, I thought that they warranted a post on their own.
First, Conservative candidate Tim Laidler’s comments from the recent Chamber of Commerce Debate concerning his observations of marijuana usage in University made Robert Jago’s video “Conservative Candidates Share Weird Views About Marijuana”.
Robert Jago you may remember is the blogger who runs Meet the Harper Gang Website, a valuable resource for those interested in researching the quality of the Conservative candidates these days. Mr. Jago also you may remember posted materials that lead to the dropping of two Conservative candidates.
Recently an article was published by the National Observer alleging connections between Mr. Laidler’s nomination campaign and a consultant for Kinder Morgan. The article can be found here. This article subsequently inspired a petition and action campaign by the group SumOfUs that can be found here. SumofUs also initiated a radio campaign which has been the subject of objections from Mr. Laidler’s campaign. Below is a screen shot of the top of Sum of Us page.
Subsequent to the publishing of the letter to the editor in the Vancouver Sun, this table (which contained numerous factually incorrect and inflammatory comments/statements) was sent to Conservative supporters in the riding. Where exactly does it say on the NDP platform that they are against all resource developments? What page is that on? Which specific vote in Parliament was regarding Evergreen line funding you may ask? etc., etc.
I could go on but it is somewhat pointless at this point. Apparently exaggerations and inaccuracies are just a routine part of the Conservative campaign strategy locally.
Then there was the use of this very awkward and cringeworthy picture that appeared as part of a sponsored ad on Facebook showing Mr. Laidler with Steven Harper and a young Asian girl with the ad talking about families yet there is no family in the shot. Awkward.
Then there was this campaign sign that was put up on Aug. 1, 2015, the day before the writ was actually dropped, advertising a candidate for an election that hadn’t been called yet in a riding that didn’t exist yet.
Then there was the campaign office location selection gaffe where the choice of the campaign office location lent itself to some embarrassing sign placements by rivals.
Then there was the badly photoshopped sign that appeared in internal riding party propaganda which leaked out and became the subject of subject of local and national media posts (see here and here) as detailed in the post here.
Then there was the Terry Fox funding announcement/photo-op gaffe with James Moore and Laureen Harper which I’m sure all sounded good originally but then went horribly wrong where Mr. Laidler’s mentor James Moore was caught incorrectly stating that the Fox Family was fully supportive of the funding announcement stated in reference to the Fox Family, that “They’re enthusiastic and they think it’s great.” Mr. Moore then doubled down on his apparently incorrect statement a full 17 hours later on his personal Facebook account after Mr. Moore had more than ample time to reconsider his words after initially being questioned about the nature of the Fox family’s support for the announcement (see below).
“There is no place in the fight against cancer for politics. This (the announcement) is poor taste, bad timing and so wrong on so many levels. Also to say the family was enthusiastic is incorrect, to say the least. I would be remiss if I did not say something.”
Then there was the rather odd photo-op in Port Moody at which no member of the public was allowed to attend and to which only a few select media were invited. A missed opportunity it seems. However, given that it was only a few days after the Terry Fox Foundation announcement gaffe, I suppose that is understandable.
Then there were the gaffes at the recent Chamber of Commerce all-candidates debates including when Mr. Laidler suggested that he had had friends in University that had tried marijuana and ended up in the Psych Ward (as seen at 12:10 in Part II).
In the same debate, Mr. Laidler inexplicitly felt the need to try to refight the last Port Moody civic election (of all things) by bringing up (repeatedly at 3:14 and 6:00 in Part II) the accusation that Fin Donnelly had run a slates of candidates in the civic elections in Coquitlam and Port Moody and had meddled in civic politics locally (something repeatedly denied by Mr. Donnelly and described by two local pundits in the Tri-City News as a “Red Herring”). I had no idea that the Conservative Party of Canada was so concerned about civic elections. Do they take such an interest in all civic elections? The meddling comment from Mr. Laidler is especially rich coming from Mr. Laidler considering that Mr. Laidler himself as the declared Conservative candidate at the time for the riding had meddled in civic politics by repeatedly posting tweets to local media concerning the local election thereby clearly meddling in local politics.
