Live: The Liberal Not-A-Debate in Winnipeg

The leadership candidates enjoy a series of casual chats

The Liberals are holding their leadership debate (or, rather, their first series of “Davos-style” conversations with the candidates) in Winnipeg this afternoon. Each of the contenders will sit down for an 11-minute conversation with Harvey Locke, the Liberal candidate in last year’s Calgary Centre by-election.

You can stream the proceedings here. We’ll start the live blog shortly (hit refresh for the latest update).

2:00pm. So, again, this is “Davos-style,” only without all the powerful and influential people that make Davos interesting. At least Winnipeg is a more interesting place than Switzerland.

2:03pm. First up is Karen McCrimmon. First question from Mr. Locke isn’t actually a question: “Please tell us a personal insight that you’d like Canadians to have about you.”

2:05pm. Second question: There is a perception that we’re an urban party beyond the Maritimes, should we do more to attract rural voters? Tough one. Ms. McCrimmon goes with “absolutely.”

2:10pm. There now seems to be some kind of disruption. Someone is banging on a drum and shouting.

2:11pm. Mr. Locke and Ms. McCrimmon are attempting to talk over the noise. Apparently the disruption, now concluded, was related to Idle No More.

2:14pm. Next up, Marc Garneau. He likes to do household chores, particularly vacuuming.

2:18pm. Adam Goldenberg argues this format is valuable because a party leader will do many one-on-one interviews. Perhaps. But these seem to be the easiest interviews a politician will ever do. If this is a test, it’s a pretty basic test.

2:24pm. If the challenge is basically surface-level: looking and sounding the part, Mr. Garneau did fairly well there. Looks and sounds like an experienced politician.

2:30pm. Joyce Murray might make a good environment minister in a Liberal government.

2:32pm. I hope one of the candidates answers one of Locke’s questions with “no comment.”

2:34pm. Ms. Murray busts Mr. Locke for being too long-winded in this questions. That will be the sharpest exchange of the afternoon. Suggested headline: “Murray lands knockout punch on Locke”

2:36pm. Justin Trudeau goes with the “no jacket/rolled up sleeves” look. Very Jack Layton. Asked for a personal anecdote, he says he misses his children. Boom. That is how you do politics. And then, somehow, he segues from that into a comment on the young people in Idle No More and an acknowledgement of the protester. Double Boom.

2:38pm. Mr. Trudeau launches into a defence of supply management, which serves as a swipe at Martha Hall Findlay.

2:41pm. Thinking back on Mr. Trudeau’s opening remarks, he probably missed an obvious opening to sing the first verse of the Greatest Love of All. Bit of a mistake. But he’ll learn not to let those opportunities go missed.

2:46pm. Mr. Trudeau explains that he has been to Sweden and that Canada needs its own Ikea (I’m paraphrasing). So there’s Scott Feschuk’s next column.

2:48pm. Deborah Coyne’s personal anecdote is that it’s Groundhog Day and she loves the movie, Groundhog Day, and that the movie is sort of an analogy for the Liberal party’s present challenge. Idea alert: What the Liberal party needs is Bill Murray.

2:59pm. David Bertschi comes out wearing a Liberal party scarf. In case there was some doubt about which party he supports.

3:04pm. The professionalization of politics is a touchy subject and it’s problematic to argue against political participation: But can we have a Davos-style conversation about who should be running for leader of a political party? If you’ve never held political office, how well can you hope to lead a party in a parliamentary system? Set aside the question of finding a seat to win so that you can sit in the House (Jean Chretien, Stephen Harper and Jack Layton didn’t have seats when they became party leaders). What evidence is there that individuals who’ve never been elected can win a party leadership and then succeed in that role? Haven’t the most successful political leaders of the last 20 years been experienced, practiced politicians? What evidence is there that outsiders or unconventional politicians can succeed? What does this tell us about politics? Should we, perhaps, view politics as we do any other profession: something at which you must be experienced in to succeed?

3:14pm. Martin Cauchon warns that dumping supply management means eating unsafe food.

3:18pm. Here’s one request I’d make: If you enter a party leadership race as a relative long shot, bring some unique angle to the race. Call it the Ron Paul Rule (or the Rick Santorum Rule, or maybe the Nathan Cullen Rule). Joyce Murray is sort of doing this with electoral cooperation and Martha Hall Findlay is kind of doing this with supply management. But you should have either a particular ideology or a set of really bold policy proposals.

3:24pm. Martha Hall Findlay defends ending supply management. This is a fun debate. Ms. Hall Findlay is smart to make it about the cost of food for families.

