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

The #CPC’s Tim Laidler and the DND and CF Code of Values and Ethics (2012)

10301286_783622124984156_1944587284363614305_n
Conservative Candidate (and Reservist at the time) Tim Laidler with the then Minister of National Defence Julian Fantino, May 21, 2014.

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 15.3.4.3 of the DND and CF Code of Values and Ethics.

As a backgrounder, as a Reserve Force member, according to section 15.3.4.3 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 15.3.4.3 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.

From Code of Conduct-2

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 15.3.4.3 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.

FOI Redacted-3

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 15.3.4.3 of the DND and CF Military Code and Ethics (2012).

A-2015-00653-2 5

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).

March 12, testimony

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 15.3.4.3 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 15.3.4.3 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.

Fantino Shaking Hands

 

Despite Extensive Evidence to the Contrary

Kenney Laidler

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.

A group of veterans recently launched the Canadian Veterans ABC Campaign 2015a campaign designed to ensure that the Conservatives do not retain their majority in the next election and to ensure that Canadians voters are aware of the treatment that veterans have received from the Conservatives under Harper.  As part of their campaign, the group compiled a list detailing the poor treatment of Canada’s veterans called Harper’s Record: The Terrible Treatment of Canada’s Veterans by the Conservative Government of Stephen Harper.  Some of these items were also presented in the earliest post Embattled Fantino dumped from Veterans Affairs.  I would encourage you to read the full document produced by the group as it is both eye opening and shocking.  I would also encourage readers to read the recently published article in the Tyee entitled ‘You Have Forgotten’: Seven Conservative Attacks on Canadian Veterans.

Anybody but

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.

In contrary to Mr. Laidler’s assertions regarding veterans generally being supportive of the Harper Government’s treatment of veterans, the Anyone But Conservatives ABC – Canadian Campaign Facebook Page has over 12,000 likes, the ABC Veterans Canada Facebook Club has over 1,000 members (describing itself as the Internet’s “largest veterans virtual social club”), and the Veterans with PTSD Facebook page has over 800 likes, all of these sites have a decidedly anti-Conservative tone.  It could be suggested that this is hardly what one would describe as a vocal minority.  If the vast majority of veterans of this country were so supportive of the government and the treatment that they received from it, where are the “Veterans supporting Harper” or “Veterans supporting the Conservatives” Facebook group and webpages?  Try a Google search with “Veterans supporting Harper” or “Veterans supporting Conservatives” and see how many positive hits you get.  Instead, what you get are results such as Harper government spent $700,000 fighting veterans in court, Veterans Affairs’ unused funds total $1.13B since 2006, links to a press conference in which veterans expressed their concerns with the Veterans Affairs Ministry run by Mr. Fantino, stories about veteran amputees who have to prove their disability annuallyetc.  Moreover, why is it so hard to find veterans willing to do commercials supporting Harper’s treatment of veterans if in fact they actually did treat them so well?  

Given the list of grievances provided by Veterans, Mr. Laidler’s support for former Minister Fantino and the Conservatives’ handling of Veterans Affairs as detailed in the post Embattled Fantino Dumped from Veterans Affairs,
laidler-vac2

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,

Akin o%22Toole

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.

Seals

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?

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 15.3.4.3 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 15.3.4.3 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 15.3.4.3. 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 http://www.timlaidler.ca) 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

Press Progress Carrying the Torch

Press Progress

Long time readers of this blog will recognize a number of the photos and points brought up in the recent and excellent Press Progress post on April 23, 2015 concerning Tim Laidler and his repeated photobombing of official taxpayer funded events.  It is worth highlighting one of the points brought up in the article as I had previously missed it.  In addition, it hints at the contents of an upcoming post that I am currently researching (with some help from back east).

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.

Again All On The Public’s Dime

16742426478_1539ef4762_o

Yet another example of the Conservatives’ shameless use of public resources for partisan political promotional purposes was provided today (March 25, 2015) by Candice Bergen’s (the Minister of State for Social Development) announcement of the Harper Government’s (emphasis mine) (note not the Government of Canada’s) upcoming legislation in the coming days to enhance the Universal Child Care Benefit.  The announcement was made earlier today at West Side Family Place in Vancouver, a non-profit “family resource centre that offers parenting support and child focused programming for families with children from birth to six years”.