Most recently, it appears that an official letter was recently sent out from Tim Laidler’s campaign (dated Oct 2. 2015) (see below) asking for support for Mr. Laidler but which also contained misleading information regarding the other candidates in the riding and which also talks about “income spitting” (rather than income splitting presumably) (see second to last paragraph).
While I know that “income spitting” is obviously a typo and I’m sure that there are many, many on this blog (believe me I know as I keep finding them all the time), this letter represents an official communication from an official Federal party during an election. Surely someone could have proofread and fact-checked the letter before it left the office? Then again, I suppose if the Conservative party HQ can do it as seen below (see below) and the PMO can do it (see below), why would we or should we expect any different from the party at the local level?
Stranger things have happened and you can never, ever underestimate the Conservative war machine especially in an area that has traditionally voted Conservative. You do so at your own peril as we have seen repeatedly over the past few elections. Will a campaign with a decided focus on doorknocking be able to overcome a mean-spirited, fear-based campaign on the part of the Conservative Party and their leader Stephen Harper? That remains to be seen. Up to you Tri-City voters. The seal training has already begun if that is what you are looking for.
Following 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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
Other than his Mum and a relative, notable contributors to Tim Laidler’s nomination campaign include:
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.
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.
Press Progress just posted (on September 23rd) a comical post highlighting what appears to be a farcical attempt by Tim Laidler’s campaign to Photoshop Tim Laidler’s name over another Conservative candidate’s sign for promotional purposes. Have a look here. Below is the original context of the photo in question. Vancitybuzz.com also subsequently posted on the same topic. It’s all very funny until you consider this: If Mr. Laidler is willing to be part of something like this during an election campaign, what would he be capable of should he ever make it to Ottawa? Some food for thought.
Some more photos from the event showing the Thind sign present.
What this incident shows is that if reality doesn’t fit and it suits you as a Conservative, just Photoshop it (badly) and make it part of the new Conservative reality. Maybe no one will notice? Again, if people like this are willing to do these kinds of actions as part of an election campaign (and against a candidate from their own party no less), what would they do once in Ottawa? Why would we ever let them back into Ottawa? We have already seen that ethics are not the Conservatives’ strong point. Fool me thrice?
Edit: Subsequent to the publishing of the Press Progress and Vancity Buzz posts, the following statement appeared on the Vancity Buzz post:
UPDATE: A representative from Tim Laidler’s election campaign has confirmed to Vancity Buzz that a communications volunteer did in fact photoshop Laidler’s name over top of another candidate’s sign, but that “no harm or misrepresentation was intended”.
“…no misrepresentation was intended”? Really? Looks exactly like intended misrepresentation to me.
I must say that I do feel for the communications volunteer in question as that probably was not a good day for them (when the graphic came to light and the posts began to appear). However, that said, the fact is that there is no way that that graphic like that should have left the office. It is a failing of the campaign manager and the candidate in question to not attend to and/or review everything that leaves the office with the candidate’s name on it. It is not a failing of the communications volunteer as I’m sure they were only trying to help. The incident instead speaks to poor internal communications and a lack of attention to details, something that you would hope someone seeking office at the highest level would be good at. Identifying the source of the graphic as a communications volunteer also speaks to a lack of taking responsibility for the campaign by those in charge. The campaign essentially just hung the volunteer out to dry. For the communication volunteer, that must not have felt very good. Not cool.
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).
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.
Today (August 20, 2015) I became aware of what appears to be first poll results from the riding of Port Moody-Coquitlam. The poll, which was apparently commissioned privately by the group Leadnow and conducted by Environics, took place between August 15-18. The summary results of the poll are posted on their website here (and reproduced below).
