Stephen Harper’s Maternal Health Disaster

In what is arguably an effort to win over fundamentalist Christian voters, Stephen Harper’s G8 maternal and child health initiative, as it currently stands, will result in far more preventable deaths than the overall number of lives saved.

In what Huffington Post contributor Jodi Jacobson called an “absurd move,” Harper initially excluded family planning from his G8 initiative. A brief explanation was given by International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda, telling the House of commons “when we know what we can do by providing clean water, vaccinations, better nutrition, as well as the most effective way is the training of health care workers and improving access for those women, that is what we are going to do.”

Oda’s remarks came a day after Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon told a Commons committee that the Conservative government’s maternal health initiative “does not deal in any way, shape or form with family planning.”

Facing both opposition and international backlash, Harper back-pedalled on the remarks made by his cabinet ministers, telling the House of Commons “[the Conservatives] are “not closing doors against any options including contraception. But we do not want a debate here or elsewhere on abortion.”

Any hope of an open debate on the issue was crushed when a motion demanding a “full range of reproductive health services” in the government’s G8 initiative was put forward, and ultimately defeated by the Liberals.

Last week, Jennifer Dicthburn of the Canadian Press outlined the “startling statistics about the impact of expanded access to contraception” contained in a report released by Guttmacher Institute and United Nations Population Fund. The report concluded, among other things, that “meeting the world’s needs for modern birth control would reduce maternal deaths by 70 per cent, family planning would eliminate two-thirds of unintended pregnancies and three-quarters of unsafe abortions…and spending on contraception would ultimately reduce other health costs for women and their babies – an estimated $5.1 billion annually if wealthy nations were aggressively contributing to the cause already.”

On the issue of abortion, CNN shed light on a study revealing the barbaric methods women in Kenya are forced to turn to in the face of that country’s restrictive abortion laws. The so-called ‘backstreet abortions’ are crude, makeshift medical procedures using foreign objects such as metal wire and knitting needles to put an end to tens of thousands of unwanted pregnancies. ‘Backstreet abortions’, which carry a high risk of infection, injury, and death, are often the only option Kenyan women have due to the lack of access to safe abortions. When it comes to maternal mortality rates in Kenya, it’s no surprise that one-third of all maternal deaths come as a direct result of unsafe abortions.

Harper’s actual record on the well being of women and children is questionable at best, and in a scathing piece from The Globe And Mail’s Gerald Caplain details precisely why “evidence counts for nothing in faith-based Tory policy.”

Harper’s lack of credibility on the plight of women and children, combined with his willful ignorance of the scientific evidence backing the importance of contraception and abortion to maternal health, sets the stage for another Bush era ‘no condoms for Africa‘ foreign policy disaster; Conservative political posturing resulting in millions of easily preventable deaths.

This is ‘collateral damage’ in its cruellest form.

Cross-posted at rabble.ca
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UPDATE March 30: From the G8 Foreign Ministers conference, Hillary Clinton: Contraception must be part of maternal health plan

UPDATE April 27: Stephen Harper refuses to include abortion in G8 plan

“There will be no debate, Tories say, putting Canada’s signature maternal-health initiative at odds with policies of U.S. and Britain.”

Levant, Coulter Protect Free Speech

The rules laid out for attendees of the Coulter event in Calgary demonstrate who’s ‘free speech’ Ezra Levant, Ann Coulter, and event sponsors International Free Press Society are seeking to defend…their own.

Levant and Coulter both hide behind the guise of ‘free speech’ to justify their slander, bigotry, and blatant racism.
There is a difference between ‘free speech’ and ‘hate speech.’ Sadly, neither one of these neo-conservatives seems to be able to distinguish between the two.

Cross-posted at www.rabble.ca

Fomented Outrage And Phoney Censorship

Ezra Levant, the self described expert on free speech in Canada, is Outraged! over the cancelation of Ann Coulter‘s scheduled Tuesday appearance at the University of Ottawa.

