December 11, 2020
This is an open letter to the Minister of Canadian Heritage Steven Guilbeault, the Prime Minster of Canada Justin Trudeau, the Deputy Prime Minister of Canada Chrystia Freeland, and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) regarding the dangerous decision to pursue ‘branded content’, also known as ‘paid content’, ‘sponsored content’, and/or ‘advertorials’.
I’m a former CBC reporter who covered federal and provincial politics at CBC News and CBC.ca, as well as elections and economic segments for the Connect with Mark Kelley show. I will be forever indebted to them for providing my first shot at investigative journalism, before budgets were drastically cut to unsustainable levels that brought my craft to its knees. Over the years I’ve watched several intrepid reporters trying to come to terms with the effect of those cuts, as we found ourselves and the facts replaced by a stronger emphasis on editorial opinions. It’s true that fact-checking costs money and requires a strong cadre of producers with dynamic experience to support original content, but this death by a thousand cuts has finally hit rock bottom to the point that it will destroy the CBC.
I won’t waste everyone’s time banging the identical drum as www.stoppaidcontentoncbc.ca, though I do support every last word they’ve said. I believe I have a unique and legal angle to contribute that the Canadian government must thoughtfully consider. I believe it so deeply that I’m writing this despite recovering from eye surgery, because I became legally blind during the pandemic unexpectedly. I’m attempting to work through complete double vision as an artificial transplant begins to settle and this is my first experience with dictation software. The white computer screen is still overpowering and I won’t be healed until February, so please forgive any typos or grammatical errors. But let that sink in that I would accept these consequences to share my counsel with you before I’m truly able to be back on the scene.
The open letter signed by a growing number of past and present CBC staff soundly explains the problem with CBC Tandem from a journalist’s perspective regarding trust and reputation issues. It makes reference to fake news, leveraging the CBC’s reputation to benefit advertisers, and confusing the public by letting ads masquerade as articles that mimic the news. (1. original / archive)
Plenty has been written about the damage caused by advertorials, but in the era of digital revolution and disruptive innovation, most mainstream media executives care very little when tasked with finding a magic wand to resolve the logistics of collapsing revenue streams. The situation is so dire that it gives new meaning to the slur presstitute. Fear has chipped away at integrity enough that we can sell our souls to put food on the table, or deal with toxic workplaces for taking a stand in the name of truth and transparency. We were once paid for our integrity but now it’s becoming somewhat of a liability in the battle against fake news and profit margins. For context, it’s considered scandalous that so many CBC journos would speak out publicly against the Tandem project that it’s a news story in itself. (2. original / archive, 3. original / archive, 4. original / archive, 5. original / archive, 6. original / archive)
In any event, I made similar complaints in a Twitter thread that focused on selling the CBC’s reputation. I further condemned advertorials as blatant fake news because their entire purpose is meant to trick readers by hiding the fact that it is an ad behind the veneer of a news article. If advertorials weren’t meant to mislead anyone, then why do they to pretend to be something they’re not?
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I didn’t have much space to elaborate on my concerns about the conflict of interest element that was introduced by CBC Tandem and I will do so now, because it’s dangerous to the Government of Canada in countless ways that even threaten our democracy. CBC is a Crown corporation and despite arms-length firewalls, it is funded by the government and public tax dollars. For better or for worse it’s a representative of the government and when anything goes wrong, blame is directed toward the prime minister. The board that oversees the CBC is appointed by the Governor in Council as well. (7. original / archive)
That sets up a formal legal relationship between CBC and the Government of Canada, with appointees swearing an oath to the Crown. Despite everything we’ve done in our democratic landscape to insulate the CBC to achieve press freedom, the rest of the world still views it as a state broadcaster. In that vein we’ve also done everything possible to distance ourselves from other state broadcasters such as Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea that are captured by political masters.
Our love was never for sale, at least until the CBC Tandem division was created. Now anyone can purchase the CBC’s integrity and by extension, that of its journalists. But that still isn’t the biggest problem confronting the government as a result of this development. The dark corner I’m trying to illuminate is much more ‘insidious’ than anyone’s reputation.
As an investigative reporter I spend ninety percent of my time researching and only ten percent of it actually publishing. In the bulk of my work I’ve discovered severe issues that are threatening western democracies, disorienting the public, and skewing the development of public policy. It would be impossible for me to recount the number of times I’ve come across opinion editorials (OpEds) insufficiently referenced in government studies on any given issue. So long as someone can get their viewpoint printed in the news, it’s assumed to be factual as a footnote that nobody verifies from a mountain of consultative submissions the government merely itemizes in transcripts and final reports.
There is no label to distinguish OpEds from bona fide news in our research systems and much of the public can’t tell you the difference between a columnist and a reporter. Even if a politician understands, the public isn’t taught to be skeptical about these footnotes because telling voters to be wary of government decisions based on that very material would weaken faith in our democracy and the process by which we evaluate issues. With no intention of being partisan, I came to understand this during the Harper administration. What I’m about to say next is motivated only by experience and the time frame any cobwebs of naïveté were being swept away from my vision.
In all my investigations during Conservative rule, I kept stumbling on right-wing organizations that held campaigns and competitions to flood Canadian media with OpEds in support of their various causes. Some of them even paid activists if they could manage to get published, so a politician could cite the opinion and present it to a House of Commons or Senate committee with the same effect as something factual. This happened on multiple issues, including but not limited to Indigenous rights, pro-choice rights, gay rights, gun rights, and climate change. This tactic of inorganic manipulation was successful and responsible for repealing human rights that used to protect Canadians against hate speech. (8. original / archive)
Since I discovered that deficiency in 2014, I watched the practice become adopted by left-wing organizations that sought to fight fire with fire. It’s quickly becoming a standard practice for various groups to pre-write letters of complaint and OpEds that supporters only have to sign and click to send through an agency’s automated system. Fake news was already automated in Canada before the term was coined or widely understood. It also taints nearly every government report on ideological wedge issues.
In addition to grassroots being harnessed to deceive legislators on an industrial scale, we also have partisan think-tanks that have grown more audacious. They too are spreading false information through Canadian media that becomes cited as fact, to form the basis of public policy on matters so integral to government as income tax. (9. original / archive, 10. original / archive)
Advertorials must be outlawed by the CRTC as a matter of false advertising. We already have tools to deal with it because it’s an unabashed and purposely misleading product. Even if the message is true the medium is not, inverse of ‘the medium is the message’. Something that isn’t fact-checked news should not be made to appear as if it is.
No democracy can afford the steep cost of advertorials becoming the basis of public policy. We don’t even have the manipulation of OpEds under control and this practice of influence deception will explode if given another avenue. Corporate retailers aren’t the only advertising clients and to ignore the rest would be worse than foolish, regardless of which side you might find yourself on pertaining to any issue. This will remove the science from poli-sci and turn back time to govern by folklore. If you have trouble believing, then enquire with climate scientists who spent the last decade contending with this exactly. Instead of making progress on carbon emissions we ended up with a new generation of flat-earthers and Creationism being taught in public schools again.
On that basis then consider that foreign governments are advertisers too. The Digital Cold War is upon us and most developed countries have entire units that pursue influence campaigns throughout the military-intelligence complex. Years ago I might have hesitated to make that statement and contemplated a more moderate description, but Canada was compelled to set up a task force to monitor that threat during the last federal election and it played a role in undermining Brexit in the United Kingdom, as well as a past election in the United States. None of us has devised a perfect solution yet and advertorials are set to open the floodgates.
If that wasn’t enough to give you pause for thought, then weigh the CBC’s relationship with domestic political parties and triangulate it with the government. From experience I can tell you how hard it is to avoid accusations of political bias at a Crown corporation. An inordinate amount of social media vitriol is hurled at CBC journos by partisans of every stripe, because tax payers sense their ownership of Crown reporters and they’re emotionally driven to have their own views reflected by them. As the line between advertising and journalism blurs, it further complicates this sticky wicket by lowering the bar for professionalism and respect. Most of us have received the odd death threat, a few of us have actually been assaulted, and female reporters have heard everything that would turn your hair blue about their sexuality and sometimes their children. Allowing political parties and/or fronts for political parties to purchase CBC advertorials will exacerbate these symptoms and increase the fever pitch.
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Source: Michael DeAdder, Twitter
Advertorials present a tantalizing opportunity for dark money in politics, but even on the surface it creates a curious conflict of interest with registered partisan entities. Whether it’s the Liberals, Conservatives, NDP, Greens, or Bloc, they could theoretically skirt advertising limits by using operatives to place advertorials on their behalf. Elections Canada doesn’t have the resources to police clandestine party spending and it would technically be subsidized by the Government of Canada because it’s the government that funds the CBC. I will leave that part for legal scholars to hash out, but I know enough to be sure that it doesn’t pass a sniff test. At the very least no sitting government would wish to subsidize an opposition party’s partisan propaganda. I’m not sure the public would be fine with paying taxes so the CBC could publish counterfeit news articles on behalf of anti-vaxxers either.
In the best case scenario, CBC Tandem is inviting public controversy every time it has to make a decision to run an advertorial related to any issue. They’ll be hauled in front of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal if they decline pandemic hoax pieces, anti-abortion pieces, anti-Indigenous pieces, anti-Muslim pieces, anti-immigration pieces, anti-climate pieces, anti-science pieces, or any of the opponents on the pro side. One way or another, one of these clients would be in a position to at least claim discrimination, often related to a religious belief. A Charter challenge could also result regarding the freedom of expression and Canada lacks a full skeleton of precedents to clearly define what press freedom is. What we do have though is a handful of constitutional activist organizations that prowl for opportunities to file cases like these, in the longstanding effort to shape our legal rights in the direction of libertarian ideology. The way journalism dealt with this problem is ‘both-sidesing’ everything, but that option isn’t available in the purchased marketing scheme.
Advertorials have no business defining Canadian law and the Canadian identity, but that’s exactly what they’re poised to do irrespective of the media agency that initiates open season on our Constitution. It doesn’t seem wise for CBC to become that brand new battleground that is muddled between journalism and advertising, or to waste its lean budget on successive legal challenges. It already can’t afford to perform regular, substantive, investigative journalism anymore, because the type of work that I do is cost prohibitive when it requires a small team of lawyers to vet it. I’ve been sitting on a major data breach investigation because everyone is constrained by budgets and adopting advertorials is not the path to pay for it. On the contrary and due to being in everyone’s political crosshairs, it could be a way to eventually bankrupt the CBC. I’m curious if there was a risk analysis performed for the Tandem project and if these perils were appraised holistically.
It would do no good to implement an advertorial policy that blanket-banned issues advertising in favour of retail products only. That’s because products are related to lifestyles and lifestyles are related to social issues. Take for example the gun. The morning after pill. Religious books and courses. Bicycles. Oil stocks. Green energy products. Indigenous cigarettes. Kotex. Natural medicines. The list goes on. So is CBC prepared to be the site of protests when those items are politically weaponized? And do executives believe it will boost the credibility or safety of its journalists?
It remains to be seen what the ramifications of advertorials might be from another perspective still. Based solely on retail products, who bears the legal onus when a consumer is harmed by a dangerous item that was misrepresented by what appeared to be a CBC article to a 65-year-old audience member? If the CBC was to indemnify itself in advertorial contracts, would it also not be jeopardizing the collective reputation of all reporters? After all,
It’s also CBC staff that would write or collaborate on the counterfeit article, with final approval that lacked legal fact-checking to verify the claims made by a Crown corporation on behalf of its private ad clients. In essence that further implies government confidence in the client, even if tacit to a layperson. It creates stark inequality between company divisions as well, despite products that appear to be identical as articles except for a miniature sticker that says ‘branded content’ in a diminished corner. For that matter the term ‘branded content’ is deceptive and it’s meant to soothe the reader’s skepticism by avoiding words like ‘paid’ and ‘advertisement’.
This is a concept that hasn’t been legally tested and I was all for CBC setting journalistic standards, until this development posed a risky gamble to everyone who is still working there. If something looks too good to be true it usually is, and trying to take this easy way out of a funding shortfall is a catastrophe waiting to happen. There are no easy answers to the ripple effects of COVID-19, just as there are no simple steps to combat disruptive innovation in a digital revolution. These are both once-in-a-lifetime challenges that no echo chamber in a boardroom can solve by putting lipstick on a pig. I applaud CBC for its general open-mindedness but respectfully and with great concern, this Tandem advertorial venture needs to be put on ice.
I stress this is not a problem unique to the CBC and while they must cancel this project to maintain their own house, the government and/or CRTC must also act swiftly to prohibit the use of advertorials by any media organization in Canada. It must be a level playing field and one that is based on principles of the Fourth Estate, instead of a product that by its definition is masquerading as something it’s not. To put it plainly, advertorials are promoted and sold as counterfeit news articles, when the real news is in the fight of its life to save its own reputation and viability. Talk about inviting a ‘FOX’ into a henhouse.
May my letter greet you well and please don’t take it personally. This is just so important that it needed to be addressed frankly, as the implications of ignoring these impacts could cause irreparable harm on a grand scale. The startling and vast majority of Facebook users already can’t tell the difference between journalism and fake news. Neither can students. At the end of the day we need everyone to comprehend the facts to develop sound public policy, more than anyone needs a shot at quick money to make the business of journalism an easier ride. If we value our democracy we will have to commit to defending it with tax dollars to fund the CBC away from temptation and the advertorial mirage. (12. original / archive, 13. original / archive, 14. original / archive, 15. original / archive)
In closing, I kindly leave you with a sample of public sentiments to assist with your deliberations.
Yours very truly,
May 7, 2020
Part of the challenge in finding a cure for the COVID-19 pandemic is determining the original source of infection. The majority of scientists are convinced it came from bats, but they don’t yet know how it transmitted to humans. Others suggest it was caused by accidental release from a research lab, while war hawks propose theories that relate to a bioweapon. But the best answer to complex mysteries is often simple and Free The Press Canada has determined the likely culprit.