Details concerning the poll can be found here. The results suggest that the NDP’s Fin Donnelly is currently leading in the riding with 54% of the decided vote, followed by the Conservatives’ Tim Laidler in second place with 27%, the Liberal’s Jessie Adcock with 14%, and the Green Party’s Marcus Madsen with 5%. These values are interesting as they largely mimic the projections provided by ThreeHundredEight.com (reproduced below) which suggest that the NDP’s Fin Donnelly is currently leading in the race with a median estimate of 45% of the vote (range 43.2% – 48.7%) followed by the Conservatives’ Tim Laidler with a median estimate of 32% (range 30.4% – 35.2%), the Liberals’ Jessie Adcock with a median estimate of 16.5% (range 14.9% – 17.7%), and the Green Party’s Marcus Madsen with a median estimate of 5.4% (range 4.9% – 5.8%), and “other” with an estimate of 1.1% (range 0.4% – 1.3%). The ThreeHundredEight.com website currently estimates that there is a 78% chance of a NDP win in the riding. A NDP win for the riding is also the predicted result according to the ElectionPrediction.org website.
Now, a few caveats must be expressed about the Leadnow poll results and the projection provided by ThreeHundredEight.com. First of all, it must be remembered that we are still very, very early in the campaign with almost none of the candidates having quite yet hit their stride campaignwise. Moreover, as a local pundit will I’m sure be quick to point out, we have the experience in our recent memory locally where the polls were decidedly incorrect (cast your mind back to the Province headline that said Adrian Dix could kick a dog and still get elected below).
Past experience has shown us that campaigners on all sides should not be complacent in regards to the polling result provided by Leadnow and/or the projection put forth by ThreeHundredEight.com as we still have a long, long way to go in this race. That said, the Leadnow poll results and the ThreeHundredEight.com are useful in themselves as they at the very least, provide a baseline from which subsequent polling results may be compared and evaluated.
Edit: A second Environics poll conducted Sep. 18-21 was recently published for the riding and can be found here. The second poll shows the NDP dropping by 13 points but still maintaining a 7 point lead over their nearest rival the Conservatives, who gained 7 points and are now sitting at 34% according to the poll. The Liberals increased their support by 5 points and are now sitting at 19% while the Greens have increased their support by 2 points and now sit at 7%. Overall the results indicate the same relative placement in terms of the standings in the race and an overall tightening of the race. At the same time, the poll also suggests that a substantial undecided vote still remains. One must remember that this second batch of polling data would have taken into account the NDP Syrian refugee controversy with the effects of that now being factored in. Conversely, the poll took place before the Conservatives’ politicization of the Terry Fox announcement, which will likely affect the local Conservative vote, especially amongst right-leaning swing voters.
The above graphic displays the most recent results plotted against the results from 2011 showing a slight increase in NDP and Green support from 2011, a drop in Conservative support since 2011, and an increase in Liberal support since 2011.
My prediction? Looking forward and barring any major gaffes, I am expecting a strong surge in Liberal support in the riding given the recent performance of the Liberals nationally and as such, in my opinion we are very likely to see a split on the right in the riding with a fairly substantial core NDP vote in Coquitlam augmented by a core NDP support in Port Moody/Anmore likely carrying the day. On the right, the two Port Moody/Anmore-based Liberal and Conservative candidates will likely split the vote in what has traditionally been a Conservative area. That said, irrespective of what happens in Port Moody/Anmore, it should be remembered that Coquitlam numerically dominates the Port Moody/Anmore area so ultimately whoever carries Coquitlam will likely, as I say, carry the day and at least for the moment, for various reasons, it appears that that likely will be the NDP. Only time will tell of course. Just ask Adrian Dix.
As Tim Laidler’s candidacy for the Conservatives in the new riding of Port Moody-Coquitlam is largely focused on him being formerly in the military (see his campaign website here http://www.timlaidler.ca) and him being a supporter of the Conservatives’ record on the military, veterans, and veterans affairs, I thought it was only fitting and appropriate to bring attention to what exactly Mr. Laidler was, and is, supporting.