Levant’s been busy on twitter, Facebook, TV and radio, desperately trying to sell the public his version of events and paint himself and Coulter as hapless victims of ‘left wing censorship.’ Take, for example, the conversation between Levant and Rob Breakenridge, just hours after the event was cancelled:

Levant: “It’s been a terrible night for our reputation as a freedom loving nation . The University of Ottawa, which is one of two of the Universities in our Nation’s capital, with the cameras of the world rolling, showed that when it comes to freedom of speech for controversial views, for dissenting views, there is no room in Canadian academia, or at least at the University of Ottawa, and it was an embarrassing night. It was an international embarrassment and frankly it’s contrary to our Canadian values. In Canada, we believe in freedom of speech even for views that we don’t like, but at U of O, they had a more closed minded approach that I think is a great shame”

Breakenridge: “You know, I mean it’s unbelievable. Just out of curiosity, I know the University of Ottawa is one of the campuses that holds this odious Israeli Apartheid week each year. You can go look at the speakers who spoke this year, the speakers who spoke last year; there’s some pretty radical and nasty anti Israel folks being brought into speak at the University. The student establishment’s OK with that. Even the pro Israel students are OK. They understand free speech. It’s unbelievable what happens when someone shows up who politically incorrect or who’s views run afoul of this student establishment, we saw tonight.”

Levant: “You’re right. I was there I was in the room. We had hired so many private security guards because the University insisted that we do at our own expense, where as when left wing speakers come in they are never asked to pay for their own security, and yet with all the private security and all the police, the police made the determination that 2000 people outside who had whipped each other up on facebook saying lets bring thing to throw at her, let’s tar and feather her, the police made a decision that is was dangerous, it was unsafe to proceed with the event and that the public and the speaker were at risk of physical jeopardy, and I want to ask you listeners Rob, does that sound like Canada to you?
“…Here at the University of Ottawa, the vice president set a totally different tone he sent a letter basically to Ann Coulter that if she dared attend, she was at risk of being charged with a crime, and while all these young cuffs looked to the vice president said ‘oh you set the tone, so it’s OK to try and keep a speaker off campus, so it;s OK to make subtle threats’ and they got the message and they did exactly what that vice president did, the basically followed his instructions they added a degree of menace to it…if I was a University of Ottawa alumnus tonight I’d be deeply ashamed of my school.”

Breakenridge: “Yeah, we’ll it’s an embarrassment for this school, it’s an embarrassment as you say in many ways for this Country. Now from what I’ve read, I read of tables being knocked over, I read of fire alarms being pulled, I mean everything they could resort to to stop this from happening. Now what were you seeing? what did you hear about?”

Levant: “…We were inside, we were a little bit worried, we knew that security had called the event off, we knew that it was unsafe for ann coulter but we did not make that announcement for some period of time until we could confirm that we had a safe way out, there was about 150 people in the room at that time so we didn’t want to cause a panic by letting them know that the violent protestors had blocked the front doors, I mean that’s not something you announce to 150 people so we just sort of waited…”

“But you know, In a way Rob, let me look at the silver lining here, the purpose of this free speech tour sponsored by the international free press society, was to demonstrate what freedom of speech looks like in action, and it’s ironic that it took an american commentator to expose the weaknesses in Canada’s free speech. And although it’s terrible that the speech was cancelled and that the threat of violence is unacceptable, in a way it proved our whole point that when it comes to freedom of speech, that Canada has fallen a long way down…It’s not just that they destroyed Ann Coulter’s right to speak, it’s that they destroyed 450 Canadians right to listen.”

“Maybe some people would agree with her, maybe some people would disagree with her. But they’ll never have that right to make up their own mind because a bunch of thugs shut the whole thing down, that is so un canadian, and for that to happen with smiling face of Francois Houle, the vice president beaming over everything, is disgusting…Let’s show that Calgary cares about freedom, even if Ottawa doesn’t. I think we can prove on Thursday that Alberta and Calgary are strong and free we’re not like Ottawa, rotting and censorious.”

It’s a shame that Levant doesn’t share the same dedication to accuracy as he does to freedom of speech; Perhaps he wouldn’t come across as such a blatant liar. The fact is that the entire fiasco was likely pre planned to drum up publicity for Thursday’s event in Calgary, and give Levant and Coulter a reason to file a frivolous complaint with the Canadian Human Right Commission they so despise. Even the ‘Coulter in Canada’ website has been updated with the screaming banner ‘Cancelled – Free Speech Suppressed‘ across the Ottawa event.

From the urgent and utter hysteria coming from the Coulter and Levant camp, you’d assume they must have been legitimately wronged. In this instance, however, the facts simply don’t support their arguments.

Just as he did in the radio interview, Levant claimed on twitter that “Cops advised that proceeding with Coulter event in face of protesters would be dangerous to her and the crowd…Police officer tonight at Coulter event, faced with 2,000 screaming protesters, ‘we cannot guarantee her safety.’…Sgt. Dan Beauchamp on shutting down Coulter event: ‘it’s a public safety issue.'”