The solution for this missing link is so unassuming that it was under everyone’s nose all along. The records have existed since the 1700’s and this bat-to-human conduit is cited as the legal basis for the American Empire. It’s the original cause of blackbirding (kidnapping) and Chinese slavery, Indigenous slavery, as well as Black slavery, in case anyone didn’t grasp the meaning of that famous Beatles song. It solidified Peru’s existence and reshaped entire countries in South America. It poured the foundation for British and European wealth. It won and lost wars as a prime ingredient to make gunpowder. Its Indigenous name appears in an early American law and it traces all the way back to 5,000 years ago, as a resource worshipped by the Incas. (1. original / archive, 2. original / archive, 3. original / archive, 4. original / archive, 5. original / archive, 6. original / archive, 7. original / archive, 8. original / archive, 9. original / archive, 10. original / archive, 11. original / archive, 12. original / archive, 13. original – PDF)
Today this product is exported by Africa and Asia and it can fetch as much as $350USD per ton, or $2,400USD every three hours with a very small crew of labourers. The organic food revolution, hydroponic agriculture, and the legalization of marijuana have made it so popular again that western grandmothers are trying to produce their own. The colloquial phrase ‘bat-sh*t-crazy’ may even be derived from this common carrier of several coronavirus types. So what could be in everyone’s garden shed that has the potential to elevate or wipe out the human race, depending on the quality of each batch? (14. original / archive, 15. original / archive, 16. original / archive)
Bat Guano – The Garden Saviour
Bat guano is the feces of this hideous looking creature that makes a cameo appearance each year at Halloween. It’s long been known as the best crop fertilizer on earth, at half the cost of chemical competitors and usually with no negative side effects. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry that comes with organic certification and it gained special prominence with cannabis producers, as well as moms and dads with tabletop hydroponic kits. (17. original / archive, 18. original / archive, 19. original / archive)
The high concentrations of carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, sulfur, and potassium are so effective that bat guano can rehabilitate soil and reduce the need for crop rotation in large agricultural operations. It is Mother Nature’s wonder drug and can be used in the pharmaceutical setting to grow the ingredients used in medicines that are increasingly sourced in China. That’s not to suggest guano residues could appear in medications, but the workers who handle raw materials at the beginning of the supply chain may certainly come in contact with it. (20. original / archive, 21. original / archive)
The versatility of guano is far greater than industrial grow-ops and it can be found just as easily at community gardens and retirement villas. Across the world in Portland, Oregon a seniors residence is getting into the guano business to support the retiree neighbourhood, in addition to a farmers market and popular local restaurant. Plants as delicate as lettuce are treated with the natural fertilizer and it’s reported to sweeten the taste of produce as an added benefit. (22. original / archive, 23. original / archive, 24. original / archive)
Bat guano is also easy to purchase, if you’re not down with keeping them as pets to generate a self-sustaining and free supply. It can be found through Walmart, Amazon, Alibaba, or any hydroponic store. It comes in dry and wet ‘tea’ slurries that are pre-mixed to make using it rather simple. This wonder-dust is so spectacular that it can allegedly grow pumpkins the size of Smart cars. It’s possible there may be off-label uses in the beauty market as well. (25. original / archive, 26. original / archive, 27. original / archive, 28. original / archive, 29. original / archive, 30. original / archive)
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Needless to say there’s an obvious means of transmission between bats and humans that strikes at the heart of the global food chain and every nation’s ports of entry. It’s further been discovered that coronavirus and COVID-19 can be spread to humans through fecal matter. (31. original / archive)
Bat Guano – The Agent Of Death
Unbeknownst to the vast majority of home gardeners and organic farms, bat guano was confirmed by the Canadian government to be contaminated with the Ebola virus in years prior. (32. original / archive)
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Bats are also an established carrier of several coronavirus types, according to the Wuhan lab researcher who is central to the current pandemic. A single cave can produce numerous samples of various strains, meaning they’re a plausible breeding ground for mutations as bats interact with each other and the natural environment. (33. original / archive)
Through the guano specifically, bats can infect humans with histoplasmosis and it has much in common with the symptoms of COVID-19. Although the former is bacterial and the latter is viral, complications can result in death for young children, seniors, and immuno-compromised patients in both examples. (34. original / archive, 35. original – PDF)
Research on the coronavirus family appears to be limited to the bats directly, or humans directly, but little is known about the bridge between them. At least that’s what the mainstream media and governments generally report. But bat guano serves as that very connection and Canada highlighted its ability to vector an even deadlier virus, many years before the appearance of COVID-19.
Despite the sparse availability of public data, relevant studies have been conducted involving bat guano since 2006. The World Health Organization (WHO) participated in that early sequencing more than a decade ago. It was determined that bat guano carries the family of coronaviruses in a study arising from the guano caves (mines) in Thailand. Deeper investigation of that yearlong data appears to indicate that positive samples follow a cyclical pattern that coincides with spring and fall flu seasons as well. The guano seems to test negative during the summer and winter months and this phenomenon may need to be considered in future research endeavours to achieve an unbiased interpretation. (36. original / archive)
Another study was conducted by scientists in Myanmar from May 2016 to August 2018. Testing was done by the University of California – Davis that produced results consistent with Thailand. They confirmed coronavirus pathogens in bat guano including new strains that hadn’t been discovered prior, as well as seasonal fluctuations. They also identified that guano samples produce a much higher rate of infection than oral and rectal swabs taken from bats. (37. original / archive)
Islands in the Western Indian Ocean were studied from 2014 to 2015, but the researchers failed to sample guano and only tested the bats. Even lacking that crucial context, several types of coronavirus were detected that share a relationship to COV strains in Africa. Unfortunately the authors pursued their study with a mistaken hypothesis that an intermediary host is required to affect humans, so they were left with questions about transmission pathways. Due to that regrettable bias, they overlooked the role of bat guano in the spread between different regions. (38. original / archive)
The Smoking Gun
Free The Press Canada did its own research to assess the prevalence of bat guano testing on Google Scholar. It was there that a noteworthy result appeared, amounting to a smoking gun. (39. original / archive)
In October 2018, genomic researchers completed the sequence for a bat guano miner who tested positive for a coronavirus in Thailand. Coincidentally, he worked in the same region referenced earlier in a separate study assisted by the World Health Organization, from 2006/2007. (40. original / archive, 41. original / archive, 42. original – PDF)
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The results indicate that a bat guano miner in Thailand carried the same strain of coronavirus (99 percent match) as samples that were tested from Hong Kong in 2006. It came from the same group of pathogens (with a common ancestor) as samples arising from China and the United States in 2016 as well.
It’s unlikely that either superpower is responsible for infecting a bat cave in Thailand, where several coronavirus types are naturally occurring. The alternative is American and Chinese growers may have purchased guano fertilizer that originated from a Thai source. In any event what this demonstrates is an intercontinental transmission pathway that was indirectly established over a period of twelve years, specifically related to a guano mine.
Free The Press Canada stresses that this data via Thailand doesn’t pinpoint the exact origin of the current COVID-19 pandemic. It doesn’t make any individual country responsible for the spread of coronaviruses. Guano mining occurs on every continent except Antarctica and every country may contribute to infection rates by failing to regulate this product as a hazardous substance. Every country that has bats also has a wide array of coronaviruses lurking within them. Therefore comprehensive study of bat guano in its wet and dry forms is immediately required and it may assist scientists to address COVID-19 from this perspective. (43. original / archive)
Origin of the Spanish Flu remains a mystery akin to the way COVID-19 developed. Researchers may wish to revisit those theories with the guano aspect in mind, because during that era it was the primary ingredient in gunpowder and explosives. It may explain the peculiar onset of cases geographically. (44. original / archive, 45. original / archive)
Successive years of ‘cutting red tape’ to appease the stock market and business class has led us to this place. Regulations might require commitment to one’s product, but they were not designed to be the enemy. Instead they’ve been developed to safeguard human health and avert the insurmountable cost of failing to do so.
The freedom gained by corporations to ignore those responsibilities has resulted in the entire world’s lockdown and loss of the most basic collective freedoms required to beat the COVID-19 pandemic. There is no reason why a Q4 profit margin should result in the loss of visiting family, ability to celebrate birthdays and weddings, or permission to walk out the front door. Imprisoning the working class is not sustainable to generate dividends and every taxpayer is on the hook to pay for this debacle over the next entire decade. That behaviour represents an untenable proposition for business to outsource its overhead to every citizen on the planet.
In the case of bat guano, the few rules that do exist are woefully insufficient and incongruent from one region to another. For example, Canada dragged its feet with respect to classifying guano as a fertilizer so it didn’t fall within any regulatory category whatsoever. The United States has a conflict between which agency oversees the product and each state compounds the problem with different rules or lack thereof, depending on various governors. Certainly no country around the globe is testing guano for coronavirus as a condition of import, export, and public sale. (46. original / archive, 47. original / archive, 48. original / archive)
Bat guano remains a superior fertilizer that is also appropriate for organically certified agriculture. It’s safe in the vast majority of cases, but it only takes one bad batch, one bad season, or one susceptible cave to result in a pandemic. Strict testing and parameters must be implemented to protect this valuable resource, guano mining labourers, and the public. Strict guidelines need to be established for home gardeners who plan to experiment with backyard production and strict enforcement surrounding guano must be genuinely contemplated.
Furthermore, the effects of climate change are now severe enough to impact human health. A warming planet is predicted to affect the emergence of viruses, mutations, and intensity of contagious outbreaks. Bat caves are environmentally sensitive and given the detrimental consequences to the global economy under quarantine, it doesn’t seem wise to ignore the guano they produce when it’s a common additive to the food supply. (49. original / archive)
How Was Guano Overlooked?
International media is in a state of disrepair since the disruption of digital technology. In Canada the regular ‘beats’ were axed in a process of austerity and downsizing. Remaining reporters are now expected to cover any topic that arises while lacking the expertise to tackle complex subjects, especially related to science. The industry is fighting for its life as artificial intelligence (AI) is introduced to automate articles based on business data and algorithms. It’s removing humans from the equation who were able to evaluate context, history, demeanour, insincerity, conflicts of interest, and most importantly, fact-checking. (50. original / archive)
(Full disclosure: I was forced out of mainstream media because investigative journalism is quite expensive and it was the first ilk to be cut. That’s why I started Free The Press Canada, because you can take the reporter out of the newsroom but you can’t take the inquiring mind out of any journo worth their salt.)
The Fourth Estate is what informs governments in any democracy, while holding lawmakers to account. That this bat guano information was always available is proof that something went awry in the absence of subject matter experts to edit, assign, and report.
In North America there’s an extreme problem with media ownership too. No matter what anyone says, the free press has been muzzled by the billionaire class and this guano issue punctuates that unfortunate reality.
Pertaining to the Thai cave that tested positive for coronaviruses at various intervals from 2006 to 2018, there was one report from China and another from a multinational agency that is headquartered in Canada.
The South China Morning Post explained that despite the abundance of bat viruses, if they could make the leap to humans then we would already be extinct. The article emphasized the importance of bat meat to certain cultures and the value of guano to agriculture. It downplayed the rate of COVID-19 infections in Thailand and completely omitted that one of the cave’s miners contracted the coronavirus. It even disinformed readers by suggesting the guano is safe and that humans can only be infected through contact with bat saliva or urine. The erroneous article was then syndicated by Bloomberg in the United States. (51. original / archive)
In Canada, Reuters followed suit with an article about the same Thai cave a few weeks later. It produced a false title that claimed there was only a possible link between bat guano and human infection. Through that statement the editor denied evidence of the miner who contracted the coronavirus that was thoroughly studied. Reuters effectively denied the entire genomic sequence that was conducted on that person. (52. original / archive)
The body of the article goes on to describe the importance of bat guano to the agriculture industry. It implies that keeping the cave ‘clean’ protects miners from catching the coronavirus, at the same time discouraging belief that the guano could carry these pathogens. It further proposes the debunked hypothesis that coronaviruses require an intermediary to jump from bats to another host before the ability to infect humans. An interview with a miner (who’s in an absolute conflict of interest) reinforces this disinformation by claiming no one from the Thai caves has ever become ill from these bat-borne diseases. They assert the coronavirus didn’t originate there, despite undeniable proof in scientific journals that records several strains in that bat cave over a number of years.
No competing press agencies reported on the topic and neither of these entries was ever challenged in the headlines.
To understand how this could happen, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland used to work for Reuters as a managing director. Free The Press Canada is not in any way alleging collusion, but the Canadian government chose a sympathetic stance that is disinclined to point fingers. Reuters is also more than a media empire. It owns Thomson Financial, Thomson Legal & Regulatory, Thomson Reference, Scientific & Healthcare, as well as Thomson Learning. Under any of these banners, billionaire David Thomson could be looking to governments for various contracts and is therefore in a conflict of interest between serving the public and his personal wealth accumulation. (53. original / archive, 54. original / archive)
The bulk of competing newspapers in Canada are managed by Postmedia. This company is owned by American hedge funds, with a controlling interest that is deeply connected to David Pecker. Mr. Pecker is the same person who shielded President Trump in the Stormy Daniels scandal at the National Enquirer and his immunity deal with the Department of Justice may be in jeopardy over what Jeff Bezos claims is extortion. This is due to Pecker’s company acquiring his private text messages and an alleged threat for Bezos to stop investigating Trump or face the embarrassment of his intimate photos being published. Two prominent journalists also claimed to receive blackmail threats in a campaign to end their reporting about Trump, Pecker, Daniels, and the National Enquirer. (55. original / archive, 56. original / archive)
Concentrated and foreign media ownership is not supposed to be permitted in Canada, but for unknown reasons the Competition Bureau has refused to intervene throughout the tenure of both Conservative and Liberal governments. (57. original / archive)
On the stateside, fellow billionaire Jeff Bezos is owner of The Washington Post. He’s also the owner of Amazon, that has entered the media business to compete with Netflix while providing a marketplace for sellers to peddle their bat guano. If all of this wasn’t confusing enough, Bezos is friends with Michael Bloomberg, who is the owner of Bloomberg News. Bezos is the person who encouraged Bloomberg to run for president as a Democrat, in the effort to dethrone the Republican incumbent, Donald Trump. (58. original / archive)
Meanwhile in Asia, billionaire Jack Ma owns the South China Morning Post. He’s also the owner of Alibaba, that provides a marketplace for sellers to peddle their bat guano, in the identical manner as Jeff Bezos. Both men receive a cut for every bag of the natural fertilizer that passes through their platforms and could potentially carry the coronavirus around the entire world. Don’t forget that Ma further syndicates his articles through Bloomberg. (59. original / archive)
Canadian and American media are hopelessly compromised by partisan warfare, whether Liberal or Conservative, Democrat or Republican. Chinese media is directly controlled by the Communist government. Each of these factions has a financial interest in the success of bat guano and matters of food security. But none of the billionaires appear to have an interest in the survival of average citizens in relation to a pandemic. Instead the press keeps bantering about herd immunity that would cleave the weakest demographics from the global population.
October 17, 2019
With so many dirty tricks at play in this federal election, voters are bewildered and confused about what is true, what is false, and how to find their way through this modern campaign dystopia to cast a ballot with any confidence. Anyone could become overwhelmed if they sifted through the material for fact checking, because parties have been dishonest, candidates have amplified a constant onslaught of disinformation, and the corporate media has availed itself to advancing partisan interests instead of journalizing these events without bias. The Canadian public is fed-up and pushed to the brink of distrust due to these dubious behaviours and their complaints have fallen of deaf ears, because the press corps is also downplaying these concerns with a cut-and-paste response that ‘it’s not state-level interference‘.