Despite the extensive list of complaints compiled by this group and others, Mr. Laidler has suggested in the past that complaints about Veterans’ treatment were “coming from a vocal minority and, in some cases, from partisan groups“. Mr. Laidler was also 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 at the time of the interview (again a constant theme of Mr. Laidler’s candidacy). The latter article particularly annoyed a number of people in the veteran community and was in fact sent to me by a fellow veteran who was at the time of the publishing of the article, dismayed that Mr. Laidler was expressing support for Mr. Fantino and the Conservative government. See the article “Afghanistan veteran remains loyal to Conservatives amid protests for support” for additional details concerning Mr. Laidler’s support for the Conservatives.
his cozy relationship and ongoing support by and for the current Minister of Veterans Affairs, Mr. Erin O’Toole as suggested by All On The Public’s Dime and suggested by Mr. O’Toole taking the time to comment on this blog (see the comments on All on the Public’s Dime) and repeatedly taking to Twitter to promote and support Mr. Laidler and his candidacy,
his positive testimony of the treatment of veterans twice before parliamentary committees (again refusing to identify himself as a Conservative candidate during the testimony as detailed in the post Parliamentary Testimonies and Unintended Consequences), and his statement that the Conservatives are the best ally of veterans, Mr. Laidler’s support for the Conservatives treatment of Veterans could be interpreted as a case of political partisanship clouding his judgment despite extensive evidence to the contrary. Is this what we want from our representative in Port Moody-Coquitlam? If elected, would Mr. Laidler allow his political partisanship cloud his judgment in other areas too if he does so in an area that he knows in intimate detail? Could we expect Mr. Laidler to stand up to Mr. Harper in defense of the riding of Port Moody-Coquitlam and the people of B.C. in any matter for that matter or would he just be another “clapping seal” that we in B.C. send to parliament as Harper’s representative in our riding rather than our representative in Ottawa. Ultimately it will be up to the constituents of the riding of Port Moody-Coquitlam to decide.
Edit: It appears that a Veterans for the Conservatives Facebook Page has now been established. Interestingly, the first activity for the Facebook page was on August 18, 2015, the day that this blog post was first posted. Coincidence?
It was recently brought to my attention that an anti-gun control lobby group had set up a webpage, the Turf Mark Holland (2015) webpage (TMH2.org) looking to elicit support (financial and otherwise) for those Conservative candidates in the upcoming election that “…who have shown an affinity for our cause”. One of those candidates that the group is seeking to support is Tim Laidler, our local Conservative candidate in the newly established riding of Port Moody-Coquitlam. The link to the “Elect Tim Laidler” page can be found here (a screen shot is posted below). As one can see, the page is largely a repost of the materials found on Mr. Laidler’s campaign webpage. The presence of the page is somewhat interesting in itself as it’s mere existence has a number of implications in regards to the nature of Mr. Laidler’s views on firearms and gun control issues.
The origins of the original “Turf Mark Holland” movement can be found here (see page 14). The group was originally set up as a crowd sourcing effort on the part of gun owners and their supporters to oust Mark Holland, a vocal Liberal “anti-gun crusader” who was running for the federal Liberals in Ajax, Ontario. The movement was ultimately successful in their goal. The current new TMH2.org webpage was set up to build on the success of the original movement by seeking to help elect Conservative candidates who support their cause and to support those candidates running against candidates who largely do not support their views. The fact that the TMH2.org website has chosen to support Mr. Laidler would likely suggest that Mr. Laidler’s views on gun control align more closely with the stronger elements of the anti-gun control lobby as these types of lobby groups do not generally tend to support those candidates that have predominantly moderate views.
Researching Mr. Laidler’s potential association with anti-gun control lobby groups, I came across a number of references (here and here) to Mr. Laidler’s EDA (Electoral District Association) (in this case the Port Moody-Coquitlam EDA) having a “strong gun owner contingent”. Reviewing some of the past posts from Mr. Laidler’s (and others) appears to suggest that Mr. Laidler is, and has been, associated with a number of pro-gun individuals, groups, and events.