Every one of these assertions is utter nonsense.

The CBC’s Kady O’Mally reports that “it was not the police who ‘shut it down.’ I spoke with Ottawa Police Services media relations officer Alain Boucher this morning, and he told me, in no uncertain terms, that it was HER security team that made the decision to call off the event. ‘We gave her options’ — including, he said, to ‘find a bigger venue’ — but “they opted to cancel … It’s not up to the Ottawa police to make that decision.”

O’Mally also debunks the claim of ‘2000 screaming protesters,’ noting that “the number of protesters (has) been variously estimated between a few dozen to 200,” an attendee asserting that “at no time was there any evidence of physical threat. To the extent that there were safety issues, it was because you had 600 people coming out for a talk and the organizers had absolutely no logistical plan to handle it. People annoyed like they get annoyed waiting to get into a jammed hockey game. But no ‘threat’ environment.”

It’s ironic that an event purported to be about free speech and media bias, had barred media from entering the venue. The statement Levant gave to the semi filled auditorium before they evacuated, chastising the University of Ottawa for ‘censorship,’ adding “a fish rots from the head down,” is also rather comical. In essence, Levant is chastising himself, Coulter, and the Conservatives who organized the event; After all they are the ones who ultimately nixed the event, censoring themselves in the process.

No matter how vile or inflammatory she is, Coulter has every right to speak in Canada; One doesn’t have to be intelligent or credible in order to run their mouth, as demonstrated by the existence of Fox News Channel (where Coulter is a frequent contributor.)

I personally welcome the opportunity for Coulter to share her ‘wisdom’ with Canadians, if only to demonstrate just how ignorant she truly is.

Cross-posted at rabble.ca

Playing With Guns

“An Albatross and an embarrassment.”

On Saturday, that’s how Conservative MP Candice Hoeppner labelled the gun registry during her address at the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters Annual General Meeting.

Bill C-391, Hoeppners private member’s bill to abolish the long gun registry, was spared the axe of prorogation and is currently sitting in committee. However, just as debate is set to resume, front line law enforcement professionals are coming forward and voicing unwavering support for the program.
The positive reviews put forward echo those contained in the RCMP’s 2008 Firearms Commissioner’s Report; The very report which then-public safety minister Peter Van Loan purposely suppressed for seven weeks last fall, releasing it only after the initial vote on Bill C-391 had allowed it to pass to second reading.

The actions of the Conservative government in their effort to kill the long gun registry, reveal an unsettling pattern; The belief, by the Conservatives, that their ideology is superior to the knowledge from front line officers who’s lives are dedicated to protecting the safety and well being of the public.

This ‘holier than thou’ scenario played out on CTV’s Power Play Friday March 19, when Tom Clark interviewed Public Safety Minister Vic Toews.

Toews began with the requisite PMO talking point, that “the RCMP and other police forces have better things to do than to harass hunters and trappers and farmers for not registering their long guns.” For good measure, he added that it’s a “waste of taxpayers money.”

Minister Toews was informed by Clark of the increasing number of law enforcement members supporting the registry, “most recently the second in command of the RCMP this week said that he thought that the regestry should stay, and its a very good idea, and it’s a very useful tool for front line police officers.”
Toews brushed aside that notion, stating that the RCMP’s second in command was “expressing a personal opinion, a personal opinion that’s not shared by front line police officers. The actual police officers that I meet who go into the doors of houses where suspected criminals are don’t rely on the gun registry to determine whether or not a criminal has a fire arm, in fact that would be foolish on their part.”

Toews was then shown data regarding the long gun registry, which Clark received from ‘senior government officials':

From 1998 – 2008, 14 of the 16 police shootings were committed with long guns;
In 2008 alone, 1 in 5 gun homicides was committed with long guns, half of all gun homicides in rural areas were committed with long guns, and
of the 23,000 firearms seized by police, more than 18,000 were long gun seizures.

Perhaps the most telling piece of information was that police said they used the registry 10,000 times every day.

Still, Toews refused to budge. “That’s not what I hear from police officers. In fact the automatic use of the registry, isn’t something the police are going out, doing deliberately, checking the registry. It’s something that pops up automatically on their screen. But the point is that police officers don’t rely on the registry when they’re walking up to a car to see whether or not a person possibly has a firearm, that would be negligent on their part.”

Clark, somewhat taken aback at Toews insistence, reminded him that it’s the “law and order crowd (who) are saying pretty clearly that they want this registry to remain.”