As part of the announcement Minister Bergen and/or her staff at first tweeted out a number of innocent enough looking photos showing Minister Bergen interacting with various kids at West Side Family Place (a place interestingly not supported by Federal funding in any way according to their Funders page) as well as various staff members (see below).

Bergen and Kids
Bergen and Staff

Fair enough.  Entirely appropriate.  However, for some inexplicable reason (other than for partisan political purposes of course) all of a sudden two currently unelected, young Conservative candidates, Jojo Quimpo, the Conservative candidate for Vancouver-Kingsway, and Tim Laidler, the Conservative candidate for Port Moody-Coquitlam, appear in a photo with Nicky Scott (Chair of the Board of Directors for West Side Family Place) and Minister Bergen that was subsequently tweeted out by the Official Twitter page for the Ministry of Employment and Social Development (see below) and is now part of the official announcement and record for the event (see below). Neither Mr. Laidler or Mr. Quimpo are identified as Conservative candidates in the photo leaving the false impression that the two gentlemen are either workers at and/or directors with West Side Family Place and/or that they staffers with the Ministry because otherwise why else would they be in the photo?

Official Ministry Tweet

Flickr

You may ask yourself what these individuals were even doing at the announcement let alone why they were included in the official pictures of the event other than for political purposes?  The answer is nothing of course as Mr. Laidler specializes in the treatment of veterans with PTSD and Mr. Quimpo, whose candidacy interestingly is not without controversy, apparently is a paralegal, cultural event organizer, and musician (assuming his resume issues have been sorted out), neither of their areas of expertise on the surface appear to be appropriate to West Side Family Place.

Subsequent to the tweeting out of the photo by the official Ministry of Employment and Social Development account, Minister Bergen then tweeted out on her own official account (entirely appropriate of course) a tweet identifying Mr. Laidler and Mr. Quimpo as Conservative candidates and suggesting that it was good to see them and that she “can’t wait to work with them in the House of Commons”.  Entirely appropriate as this was on her own account and not the Ministry’s official account.

Appropriate

While this may all seem like much ado about nothing, please remember that Mr. Laidler (an Afghan veteran) is a repeat offender when it comes to being part of the shameless partisan use of public resources to promote Conservative candidates as he appeared in a shameless bit of partisan promotion put out by Erin O’Toole and the Office of the Minister of Veterans Affairs (detailed in the post All on the Public’s Dime) where Mr. Laidler is again not identified as a Conservative candidate but appears in official Ministry communications (in that particular case the actual news release) (see below).  The continued use of official Ministry accounts and therefor public resources to promote Conservative candidates, particularly young candidates, is troubling.

VETERANS AFFAIRS CANADA - Minister reaches BC
The Honourable Erin OToole, Minister of Veterans Affairs, meets with Tim Laidler of the Veterans Transition Network, and several prominent Veterans stakeholder groups in Vancouver to gain their perspectives on key issues facing Canada’s Veterans and their families. (CNW Group/Veterans Affairs Canada. Note Mr. Laidler is not identified as a Conservative candidate anywhere in the news release.

While the promotion of Conservative candidates particularly young Conservative candidates by sitting Conservative ministers on their own personal pages is commonplace (as detailed in the posts the CPC’s Youth Appeal Strategy for the Upcoming Election and Revving up the CPC Machine) and for the most part entirely appropriate, the promotion of Conservative candidates using public resources clearly is not appropriate.  One would have hoped that Mr. Laidler would have been above being again part of the shameless promotion of his candidacy using public resources but that clearly does not appear to be the case.  Shameless promotion, again All on the Public’s Dime.

Edit: Interesting that all of the inappropraite tweets and photos shown above have since been deleted from the Ministry Twitter feed and from Minister Bergen’s Twitter feed.  If there was nothing wrong with them (from the Ministry and Minister Bergen’s perspective), why delete them?