B.C. Rod and Gun Show – Rod & Gun Swap, April 17-19, 2015, Coverdale Fairgrounds
June 12, 2015 Bob Sopuck’s Speaking Engagement Hosted by Chloe Ellis and Tim Laidler
Those following Mr. Laidler’s campaign closely will also be aware that Mr. Laidler (the Conservative candidate in the riding of Port Moody-Coquitlam), and Chloe Ellis (the Conservative candidate in the riding of New Westminster-Burnaby), along with their EDAs recently co-hosted MP Robert Sopuck, the Conservative MP for Dauphin-Swan River-Marquette and Chair of the Conservative Hunting and Angling Caucus for a speaking engagement at the River’s Reach Pub in New Westminster on June 12, 2015. According to the invite posted by the Conservative Party, Mr. Sopuck was to “offer remarks in regards to hunting, angling, sports shooting, the Common Sense Firearms Act (Bill C-42) and Canadian heritage activities in Canada and meet with guests”. Nowhere in the original event invite does it suggest that the event is a fundraiser although that might be implicit.
Notable about both the B.C. Rod and Gun Show and the Bob Sopuck event is the involvement (in helping organize) and (at least in the case of the B.C. Rod and Gun Show), the physical presence of Mr. Philip Chau. Interestingly. Mr. Philip Chau (aka Keung Chau) is, according to one of the posters on the Gunownwersofcanada.ca message board, a director of Tim Laidler’s Conservative riding association, and is, along with a business partner from Burnaby, one of the principals in the online firearm and firearm accessories website Canadian Tactical Cowboy Supplies Ltd. or CTCSupplies.ca (below is a screen shot from the site).
In reality it is very likely that Mr. Sopuck’s speaking engagement was actually set up (as they both claim) by Mr. Sohm (acting on behalf of [or at least in association with] the New Westminster-Burnaby Conservative EDA) and Mr. Chau (acting on behalf of [or at least in association with] for the Port Moody-Coquitlam Conservative EDA). It should be remembered that Chloe Ellis also took part in the Rod and Gun Show and co-hosted the speaking engagement for Bob Sopuck with Tim Laidler suggesting that she and her EDA (through Mr. Sohm) may also have close ties to the firearm enthusiast community.
An element to consider, in hindsight and given the information above, is did Mr. Laidler have a potential leg up in the nomination race over Janine Davies, as well as the other candidates in the nomination process given his military background and given the makeup of the EDA which has been described as having “a strong gun owners contingent”? Could this possibly be another reason to help explain why Mr. Laidler, a candidate with apparently strong views on gun issues, chose to run in Port Moody-Coquitlam when he clearly had much stronger ties politically to the NPA and the BC Liberals in the City of Vancouver? Would a strong pro-gun candidate have had a less of a chance to be elected in the largely “big L” Liberal Vancouver?
“Tim believes in: the right for law abiding citizens to own and possess firearms. He understands the serious flaws of the Firearms Act and supports correcting the problems.”
I was unable to find this quote anywhere on Mr. Laidler’s webpage or in any of the campaign materials that had been so far distributed. Perhaps it was available at the gun show? I’m not sure.
I should note that I personally have what I would consider largely moderate views when it comes to guns and gun control having worked professionally around food hunters for many years and in very dangerous situations in the woods in which an armed assistant and the presence of firearms was very welcome. However, I do understand that a candidate’s support for or opposition to gun control laws can be a deal breaker for many voters no matter which side of the gun control debate that you fall on and I present the information above to let the interested voter decide if Mr. Laidler and/or Ms. Ellis are candidates worth supporting (in regards to this issue).
Astutely recognizing the potential pitfalls politically of taking a stand one way or the other on gun control issues during an election year, one of the posters on the Gunownersofcanada.ca forum asked a fellow forum member “Has anyone contacted Tim Laidler about whether he wants the open support of gun owners?” I would suggest that this question as it relates to Mr. Laidler and by extension, to Ms. Ellis appears to have been answered. Given the ties identified above, one wonders if it is only a matter of time before an “Elect Chloe Ellis” page might also eventually appear on the TMH2.org website as well.