But Free The Press Canada couldn’t accept these blind-faith excuses and embarked on an investigation to illuminate the power structures behind the corrosive forces that are undermining the electorate’s belief in our democratic institutions. This is a global problem for Western democracies and Canada would be naive to think it was insulated from the rise of autocratic populism, or the many dangerous tactics it uses to taint elections, that are frequently connected to foreign interference.
This research began with a theory that it was possible for bad actors to sabotage Canadian voters. What we didn’t expect to find was that an infamous Republican operative, already indicted in the United States, has his fingerprints all over the current debauchery in Canada. We’re now at a point that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has to wear a bullet-proof vest to give campaign speeches and this is not indicative of the Canada we’ve ever known. The public is becoming distressed that our collective identity morphed into a violent alter ego, but Free The Press Canada will show how this perception was manufactured by the same populist kingpin that helped install Donald Trump in the White House.
The Buffalo Chronicle
Much ado has been made about the Buffalo Chronicle and its barrage of inflammatory articles that have directly impacted this Canadian election. Buffalo is located in Western New York and the website is run by a fellow named Matthew Ricchiazzi. The Canadian media has attempted to warn voters that it’s a source of fake news and to stop sharing Ricchiazzi’s propaganda on social media, because every time he releases a new hit-piece it spreads through Facebook and Twitter like wildfire (original / archive).
His work has been described as partially true, mostly false, and usually predicated on the mainstream news by lifting snippets that were already published by reputable journalists. He stands accused of contorting facts with a wild partisan imagination, that’s regularly aimed at destroying the Liberal Party of Canada. But Ricchiazzi has also been minimized by Canadian political operatives as ‘just one guy‘ to whom our libel laws wouldn’t apply as an outspoken American reporter (original / archive).
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Even the chief political correspondent for Global News diminished the Buffalo Chronicle as something that wasn’t real, adding sentiments like there was ‘nothing to see here‘ as another one of those big ole nothingburgers.
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Others with significant political agendas retort that it doesn’t matter if the content is only 10 percent true, because the Buffalo Chronicle serves their purpose to torpedo the current government. It appears that hatred for the Liberals by vengeant Conservative actors is a good enough reason to throw Canada’s legal and ethical standards out with the proverbial bathwater.
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At this rate the majority of Canadians would believe that the Buffalo Chronicle wasn’t a big deal, or a threat to the electoral process. The journalists who attack Ricchiazzi’s credibility also make the mistake of diminishing his character as little more than a failed municipal wannabe, with some kind of axe to grind that no one’s been able to identify (original / archive).
The most capable coverage to date has come from Adrienne Arsenault at CBC News, in a segment that scoured Western New York for Matthew Ricchiazzi to question him about the Buffalo Chronicle in person. Unfortunately the entire program wasn’t included in the website article and it ended without an interview due to Ricchiazzi’s unreasonable demands to portray him. Instead the piece was filled with comments from a Buffalo lawyer, Alan Bedenko, who claimed he wasn’t aware of Ricchiazzi’s motivation to produce the controversial content despite knowing him. At the very least, Arsenault was able to confirm that the business address for the Buffalo Chronicle doesn’t exist (original only, as CBC prevents its site from being archived).
Matthew Ricchiazzi is consistently described as a one-man operation with the odd beef against Canada. Journalists on both sides of the border failed their due diligence and framed him as a lone wolf that no one should waste their time on, dispatching the advice that ignoring him is the best course of action (save and except CBC News).
They were, however, wrong… deeply wrong. All the checks and balances that Canadians believed would protect them have abdicated that responsibility, one after the other. Elections Canada doesn’t have the same investigative powers as the RCMP and the federal police can only be activated by complaints after a crime has been committed. They’re not in the business of resolving the administration of elections before anyone has voted and they shouldn’t police journalists as a regular function. The government attempted to establish an election integrity panel, but even that is staffed by five bureaucrats who arguably present a challenging conflict of interest. Notwithstanding everyone’s good intentions, it’s just not possible for five people to police the entire internet and country for evidence foreign interference (original only).
This is where the network breaks down, because every branch of the democratic system relies on the media to inform its institutions. In a previous investigation, Free The Press Canada reported several failures of the domestic press and blatant signs of partisan meddling that arose from the blackface scandal in Time magazine (original / archive). So if the Canadian media is fraught with ethical breaches that are void of due diligence, how can it be the body to educate Canada’s legal and bureaucratic audience?
Who Is Matt Ricchiazzi, Really?
Depending who you speak with or what day of the week you inquire, Matthew Ricchiazzi is a man of many faces, even unto himself. During election cycles whether Canadian or American, he’s the ‘publisher’ of the Buffalo Chronicle. When the scrutiny is less intense he becomes a journalist at the same outfit, but his LinkedIn profile neglects to mention either of these endeavours.
Ricchiazzi is a graduate of Cornell University; the same establishment that produced Anna Kambhumpaty and the audaciously misrepresented exposé about the Canadian prime minister in Time magazine (original / archive). Mr. Ricchiazzi appears to have earned a Master of Business Administration (MBA) and on one occasion he claims to hold a degree in architecture. But his LinkedIn account disputes the second assertion and corrects this casual misrepresentation to a Bachelor of Science in Urban and Regional Planning. Although the two disciplines are semi-related, a planner isn’t qualified to be an architect and an architect couldn’t double as a planner (original / archive). There doesn’t seem to be a good reason for embellishing Ricchiazzi’s skill set, because he is thoroughly qualified in his field(s) without the need to lie about the ilk of his education.
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Source: LinkedIn (original only)
It seems as though Matthew Ricchiazzi is also struggling with his identity, because on some occasions he’s a proud Italian American and on others he claims affiliation with the Cayuga Nation, the Seneca Nation, and the Mohawk Nation further north in Canada.
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Source: WNY Media & Wayback Machine (archive only)
Ricchiazzi claims to have been employed by the Seneca Nation and involved with the tribe’s gaming business, but when an incident occurred at that casino involving a Republican senator, Seneca officials denied knowing Ricchiazzi. It was described as a dizzying affair because Ricchiazzi worked on the senator’s campaign to get him elected and he is a registered Republican, but when this opportunity presented itself Ricchiazzi attempted to extort the senator according to the local news.
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Source: LinkedIn (original only)
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At first Ricchiazzi fabricated an allegation that Senator Grisanti uttered a racial epithet against the Seneca Nation, but he followed up in personal messages with the same senator by encouraging him to sue the Seneca casino for perpetrating an assault on the Republican and his family (original / archive). The details about this sordid affair are messy, but one fact that shines through is that Ricchiazzi was playing both sides against each other for his personal financial benefit.
This brash young man had attempted to secure payment of $20,000 USD per month, to defend the senator against his own allegations that weren’t supported by Seneca tribal officials. He defended the alleged extortion by explaining the fee was the going rate for his expertise in public relations and reputation management. (original / archive). In any event, no criminal charges were laid because this incident resulted in bad press for both the casino and the government, with neither party wishing to escalate the mysterious confrontation that placed Ricchiazzi at the centre of this chaos (1. original / archive, 2. original / archive, 3. video).
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Ricchiazzi’s exploitative approach toward the Seneca Nation didn’t stop after the casino altercation. He also claimed to be employed by the tribe’s construction division and took credit for slashing their operating budget while installing a new chief executive.
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Source: LinkedIn (original only)
Meanwhile this illusive grifter published in the Buffalo Chronicle to register his disapproval with the Seneca Nation for investing in a grand construction project involving the casino property. He attributes this viewpoint to an anonymous ‘local developer’ who happens to own commercial property nearby (original / archive). As Free The Press Canada continues to reveal these details, the source speaking through Ricchiazzi should become apparent. But this story constitutes the first mention of a billionaire from Manhattan, as this investigation begins to migrate toward President Trump’s domain and due north toward Canada. At this juncture, Ricchiazzi shows his hand by taking his complaint to Twitter and lobbying the Mayor of Niagara Falls, NY against his former purported Indigenous employer (original / archive).
Regarding politics and identity, Matthew Ricchiazzi wasn’t raised on an Indigenous reserve. He grew up in Buffalo, NY and he emphasizes that urban history without mentioning a word about his ethnic heritage during a long-shot bid for the mayor’s office (original / archive). He was disqualified from running due to issues with his residency and the failure to vote over an extended period. Ricchiazzi was noted as switching his political affiliation from Democrat to Republican at the time Barack Obama was running for president (original / archive).
Buzzfeed News is another source that took issue with Ricchiazzi’s inconsistent behaviour, but it also downplayed his rants in the Buffalo Chronicle as a localized anti-gay matter between a disgruntled municipal agitator and a Republican senator. (original / archive). Ricchiazzi produced an excessively homophobic mailer as a threat to Grisanti because the latter changed his stance at the last minute and voted in favour of gay marriage. The young operative saw this as a clarion call to save the Republican Party from itself (original / archive). This dust-up produced enough controversy to catch the attention of senior writers at Politico as well (original / archive).
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Despite this outward appearance of breaking ranks with Senator Grisanti over the gay marriage issue, Matthew Ricchiazzi continued to support the Republican and subsequently came out as a bi-sexual. It’s hard to imagine what would cause Ricchiazzi to attack LGBTQ2 equality if he requires this acceptance to reconcile his own identity (original / archive).
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Ricchiazzi’s Leap To Canada
By June 2018, Matthew Ricchiazzi began to take aim at Canada. He joined forces with the Tea Party faction within the GOP, encouraging President Trump to block ratification of the USMCA trade deal. Ricchiazzi argued that Mexicans are corrupt and therefore they don’t deserve access to the American market. He theorizes that Canada has been financially successful and therefore Americans deserve a piece of our domestic banking industry. He further divines that withholding the trade deal from Canada until we bow to these banking provisions will result in flipping key border states to support the Republican Party. Ricchiazzi asserts that forcing Canada into full integration with the U.S. financial industry will secure Republican control of the senate for at least the next decade (original / archive).
Then in January 2019, Ricchiazzi resumed pressure on the Canadian government. This time he falsified information regarding Senator Chuck Schumer, pretending to have access to the Democrat Senate Minority Leader, as a Tea Party operative that uses the Buffalo Chronicle to advance alt-right causes. He didn’t see the irony in claiming to represent Indigenous voices with a faction that harbours significant racism and has historically opposed the rights of Indigenous peoples. But off he went, trying to sell propaganda that the Democrats were planning to block ratification of the USMCA if it didn’t include language to identify Indigenous trade as protected and separate from the negotiations with Canada (original / archive).
Ricchiazzi then tweeted this false flag warning to Prime Minster Justin Trudeau, Global Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, First Nations in British Columbia, and a handful of mainstream media outlets (original / archive). Of note, he did not think to include the AFN or Indigenous Affairs ministers, indicating he doesn’t know the difference between treaties and unceded territorial claims. Furthermore, National Chief Perry Bellegarde was consulted on the USMCA and he approved of this trade deal as the most inclusive agreement for Indigenous peoples in First Nations’ history. Bellegarde penned his own statement in Macleans magazine that incidentally refutes Ricchiazzi’s Tea Party declaration, before the Buffalo Chronicle plotted to exploit Indigenous tribes across all of North America. If Ricchiazzi truly cared about their interests, he would have sought their input before attempting to (mis)represent them (original / archive).
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But Matthew Ricchiazzi is an unrelenting individual and the next development will help to define his disposition as well as agenda. In June 2019, he followed up with a divisive entry about the Mohawk Nation in Ohsweken, Ontario. The Six Nations of the Grand River are part of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy (people of the longhouse, Iroquois, Mohawk, Seneca, Cayuga, Oneida, Onondaga, Tuscarora) and they have a Six Nations Elected Council (SNEC, band council) that liaises with the hereditary chiefs of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council (HCCC), to govern this Indigenous reserve. This arrangement blends the past way through birthright (tribal) with the new way through democracy (colonial), but due to the elected council’s power to manage band finances, this relationship is sometimes delicate to manage. To both parties’ credit, they are in the habit of consulting and negotiating through tribal sticking points.
The Buffalo Chronicle sought to inflame that relationship by exacerbating the tension and asserting the elected council is a criminal entity. It accuses the elected leadership and administrative managers of defrauding the people out of 90 percent of the territory they’re owed. It says that compensation is worth billions of dollars and mismanagement has resulted in no reliable supply of clean drinking water (original / archive).
Ricchiazzi goes on to inform readers the government is supposed to compensate both the hereditary chiefs and the elected council for development projects like the Niagara Region hydro corridor. This infrastructure project is in the process of being upgraded to deliver more power from Niagara Falls to Toronto. But the Buffalo Chronicle mixes part truth with an incredible fabrication, that the band council agreed to pay $13 million in exchange for a 25 percent stake in the transmission line, meaning the people were fleeced by their negotiator. Ricchiazzi makes a point of noting that Matt Jamieson was in charge of the deal and claims he didn’t have the authority to decide on behalf of the Haudenosaunee. The article mentions his father, Ron Jamieson, who was a Bank of Montreal executive that created Aboriginal banking. The Buffalo Chronicle then deduces the son is in a conflict of interest to represent the Mohawk Nation, in its explanation of this fraud allegation (original / archive).
Free The Press Canada warns readers these details are central to foreign interference in the current federal election. This is not reported for semantic reasons and we are trying to be respectful of Indigenous peoples as we navigate these important details. The information provided in this section is key to resolving the purpose of dubious foreign actors.
Continuing, the Buffalo Chronicle combines this complaint with the report of a protest initiated by the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council to terminate the Six Nations Elected Council permanently, due to the reassertion of hereditary rights over an elected democracy. Ricchiazzi characterizes the standoff as the next Standing Rock and floats that protesters will continue to flood the reserve all summer long, in an election year (referring to the federal government). The entire portrayal is predicated on that hydro issue (original / archive).
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A Google reverse image search located the original photo that was used by Ricchiazzi to tell his story. The TorStar chain covered that protest, but it was actually about the Indigenous Rights Framework and the hereditary chiefs’ demand that elected council reject the proposed legislation (original / archive).
The truth of the matter is that both sides met to negotiate on the fourth day of protest and there was evidence of misinformation among the hereditary chiefs because the elected council had already rejected the government’s proposed framework. They were on the same side of this issue.
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When that situation didn’t produce the next Standing Rock, Ricchiazzi followed up with another article the next month. This time the Buffalo Chronicle claimed a court injunction sought by Hydro One had sparked unrest at the same reserve. It also offered more defined allegations of fraud against the band’s economic development manager, Matt Jamieson, by adding illegal cannabis to the mix (original / archive).