Toews responded by paraphrasing his earlier talking points, which prompted the following awkward exchange:

Clark: “Well it’s an interesting struggle isn’t it? For who speaks more for the law and order community? Whether it’s you, or whether it’s a lot of the police officers. The Canadian chiefs of police are in support of it.”
Toews: “They’re not the ones going into the doors of houses.”
Clark: “Wow. Ok, well they ARE the chiefs of police in this country.”

Immediately following the interview, Clark spoke with Greg Getty, superintendent of the Toronto police guns and gangs task force.

When asked if he was in support of the long gun registry, Getty was unequivocal in his answer. “I personally support it without question, as does the Toronto police service, as do all of the canadian chiefs through the CACP, as well as the Canadian police association, and Toronto police association, who DO represent the officers who DO go through those doors the minister (Toews) is speaking of.”

Getty continued to counter the claims Toews had made earlier, telling Clark that “in circumstances where were attending address where there’s domestic conflicts, persons inside that residence that we may be going to, it’s not only a matter of the officers’ safety to have that information prior to attending, but also a matter of community safety…for not only the other residents within that dwelling, but within that immediate area as well.”

Getty also noted that 23% of all domestic homicides in Canada committed with long guns, and a majority of police killed in Canada are killed at the hands of a long gun.

Clark then addressed assertions made by Toews regarding front line officers’ desire to abolish the registry, asking Getty if “from a front line police perspective, can you understand why some police officers would be in favour of getting rid of it?”

“None whatsoever,” stated Getty. “A lot of the rhetoric around the abolition of the long gun registry is the cost, that ‘law enforcement has better things to do than make criminals out of farmers and legal gun owners’. I believe in responsible and legal gun ownership. In fact, in Toronto we’ve just recovered, with Project Safe City in regards to improperly registered, improperly licensed firearms, we’ve recovered 1600 firearms since March of last year, and we’ve laid no criminal charges in regards to those. We have not made criminals out of any of those people.” Getty added that “there’s much confusion in regards to the long gun registry because of the amnesty that keeps getting cycled through government.”

Fast forward to Sunday, when Toews returned to CTV to answer further questions regarding the registry. On Question Period, Craig Oliver began by reiterating how senior law enforcement were coming forward in support of the registry as “an important tool in the interests of law enforcement and the safety of policemen.” Oliver went on to say that the “Police Chiefs of Canada want this registry and their officers are telling us they are using it hundreds of times a day especially before they go into any domestic situation, and it only takes a few seconds to know whether there might be a firearm in that home.”

Toews disagreed, arguing he’d “never heard a police officer say they rely on the long gun firearms registry or any registry before they go into a house to determine…and are assured that there is not firearm in the house that would be careless of a police officer, I’ve never heard a police officer say that they would check the registry, if there’s no gun on the registry, they approach the house as if there was no firearm there. That would be careless. You approach every house as if there were a firearm. The registry does nothing to add to that.”

The issue of the long gun registry, and the opposing view of the Conservative government versus the leading members of law enforcement, is more than a difference of opinion; It’s about the safety of those who put their lives on the line, and security of the general public.

Police officers, the RCMP, EMS, firefighters, and other front line workers aren’t interested in the politics of the issue; they’re concerned about the possibility of losing a key resource which they rely on to effectively do their job. The Conservatives may claim to be the party of ‘law and order’, but the authority on the matter clearly lies with the actual law and order professionals.

It’s obvious the Tories have no interest in what front line officers have to say; that they are intent on killing the long gun registry at all costs. So it’s now up to the members of the opposition to pay attention to the RCMP and the Chiefs of Police, listen to their views on the effectiveness of the long gun registry, and pay them the respect they have earned.

Cross-posted at rabble.ca

Thinking Big, With Small Minds

On Saturday March 20, Calgary will take its turn to host a conference touted by the organizer as “the political event of 2010.”
The ‘Think Big Conference: Inspiring The Leaders Of Tomorrow‘ is presented by the Société Macdonald-Cartier Society (SMCS), an organization founded by Immanuel Giulea that describes itself as “non partisan and independent.” However, it turns out that Giulea is, in fact, an extremely partisan individual with strong Conservative ties.

Giulea is a product of the Young Conservatives, and is currently active in the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC). He attended the 2008 CPC convention in Winnipeg, happily posing for pictures with every high level Conservative at the event, as well as the 2009 CPC Training Conference held in Ottawa. These events are reserved for Conservatives only, are tightly guarded, and are not open to the public.