3:32pm. Ms. Hall Findlay accuses Mr. Locke of asking too easy a question about crime policy.

3:33pm. Ms. Hall Findlay says the Liberals should have done a better job standing up to the government’s crime bills in the last two parliaments. The party needs more courage. Fair enough. Where was that courage at the time?

3:36pm. George Takach describes him as the “tech candidate.” I’m not sure that meets the Ron Paul Rule. Unless Mr. Takach’s answer to every dilemma is computers. (Although that would be interesting.)

3:39pm. Mr. Takach really wants to fight somebody.

3:44pm. Mr. Takach, answering a question about supply management, “And I will weave in my modest upbringing.” Very meta.

3:46pm. Closing statements. No lectern and all the candidates are on the stage at the same time. Ms. Murray pitches cooperation and picks up on Ms. Coyne’s Groundhog Day analogy. Mr. Trudeau pitches his democratic reforms. Mr. Garneau says the Liberal leader needs to be clear and specific about what he or she wants to do (subtext: Mr. Trudeau isn’t being clear enough about what he would do and where he stands). Ms. Hall Findlay says she’s pretty good with substantive policy and that this is about substance, experience and intelligence and tough decisions and courage and that there are no silver bullets (subtext: Mr. Trudeau is the silver bullet I’m contrasting myself with). Mr. Takach criticizes Mr. Locke for not asking enough questions about the economy.

4:01pm. And that’s that. This changes… probably not much. My general take on this race remains the same as it was two weeks ago.

Live: The Liberal Not-A-Debate in Winnipeg

  1. Vacuuming?? What the hell was the question?

    • “What do you think the best way to get the lint and dust that sticks to Harper’s toupee off?”

      • LOLOL

  2. Jeebuz…that’s depressing.

  3. Typical Liberal no substance we don’t care what they do at home vaccuming or missing their kids, & liberals have always lacked substance.

    The only thing Liberals do really well is lie & make promises they never fullfill.

    We don’t need anyone from Quebec the biggest fraud & corruption of any provinve whole province is corrupt.

    All
    liberals ever new was to lie Chretien promised to eliminate the GST & lied
    to us.

    Paul Martin ripped us off billions by putting his ships off shore so he
    wouldn’t have to pay canadians taxes or hire any canadians.

    Bob Rae bankrupt Ontario then when NDP no longer wanted him he went to Liberals
    so he could rob us some more.

    Liberals robbbed 8 billion dollars from the EI benefits that was there for
    unemployed worker & wouldn’t give it to them then pretended they had a
    surplus of 8 billion dollars.

    Liberals totally gutted the Health care System when they were in power, they
    were broke so they closed hospitals, cut dontors & nurses.

    Liberals totally gutted the military budget.

    Liberals wouldn’t even b uy our troops new uniforms & sent them out to
    fight for our country in BRIGHT GREEN UNIFORMS IN THE DESERT TALK ABOUT SITTING
    TARGETS

    Liberals as if that wasn’t bad enough to do to our troops, they cancelled all
    the new helicopters that had millions paid down on them & sent them our to
    fight in rusted out garbage.

    Liberals once again were totally broke & bought rusted out subs for our
    troops that caught fire when they tried to bring them home.

    Liberals sponsorship scandal.

    Liberals totally had gutted all our money as like the NDP they believe in
    rewarding People who refuse to work with welfare for their own personal good.

    IT IS UNSUSTAINABLE TO HAVE HUGE NUMBERS OF PEOPLE RECIEVING WELFARE WHO ARE TOO
    LAZY TO WORK FOR A LIVING.

    WELFARE HAS BANKRUPT SO MANY COUNTRIES IT HAS TO STOP

    Liberals all they ever wanted to
    do was to add as many taxes as they could to working people like HST &
    Carbon taxes that would ruin the country.

    Liberals & NDP then give everything free to people
    who refuse to work for nothing in exchange for their votes they don’t care
    about the ones who work & apy everything they would rather punish working
    people.

    • I think you need to can the partisanship, and learn some history. None of that happened.

  4. This is reason enough we don’t need any Quebec Liberals & defintely not Trudeau.

    All liberals want the HST & carbon taxes just so they can punish hard working people & then give all our money free to all the lazy useless bums refusing to work they reward them & give them everything free & punish us with more taxes Liberal & NDP ways.

    Canada Revenue Agency
    fires six, suspends three in Montreal office

    Topics:

    Corruption, Construction
    industry, Canada
    Revenue Agency

    Rating:

    0

    Daniel Leblanc – December
    10, 2010

    The Canada Revenue Agency has
    fired six employees in Montreal and suspended three others without pay as part
    of a growing scandal into allegations that the tax-collection agency was
    infiltrated by rogue personnel.