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The claims portrayed by Ricchiazzi on behalf of the hereditary chiefs were even more fantastical in the second example. He wrongfully asserts, based on the misinterpretation of his purported Cayuga heritage, that American Indians and their companies can’t be sued or prosecuted for crimes by the colonial government, because they are sovereign kings of their own nations. He portrays tribes on the Canadian side of the border as lacking this diplomatic immunity that is inherent, in his mind, to all Indigenous peoples in North America.
The next bit of propaganda requires more untangling, as Ricchiazzi characterizes the injunction sought by Hydro One as a criminal pursuit against the Iroquois people and attempt to steal their land, by the power company and Ontario government. He encourages the hereditary chiefs to commence roadway blockades and frames the elected band council as Indian agents of the federal government (original / archive).
In a leap of curious logic, Ricchiazzi maintains the purpose of this energy project is to benefit the private businesses of Matt Jamieson’s family members, as if increasing the provincial power load and modernizing that infrastructure would be done to help a single family prosper.
Free The Press Canada reiterates these details are key to revealing the American interests and Trump operative behind foreign interference in the federal election. This situation is not confined to the Haudenosaunee, the Province of Ontario, the Niagara Region, or Greater Toronto Area, but the reasons and ways this group was manipulated are integral to understanding the unprecedented severity of hostile action undertaken against Canada.
This publication goes on to raise the issue of eminent domain and supports hereditary chiefs in reclaiming land from Niagara Falls, to Haldimand, to Port Dover, that control all access and economic activity for the interior Great Lakes region (original / archive).
Ricchiazzi then forwarded this political play to the attention of Warren Kinsella, Andrew Coyne, Christie Blatchford, and Robert Fife from the Canadian media establishment.
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Free The Press Canada was able to conduct another reverse image search and found the photo of Matt Jamieson used by Ricchiazzi originated from a gala where he received an award for running one the most successful Indigenous businesses in the country. The economic model used by Six Nations reinvests all the profits in these Iroquois communities, paying for several social and infrastructure projects (original / archive).
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Regarding the injunction pursued by Hydro One, the truth can be found in a CBC News article. The company sought permission to resume work on the energy corridor that was blocked by the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council. Although that much resembles what the Buffalo Chronicle reported, the rest of the story differs tremendously (original / archive).
The lawsuit was filed as a measure of last resort because the Six Nations Elected Council and Hydro One were asking the hereditary chiefs to return to the negotiating table. The original deal proposed a 45 percent stake in the Niagara transmission lines for affected Indigenous reserves (unlike the 25 percent stake reported by the Buffalo Chronicle), but the Haudenosaunee Confederacy wanted an extra payment and ownership in the line for hereditary leaders that would not be shared with the residents of the Six Nations. It was deemed a bad faith request and Hydro One, with Six Nations of the Grand River, were more than willing to mediate an agreement that didn’t resemble a kickback for an exclusionary group of blood relatives.
The elected band council took the position that it wasn’t proper for the hereditary chiefs to pursue a land claims argument through Hydro One, when it’s the federal government’s domain in an ongoing process to resolve the treaty – not a private company’s business to overstep. They also felt it wasn’t right for Hydro One to be tasked with resolving disputes about the superiority of hereditary leadership versus elected Indigenous governments. Despite that deep contention, Six Nations of the Grand River reiterated their intention to resolve these leadership challenges with the Haudenosaunee Confederacy and the Iroquois people internally.
Six Nations added that the decision to enter an agreement with Hydro One was determined through an open, transparent, and democratic process that engaged in consultation with the community. During the injunction proceeding, hereditary chiefs also conceded they’re willing to negotiate and only objected to Hydro One’s ‘colonist and patriarchal’ character (original / archive).
In summary of this dispute, the elected council circulated a newsletter that itemized what it accomplished during its mandate. It achieved the elimination of hydro delivery fees for every First Nation resident living on reserve. It brought forward a proposal in conjunction with Hydro One and the Government of Ontario that would compensate Six Nations with no less than $46 million dollars for participating in the energy corridor. It also acquired equity ownership as a shareholder in Hydro One, worth up to $750 million over 25 years (PDF only, opens in browser and not an automatic download).
The newsletter also demonstrates what the economic development branch, led by Matt Jamieson, helped contribute to the community. There are several improvements such as a water treatment plant, water main expansion, a fire and ambulance building, two new fire trucks, a convention centre, a 95-unit housing development, a stake in wind and solar installations, recreational facilities, as well as 80 public works projects in a single year that generated numerous high paying jobs. This Six Nations’ newsletter refuted false allegations published by Ricchiazzi, especially as they pertain to clean water.
Free The Press Canada noticed that Matthew Ricchiazzi claimed to work for Six Nations of the Grand River but was unable to confirm that employment with the elected band council. It’s noteworthy that his LinkedIn profile placed him as third in command, with the identical job duties that belong to Matt Jamieson – the very person the Buffalo Chronicle is attempting to undermine as illegitimate (original only).
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Source: LinkedIn (original only)
Later in the same month and during the federal pre-writ period, the Buffalo Chronicle assailed Mark Hill to interfere with his ability to run for the Six Nations elected band council. He was attacked due to his uncle’s position as an executive of a successful Indigenous tobacco company. Ricchiazzi exerted pressure for the Iroquois to stop complying with federal taxation and withhold those proceeds from the colonial government by refusing to acknowledge its authority over health and fiscal regulations. He was pushing for the Mohawk reserve to come in direct conflict with the law in an attempt to overthrow it and the government itself. He attempted to saddle Mark Hill’s family with the duty to establish Indigenous sovereignty against the whole of government, because he felt the Hills could produce enough money through their cigarette sales to replace the transfers from Indigenous Affairs that constitute the operating budget for the reserve. It goes without saying that Ricchiazzi fails to grasp those transfers come from an Indigenous trust that metes out their own savings (original / archive).
Ultimately the Buffalo Chronicle proposed if the largest tribal group in Canada relinquished its own assets (held in trust by the government) that they could each become self-sustaining countries that are instead funded by the Hill family and cigarette sales. Ricchiazzi suggested that every bit of that prosperity was owed to the hereditary chiefs because these Indigenous businesses operate on ‘their’ land. In this regard, the Buffalo Chronicle painted the Haudenosaunee Confederacy as a type of Indigenous mafia that was owed by all of its people if they didn’t ascend to royal leadership through a particular family bloodline (original / archive).
The same report then follows that not only are Indigenous businesses defrauding the Confederacy by failing to forward all profits to hereditary leaders, but they’re somehow stealing 300 megawatts of electricity from the tribal elders as well. Ricchiazzi obsesses about these 300 megawatts in multiple entries without explaining the logic and torques that argument to reflect poorly on Justin Trudeau and the Liberal plan for reconciliation, at the behest of Conservative Premier Doug Ford.
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In a final curious leap, Matthew Ricchiazzi closes the piece by suggesting the Hill family is responsible for hiring “lobbyists and political operatives” to take down the federal government, because they have enough money from the profit of cigarette sales to assert the sovereignty of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy on its behalf – albeit against the interests of Indigenous families that ascribe to elected tribal leadership that is required to be transparent and accountable to the community. The Buffalo Chronicle ends by encouraging the hereditary chiefs to assert eminent domain over Indigenous businesses on its land and evict them altogether. In other words, obey the royal leadership or leave and assimilate with the Caucasian population.
Free The Press Canada is not attributing this threat of cultural violence to the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. It recognizes challenging issues between the hereditary and elected leadership, but appreciates their intention to coexist and co-manage this Six Nations reserve. We are tasked with outlining the agenda and methods of American Tea Party operatives to depict how and why they’ve focused on inflaming this particular relationship. The aforementioned suggestions belong to these Americans, who do not view the Iroquois people as equals and we regret the need to voice these hurtful tactics.
To understand the Buffalo Chronicle’s purpose with these disputes requires going back in time two years prior. In 2017 Matthew Ricchiazzi attempted a hostile takeover of the Maid of the Mist tour boat line by asserting his own claim to the Haudenosaunee Confederacy and eminent domain over the Great Lakes and Niagara River via the State of New York. In a nutshell, Ricchiazzi put forward the legal argument that all the waterways between the United States and Canada are owned and controlled by Aboriginal title.
He is not a lawyer and this argument had never been made in either country, but he sought to assemble a team of “Indian ivy-league lawyers” to pursue his claim, with the end goal of acquiring the Maid of the Mist business tax free. Ricchiazzi cites the Treaty of Canandaigua as providing ownership of those waters and he believes a Trump-era Republican Supreme Court will grant his wishes. From there he intends to assert those powers over Canada (original / archive).
The Buffalo Chronicle published 11 stories about the Mohawk Nation in Ohsweken, Ontario from March 2017 to July 2019 (original / archive). All claimed to represent the view of the Haudenosaunee Hereditary Chiefs to sow division with the band council and everyone living on the Grand River reserve. No sources for this propaganda were ever named.
Matthew Ricchiazzi is an Italian American who is engaging in self-indigenization for the purpose of reaping power from treaty agreements through a process of exploitation. Although Free The Press Canada respects Indigenous peoples discovering their identity and reclamation of rights, Ricchiazzi’s business partner has spent decades fighting to end Indigenous rights with immense racism toward the Iroquois people. That partnership can’t be reconciled with Ricchiazzi’s purported goals and discovery of his powerful backers will make this hypocrisy clear.
Enter Frank Parlato & Roger Stone
Matthew Ricchiazzi’s main partner is Frank Parlato Jr., a New York developer who made his fortune the same way Donald Trump’s father did. He gentrified properties in Buffalo and exploited government-backed mortgages through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Parlato Sr. was audited due to a 23 percent foreclosure rate on the properties flipped and sold by him and his son, Frank Parlato Jr. In 1998 the family was accused of taking advantage of poor people, then collecting the payout from government for their bad debts (original / archive). This is the same behaviour that led to the more recent American meltdown of the financial market that the country is still recovering from.
This also accounts for Parlato Jr.’s disdain for Democrat Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo, and Bill de Blasio who is the Democrat Mayor of New York City and a former candidate in the race to select a leader to run for the Office of President. Back in 1998, the two were involved in the case against the Parlato family regarding abuse of the HUD program. Cuomo was the Secretary of HUD and de Blasio was his executive assistant. They addressed Parlato Jr. specifically in an OpEd that’s still published in The Buffalo News. They explained Parlato was welcome to appeal the ruling against his real estate venture, but that Cuomo was committed to reducing fraud in the housing development program (original / archive).
By 2008 Frank Parlato (Jr.) was the owner of One Niagara, the welcome centre across the U.S. border as soon as drivers exit the Rainbow Bridge. He obtained the property through a foreclosure due to a foreign investor who didn’t complete an ambitious project and instead left a trail of exorbitant back taxes. It was in a shambles when Parlato took possession and he built it with his own money into the landmark is today. Now the building boasts the only panoramic view of the Niagara Peninsula from the American side.
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Source: Niagara Falls, NY directory (original only)
But this building would give rise to Parlato’s extreme and longstanding abhorrence of the Seneca Nation. He initiated political and community campaigns against his Indigenous neighbour, that owned and ran the tax free casino that Matthew Ricchiazzi attempted to undermine, as mentioned earlier (original / archive)
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Parlato was also competing with State Parks for the lucrative parking market at the Niagara Falls border. He was locked in a bitter battle with the Senecas and the government, and he attempted to have both of his immediate neighbours evicted (original / archive).
From that endeavour Parlato moved on to publish two tabloid papers in the Niagara Falls area, ArtVoice and The Niagara Reporter. In this way he could control the narrative and lambaste any of his detractors in the government, or real estate and tourism businesses. Free The Press Canada was not able to ascertain when he became a partner to Ricchiazzi, but in 2014 his tabloid was syndicated in the Buffalo Chronicle and both men wrote for each other’s papers (despite the fact that neither of them are journalists). There are two pages of Parlato entries still hosted at the former’s website (page 1 original / archive, page 2 original / archive).
Of interest, one of Frank Parlato’s beefs is that New Yorkers don’t receive cheap hydro from the Niagara Falls generating operation and this may account for the insidious campaign unleashed against the Iroquois peoples in Ontario (original / archive).
Perhaps the most interesting story to come from Frank Parlato is his own perspective about the One Niagara development project, and his eventual success in obtaining the Maid of the Mist boat tour on the Canadian side for $300 million. Also mentioned is Parlato’s criminal indictment by a grand jury, but no details are provided about that part of his legacy (original / archive).
With only a little bit of digging, Free The Press Canada was able to locate the 19-count indictment against Parlato from November 2015. The charges were laid in the Western District of New York and included conspiracy to defraud the government, money laundering, wire fraud, as well as obstructing the Internal Revenue Service. This was the culmination of a 4-year investigation undertaken by the FBI (original / archive).
By May 2018, a few of the charges were dropped but new ones were added, still focusing on the money laundering, wire fraud, and obstruction allegations. Parlato and his female partner stand accused of moving large sums of money through 50 different bank accounts, more than 15 shell companies, and a “dizzying array” of limited liability corporations, in addition to multiple attorney trust accounts to perpetrate the scheme (original / archive).
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Free The Press Canada will resume examination of those charges, but first the rest of this colourful personality must be explained for readers and investigators to make sense of them. Updates regarding Parlato’s relationship with Matthew Ricchiazzi and Roger Stone are also required.
Regarding Roger Stone
The infamous Roger Stone, now indicted through the Mueller Trump-Russia investigation, is an extremely close friend and partner to Frank Parlato. He’s at least as close to Parlato as he is to Donald Trump and he writes for the former’s ArtVoice publication (that also partnered with Ricchiazzi’s Buffalo Chronicle).
In fact, this is where Roger Stone mounted his public defence against the Mueller investigation and where he took to taunting the media, in addition to some of the highest ranking members of the American intelligence community. From February 2018 to the end of December 2018, Stone was a prolific writer and managed to publish 26 entries before the gag order came down from Justice Amy Berman Jackson (page 1 archive, page 2 archive, page 3 archive).
This is the same period of time when Matthew Ricchiazzi began his fake news attacks on Canada in the Buffalo Chronicle sister venue.
Stone was no shrinking violet and he touched on personalities such as Brett Kavanaugh, Donald Trump, James Comey, Richard Blumenthal, a Russian FBI informant, Richard Nixon, Adam Schiff, Julian Assange, John O. Brennan, Jeff Sessions, the Clinton family, Barack Obama, and a handful of mainstream journalists.
In the meantime Frank Parlato was campaigning on behalf of his friend, Roger Stone, on both his own website for the ArtVoice publication and Stone’s personal website, The StoneZone.