A quick look at Giulea’s Facebook profile provides some insight into his political motivations.

Among his ‘favourite quotes‘, Giulea lists the following:

-“Government is not a solution to our problem, government is the problem.” – Ronald Reagan
-“Government is not the doctor. It is the disease.”- Milton Friedman
-“A government is the most dangerous threat to man’s rights: it holds a legal monopoly on the use of physical force against legally disarmed victims.” – Ayn Rand

A snapshot of the Facebook groups Giulea belongs to reveals his ideology: The Conservative Party of Canada, The Tea Party Movement Of Canada, The Maple Tea Party, Fox News Canada, and Wildrose Alliance Party – Official Group.

This ‘non-partisan’ nature continues with the obligatory ‘Obama as a Joker‘ picture used by the Right Wingers in the United States.

Knowing these facts about the founder and executive director of the SMCS, it’s worth taking a closer look at the Think Big Conference Giulea is hosting.

The Calgary Beacon presents a very exciting look at the event in an article entitled ‘Big Thinkers Proposing Big Ideas At Saturday Conference‘. Here you’ll find a friendly summary of the two keynote (and very Conservative) speakers; Tom Flanagan, former chief of staff and long time advisor to Stephen Harper, and Dr. Roger Gibbins, the president of Canada West Foundation. (Take note that the author of this article, Calgary Beacon editor and publisher Markham Hislop, will be moderating the event.)

What the Beacon fails to describe are the additional speakers at this event who, upon closer examination, raise a few eyebrows:

-John Carpay, Executive Director – Canadian Constitution Foundation (CCF)
The CCF describes itself as “a registered charity, independent and non-partisan. We act as a voice for freedom in Canada’s courtrooms and law schools.” It also happens to be the group who represented Shona Holmes, the Ontario woman who starred in the Americans For Prosperity anti health reform ad in the United States. Holmes, it was later revealed, misrepresented her medical condition in order to fit the ideology of the anti health reform movement. The ad, filled with lies and falsehoods, succeeded to smear the Canadian health care system and inject fear into the American people. For the AFP, it was mission accomplished.

-Joseph K. Woodard, Founding Member and Director – Canada Family Action Coalition (CFAC)
The CFAC calls itself a ‘grassroots organization’, but in reality is a part of the Christian Coalition, an extension of the ultra Right Evangelical organization Focus On The Family. Among its board of directors is Charles McVety, the anti-choice, anti same sex marriage, anti evolution, host of Word.ca on CTS and The Miracle Channel.

The CFAC lists the following articles on its site:
-Sex Education a Danger – and a Failure
-Gardasil A Dangerous Poison
-Pedophile Promotion By Public Education System
-Human Rights Actions Dangerous — Even Illegal

-Joseph Quesnel, Policy Analyst - Frontier Centre for Public Policy (FCPP)
The FCPP is a right-wing think tank closely tied to ‘Friends of Science’, the Calgary based astroturf anti climate change group. The FCPP and Friends of Science collaborated in bringing the king of the deniers, Lord Christopher Monckton, to Canada for a cross country speaking tour.
A senior Fellow at the FCPP is Tim Bell, a long time scientific advisor to Friends of Science.

Among FCPP’s publications, are articles such as:
Denial Not Just For The Deniers
Wheels Fall Off Global Warming Hysteria
Climate Cools But Arctic Ice Scares Continue
The Mini Ice Age Starts Here

Other conservative contributors at the conference include Tory defector Rob Anderson, MLA for Airdrie-Chestermere - Wildrose Alliance, Marcel Latouche and President and CEO of The Institute For Public Sector Accountability, and Richard Truscott, Director of Provincial Affairs at the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).
One contributor who is definitively non partisan contributor is the very respectable Janet Keeping, President of the Sheldon Chumir Foundation for Ethics in Leadership.

In essence, the Think Big Conference is a gathering of anti-government, anti-environmentalism, anti-choice, homophobic Right Wing ideologues; a forum where they are free to push their agenda and twist information to fit their beliefs. It seems to me that the Think Big Conference is suited for small minds only.

Cross-posted at rabble.ca

Stephen Harper Takes Your Questions!

Pre-screened questions, pre-scripted answers, and a pre-taped interview. That, in essence, is as authentic as Stephen Harper gets.
The ‘much’ anticipated You Tube question and answer session with the Prime Minister was supposed to allow Harper to avoid the (alleged) filter of traditional media, so instead it was fed to Canadians through the filter of the PMO.