    The controversy goes back to 2007, when information
    from a police investigation into the Mafia led the CRA to start looking into
    the activities of some of its employees. The government is releasing little
    information on the situation, in which millions of dollars in tax revenue are
    at stake.

    The CRA first revealed allegations of infiltration
    last year when it fired two people who are accused of interfering in tax audits
    of construction companies.

    This week, two construction companies pleaded
    guilty to committing $4-million in tax fraud by claiming non-deductible
    expenses such as the construction of a luxury yacht and jewellery purchases.
    The firms also submitted fake invoices from two shell companies that had
    benefited from inside help at the CRA, according to CRA and RCMP search
    warrants.

    On Friday, the CRA revealed the growing scope of
    the review into the activities of its office in Montreal, suggesting that the
    matter goes beyond the construction industry.

    “Since December 31, 2008, the Canada Revenue Agency
    has terminated the employment of six employees and suspended three employees
    without pay at the Montreal Tax Services Office for a variety of misconducts,”
    said Erin Filliter, a spokeswoman for Revenue Minister Keith Ashfield.

    “Any misconduct by CRA employees as alleged in
    these cases will not be tolerated. Our government is supportive of this
    investigation and will ensure that the CRA co-operates with all
    investigations,” she said.

    A federal source added the number of people
    involved in the alleged fraud might yet be higher, as investigators are also
    concerned about the activities of people who have retired from the CRA.

    The controversy is fuelling calls for a public
    inquiry into the construction industry in Quebec. Premier Jean Charest has
    refused, saying it is up to police and other authorities to punish anyone
    involved in wrongdoing. But critics are charging that this week’s guilty pleas
    by the construction firms prove that court cases won’t help the public
    understand how the wrongdoing occurred or who actually benefited.

    In the House of Commons on Friday, the Bloc
    Québécois said the recently exposed tax-evasion scheme was designed to provide
    large amounts of cash “to pay the personal expenses” of the administrators of
    the two construction firms that pleaded guilty, Simard-Beaudry Construction and
    Louisbourg Construction.

    “Now that it has gone after the companies that
    belong to [construction magnate] Tony Accurso, will the Canada Revenue Agency
    start looking into those who benefited from this money?” Bloc MP Diane
    Bourgeois asked in the House.

    Jacques Gourde, the parliamentary secretary to the
    minister of National Revenue, said that CRA employees must abide by a strict
    code of conduct.

    “Our government is committed to protecting its
    fiscal revenues from those who do not want to respect their obligations,” Mr.
    Gourde said.

    The CRA has said that between 2005 and 2007, three
    of Mr. Accurso’s companies “funnelled close to $4.5-million” to two shell
    companies that issued fake invoices. Earlier this year, the CRA laid
    tax-evasion charges against Frank Bruno, owner of construction firm B.T.
    Céramique, accusing him of providing the fake invoices.

    Court documents allege that when tax auditors
    started closing in on Mr. Bruno, one of his cousins, who worked for the CRA,
    proposed a “plan of action” to keep them at bay. According to the documents,
    Mr. Bruno opened a bank account containing $1.7-million in 2006 in the Bahamas
    with two CRA employees, including his cousin Adriano Furgiuele.

    In addition, court documents filed earlier this year show the CRA
    rejected more than $1-million in research and development tax credits that
    Simard-Beaudry and Louisbourg claimed in previous years. A search warrant said
    that Mr. Furgiuele’s brother Marcello was

  5. Quebec construction boss nabbed in anti-graft probe

    (AFP)–12 hours ago

    MONTREAL — Anti-corruption officers on Tuesday arrested a construction
    mogul at the center of a graft scandal that has gripped Canada’s Quebec
    province, threatening to topple its Liberal government.

    The Quebec provincial police’s anti-corruption squad arrested Tony
    Accurso and 13 others in early morning raids targeting several homes and
    businesses in and around Montreal, officials told a press conference.

    The town hall of Mascouche just north of Montreal was also searched and
    an arrest warrant issued for its mayor, Richard Marcotte, as well as for a
    contractor with whom he has close ties.

    Marcotte is expected to be arrested when he returns at the end of the
    week from a vacation in Cuba.

    Police laid a total of 47 charges against the accused and two construction
    and engineering firms, including fraud, corruption and abuse of the public
    trust.

    Without going into details, Inspector Denis Morin said the accused
    benefitted from their illicit dealings that saw “money and gifts”
    exchanged for “inside information on government contracts” in
    Mascouche.

    Accurso heads a business empire with dozens of construction firms.