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Source: ArtVoice (archive)
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Source: The StoneZone (archive)
Parlato, Stone, The Bronfmans & NXIVM
Frank Parlato is credited with taking down the NXIVM (nex-eee-uhm) ‘sex cult’ with the help of Roger Stone, but this narrative is missing too many pieces of the puzzle and the omitted parts are a cause for concern (original / archive).
Free The Press Canada is approaching this topic carefully, because we don’t want to promote any conspiracy-based theories. It’s unfortunate that such a lurid topic could affect the federal election, but due to the Bronfmans’ involvement and their connection to the Liberal Party of Canada, it’s not possible to avoid this discussion.
The media has greatly sensationalized this story and focused solely on the smaller group of ‘sex slaves’, but that narrative was concocted by Frank Parlato and Roger Stone and this is why it must be evaluated with sober reflection.
The reality is that NXIVM was an exclusive group for the upper echelon of society, predominantly for networking between multi-millionaires and billionaires, with the added allure of enlightenment and support for one another. It was founded by Keith Raniere (ren-ear-eee) and his business partner, Nancy Salzman. He’s reported to hold a Guinness World Record for the highest IQ, but even that information is disputed due to an alleged month-long period to complete the test with outside help. She is known as a nurse with neuro-linguistic expertise and this field is heavily related to programming/brainwashing. That’s not to say what Salzman did with her talents, but that’s the primary use for them in psychology.
In order to join NXIVM applicants were required to submit kompromat on themselves, in theory to protect the group from anyone speaking about its private matters and relationships. It’s regularly described as a pyramid scheme and each new pledge was tasked with recruiting additional members. That format likely arose from Raniere’s past experience with Amway and in the end it caused NXIVM to behave like a clearing house of compromising information on some very powerful people.
Free The Press Canada believes that was the group’s predominant goal, and even if it was a side benefit it was surely tantalizing to political operatives. According to Jeffrey Peterson, who is considered the pioneer of Hispanic internet in the United States, he was recruited to join NXIVM by the son of the former Mexican president (original / archive).
Around a year ago Peterson posted a lengthy Twitter thread that laid bare his fear of repercussions for declining the invitation to join NXIVM. He was once a Democrat and close to Hillary Clinton, as well as former Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, and former Chief of Staff to U.S. Customs and Border Protection Marco Lopez. Nowadays he counts on Peter Thiel as his business partner and Canada should recall that Thiel was involved in the Cambridge Analytica debacle.
But that Twitter thread was truly remarkable, as it accused Lopez of threatening his family with assassination. With no explanation how they fell out as best friends, Peterson attributed all of his misfortune to declining that NXIVM invitation. Free The Press Canada has verified the account and that it belongs to the appropriate Jeffrey Peterson. The thread is still posted and he hasn’t seen fit to delete any part of it (original / threadreader / archive).
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What Peterson alleges is beyond extraordinary and more shocking is that it drove him into the arms of Frank Parlato, for support with his perceived NXIVM situation. He allowed Parlato to cover his story in one of the publications that are also used to advocate for Roger Stone (original / archive).
There doesn’t seem to be any proof that someone did Peterson harm, or that it has any relationship to the Democrats or even NXIVM for that matter. But since the internet mogul allied himself with Frank Parlato and Peter Thiel, he began campaigning for Andrew Scheer in the Canadian election without knowing him (original / archive).
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A small handful of people were convicted for the NXIVM sex scandal and it’s likely this gave birth to debunked conspiracies such as ‘pizzagate’.
Free The Press Canada stresses it does not wish to have to cover any aspect of the NXIVM issue in a political investigation. There is too much opportunity for the public to attribute dubious behaviours to the wrong people. But it’s important to stick with this as briefly as possible because it does have bearing on the fake news sex scandals that were initiated against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in an effort to taint the election by means of foreign interference.
Considerable attention has been paid to Clare and Sara Bronfman, as devout supporters of Keith Raniere. They paid for all his legal bills and for reputation attacks on anyone who disparaged the NXIVM group. It’s rumoured they lost their entire portion of the family fortune by giving it away to Raniere. All of mainstream media chased that story but it may have been for the wrong reasons (original / archive).
The truth of the matter is that Edgar Bronfman Sr. disapproved of NXIVM strongly and he investigated enough to believe his daughters were being defrauded of multi-millions. Clare turned against her father and succumbed to the NXIVM brainwashing, in turn causing him to be viewed as an enemy to their cause. The part of this story that often gets suppressed is that Clare hired Frank Parlato to initiate Operation #Smashmouth and that meant Edgar Bronfman Sr. was a target of that very operation.
Numerous accounts belonging to Q-anons and Yellow Vests have attempted to exploit that family name in relation to the prime minster, so it’s important to understand that Stephen Bronfman, who is a friend to Justin Trudeau and treasurer of the Liberal Party, did not grow up with Clare or Sara. They’re only cousins with different fathers and the girls were raised on a different continent.
In any event Vice News was the only media source to interview Frank Parlato and obtain information about Operation Smashmouth. A young reporter attended his vacation property in Key West and without any political experience, she was smitten with their conversation. He played a song on the keyboard and proceeded to reveal emails from NXIVM about the plot to destroy their enemies with propaganda and worse.
Parlato confessed that a hit paid $225,000 but he didn’t say who the target was or what Keith Raniere and Clare Bronfman wanted done. Another entry he explained was worth $15,000 to tarnish someone’s reputation, and $25,000 was available if he could get the person disbarred from practising law. To get another person indicted paid out $50,000 and these were merely a few entries on a long page that flashed by the Vice News camera.
Free The Press Canada reiterates that Frank Parlato admitted to a hit job worth $225,000 on video. A murder for hire doesn’t cost nearly that much on the black market and no one including law enforcement thought to investigate nearly a quarter-million dollar payment for destroying or terminating another human being(s).
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It seems to pay to have friends in high places such as Donald Trump and Roger Stone, but the media and the public have no excuse for the collective failure to see any problem with hiring a hitman. Whether that’s socially, semantically, professionally, or physically, it represents a criminal conspiracy and at the very least extortion. It’s as if the 18-count grand jury indictment against Parlato was the easy way to cover up the more serious crimes with administrative and monetary ones.
And everyone let Frank Parlato control this propaganda, to sell himself as the hero who blew the whistle on NXIVM for the most exclusive sub-group keeping sex slaves. His story doesn’t add up because he claimed to be hired by Clare Bronfman, then brought into the circle of trust with Keith Raniere. But according to this bulletproof serial assailant, he only spent a few months with NXIVM before deciding it was a bad apple. Free The Press Canada can’t imagine who in their right mind would offer a $225,000 hit to someone they’ve only known for a few months.
More incredible is the fact that Parlato admits he only had a change of heart after the Bronfman sisters accused him of stealing $1 million from them. He didn’t report NXIVM to the police or FBI. Instead he used his story to profit from it by leaking it through his own tabloid – the one connected to the Buffalo Chronicle and Matthew Ricchiazzi. But celebrity press took off with the story and even CBC News didn’t attempt to address the hit jobs or why Parlato never admitted who he unjustly and extra-judicially “destroyed” on behalf of his clients.
Contrary to any amount of sane logic, this menace was permitted to continue destroying reputations with his suite of tabloid publications. This man has never been stopped and no one has tried to hold him to account, so he and Ricchiazzi felt above the law when it came to interfering in the Canadian election and treating Justin Trudeau like just another hit job.
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No one has even held Frank Parlato to account for publicly shaming the sex slaves within NXIVM and turning a profit for it. That too was a reputation hit job and the precedent he’s been allowed to set endangers all rape victims in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. It stands as proof of how effective the Parlato/Stone/Ricchiazzi propaganda machine has been, that feminist activists are more excited the rape survivors were outted than they are concerned for their physical health, emotional well being, and psychological recovery. Perhaps that’s proof of how effective Nancy Salzman’s lessons in neuro-linguistic programming have been as well.
Challenging all belief that we live in a civil society, in the next development Frank Parlato was excused of any wrongdoing against the Bronfman sisters (original / archive). Perhaps that’s why it matters that American judges are flipped and traded like hockey cards. Parlato was keen to publish the story about his other comrade, Steven Pigeon, also in the Buffalo Chronicle, to demonstrate his handle on the U.S. justice system and what kompromat can accomplish when it’s needed (original / archive). In the story about his exoneration for charges related to defrauding Clare Bronfman, Parlato was brazen enough to admit that his threats of publishing more about the victims was a mitigating factor. Now he’s free to use NXIVM as a bargaining chip for Roger Stone, and Canada is left to deal with the audacity of these political operatives interfering in our federal election (original / archive).
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There is much that can still be said about the NXIVM file, but to close this section Free The Press Canada will only contribute one last reflection. Parlato brags in The Frank Report about a NXIVM party that was attended by Stormy Daniels, Elliot Spitzer, Anthony Wiener, Roger Stone, and himself from a decade ago (original / archive). Spitzer was forced out of politics due to a sex scandal, Weiner was forced out of politics due to a sex scandal and jailed for 21 months, while Daniels is still litigating and Parlato is profiting from his hit piece on Michael Avenatti, with a declaration that he’ll die in prison (original / archive). Meanwhile no one is questioning Parlato’s connection with NXIVM for more than a decade and his many hit jobs.
Buffalo Lawyer Alan Bedenko
Although Alan Bedenko plays a bit part in this saga, it is an important role because he appeared on CBC News to represent Matthew Ricchiazzi and the Buffalo Chronicle.
Bendenko portrayed himself as an enemy of Ricchiazzi, backed by a blog entry he posted about Parlato’s apprentice. In it he embedded the full segment by Adrienne Arsenault, even though it’s not readily available for Canadians to find on the CBC website (original with video / archive without video).
In the short interview he did not disclose that he had been a lawyer for Erie County and known Ricchiazzi for several years in the course of municipal and state politics. He didn’t disclose that he engaged with Ricchiazzi at Parlato’s sister website ArtVoice, where the latter two regularly published along with Roger Stone (original / archive). He didn’t allude to knowing anything about Matthew Ricchiazzi’s agenda, or that his attack on the Canadian election was a concerted effort as opposed to a one-off fake news specimen.
Alan Bedenko has been involved with Matthew Ricchiazzi since at least 2012, when he participated in the uproar about the Seneca casino for a Buzzfeed article and the subsequent banter about it on Twitter (original / archive). Bedenko’s handle is @BuffaloPundit and he curiously tagged two bystanders into the conversation. One of those accounts belongs to a Russian who doesn’t follow or interact with anyone. It’s a suspicious account to say the least (original / archive). As Bedenko didn’t provide his full disclosure for the CBC News broadcast, it leaves much to the imagination why a strange Russian account was deemed important to the exchange about Ricchiazzi.
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Furthermore, Alan Bedenko, as a qualified lawyer, suggested that Ricchiazzi may have a relationship with the Maggadinos, Todaros, and “Butchie Bifocals”. Free The Press Canada is aware the first two are part of the Buffalo Italian Mafia and that includes the Musitano crime bosses who were murdered in Hamilton, Ontario due to the ongoing turf wars. They are all part of the same organized crime family network.
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The suggestion of mafia is especially unsettling, given that Frank Parlato defended a biker gang accused of making pipe bombs and in the process he cited Angelo Musitano, who was the top boss until he was murdered in Waterdown, Ontario. These hotspots are all around the area where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was required to wear a bulletproof vest to be able to give campaign speeches. This disturbing reference was made by Parlato on Ricchiazzi’s Buffalo Chronicle (original / archive).
What Did Warren Kinsella Get Himself Into?
It’s well known by Canadian pundits that Warren Kinsella vowed to get Justin Trudeau out of office. He held a grudge that he wasn’t able to run in the last federal election and hated the Trudeau Liberals ever since. Hate is strong word, but his Twitter feed supports that characterization.
Around the same time that Matthew Ricchiazzi began publishing fake news about the prime minister and cabinet, Warren Kinsella embarked on seeding rumours about sexual allegations at the Hill Times in Ottawa – possibly the worst rumour mill in the country and he darn well knew it. That was purposeful.
At the beginning of February 2018 there was an uproar about his articles that professed he knew about affidavits from young people who claimed they were sexually assaulted by a high ranking politician. Kinsella went so far as to say that he spoke with that politician’s friend, and everyone in Ottawa intuited that he meant Gerry Butts and Justin Trudeau (original – subscription / archive – public).
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Kinsella kept at it to ensure his rumour took hold. In a matter of two days, his story changed to say that the affidavit ruse had resulted in more young people claiming to have the same experience. The only problem? Not a single person came forward and this destructive rumour was unleashed to dog Trudeau like a pitbull, straight through the entire writ period currently (original – subscription / archive – public).
It’s disgusting behaviour not unlike Frank Parlato, who could manage to facilitate every Canadian’s worst nightmare – uniting the American Prince of Darkness (Roger Stone) with the Canadian Prince of Darkness (Warren Kinsella). Both are relentlessly exploiting girls and women of every age who’ve survived a sexual assault. This is conduct unbecoming of a lawyer that may need to be reported to the Law Society of Upper Canada (original – subscription / archive – public).
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To be sure of Kinsella’s intentions, he wrote another provocative post on his own website. This one was titled, “Why did Justin Trudeau abruptly leave that school midterm?” and he permitted others to post links to the Buffalo Chronicle to boost his prospects of causing damage. Kinsella was all too eager to assist Matthew Ricchiazzi in spreading fake news about the prime minister that crossed the boundaries of libel that he couldn’t (original / archive).
Day after day Kinsella allowed more posts from Ricchiazzi’s Buffalo Chronicle to spread further on his website with each of his new blog entries whether they were of a sexual nature or not (original / archive).
When the sexual innuendo about Trudeau wasn’t working well enough, Kinsella doubled-down and made the affidavit allegation outright. He accused the prime minister of inappropriate contact with “various” young people, meaning he alleged knowing about more than one. Still no one came forward, but the assault on Trudeau’s reputation was solidified for the writ (original / archive).
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Kinsella was further berated for actually sharing Buffalo Chronicle posts on his Twitter account. He was finally forced to declare Ricchiazzi a fake news source and this was so contentious that CBC News included mention of Kinsella during its broadcast about the Buffalo Chronicle that hosted lawyer Alan Bedenko (original / archive).
As Warren Kinsella was rocking Ottawa with the spread of unfounded sexual rumours, Matthew Ricchiazzi upped the ante too. The Buffalo Chronicle libelled the prime minister and claimed he paid a young woman “more than $2.25 million” to keep quiet about a sexual assault from when she was a student. To be clear, this isn’t true. It’s a straight-up fabrication.