It also conveniently allowed Harper to avoid answering questions he didn’t pre approve, and rehearse answers to. Harper also didn’t have the inconvenience of follow up questions, in the event he failed to address the query put to him.

Instead, Harper opted for a cozy chair, in a secure environment, separated from the very Canadians who elected him.
Overly staged to the extreme, this event demonstrated the clear disdain Harper has for average Canadians.
Harper can’t be bothered to appear in person and field questions, face to face, from citizens…
How uncomfortable!
How inconvenient!
How dare Canadians expect such a thing from their Prime Minister?

The truth is, Canadians should not only expect, but DEMAND that the Prime Minister have enough courage to candidly face the citizens whom he serves; to answer any question, no matter how uncomfortable or inconvenient he might find it to be.

Harper assumed this responsibility when he became Prime Minister, and knows full well that it’s his duty to be accountable to Canadians; His continued refusal to do so solidifies the notion that he has overstayed his welcome as the Prime Minister of Canada.

Cross-posted at rabble.ca

Rahim Jaffer And The ‘Tough On Crime’ Facade

Former Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer, who was charged with cocaine possession and drunk driving on September 11, 2009, has just been given a sweetheart deal: plead guilty to carless driving and pay a $500 fine in exchange for dropping the drunk driving and cocaine possession charges, and escape with no criminal record.

I’m curious as to what 2008’s Rahim Jaffer would have to say about this incident. Back when he was still against drugs, he ran a shameful radio ad during the election campaign against his NDP opponent Linda Duncan (who ultimately won the election and unseated him):

“Jack Layton and the Ottawa NDP have publicly supported the legalization of marijuana. In fact when asked about marijuana Jack Layton called it a wonderful substance which Canadians should be free to smoke at home or in a cafe. Edmontonians understand how difficult it is to make sure our children make the right choices especially on serious issues like drug use. The Conservative Party supports drug free schools and getting tough with drug dealers who sell illegal drugs to children. Don’t let our schools go up in smoke..on October 14th vote Conservative. Authorized by the official agent for Rahim Jaffer.”

As for the federal Conservatives, they never pass on an opportunity to trumpet their ‘tough on crime’ agenda. Yet they remain largely silent on the Jaffer case, exposing their ‘tough on crime’ stance as nothing more than a catchy Tory campaign slogan.
For a political party who purports to be ‘tough on crime’, the Conservatives certainly had no qualms about killing 20 of their ‘tough on crime’ crime bills; 5 which died after Harper’s first prorogation in 2007, and 15 that were killed after Harper’s second prorogation in 2009.

However, Conservative talkers don’t let inconvenient facts get in the way of a good talking point, as evidenced by Harper’s former communications director Kory Teneycke on CTV’s Power Play, telling Tom Clark

“I think this is an opportunity to talk about the ‘Soft on Crime’ Liberal oriented justice system where there seems to be, kind of, two tiers of justice.”

Predictably, Teneycke stuck to the Conservative script even as his assertions were undercut by David Akin’s revelations earlier in the day in his blog post entitled “Jaffer Judge Is A Tory“. It turn out that the judge in Rahim Jaffer’s case is Doug Maunde; a Conservative who was appointed to the Ontario bench in 2000 by Harpers current finance minister, Jim Flaherty. Maunde was also the Chief of Staff to then Prime Minister Brian Mulroney’s health minister, Perrin Beatty.

Did Jaffer get off with a slap on the wrist as a result of political affiliation? I can’t say for certain, but on CBC’s The National, criminal defence lawyer Russel Silverstein notes that the break Jaffer got is NOT common, adding
“when the public sees somebody charged with drunk driving and possession of cocaine, who’s politically connected, come away with such a great outcome, obviously people are going to be skeptical”.

CTV reports that the Jaffer case has sparked outrage across the Country, and rightly so. There is no question that had Jaffer not been a well connected Conservative politician, he likely would have paid a steeper price for his actions. (Coincidentally, his wife Helena Guergis, who is also a Conservative politician and is the current minister of state for the status of women under Stephen Harper, also escaped without consequence after her notorious airport temper tantrum).

Rahim Jaffer’s case case underscores the truth in Senator James Cowan’s rebuttal to Justice Minister Rob Nicholson’s propaganda that appears regularly in the National Post.

Senator Cowan clarifies the Tories position perfectly: “Soft On Truth, Not Tough On Crime”

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UPDATE April 8 2010

The story behind Ex- MP Rahim Jaffer’s drunk driving arrest – Rahim Jaffer connected to conman