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Liberal asks opposition to stop levelling corruption allegations

[PoliticsWatch Updated 6:26 p.m. January 6, 2006]

Liberal strategist John Duffy appears on Politics Thursday. 

OTTAWA  — Liberal strategist John Duffy has adopted a new Liberal spin strategy.

On appearances on CTV Newsnet's Countdown and CBC Newsworld's Politics on Thursday, he asked spin doctors from the other parties to stop leveling corruption allegations against the Liberal party. 

Party members were found to have operated a kickback scheme in the Gomery inquiry's final report, the RCMP is looking at a $4.8 million grant to a Quebec unity group and a criminal investigation has been launched into a possible leak of an announcement on income trusts. 

Despite this, Duffy had this exchange with Conservative MP Jason Kenney on Politics Thursday. 

Duffy: "The drive-by smearings. Where do you stop the guilt by association? This was stuff that happened eight years ago. You're using advertising that shows allegations that were dismissed by Judge Gomery. When is the guilt by association, the smearing and the unfounded attacks going to stop with you guys?"

Kenney: "As soon as the criminal investigations stop."

Harper asked to retract rich photo op

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper got a lot of publicity this week after he had a photo op with a pile of money and an empty folder.

Harper was trying to make the point that the federal government recently spent $132,000 for a verbal report on public opinion and research.

But now the Indian Affairs Minister, Andy Scott, is asking for Harper to retract his comments. 

In a letter to Harper, Scott wrote: "Your photo op on Jan. 3 in Quebec City was misleading. You stood beside a briefcase that contained, allegedly, $132,000 and opened a file folder containing nothing that, you said, was what Canadians got in return for a contract let by my department

"You went on to suggest that the contract concerned public opinion research or public opinion polling. 

"These allegations are false. I hope you will do the honourable thing and retract them as well as remove or edit the offending news release that remains on the Conservative party's web site. 

The contract was awarded to Totem Hill, an Ottawa-based consulting firm. 

A search of Election Canada's donations database shows Totem Hill and its owner are not contributors to the Liberal Party, so you can rule out the Liberal insider angle.

The contract was for an oral presentation in order to protect the identities of staff members. 

According to the contract terms, the Indian Affairs department's audit and evaluation branch was "experiencing various forms of organizational conflict," and needed outside help. 

The contract called for Totem Hill to interview staff to find out the root causes of the conflict. 

"In the interests of maintaining the anonymity of interviewees, the presentations shall be oral with supporting material provided to aid comprehension, but not retained by the department," the contract explained. 

Scott went on to write: "The contract had nothing to do with public opinion research or polling. It was about personnel relations in the audit and evaluation branch of my department. Your misrepresentation of the matter will have a negative effect on the public service by discouraging public servants from seeking innovative solutions for fear of ending up as fodder in partisan politics. It is quite simply irresponsible."

It's the second time this week the Liberals have asked the Tories to make a retraction. (Not counting John Duffy's appearances on TV Thursday)

Earlier this week, Public Works Minister Scott Brison asked the party to pull an ad from television because it included a Globe and Mail front page with a headline linking "Martin Liberals" to wrongdoing in the sponsorship program. The headline and the story were based on testimony at the sponsorship inquiry that Justice John Gomery later dismissed as not credible.

Campaign Trail Birthday Greetings

NDP MP Peter Stoffer is among the most popular MPs on Parliament Hill and he has been voted by Hill staffers as throwing the best parties. 

So it was only fair that on Friday evening, Stoffer's campaign team held a surprise party for the MP, who is celebrating his 50th birthday. 

An invitation to Stoffer's Party asks guest to "help celebrate Peter's 50th (yes, 50th, and he really doesn't die his hair!) birthday.

Happy Big Five O, Peter. 

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