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But as Kinsella had to deny the Buffalo Chronicle as a legitimate news source, someone by the name of Frank made a death threat against him, invoking the murders of Honey and Barry Sherman near the bottom of the comments section (original / archive)
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In step with Warren Kinsella, the Buffalo Chronicle also got bolder and escalated the fake allegations to say that Justin Trudeau had an ejaculating competition in his school workplace. It may have been awkward when he threatened Andrew Scheer with a libel lawsuit, but one is truly called for on this occasion. Matthew Ricchiazzi is a paper maché gun for hire and he is invalidating the election by means of foreign interference, with guidance from the likes of Frank Parlato and Roger Stone. This is their bread and butter in America and they’ve exported it to Canada now (original / archive).
In one example Kinsella even followed the lead of Ricchiazzi, by copying his propaganda to split the Liberal Party by promoting Chrystia Freeland as the new party leader to evict Justin Trudeau. The Buffalo Chronicle said it first and Kinsella followed suit (original / archive).
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After all that damage was done, through a concerted effort by malevolent actors, the idea had finally sprouted legs and it was reinforced by the Conservative Party as well as the mainstream media (original / archive).
Free The Press Canada confirms these allegations are false, but to give Canadians some idea of the level of foreign interference impacting this election, the most sensational and abhorrent of fake news headlines made it from Ricchiazzi, Parlato, and Kinsella all the way to Israel, in that nation’s third largest newspaper. With regret, it is not possible to get the truth to that many people in time to correct the record. If the Jewish people understood what was being done to them however, they would not forgive the perpetrators (original / archive).
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If it was possible to plumb the depths any further, there’s an indication that a Conservative riding executive had put a bounty out for trumped-up sexual allegations. Free The Press Canada wouldn’t normally rely on simple social media evidence, but it was reinforced in quadruplicate via Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. The YouTube channel is traceable to a particular group of people and the video copy remains in circulation.
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The End Game
The end game is not a simple summary in a case as convoluted as this, but all the moving parts have at least coalesced at Matthew Ricchiazzi’s alternate hit-job website, The City Politic. He always had this backup in case the Buffalo Chronicle became blocked (original / archive).
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This single article manages to explain the American Tea Party gameplan for Canada. At least some, with a considerable amount of power, are preparing to challenge Canada legally regarding our relationship with First Nations as a backdoor to undermine our sovereignty over energy, water, rights of way, and banking. They believe they have the grounds to proceed under American law to inflame a Crown – Indigenous constitutional meltdown and Matthew Ricchiazzi targeted specific members of the Mohawk Nation they believe could trigger this chain reaction. There’s a reason you needed to read everything prior to be able to understand this, because even with the greatest amount of caution, it still verges on a declaration of war with Canada.
See here, in their own words:
It is with tremendous regret that Free The Press Canada must inform voters the Canadian media establishment has utterly failed in grasping the most important story to happen to our country since the War of 1812.
This investigation was edited on September 28, 2019 at 12pm EDT. New sections have been added to the end of this article that identify greater issues concerning ethics, the media, and relations with Canadian politicians that may, or may not, constitute electoral interference.
September 23, 2019
In no way, shape, or form is Free The Press Canada defending or justifying past racist behaviour by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. However, the sensational release of brownface and blackface media depicting the Liberal Leader in his younger years raised numerous questions that require answers to confirm the provenance of this material – especially since it was never mentioned or released prior to the current election.
This investigation by Free The Press Canada has discovered several troubling issues that call the ethics of Time magazine into question, and by extension, its bombshell exposé about Trudeau. Due to these lapses in professionalism, it must also be asked if Time participated in foreign election meddling for partisan purposes.
In total, three examples of racist photographs and/or video have been released in succession by different news agencies. The first appeared in Time magazine, otherwise known as an American titan in news media (original / archive). It featured a picture of Trudeau dressed in brownface makeup for an Arabian Nights themed event, during his tenure as a teacher at the West Point Grey Academy private school (circa 2001).
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Source: Time magazine
Given that Time is an American enterprise, it raised suspicion that no Canadian media was approached with the original brownface scandal, to have any knowledge about the prime minister’s former transgression. No parliamentary bureau chiefs, with decades of sources and contacts, were prepared for this extremely damaging exposé. Even journalists hired by the Liberal government, and the Conservative opposition, are scrambling to make sense of how they got scooped by a foreign competitor.
Also given that foreign interference is a major issue in Western elections, it became prudent to examine the Time story with a skeptical lens. Free The Press Canada is an advocate of journalism ethics and periodically lectures on the Canadian university circuit (original / archive), so it undertook this analysis with a view to examining the power and means of foreign influence. With great surprise, the initial investigation of Time magazine led to curious discoveries within the article itself, as well as a web of deceit that surrounds the scandal.
The first issue with the infamous Time article is that reporters didn’t interview the purported source of the Arabian Nights photo, who they named as Michael Adamson. Instead they only paraphrase a disparate explanation regarding how Adamson came to possess this politically explosive evidence.
First they report he was involved with the West Point Grey Academy community, leaving readers to insinuate that Adamson may have participated with the school at the time of Trudeau’s employment. But the magazine follows up with a counter-statement that indicates Adamson only became aware of the offensive yearbook in July 2019, barely prior to the writ dropping for the current federal election. Time further describes Adamson as a “Vancouver businessman”, concealing his profession or any other information that would allow him to be identified and verified, according to Canadian journalism standards.
Oddly, Time addressed its source of the yearbook by name but it spoke on Adamson’s behalf, referring to him in the third-person. At no point does the magazine include a quote from the star of its story, who was apparently concerned enough to bring this matter to the attention of American media. When a source doesn’t wish to speak on the record due to fear of reprisal, it’s standard for a journalist to offer anonymous attribution. But that’s not what Time did. Instead it named Michael Adamson as a token lightning rod, in an effort to validate the magazine’s legitimacy and motive for unleashing the greatest scandal to rock another country’s election – its main economic trading partner, no less.
Less than 24-hours later, lead author, Anna Purna Kambhampaty, granted an interview to NPR that only added to the confusion (original / archive). Because this is a Canadian scandal, the American press isn’t fully invested in chasing down the story and more gaps, as well as misinformation, were subsequently seeded through NPR‘s Morning Edition radio show.
On the program Kambhampaty claims that she heard about the brownface photo from gossip circles in Vancouver, British Columbia.
GREENE: How did you get the photo? I mean, you’re not based in Canada, right?
KAMBHAMPATY: No, so I had heard about it as a source of gossip in Vancouver community and, you know, contacted a source to see the photo and was sent the yearbook. And – yeah. (Source: original / archive)
The host doesn’t question how Kambhampaty became involved with gossip circles based in Vancouver, despite the fact she’s a novice reporter, located across the continent in New York City. The internet makes the world a smaller place, but there is no explanation regarding how Kambhampaty became so deeply connected with Trudeau’s old stomping-grounds, to give her an edge unrivaled by any Canadian reporter whatsoever.
Moreover, Kambhampaty claims she heard about the gossip and contacted a source of her own volition, to get a copy of the photo she had presumably not seen yet. But in the original Time article, she fails to explain the gossip circle or that the magazine initiated contact with Michael Adamson. She fails to express how he became known to the reporter as someone who could provide Time with the evidence.
Instead it appears as though Adamson contacted Time magazine because he “felt it should be made public” (original / archive). This is a reckless tactic that has now imperiled every person in Canada with the name, Michael Adamson. This is especially true because no Canadian journalists can locate a Michael Adamson from Vancouver to verify his participation as a source. No Canadian media can locate a gossip circle either, to verify the American news could have come upon this information honestly. This is having very real consequences for innocent bystanders that will be addressed shortly.
This young lady further contradicts herself in the very next statement, made on the NPR program.
GREENE: So the Vancouver community, people were talking about it there. Is this like alumni of the school or who is – where was this gossip happening?
Anna Purna Kambhampaty claims on one hand there was a “gossip circle” that is frequented by former staff of the West Point Grey Academy, parents of former students, and parents of current students. But on the other hand, she confesses that only “a few people” were talking about it.
In colloquial language, “a few” is defined as three. In mathematical language, “a few” is defined as not many but more than one, and can mean as little as two. Regardless of the measurement, no Canadian reporters have been able to verify the existence of this circle. There is no record on Google prior to the Time article, no public forum for school alumni, and no group of social media accounts that can verify how Kambhampaty stumbled upon this information herself. There is a single Facebook group dedicated to the West Point Grey Academy alumni, but it’s closed to the public, no one new has joined in the past 30 days (covering the period of Time‘s investigation), and it has only five posts in the past 30 days that don’t lend to the description of a gossip circle (original / archive).
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At no point does Anna Purna Kambhampaty admit to receiving a tip, instead crediting her own ingenuity for the first big news story she would ever break in her brand new career.
The NPR interview is then contaminated with misleading information about the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).
GREENE: OK, so you confirm its existence with some people. You have your hands on it. You and the magazine decide to publish it. What did Trudeau’s campaign say when you reached out to them?
KAMBHAMPATY: Right. So initially they said we need to take a look at the photograph. And after being sent a version of the photograph, they pretty much immediately confirmed that it was him. We tried speaking to the prime minister’s office directly. We’d left several voicemails and phone calls but never heard back from them. So we decided to go to the campaign. (Source: original / archive)
This biased report is doubly exacerbated by Kambhampaty’s Time article.
On Wednesday, Zita Astravas, the media relations lead of the Liberal Party of Canada, which Trudeau is the leader of, confirmed that the Prime Minister was in the photo. “It was a photo taken while he was teaching in Vancouver, at the school’s annual dinner which had a costume theme of ‘Arabian Nights.’ He attended with friends and colleagues dressed as a character from Aladdin,” said Astravas. Trudeau is planning on addressing the photograph to the media later this evening, according to Astravas. The prime minister’s official director of communications did not return multiple calls. (Source: original / archive)
What Ms. Kambhampaty is incapable of understanding as a new American journalist is that the Prime Minister’s Office doesn’t function during the writ period of an election campaign. The government is legally dissolved and becomes a “caretaker government”, until a new one is elected. Only the civil service operates on a limited basis and this does not include speaking on behalf of members of that dissolved parliament.
During a caretaker government only the political parties can represent themselves and any incumbents, up to and including the prime minister. Due to Kambhampaty’s lack of worldly experience, she conveyed arrogance on behalf of the PMO and spent her time attempting to contact the wrong entity. This misunderstanding of constitutional monarchies, that are very different from the American government, led Time magazine to misrepresent Canada and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. That no editor at Time possessed this knowledge to advise Kambhampaty, is evidence of negligence and why American media should not be in charge of covering the election in place of Canadians.
Unfortunately Anna Purna Kambhampaty wasn’t finished with this exercise in misrepresentation. In her next response to NPR, she failed to admit that Justin Trudeau had already given a public apology. She mentions the prime minister’s press conference for this exact purpose, but somehow omits that he ever said sorry. In some divine intervention, Kambhampaty insinuates that she discovered a Canadian who doesn’t apologize profusely, whether something was their fault or not. And Trudeau was at fault. But he did apologize more than once and torquing a story against the leader of another country, during an election, is still an act of foreign meddling, as well as journalistic fraud. Now NPR is suffering a hit to its reputation for giving Kambhampaty another soapbox to mislead the public.
GREENE: OK, so then you have Prime Minister Trudeau who we should say is fighting for his reelection right now. He addresses this controversy on his campaign plane. Talk about that and talk about what the reaction has been in Canada since you broke this.
KAMBHAMPATY: Right. So the reaction’s been pretty strong. A lot of Canadian politicians and interest groups are talking about it, calling upon him for an apology. And so far he’s been pretty honest. And he’s admitted to a past event that mirrors this, as well. (Source: original / archive)
Compounding the lack of professionalism at Time and requisite effort to publish a hit-piece, Kambhampaty claims she tried to contact others from the gala but came up empty-handed. Yet as soon as the brownface story went live, alumni from that Arabian Nights fundraising gala approached Canadian media to tell their side of the story.
On Omni Punjabi, Sunny Khurana defended the prime minister to ethnic Canadians in his primary language. (For American readers, please note that Canada embraces its multicultural identity, so much so that the Omni media brand carries mainstream programming in numerous languages.)
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Source: Globe & Mail
There was another side to this story that Kambhampaty ignored, for the sake of sensationalizing a purely negative reputational take-down of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. It was neither fair, balanced, nor ethical coverage and the consequence is throwing a foreign election, in favour of regime change. This is a serious allegation and Free The Press Canada stands by it fully, with more reasons to follow.
Who Is Michael Adamson?
On the NPR radio program, Michael Adamson is omitted as Anna Purna Kambhampaty’s source for the brownface story. In the Time article, Michael Adamson is vaguely depicted as approaching Kambhampaty, when it was the other way around. So who is the real Michael Adamson?
All Canadian news agencies have been scouring the country and the greater Vancouver area for this illusive whistleblower. The White Pages telephone directory produces a few results, but two numbers for a Michael Adamson have long been disconnected. Another Michael Adamson who conducted business in Jody Wilson-Raybould’s riding has ceased to exist since the late 1990’s. Another lead comes from a cellphone number, but that Michael Adamson’s handset has been consistently turned off without any ability to receive voicemail. Free The Press Canada is aware that reporters were dispatched to the latter’s address, only to find there is nobody there. The West Point Grey Academy also hasn’t confirmed any association with a person named Michael Adamson.
The final possibility and the only Michael Adamson who will speak to the press is a fine artist who was educated at the Emily Carr University of Art and Design, that is also located in Jody Wilson-Raybould’s riding of Vancouver-Granville. Although he hasn’t achieved the same level of fame as the Group of Seven, this Adamson is a prolific painter who is rather outspoken and celebrated in the global arts community. His work hangs in executive homes, private island mansions, and the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO). It’s also featured on the Design Inc. home renovation series that caters to the upper class (original / archive).
Michael Adamson, the fine artist, shares his extensive curriculum vitae at Concordia University (original / archive), as well as his art gallery website (original / archive). He has guest lectured at the University of Toronto and the Globe and Mail once described Adamson as a wunderkind painter who acknowledges the achievement of European colonization (original / archive).
In some ways this approach to art has put Adamson at odds with Canada’s Indigenous culture and much of the theology that is taught at the Emily Carr University of Art and Design. His goal is to revive the arts community to become a sustainable lucrative profession, as opposed to art for art’s sake that is continuously subsidized to keep it afloat. He is offended by the ideology of socialism, and that in its own way puts him at odds with Justin Trudeau.
Digging deeper into Michael Adamson the fine artist, anyone can find his most recent work. In 2019 he partnered with True Patriot Love, a charity that supports more than 25,000 military families. It funds research to assist with their specialized needs that may include post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), physical rehabilitation, and civilian reintegration issues (original / archive).
This year Adamson contributed to fundraising by painting a helmet to honour the Navy for bringing home soldiers during WWI. It’s designed in the spirit of camouflage for the SS Olympia, a sister ship to the Titanic (original / archive).