    Two of his companies won lucrative government contracts to build a
    hospital and several transportation projects around the province, only to have
    their business licenses revoked in January after being found guilty of tax
    fraud.

    The arrests come after beleaguered Quebec Premier Jean Charest last
    October launched a commission of inquiry into alleged corruption in the
    French-speaking province’s construction industry.

    A leaked report by the police anti-graft unit indicated that government
    employees and construction firms had been conspiring to keep prices high over
    the past 15 years, and suggested possible links to organized crime.

    The revelations provoked citizens to stage protests and take to social
    networks to vent their anger.

    The commission has been tasked with looking into any possible illicit
    financing of political parties, and offering fixes to keep the construction
    industry clean in the future. It will release its findings in 2013.

    Copyright © 2012 AFP. All rights reserved. More

  6. This is why we never want a Liberal Government again

    Paul Chiasson / THE CANADIAN PRESS file photo

    Quebec construction magnate Tony Accurso, seen in April
    2012, was arrested earlier this month by the RCMP’s anti-corruption squad on
    allegations of federal income-tax evasion.

    By:Wendy GillisStaff
    Reporter, Published on
    Wed Aug 29 2012

    Explore This Story

    1

    SHERBROOKE, QUE.—In his home riding for the fifth time this election
    campaign, Quebec premier Jean Charest seemed to think if he said it enough, he
    could make it so.

    “We will form a majority government,” he repeated
    to a small gathering of supporters at a Sherbrooke hotel Wednesday. “I will be
    the representative in Sherbrooke.”

    Given the polls — the most recent putting him in
    third behind the front-running Parti Québécois and the Coalition Avenir Québec
    — and the stiff competition from the PQ’s Sherbrooke candidate, Serge Cardin,
    the predictions could come off as overconfident.

    But they were especially rosy considering the
    trying day for the embattled party as election day draws closer.

    More:

    A booing crowd of about 40 demonstrators outside
    a press conference Wednesday afternoon — who prompted the cancellation of a
    campaign stop at a Sherbrooke market — was not a welcome sight.

    But it was an accusation hurled by a star CAQ
    candidate that caused most damage when another allegation of Liberal corruption
    was offered up, an explosive issue Charest has been attempting to duck
    throughout the campaign.

    During a radio debate on the Montreal
    station 98.5 FM Wednesday morning, Jacques Duchesneau — known in the
    province as an anti-corruption hero — alleged that ministers within Charest’s
    Liberal government had been taken as guests aboard The Touch, a yacht owned by
    construction magnate and alleged fraudster Tony Accurso.

    Asked if the allegations, which date back to
    2009, were true, Duchesneau simply replied: “Yes.”

    The one word unleashed a storm of questions at a
    Liberal campaign stop in Saint-Romain. Charest responded by saying he heard
    about the allegations a few months ago and asked his ministers if it was true.

    “And the answer was ‘no,’ ” he said.

    “Why should we sit here and go through these
    hypothetical situations just because someone is lodging these false accusations
    deliberately to hurt people,” Charest said.

    He also fired back at the CAQ, referring to a
    news report that found Accurso paid for a $14,000 lunch with members of
    l’Action démocratique du Québec, the party from which the CAQ grew.

    Accurso is known in the province as the
    construction mogul at the centre of a nearly four-year-long corruption scandal.
    He was arrested earlier this month by the RCMP’s anti-corruption
    squad on allegations of federal income-tax evasion.

    Duchesneau is renown in Quebec for leaking his
    explosive government-ordered report into corruption and collusion in the
    construction industry, a move that forced Charest to call a public inquiry last
    October after two years of refusing. He has authored a second report, tabled to
    the Charbonneau Commission, that allegedly shows that 70 per cent of money
    raised by Quebec political parties has been done so illegally.

    Accurso denied in 2009 that the three Liberal
    minister had taken a ride on his yacht, contrary to allegations made at the
    time by Benôit Labonté, former Montreal city councillor, and Sylvie Roy, former
    ADQ deputy now running for the CAQ.

    CAQ leader François Legault said Wednesday
    afternoon he took no issue with his candidate’s comments but also had no way to
    know if there was any substance to the allegations.

    “I’ve said many times that since my first meeting
    with Mr. Duchesneau that I didn’t want to read his second report (alleging the
    PQ and Liberals were funded by illegal political donations) and that I didn’t
    want any information about what he discovered as head of the anti-collusion
    unit,” he told reporters. “I don’t know any more than you.”

    Legault said Duchesneau was ready to share more
    details about the allegation when he testified before the Charbonneau
    commission in June but the questions were never asked of the former Montreal
    police chief.

