Tag Archives: Spin Alert

Spin Alert: BC NDP Scheming with Public Funds? Not quite.

Spin alert! So, BC political news is all a-twitter this morning with rumours that the BC NDP has been scheming around with legislative funds, to the tune of $200k a year.  Particularly shocking after the Liberals have been in so much trouble for something similar, no?

Here’s iPolitic’s write-through of this supposed scandal:

Leaked portions of a draft report from auditor general John Doyle said by March 2009 the NDP amassed $260,000 from monthly constituency office payments and most of the money was used to fund partisan activities.

(Paywall link)

What’s the truth?

Well, the truth lies in the fact that that the report mentions a “draft report.”  Ask yourself this question: if it’s a “draft report,” did this problem arise in the Auditor General’s full and final report? Would you want to find out before publishing such a story?

Well, as to the first question, the answer is no, it didn’t.  As to the second question, it seems none of the media reporting this bothered to ask themselves the simple fact-checking story.

Blogger Alex G. Tsakumis wrote about this story some time ago.  According to Alex, the NDP did indeed use legislative funds for caucus purposes – exactly as the Comptroller of the Legislature had told them they could. (Again, an aside. The Legislature provides funds for political party caucuses. Whether we like it or not, it is, at present, perfectly proper.)

Tsakumis reports that the Auditor General reviewed the information from the NDP and removed this complaint from the full and final report, as there wasn’t, in the end, a problem.

Tsakumis reports that this “leak” was being shopped to him weeks ago, and he alleges it was shopped by the BC Liberals.

Vancouver Sun columnist Vaughan Palmer wrote about the story in January. He explained more:

An early version of Doyle’s report appeared to suggest that those moves could amount to outright fraud. New Democrats John Horgan and Shane Simpson protested directly to Doyle that there was nothing criminal about an admittedly debatable practice.

Doyle then moved the critique to another part of his report, eliminating any implication that the New Democrats were guilty of fraud.


The auditor general routinely circulates preliminary drafts of his reports to affected agencies and he routinely makes revisions in response to the feedback from the government end.

Today, iPolitics and CBC are running with the story. Spin successful? Well, only to people whose bullshit meter wasn’t thrown by the term “draft report.

Seriously, iPolitics. If you read “draft,” ask for “final.”

Update: CKNW is effectively frothing at the mouth this morning, breathlessly reporting the AG’s draft report as a “secret report.” Journalistic integrity takes a hit here.  Draft =/= secret, no matter how you look at it.

“None of my staff were involved in this, aside from creating it.”

From the Legislature today:

On the ethnic outreach memo controversy:

The Premier has made a categorical assertion, not weeks ago, days ago, that this was not the case. Now, I appreciate that new information may come forward, and the Premier may feel she was incorrect a number of days ago. But that information clearly was wrong.

So what we need from the Premier today, I think, is at least an acceptance, an understanding that what was said, that the assertion that was made by the Premier that this did not involve her staff — it involved somebody else, but not the Premier’s office — was incorrect. Will the Premier confirm that today?

–– Adrian Dix, 2:03pm.

The Premier:

“I would ask the member to be careful to characterize what I said, which was that there is no evidence that I’m aware of that my staff was involved in this. As far as I know, my staff were only involved in creating it. That is what I said, and that remains true.”

–– Premier Christy Clark, March 4, 2:05pm.

Spin Alert: John Yap out of Cabinet and Under the Bus, What about Bloy? (Updated)

Spin alert!

In the quiet part of the legislative day before question period called Statements by Members, normally reserved for constituency updates, Premier Christy Clark rose and announced that Minister John Yap, Minister for Advanced Education and Multiculturalism, will step aside pending the investigation into the “ethnic outreach” memo that has been shaking up the BC political scene as of late.

In his stead, Ralph Sultan, Minister of State for Seniors, will be Minister of Advanced Education as well.

But why?

John Yap was not Minister of Advanced Education and Multiculturalism when this memo was written, in late 2011.  Forcing him to step aside now is questionable, as he had no direct involvement in its development or the hiring of the outreach component of the plan.  However, he didn’t deal with it – obviously.