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Source: Michael Adamson Studio
In the meantime, Michael Adamson has been active with exhibitions since the day he graduated from the Emily Carr University. His work is coveted in Britain, Sweden, Italy, Hong Kong, and Canada-wide, including Toronto, Ottawa, and Kelowna, British Columbia. Political reporters may also note that Kelowna is the location of Jody Wilson-Raybould’s family (original / archive) and the name of her husband’s business (with a minor spelling variation).
Regarding Adamson’s fundraising partner, True Patriot Love, there are significant political ties with the Conservative Party of Canada.
The charity’s CEO is Nick Booth, who worked in the United States and United Kingdom before taking this position in Canada. He oversaw Prince Harry’s charitable projects and instituted the Invictus Games, where the royal first courted Meghan Markle in Toronto, Ontario (original / archive).
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Source: True Patriot Love Foundation
This coming-out event for the royal couple led to significant media attention from the fashion industry, because the Duchess of Sussex has a best friend who helps her dress for public occasions and that special confidante is stylist, Jessica Mulroney. The daughter-in-law of former Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney played one of the most important support roles during the subsequent royal wedding (original / archive).
Shaun Francis is the Chair of True Patriot Love. He serves on the board of directors at Fraser Institute and he’s been the Chair of the Progressive Conservative Ontario Fund. He’s accepted awards from former Conservative ministers and senators such as Peter MacKay, Steve Blaney, Julian Fantino, and Linda Frum (original / archive).
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Source: True Patriot Love Foundation
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Source: True Patriot Love Foundation
Crestview Strategy should ring a bell for pundits, as a public affairs agency that’s served prime ministers, premiers, and run election campaigns (original / archive). Within this company there are several executives who have served political parties. Ashton Arsenault managed a Conservative campaign in the 2015 federal election (original / archive). Zakery Blais was the legislative assistant to Minister David Lametti, before he became the new Attorney General to replace Jody Wilson-Raybould (original / archive). In fact, he joined Crestview immediately upon losing his job with the Trudeau Liberal government (original only, as Linkedin accounts can’t be archived).
At Crestview Strategy we can also find Andrew Brander. He worked for numerous ministers in the Harper Conservative government. He was Chief of Staff to Deputy Leader of the Official Opposition, prior to the Conservatives coming to power. More recently he’s been senior staff within the Ontario Conservative Ford government, and Director of Communications for the Ontario Minister of Finance. He’s also served multiple terms on the executive board of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party (original / archive).
They are joined by Melissa Caouette (original / archive), who was a special assistant to former Alberta Conservative Premier Jim Prentice (original). Celine Chang (original / archive) worked in the PMO of the Harper Conservative government, after a stint with the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party (original). Alex Chreston worked for the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party under John Tory and Tim Hudak, before joining the team at Crestview Strategy (original / archive). Hal Danchilla has been shaping Conservative politics for the past 30 years in Alberta. He was Chief of Staff during the Klein administration, ran the leadership campaign of Stockwell Day, and now he advises the Jason Kenney government. His specialty is influencing public opinion (original / archive).
Crestview Strategy‘s COO is Matthew John. He was once the Manager of Outreach in Conservative Stephen Harper’s PMO. He also graduated from the Ivey School of Business, where Conservative MP Kellie Leitch was an executive and the Harper government funded to the tune of $5 million (original / archive). Joseph Lavoie came from the same cohort, as a staffer to former Conservative Minster John Baird and Director of Strategic Communications in the Prime Minister’s Office of Stephen Harper (PMO). He had a hand in the party’s digital voter platform and further implemented the Conservative government’s influence campaign in Iran (original / archive).
Michael Lohner was the Chief of Staff in Alberta’s Ralph Klein government. He was in the Conservative war room for each of the past three provincial elections (original / archive). Ginny Roth was also an organizer for the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario (original / archive).
Jaskaran Singh Sandhu is another executive with Crestview Strategy. He is a lawyer and former executive director of the World Sikh Organization of Canada (original / archive). When news of the brownface scandal broke at Time magazine, he immediately hit the media circuit to criticize Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and he discussed the Liberal Party’s inability to defend the interests of racial minorities in light of this scandal (original / archive). In this regard, Sandhu’s comments are justified and no one is denying that brownface and blackface displays are racist. But it’s what he told a particular radio host that may be cause for deeper investigation.
On September 19, 2019, less than 24-hours after Trudeau’s public apology, Jaskaran Singh Sandhu appeared on the John Oakley Show (original). Oakley is better known as the person Rob Ford thanked during an election victory speech for giving him a weekly spot on the 640am program to energize Conservative voters (original / archive).
In talk radio it’s common practice for the host to discuss questions and answers with the guest beforehand, to ensure enough time is allotted for the interview. Free The Press Canada does not have evidence of that discussion, but Jaskaran Singh Sandhu and John Oakley each confirm a troubling detail early in the podcast. Oakley claims the brownface photo at the heart of the Time exposé was actually a product of opposition research by a political campaign team in this election. Sandhu confirms the same in his response and this runs contrary to the Time narrative that credits a phantom Michael Adamson, who no one can manage to find in Canada.
If this information is true, it would mean that a party or candidate was the real source behind the Time article and that someone solicited a foreign entity to interfere in the Canadian election, instead of transparently approaching the Canadian media. It would also mean that Time magazine committed an international fraud by naming an incorrect source to shield the real leaker and meddled with a foreign election to benefit that person. In the alternative, if this is not true, then a Canadian lawyer and radio host spread misinformation through a public broadcast.
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Source: John Oakley Show
(Free The Press Canada has a backup copy of this radio program, in the event this clip becomes deleted by Global.)
Finally, Mark Spiro is one of the founders of Crestview Strategy (original / archive). He is well known as a “high-powered Conservative strategist” (original / archive) and his specialty is manipulating public opinion.
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Source: Crestview Strategy
Circling back to the True Patriot Love Foundation that is involved with Michael Adamson (the fine artist), we also find Rick Byers on the executive board (original / archive). He has an extensive history working for provincial and federal Conservative parties, as well as former Minister of Finance Michael Wilson, in the Mulroney Conservative government (original / archive). Wilson helped negotiate the original NAFTA deal and he was later elevated to become Canada’s Ambassador to Washington by the Harper Conservative administration. In that position Wilson faced a scandal that rocked the party and sparked an investigation. He was implicated in leaks to Canadian media that meddled with Barack Obama’s run for president (original – subscription / archive – public). More recently, Rick Byers was vying to become the Conservative candidate for Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound in the current federal election (original / archive).
So there is noteworthy overlap between the True Patriot Love Foundation, Crestview Strategy, and Conservative parties, whether federal or provincial. As a result of that suspicion, Michael Adamson (the fine artist) has been facing intense scrutiny in the mission to discover the infamous Time magazine leaker.
Mr. Adamson (the fine artist) was gracious enough to grant Free The Press Canada a 4.5 hour interview in the effort to clear his name. When asked if he was responsible,
“Did I do something that I would call treason? Uh, no. Thank you very much. Did I send this negative information about a standing PM to a foreign entity? I certainly did not. Thank you very much.”
This spirited painter was adamant and unwavering for the entire conversation long. The question was re-approached from many directions and every time Adamson was firm. He relayed what information he could to help the investigation along, including details about getting calls from other Michael Adamsons in different parts of the country, who were trying to figure out which one of them it was. It sounded like a micro version of something akin to Where’s Waldo.
But the discussions between Michaels were anything but funny because each of them is concerned in one way or another. They’re being harassed by numerous calls from the press, partisans, and curious sleuths. Some are worried about the negative impact that a case of mistaken identity could have on their work. Michael Adamson (the fine artist) is perhaps the most affected, because his reputation is everything in art and he has an extra obligation to keep his clients’ business private. For the record, he would not divulge the name of a single patron.
The exculpatory evidence in Adamson’s favour is his ardent and libertarian rejection of party politics. He also has a supreme respect for military and the rule of law, that causes him to believe the leak to Time magazine was an actual act of treason. He is questioning if someone fabricated this name out of the blue, or if anyone he knows used his name on a whim, or maybe even maliciously. However hard the public is wondering who the Time leaker is, Michael Adamson (the fine artist) won’t be resting easy until that person is found. This brownface scandal has global media attention and there’s no telling what a stranger might do, when that many people in the world are angry and they’re in prospective markets where Adamson is expected to feature his work at art exhibits.
In support of Adamson’s denial, he shared an email with Free The Press Canada that was sent by him to the lead author at Time, Anna Purna Kambhampaty. In his message he shares legal considerations about the accuracy of her story and the unreasonable harm it is causing to bystanders.
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Source: Michael Adamson
After 4.5 hours of interrogation, Free The Press Canada is reasonably convinced that Michael Adamson (the fine artist) is not responsible for this controversy. Despite the curious connections between the charity that sought his support and the Conservative political machine, his clientele spans every belief system from Toronto to Tokyo and Kelowna to the United Kingdom.
Who Is Anna Purna Kambhampaty?
Lead author of the Time exposé, Anna Purna Kambhampaty, graduated from a private American Christian high school in 2015 (original / archive). She hails from Brooklyn, New York and deleted her own website upon breaking the story about Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Fortunately the Google cache retained a copy of Kambhampaty’s page (archive). Although it doesn’t list her educational experience, it appears she began in the journalism industry quite recently.
More details can be gleaned from Kambhampaty’s Linkedin account (original). She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Information Science from Cornell University with emphasis on economics, data, and app development courses – but none pertaining to bona fide journalism.
This may explain why Anna Purna Kambhampaty didn’t pursue a quote from her purported source, Michael Adamson. She didn’t inquire how the source came to posses an inflammatory yearbook, from eighteen years ago and a school he never attended. She didn’t pursue a comment from Trudeau prior to publishing and didn’t know where to contact when attempting to verify her own story. Ms. Kambhampaty was so lax in her investigation that she managed to put several innocent people in harm’s way by failing to collect enough details. These are all basic requirements to differentiate the news from tabloids and advertising.
But what Kambhampaty does have is experience with databases, writing code, and working for politicians (original). She spent time assisting the Mayor’s Office in Syracuse, New York with data-driven techniques for managing municipal issues. She also campaigned for Dan Maffei in the same city, who was eventually appointed by President Donald Trump to become Commissioner of the Federal Maritime Commission.
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This aspiring data maverick was interested in the politics of social movements, coupled with brand recognition. Before graduating from Cornell University, Anna Purna Kambhampaty interned with CNBC as an interactive web developer (original). It was here that she was granted permission to write a single story under the guidance of a retail editor (original / archive).
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With no real study or experience reporting the news, this young religious ideologue made the leap from Cornell University to become an intern at the New York Times. Strangely any description of her duties is omitted from the Linkedin profile, but Kambhampaty uses this opportunity as a springboard to attain subsequent employment with Time magazine. Stranger still, the former publication doesn’t return any search results that acknowledge her participation (original / archive).
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The very few articles penned by Anna Purna Kambhampaty at Time magazine are primarily focused on fashion’s relationship to politics (original / archive). She began the job at the same time Michael Adamson claims to have discovered the controversial brownface photo of the prime minister.
In any event, Free The Press Canada is not familiar with mainstream media allowing an untested junior to break a major scandal that will directly impact a foreign election. Either Time magazine is failing journalism ethics, or there is more to this curious backstory.
Inspection of Kambhampaty’s Twitter account only adds to the doubtful intrigue (original / archive). She’s been a member since 2011 with only six hundred followers, despite claiming to be a reporter for at least four major publishers in the United States of America. She posted about the Trudeau scandal, albeit briefly and without engaging her audience. She also isn’t responding to any requests for interviews made by Canadian reporters. Kambhampaty hasn’t responded to Michael Adamson (the fine artist) either.
One person asked how they could trust her account was real when it wasn’t verified by Twitter. In the only banter with her readership, Kambhampaty responds a while later with the accredited blue check mark as requested (original / archive). According to Twitter they stopped verifying accounts, so this verification-on-demand service appears to be anomalous (original / archive).
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Source: Twitter & Archive.is
But make no mistake that Anna Purna Kambhampaty has skills. It’s just that they’re more political and data-driven than her experience with mainstream journalism. Upon further inspection, Free The Press Canada was able to locate a more personal venue where Kambhampaty published a pet project. It’s of such an ilk that it has the potential to make her the darling of personalities like Steve Bannon and Peter Thiel.
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Source: Anna Kambhampaty & Medium.com
Pocket Democracy is not for the faint-of-heart, or anyone who takes issue with Cambridge Analytica. Kambhampaty is designing a way to obtain photographs of every ballot and influence voters in their private space, as they’re standing in front of the ballot box. It works through augmented reality, sentiment analysis, and psychographic manipulation – with no apologies, security measures, quality control, or regard for the legalities (original / archive).
Anna Purna Kambhampaty admits this system will suffer from biases, depending which sources are aggregated to form an opinion and advise voters about the suitability of political candidates. That source bias is further amplified by any biases the coder may harbour. She suggests that issue could be mitigated as the collection of data grows larger; but if misinformation gets into the system, she fails to consider how it will magnify the biases exponentially.
Moreover, the Pocket Democracy program gives no thought to preventing fake news from entering the equation. It doesn’t seek to limit partisan sources, PAC material, or special interest groups from influencing voters at the very moment they’re casting a ballot.
Ms. Kambhampaty manages to demonstrate this point about bias in her example without realizing it. In a mock presentation, she selects Democrat Andrew Cuomo to solicit Pocket Democracy‘s recommendation (original / archive).
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Source: Anna Kambhampaty & Medium.com
The first criterion to rate Cuomo as a politician is his position on abortion. Because he favours women’s rights, it lists the Democrat with 74 percent negative sentiment. If someone had used this app while in the process of voting, Kambhampaty clearly programmed the analysis to reject the Governor of New York based on harder right policies that are more favourable, in her opinion.
Coincidentally, Anna Purna Kambhampaty has no remarkable relationship with Canada, except through a Christian prep school that supports the anti-abortion lobby and National March For Life that is syndicated in Ottawa on Parliament Hill (original / archive). Every year they’re joined by Conservative and Republican politicians who inevitably call for leaders like Justin Trudeau to be banished from government.
The Canadian Context
No one is able to fully resolve the mystery surrounding “Vancouver businessman, Michael Adamson” or how Anna Purna Kambhampaty might have become acquainted with him. It’s worth noting however, that the West Point Grey Academy is adjacent to Jody Wilson-Raybould’s riding and that’s where opposition research discovered the brownface material – or an invisible man discovered it – depending who’s telling the story. But next door in the riding of Vancouver-Quadra, Liberal Joyce Murray is defending her seat and position as President of the Treasury Board (original / archive). Former Conservative Prime Minister Kim Campbell calls this area home and she’s been actively involved with a number of the individuals mentioned in this report as well (original).