    Still, the CAQ leader refused to condemn his
    candidate’s decision to cast the allegation without offering proof.

    “Mr. Duchesneau was asked a direct question. He
    is someone who is frank, so he responded to the question. He isn’t comfortable
    lying, so he answered the question.”

    With files from Allan Woods in
    Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville, Que

  7. javascript:void(0);

    Treasury Board president Tony Clement has been talking up the need to
    change the culture in official Ottawa to one of “cost containers” instead of
    “spending enablers.”

    Photograph by:
    CHRIS WATTIE , REUTERS

    OTTAWA – The federal government paid $1.2 billion in voluntary severance
    last fiscal year to 91,613 public servants who either remain in their jobs,
    retired or quit on their own – a perk unheard of to most Canadian taxpayers who
    are footing the bill.

    Business groups and spending watchdogs say the voluntary payouts are both
    “staggering” and “outrageous,” considering Canadians in the
    private sector are generally only paid severance when they lose their job – not
    if they continue working or leave on their own.

    All told, taxpayers are on the hook for more than $1.5 billion in regular
    and voluntary severance to 102,589 public servants in 2011-12, according to new
    federal numbers obtained by Postmedia News.

    The total severance payout includes the $1.2 billion to more than 90,000
    employees who voluntarily requested the payments, as well as additional cash
    for those who received regular severance benefits (payment upon termination of
    employment regardless of circumstances), according to Public Works and
    Government Services, the department responsible for the payments.

    The numbers include payments to federal departments, agencies and most
    Crown corporations, but don’t factor in large, independent corporations like
    Canada Post and Bank of Canada, which pay their employees separately.

    The government also is projecting it will spend at least another $850
    million in the current 2012-13 fiscal year on accumulated severance payouts
    (including for resignation and retirement) owed to federal employees as per
    collective agreements signed by successive governments over several years.

    The Conservative government, as of October 2010, halted the accumulation
    of severance benefits for resignations and retirements, but is renegotiating a
    number of collective agreements with public sector unions to cover what is
    already owed.

    “It’s outrageous. If taxpayers knew what is contained in federal
    union contracts, we’d have a rebellion on our hands,” said Gregory Thomas,
    federal director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

    “The contracts that the public is saddled with are too rich. It’s an
    unbelievable deal that most federal government employees have.”

    Along with the more than $2 billion needed to cover the severance
    expenses for 2011-12 and 2012-13, the government also has earmarked $900
    million to cover “workforce adjustment” payments owed to thousands of
    employees who will be laid off due to federal budget cuts.

    More than two dozen collective agreements signed by the federal
    government and public sector unions allowed, up to October 2010, for the
    accumulation of severance to be paid to employees for resignations,
    retirements, layoffs and other reasons.

    The Conservative government is settling the 27 collective agreements that
    allowed for the accumulation and voluntary payout of severance, while
    eliminating the perk going forward.

    To date, the government and unions have settled nine of the 27 collective
    agreements, covering more than 100,000 of the 212,000 employees in the core
    public administration.

    Yet hundreds of thousands of core public servants who accumulated the
    benefits are allowed to voluntarily cash out the severance while they remain in
    their jobs. They also can wait until they resign or retire to collect the cash,
    or receive some of it now and the remainder when leaving the public service.

    Of the 91,613 workers who took the voluntary severance payout last fiscal
    year, 92 per cent of those employees chose to receive the full accumulated
    amount they’re owed, rather than taking part of it now and the rest when they
    leave the civil service, according to Public Works and Government Services.

    Treasury Board president Tony Clement was unavailable to comment on the
    latest severance numbers, but he recently has been discussing the need to
    change the culture in official Ottawa to one of “cost containers”
    instead of “spending enablers.”

    Clement’s spokesman said the government has moved to eliminate the perk
    because it recognized that paying severance to people voluntarily leaving their
    jobs was costly and a tough pill to swallow for taxpayers.

    • “cost container” . . . . does that look like a gazebo perchance?

  8. Mr. Trudeau has the worst attendance record of all currently sitting MPs, and Mr. Garneau’s attendance is just about as bad. Jack Layton crushed the last Liberal leader with telling Canadians “If you don’t show up for work, you don’t deserve a promotion”. Both Justin Trudeau and Marc Garneau are on Parliamentry record for not even bothering to show up to vote against the most important union bashing legislation working Canadians have ever endured. The almost 4 million unionized Canadians that have had their privacy rights trampled on will certainly not vote for a Liberal Federal government. If either of them become leader not one Federal Liberal will be elected next election that is for sure, eh!

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