 

Revving Up the #CPC Machine

Conservative Minister Jason Kenney and Conservative Candidate Tim Laidler

Considering the most recent news release issued by the Ministry of Veterans Affairs followed almost immediately (within a few days) by two tweets, (Tweet #1 and Tweet #2), issued by the official Twitter account of Jason Kenney, the Minister of Employment and Social Development and Minister for Multiculturalism, it appears that the full on promotion of Mr. Tim Laidler as a Conservative candidate within the highest echelons of the Conservative Party has now begun.  Mr. Laidler is the Conservative candidate for the newly established riding of Port Moody-Coquitlam in the suburbs of Vanouver, a new riding that takes in portions of James Moore’s former riding of Port Moody-Westwood-Port Coquitlam.  As you may be aware, Mr. Laidler is an Afghan veteran who is extremely supportive of the Conservative government and in that sense, is very politically useful for the Conservatives in countering the public beating that they have been taking recently over their treatment of veterans.  An example of Mr. Laidler’s partisan and unwavering defence of the Conservative’s handling of Veterans Affairs during the reign of former Minister Julian Fantino can be found here.   It should be noted that this particular episode of “The West Block” aired a mere 15 days before Minister Fantino was replaced as the Minister of Veterans Affairs and officially demoted to associate minister of National Defence, a junior portfolio position that has been vacant for the majority of the past five decades.

Of the two most recent tweets by Minister Kenney, one of them caught my eye and is shown below.  In the tweet, Mr. Kenney expresses his pleasure at meeting some of the former Afghan translators that came to Canada as part of a special program and he thanks Tim Laidler.  This is of course, wonderful to see as these individuals performed a great service for the Canadian mission in Afghanistan and it is great to see that they are being taken care of.  These former translators were often the targets for reprisals once the Canadian Mission ended so anything that we as a nation can do to help them is great.  Mr. Laidler had previously argued that Canada should help these former translators and he should be commended for that and I am pleased to see that he was successful in his lobbying.

Kenney 1

There is however a somewhat awkward irony about the tweet that may not be immediately apparent upon first view.  One must remember that this is the same Jason Kenney who personally issued a niqab ban in citizenship ceremonies while he was the Minister of Immigration.  This ban is currently the subject of a lawsuit as the Government of Canada is currently being sued by a Pakistani woman living in Mississauga.  According to the CBC, “at the time, Kenney said the niqab represented a view of women that is unacceptable in Canada.”  This edict was roundly criticized at the time with many suggesting that racist views underlied the edict rather than any procedural issue and that the edict was an “act of racism and abuse of power”.   Mr. Kenney has also recently come under fire for not deleting anti-Muslim comments on his official Facebook page when posts critical of the Conservative government are of course quickly deleted.  Examples of these offensive posts can be seen here.

So stepping back what you see in this particular tweet is the political partisan use of the former Afghan translators and, at the same time, the cross promotion of Mr. Laidler, the Conservative candidate for the riding of Port Moody-Coquitlam.  Underlying all this is a smiling, self-promoting Mr. Kenney seemingly saying “while we appreciate what you did for us in Afghanistan, for goodness sakes don’t expect your wives to be allowed to wear their niqab wherever they wish”.  I wonder if the former Afghan translators knew about Mr. Kenney’s background and his apparent personal views whether they would have been so willing to have their picture taken with him.  Again, it must be acknowledged that Mr. Laidler obviously has no control over the contents of Mr. Kenney’s tweets and/or the usage of photos that he is a part of.  I am merely pointing out the irony of the Tweet given Mr. Kenney’s apparent personal views.

I will accept that it could be argued that the above may be making something political out of something that was not intended to be political.  In my defence, I would remind the reader that, as suggested by Gregory Thomas, director of the Canadian Taxpayer Federation in reference to the political use of offices and official accounts both by the sitting government and opposition parties,

“They are all doing politics 24/7 365 [days a year],” he said. “You can pretty much expect that anything that comes out of those offices is going to be of a partisan nature, whether supporting or opposing what the government is doing.”

This definitely appears to be the case in regards to the two recent tweets issued by Mr. Kenney and the most recent news release from the Ministry of Veterans Affairs as well as the pictures below.   Pulling out all the stops on this one.  Yikes.

Laidler, Harper, Moore

 

Three ConMigos