Edit: It appears that since the initial publishing of this post that the “Elect Tim Laidler” page on the TMH2.org webpage has been deleted (or at least has gone into hibernation).
But first, I wanted to acknowledge the excellent editing work done on the video showing Jason Kenney bobbing, fidgeting, and fussing in order to get just the right shot of Mr. Laidler at the airport. Absolutely love it. Well, well beyond my video editing capabilities. I still get a chuckle watching the raw footage but this was even better. You’d think that a Cabinet Minister with a portfolio that includes two large and significant ministries would have far more important things to do than cheap partisan politicking but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Of more importance (and relevance going forward), I wanted to acknowledge that for whatever reason, that I had missed the Oct. 1, 2014 Toronto Sun article in which Tim Laidler was the only quoted commentator on proposed changes at Veterans Affairs introduced by the then Minister of Veterans Affairs, Julian Fantino. Mr. Laidler provided an entirely positive review of the proposed changes in the article. As noted by Press Progress, one should keep in mind that at the time of the publishing of the Sun article (and definitely not disclosed in the article), Mr. Laidler was already the declared Conservative candidate for the riding of Port Moody-Coquitlam (for 2 months) and had been endorsed by Mr. Fantino during his candidacy (5 months earlier). This theme, (Mr. Laidler’s repeated lack of disclosure of his candidacy for the Conservatives and his refusal to disclose this fact voluntarily, and by not doing so, his not acknowledging and/or considering the potential murky ethical dilemma that that puts one in when providing a formal opinion for the official record) has come up repeatedly (as the Press Progress article points out and as pointed out on the blog here) and will be the subject of a detailed upcoming blog post as a new and troubling example of this theme has just come to light (thanks very much in advance to the veteran who brought this example to my attention).
From the review of Mr. Laidler’s Twitter feed (before he blocked me of course), it looks like Mr. Laidler is now aware of what he is getting into in running for the Conservatives. Do a quick search of Twitter by @LaidlerTim to get an idea of how things went for Mr. Laidler yesterday upon the publishing of the Press Progress post. Probably wasn’t a really great day for him.
A photo of unelected Port Moody-Coquitlam Conservative candidate Tim Laidler greeting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the airport in Richmond (above) recently appeared on Mr. Laidler’s Instagram page. A great shot to be sure. Very statesmanlike. One wonders about the source of the photograph given that it is clearly taken from behind the security line and without any official photo credit. A quick look at some of the raw video of the arrival provided by Indian journalists accompanying Prime Minster Modi appears to show the source of the photo. Follow the video along here as this very interesting sequence transpires:
At the start of the official receiving line is a veritable who’s who of Conservative politicians starting with of course, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, then James Moore, Jason Kenney, etc. At the 1:38 point of the video, Prime Minister Modi is directed to proceed on to the public greeting area. At 1:47, the video cuts to the public receiving line. Now over the following section of video, please keep your eye out for the bobbing Jason Kenney as he positions himself to get just the best view of Mr. Laidler. As the camera backs away, Mr. Laidler comes into view at 2:28 along the public receiving line and at 2:38 you can see that Jason Kenney has already aligned himself ready to take the anticipated shot. It seems pretty clear that Mr. Kenney had moved himself up the receiving line in anticipation of the shot knowing (I’m sure) that Mr. Laidler was there waiting in line. For the next 20 seconds you can see Mr. Kenney nervously fidgeting and fussing as he aligns himself to make sure that he gets just the right shot. Unfortunately, the raw video footage kicks out at 2:50 just before the magical moment takes place.
I highly doubt that Mr. Kenney just happened to fortuitously notice and recognize Mr. Laidler and position himself for a photo. It seems pretty clear that it was all arranged so that once Jason Kenney had greeted Prime Minister Modi, his job was to make sure that he had positioned himself in advance of the dignitaries so that he could get just the right angle so as to capture the photo of Mr. Laidler and Prime Minister Narendra Modi assumedly for future political purposes. One wonders if James Moore was in on it too? Given his rather close ties to Mr. Laidler, I would suggest that it is fairly likely that Mr. Moore knew exactly what was going to transpire once the Indian Prime Minister’s plane landed.