The Minister of Multiculturalism at the time? None other than Christy Clark’s only caucus supporter during the leadership contest – Harry Bloy.



Could it be that Clark’s spin plan here is to step the Minister aside, and then announce that he (and thus the government) had nothing to do with it?

There are other reports showing “multicultural strategy” on the daily agendas of Premier’s Office staff. Perhaps there’s someone else who should be stepping aside.

Here’s an update:

Clark says that according to the information that she had, none of her staff were involved in the ethnic outreach document, aside from creating it.

Clark also says that there is “no evidence that public money was spent” but that “it is possible.” She further says that most of the actions contemplated in the document were not implemented.

Further update:

The spin on Haakstad’s resignation, per Clark’s statements in the legislature today, is that she resigned “without severance.”

Anticipate swipes and spin following the line that when Dix was involved in a scandal under Glen Clark, he received severance.

Spin Alert: Just what is Christy Clark apologizing for, exactly?

The BC cabinet has finished its non-emergency emergency meeting this evening, meeting with Premier Christy Clark, whom the media are now openly calling the “embattled premier.”

Speaking to reporters, Clark has apparently “apologized” for the “language used” in the ethnic Quick Wins document, saying that she had to “make it right.”

A few questions remain in my mind.

If Clark is apologizing for the “language used” in this document, is she not apologizing for using government funds to hire outreach staff to do work directly for the BC Liberal party?

Is she not apologizing for what appears to be using government databases to build up BC Liberal campaign databases?

Is she not apologizing for what appears to be a strategy of using personal e-mail addresses to avoid the Freedom of Information Act and keep these memos hidden?


Would Christy Clark have apologized if this secret memo hadn’t been leaked?

I think there’s a hint in that this memo was written in 2011.

Spin Alert: “They do it too, so we’re not so bad.”

Just a few hours after issuing my first Spin Alert about the BC Liberal’s current leadership and political crisis, I’m back to issue yet another.

Here’s the current spin. Diamond Isinger, a strong social media presence who’s created a really important blog highlighting sexism in Canadian politics, is also a past paid employee of the BC Liberal party and is a frequent spinner on all things BC Liberal.

She’s found a job posting by the Alberta NDP caucus for a “multicultural outreach person” to be paid by legislature funds.  Here’s the job posting, and here’s Diamond’s spin:


BC Liberal Spin Alert: "They do it too, so we’re not so bad."

Storified by kevin harding· Sun, Mar 03 2013 15:18:43

Alberta NDP seeking "experienced political organizer with keen attention to detail." Paid with public funds. http://bit.ly/100SkjA #bcpoliDiamond Isinger
AB NDP hiring "experienced poli organizer" to work on – oh yes – multicultural outreach. Paid with public $. http://bit.ly/100SkjA #bcpoliDiamond Isinger

So, let’s re-spin the spin:

The BC Liberals are currently under fire for using government funds to hire outreach staff to work on behalf of the party and search for “Quick Wins” to shore up their flagging approval rating.

Sounds awfully similar to the line that Diamond’s tweeting above, right?

Wrong, and here’s why.

Whether you agree with it or not (and I don’t), Legislatures provide public funds for political party activities. They provide funds for outreach and for research and so much more.

Here’s the BC NDP Caucus website – paid by public funds.  Here’s the BC Liberal Caucus website – paid by public funds.  You’ll note that the Alberta NDP website linked above is, indeed, a caucus website.

What the BC Liberals did was issue an Request for Proposals (a call for contractors and proposals) for contractors to work for a government ministry for, ostensibly,  government outreach. They then decided to use this method of hiring people to benefit the BC Liberal party in an exceptionally partisan way.

If you go to BCBid, and search for closed bidding opportunities, and look up “ON-002260,” you’ll find the actual document the BC Liberals used to hire people under government auspices for party purposes. Which is actually different from hiring them using caucus funds.

Had they paid for this using caucus funds, there wouldn’t be the same degree of trouble.

What’s Diamond’s take-home message, then?

“Hey! They do it too, so yeah.”

Really, Diamond? They do it too, so you want us to forgive you for doing it? Hmmm.