Rights and Democracy: I say tomato, you say this has nothing to do with the Middle East

Yesterday’s display of bulbous rubber noses and floppy shoes from the seven clowns running Rights and Democracy is wearyingly familiar in every particular.

Tossing a dart from across the room, I hit this passage, at random out of any number of others, to rebut: they write that the executive review committee “gave the former president repeated opportunities to meet and discuss the evaluation in Toronto, Ottawa or Montreal. He chose not to avail himself of those opportunities.”

Rémy Beauregard actually addressed that point in a long letter to the board of Rights and Democracy on Oct. 26, 2009. “With respect to the efforts made to accommodate the President for a meeting of the Committee,” he wrote, “it is important to clarify that of the 55 days proposed by the Secretary of the Board for such a meeting, the President indicated he was available for 45 of those days.”

Then why was there no meeting? Because, as I’ve learned when trying to seek comment from them, Aurel Braun and his pals can be difficult to pin down. The Executive Committee of the R&D board is supposed to meet four times a year. How’d that go in 2009? “In June 2009, the dates for these meetings were not set because some members were not sure of the days they would have to teach. The Secretary of the Board was mandated to hold an e-mail consultation to try to set a date that would be suitable for as many people as possible. Starting in early August, she proceeded with this consultation and offered fifteen possible dates for the meeting. None of the proposed dates was convenient.”

How handy now that Beauregard is dead and that my source for the above information, if an employee at Rights and Democracy, would be fired if discovered. So the Braun faction of the board can keep repeating their misinformation. The guy they’re heaping calumnies on is safely tucked away in his grave. I remain a minor inconvenience, but all they have to do is outlast me. Since Lawrence Cannon and the PMO are solidly in their corner, how long can this annoyance last, really? As the Taliban like to say, “You have watches, but we have time.”

And the Braun Bros. Blarney and Baleful Circus is really good at repeating misinformation. Accountability and transparency are the true issues,” they write. “A December 2007 report by the Department of Foreign Affairs’ Office of the Inspector‑General discovered “persistent … accountability … problems” with Rights & Democracy, which regrettably remain.” Well, I said on CTV’s Power Play with Tom Clark that Braun was brandishing a 2007 evaluation while ignoring a 2008 evaluation that showed substantial progress and good faith (“R&D’s programming is managed according to accountability principles and best management practices for the sector”). I’ve written that a half-dozen times here, and I know for a fact that the Braun Circus has many friends who read this blog closely now as part of their work day. I repeated it on TVO’s The Agenda With Steve Paikin on Friday night. And still this bunch refuses to ever mention the 2008 evaluation, and still this bunch claims the problems “regrettably remain,” and still this bunch hauls in an audit firm with a vague mandate which their own public statements define in contradictory ways. The staff is terrified that their due-process rights will be run roughshod. Who can blame them? Ask Rémy Beauregard. Oh, that’s right. He’s dead.

As to whether this is about the Middle East, please. Before I wrote a word about this mess, Gerald Steinberg wrote in the Jerusalem Post that this was all about the Middle East. I haven’t seen the angry letter from Braun correcting the record. Perhaps Braun hasn’t had time to write it yet. He’s a delicate flower after all.

I am going to very substantially scale back my writing about this issue. I have reached the point where I am wasting my breath. My consolation is that many tens of thousands of Canadians now see this charade for what it is; that this has turned into a very, very bad day at the office for all concerned, including a few strategic geniuses who thought they could narrow-cast their way to electoral gain while the rest of the country missed this story; and that I have managed to shine a bit of a light on some of the most squalid behaviour I have ever witnessed in 20 years as a reporter. I am so grateful to Maclean’s readers for following the details of this often-complex story.

Here’s that edition of The Agenda from Friday night, on which I was one of the guests. Do I look angry? Guess why.




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