Here in its purest form is Jason Kenny and Mr. Laidler (and presumably James Moore) using the official visit of a dignitary for partisan political purposes. Hardly a revelation given the parties involved but kind of interesting nevertheless. Still it does indicate that the promotion of Mr. Laidler is continuing at the very highest levels of the Conservative Party.
(Edit: A higher quality version of the video can also be seen here. This one captures the magic moment):
Updated: Upon closer inspection, it turns out Mr. Laidler wasn’t the only one set up for the photo op that day. I give you Marshall Neufeld, Conservative candidate in the riding of South Okanagan–West Kootenay, with the awkward miss. You may remember Mr. Neufeld from this post.
Here too is Dean Drysdale (Conservative candidate in the riding of Cloverdale-Landgley City), standing immediately adjacent to Tim Laidler. Again note that the photo was taken from behind the security line, likely the handiwork of Jason Kenney.
Here’s Mr. Drysdale’s current webpage. You’d think that he might want to insert the picture into the page that displays “Need photos for here” on his website. Just suggesting. Also might want to have your picture taken in different suits. Again, just saying.
And can someone tell me why a Conservative candidate deserves to get a photo op with RCMP in full dress uniform in a secure area that they will later post on their candidate Facebook page?
Here are Harpreet Singh (Conservative candidate in the riding of Surrey-Newton) and Marshall Neufeld (Conservative candidate in the riding of South Okanagan-West Kootenay), this time in a photo from behind the security line which appears on Dean Drysdale’s Facebook page. So obviously not the work of Jason Kenney this time.
Seems that there may have been some sort of a pecking order in terms of who got the great staged shots from Kenney from behind the security line and who was forced to take ridiculous selfies such as the one above from Harpreet Singh and the one below from Kenny Chui (Conservative candidate from Steveston-Richmond East) who used this ridiculous shot on his official twitter feed. Mr. Chui didn’t even manage to get President Modi in the shot.
Here’s Jojo Quimpo (Conservative candidate in the riding of Vancouver-Kingsway) standing waiting for Prime Minister Modi.
And here too are Dean Drysdale (Conservative candidate in the riding of Cloverdale-Langley City), Harpreet Singh (Conservative candidate in the riding of Surrey-Newton), Jojo Quimpo (Conservative candidate in the riding of Vancouver-Kingsway), Marshall Neufeld (Conservative candidate in the riding of South Okanagan-West Kootenay), all enjoying themselves at what must have been a second event. All at no cost to the taxpayer right?
Dean Drysdale (Conservative candidate in the riding of Cloverdale-Landgley City), Jojo Quimpo (Conservative candidate in the riding of Vancouver-Kingsway), Marshall Neufeld (Conservative candidate in the riding of South Okanagan-West Kootenay), again seemingly enjoying themselves and sporting passes that were of no cost to the taxpayer I’m sure. Right?
Please note, James Moore, that of the above identified candidates, only Tim Laidler and Dean Drysdale are veterans. As such, pointing all this out does not constitute an attack on one or more veterans. In reality, the fact that Mr. Laidler and Mr. Drysdale are veterans is actually irrelevant except of course if you are discussing whether or not it is appropriate for the current Minister of National Defense to be taking pictures of Tim Laidler, an active member of the Reserve Force (at least he was as of March 12, 2015 according to his testimony before the standing committee on Veterans Affairs before Parliament) for political purposes on the taxpayers dime. Then I believe the fact that Mr. Laidler being a veteran is relevant. This is assuming of course that Mr. Laidler hadn’t resigned his position with the Reserves after March 12, 2015 and effective prior to April 16, 2015, the date of the photo op at the airport. If so, then it would just be the regular run of the mill inappropriate behaviour that we would be talking about.