This mystery is exacerbated by other details that also don’t appear to add up. For example, Warren Kinsella was on top of the Trudeau scandal before any other reporters in Canada. His article in the Toronto Sun was published exactly 2-hours after the Time exposé, but it’s hard to tell anymore because the publication re-dated his entry for an entire day later.
The first edition from Time happened on September 18, 2019 at 6:32pm EDT (archive).
The first edition from Kinsella was released on September 18, 2019 by at least 8:35pm EDT (archive).
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Source: Toronto Sun & Archive.is
Now the same article by Warren Kinsella reports that it wasn’t published until September 19, 2019 by at least 11:42am EDT (archive).
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Source: Toronto Sun & Archive.is
Despite any reason for the incompatible timestamps at the Toronto Sun, the original material suggests that Kinsella wrote approximately fifteen paragraphs (that included the effort of hyperlinked sources), had it edited, fact-checked, formatted for publishing, and posted within a 2-hour time frame. He covered Trudeau, Wilson-Raybould, and American politicos, but didn’t credit Time magazine with breaking the scandal. He doesn’t even explain where he obtained a copy of the offensive photograph.
Free The Press Canada reiterates that it does not support brownface, blackface, or any other racist behaviour. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau must make amends and millions of people have been hurt by his past actions. This needs to be a learning opportunity that helps Canadians grow and become better at eradicating the inherent racism that pervades our culture. The Conservatives, NDP, Green Party, and People’s Party have all been similarly impacted by racial scandals. This is no time to use racism as a manipulative tool, reserved for campaign war rooms and foreign interference. It is a problem that needs solving through education, tolerance, inclusiveness, and respect for one another.
With that said, there is enough evidence of possible foreign meddling to warrant a proper investigation by Elections Canada. Time magazine will not respond to multiple queries to resolve these inconsistencies and only a formal enforcement body could have the power to compel answers. It is inappropriate to spark an international scandal that affects the federal election and hide behind a wall of silence. Anna Purna Kambhampaty must be accountable for the controversy she unleashed on Canadians. Certainly all the innocent Michael Adamsons deserve to be released from the risk to person and livelihood that she carelessly unloaded upon them.
Jody Wilson-Raybould faces indirect scrutiny that has the potential to impact her campaign. It would be horrendously ironic if a scandal about racism was allowed to cause another schism with Indigenous nations. There is just as much at stake for them as there is for Justin Trudeau, in very different ways but due to the same dubious influences (original). Without legitimate answers, everyone will blame each other and a campaign of foreign influence will succeed in driving Canadians further apart.
This section has been added by Free The Press Canada. The edit occurred on September 28, 2019 at 12pm EDT, due to several new developments that impact the provenance of the brownface exposé regarding Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. In addition to the original investigation involving Time magazine, this new information implies that Elections Canada may need to investigate both foreign and domestic media behaviour to ensure the integrity of the federal election.
Global News Versus CTV News
Warren Kinsella and the Toronto Sun are not the only Canadian media that altered publication of the brownface scandal and failed to provide attribution for the materials they distributed.
On September 19, 2019, Mercedes Stephenson and Global News went live with exclusive video they obtained of Justin Trudeau dancing in blackface makeup, also from his younger years. The original story was archived by Free The Press Canada and it reported the short video clip was received from an unnamed source (archive).
Global News claimed the exclusive media was obtained earlier in the week, that would have been the same period Time magazine received a yearbook. As the lead author, Stephenson reported that Global News was able to locate the person who filmed Trudeau (based on information provided by the source), but she failed to explain how that source became the guardian of this political dynamite. Whoever filmed the prime minister declined to verify the video, or describe the time and place where it originated. Stephenson also didn’t explain why Global News withheld the name of its source. There was no assertion of anonymity due to fear of reprisal. It was just a video that came from somewhere secret, without any reason whatsoever. This behaviour doesn’t comply with the most basic Canadian journalism standards.
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Source: Global News & Archive.is
Later in the same day, David Akin from Global News followed up with the prime minister during a scrum. Instead of asking a straightforward question he said the following,
I know there’ll be a lot of people here today of all races who will be, uh, very happy to hear you denounce, uh, racism in all its form and your earlier behaviour. But the prime minister’s job was not created so you could work through your issues. Maybe it’s time that you realize you’re not the indispensable man, as the Leader of the Liberal Party, as the Prime Minister. You have very many capable leaders in your party that perhaps you should step aside, for some reflection, for, some more understanding and discussion. Have you considered asking someone else to lead the party in this election? (Source: original / archive)
David Akin’s statement, that preceded any question, also fails the ethical standards required by Canadian media. The chief political correspondent for Global News directly attempted to interfere in the election by telling Justin Trudeau to quit the campaign midway, due to his personal interpretation of what was best for Justin Trudeau and/or the country. It would be unprecedented for a reigning prime minister or president to abandon an election. Akin’s assertion is not only unethical and inappropriate; it’s also a preposterous suggestion that he used Global News to distribute across Canada and worldwide.
After Justin Trudeau responds, David Akin continues with a second question that pressures the Liberals to stop performing opposition research on other parties, since the prime minister was also guilty of poor behaviour in the past. Prior to the brownface scandal, that research was focused on Conservative candidates who displayed racist, anti-abortion, and anti-gay sentiments. There can be no other conclusion than David Akin was interfering on behalf of the Conservative Party of Canada, and abusing his position in the Canadian media to advance partisan interests.
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Source: Global News
As David Akin was on the campaign trail with Justin Trudeau in Manitoba, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer was making a confession on CTV News in Quebec. It caught everyone by surprise when the latter admitted it was the Conservative Party that gave the controversial video of Trudeau to a ‘responsible news outlet for verification’. This contradicted Mercedes Stephenson’s report at Global News that attempted, unethically, to conceal her ‘exclusive’ source (original / archive).
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Source: CTV News
The written report by CTV News that covered Andrew Scheer’s confession was doubly documented by a producer on video.
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Once this cat was out of the bag, Mercedes Stephenson and Global News were forced to amend their story. The piece was extensively rewritten, so much so that the first and second editions can’t be compared side-by-side anymore. The new article kept the same title and the same timestamp despite being fundamentally altered, without noting the piece was edited to name the Conservative Party as the secret Global News source. Again this fails journalistic standards and in this case it represents an act of deliberate journalistic fraud, in the opinion of Free The Press Canada (original / archive).
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Source: Global News
In no uncertain terms, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer admitted to using Global News as a partisan researcher. Because Mercedes Stephenson also tried to conceal the Conservative Party as her source, it indicates that Global News was a willing partner in this opposition research. Global News provided this service-in-kind and it must be reported to Elections Canada as a political donation.
Raising further concern, Mercedes Stephenson is a product of the U.S. Pentagon, as well as the American army. She was also a Koch Fellow in Defense and National Security Policy in the United States (original / archive).
The Koch brothers are infamously known as key Republican operatives who dabble in dark money, and who harbour an extreme disdain for the Liberal Party of Canada. And Stephenson is otherwise known as the boss of David Akin at Global News (original / archive).
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Source: Mercedes Stephenson & Twitter
The Second Unattributed Photo
Although serendipity and CTV News managed to catch Global News red-handed, the former also failed to attribute its use of a second brownface photograph. Another image of Justin Trudeau began circulating mainstream media, but no one was willing to say who gave it to the press corps. The only attribution was that it appeared in a West Point Grey Academy newsletter that detailed the Arabian Nights themed gala (original / archive).
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Source: CTV News
A photo from the West Point Grey Academy yearbook arose in Time magazine, but this newsletter appeared from nowhere and it was being cited without attribution in all news publications across Canada. Free The Press Canada had to investigate to locate its original use by reporters.
The first appearance of an alternate Arabian Nights photo seems to have occurred in the Niagara Falls Review in an article by Ray Spiteri (original / archive). The Niagara Falls news is part of the Southern Ontario market in the coveted 905 area code. It partners with the Welland Tribune and St. Catharines Standard within the Torstar network, and all productions syndicated the same story with the same unattributed image as CTV News was sharing with its audience.
The Southern Ontario newspaper collaboration used the photo as an opportunity to embarrass all Liberal candidates in the region. It quite specifically painted the Liberals as flawed and the Conservatives as righteous and free of racial scandals, despite the fact they have a continuing problem with racist candidates and the Liberal examples are from two-to-three decades ago (original – with photo / archive – text only).
Upon deeper investigation, Free The Press Canada was able to find an explanation for the second image and it arose in alternative press at Canadaland, in a blog by Robert Jago (original / archive). Mr. Jago is a well known Indigenous activist from Quebec who strongly dislikes the Liberals.
In the blog post Jago claims the second Arabian Nights image was always available in the Wayback Machine archive since 2004. Although this is technically true, Jago’s innocent claim doesn’t seem to hold water. Inspection of the archived PDF file presents a few challenges, in that it isn’t searchable in the database by the name of West Point Grey Academy (search results). It isn’t searchable to find the name Justin Trudeau and it really isn’t searchable at all as a PDF, with the only identifying information as “April2001.pdf” (Wayback archive).
Furthermore, Justin Trudeau is not identified in the Arabian Nights gala coverage and the photo where he appears in brownface isn’t identifiable either. The photos are very small and all fit on a single page, lacking any notation of who appears in them.
Free The Press Canada sincerely regrets any ill feelings caused by examining Robert Jago’s work from a negative perspective. Discussing racism that has historically impacted Indigenous nations and continues to the present day is particularly challenging and no offence is meant toward Mr. Jago. Free The Press Canada reiterates this investigation is focused on election interference and press ethics. It does not dispute that Indigenous Peoples are discriminated against, nor does it lack compassion for the original inhabitants.
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Original Source: Wayback Machine
Regardless of how Robert Jago was inspired to locate the West Point Grey Academy newsletter, it doesn’t change the fact that all mainstream media failed to provide attribution to either Jago or the Wayback Machine. All of the biggest names in Canadian media failed this ethical duty, in the most critical reports they’ve ever written about Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. According to all reports, the second image came from nowhere and everywhere at the same time.
Jason Kenney & Time Magazine
On September 26, 2019, Time magazine published a new edition. It featured a cover with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appearing stoically defeated. The story arose from an interview that was conducted by Time‘s editor-at-large, Ian Bremmer, before his novice reporter had released the contaminated exposé that turned the Canadian election on its head (original / archive).
The interview that was published on the heels of that hit-piece had occurred on September 3, 2019. Bremmer gives no reason for sitting on it for two weeks, until after Kambhampaty received a copy of the yearbook and the writ had dropped to commence the election.
In a departure from Ian Bremmer’s former stature as a respected academic, he manages to blame Trudeau for complying with the American order to arrest Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou, as though it was somehow Canada’s idea. He further blamed Canada for running afoul of Saudi Arabia, as if the murder of Jamal Khashoggi means nothing to the American press. This display is partisan and shameful enough that Bremmer tries to assert the new world order belongs to populism. At every turn he declares liberalism dead and depicts Western democracy as obsolete.
This exercise in gaslighting a prime minister in a cover story is truly amazing and it doesn’t hide that it too is a hit-piece meant to help the Conservative Party. Bremmer is direct in his severely biased comparison within the opening two paragraphs (original / archive).
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Source: Time magazine
Time further denigrates other Western democracies such as France and Germany for not having populist leadership. In another incredulous leap, this editor-at-large relinquishes his hard-earned credentials to chastise Canada for failing to please Vladimir Putin.
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Source: Time magazine
Time‘s so-called interview of Justin Trudeau resembled nothing of the sort, as Ian Bremmer abused the space in the name of foreign interference and his prerogative to editorialize. In Canada this egregious display would not meet journalistic or ethical standards.
To drive the point home, or rather across the sovereign border, Bremmer interviews Alberta Premier Jason Kenney in the same edition and this time it’s a respectful if celebratory interview (original / archive).
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Source: Time magazine
The interview with Jason Kenney was however brutally edited. This cherry-picking throughout the partial transcript causes issues with words missing in certain sentences and questions with responses that sometimes aren’t applicable. If there was any doubt that Time magazine was partisan-meddling in the election, it is this article that seals the deal by providing contrast to illuminate Bremmer’s incredible and purposeful biases (original / archive).
But the editor’s prejudice against Liberal democracy might be better explained by his conflict-of-interest that he never bothers to disclose within the pieces he’s written. Ian Bremmer is also the president of Eurasia Group, “a political risk consultancy” (original / archive) and Canada’s former Conservative minister of foreign affairs, John Baird, is an advisor to his company (original / archive).
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Source: Time magazine & Archive.is
At Eurasia Group the two men are attempting to ‘redefine’ Canada’s energy and oil strategy, against the grain of a Trudeau Liberal government and its commitment to a carbon tax in the effort to mitigate climate change (original / archive).
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Source: Eurasia Group
John Baird and Jason Kenney were both cabinet ministers in the Harper government and Kenney is currently being wooed by Ian Bremmer, of Time magazine and the Eurasia Group.
Although Bremmer failed to disclose this additional conflict-of-interest, he met with Kenney on behalf of Eurasia Group, two conspicuous days before the brownface scandal was published (original / archive). Two days before Time launched its reputational take-down of the Liberal prime minister is when Anna Purna Kambhampaty claims to have received the scandalous yearbook. Two days earlier is when Global News received the video from the Conservative Party, and two days earlier is when the Niagara Falls Review discovered the unattributed second photo from the West Point Grey Academy newsletter.
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Source: Jason Kenney & Twitter
A case of divine timing is all the Canadian media will admit and the Conservative Party’s American operatives are refusing to answer any questions. But Andrew Scheer was in Quebec when Robert Jago published in Canadaland. Scheer also confessed it was the Conservatives who secretly partnered with Global News. Jason Kenney was with the editor of Time at the very moment a yearbook appeared, and Doug Ford was travelling to meet up with Kenney on a political tour of the United States. That may have easily put him at the border in Niagara Falls when the Review received its hot tip (original only).
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Michael Adamson & Christy Clark
In response to this investigation by Free The Press Canada, the Globe and Mail took up the challenge to locate Michael Adamson in Vancouver, British Columbia. With two journalists supported by another three researchers, they were also unsuccessful in securing a statement or interview just like everyone else who tried before them. What resulted was a bizarre story that reported on the Adamsons’ travel complaints that were posted online, and one account of the phone number being disconnected upon contact from the media (original – subscription / archive – public).
But this did assist Free The Press Canada with some important clues. The Globe and Mail painted a picture of a very wealthy Michael Adamson who also owned a luxury property in Honolulu, Hawaii. He was reported to be a generous donor to the St. George’s private school in Vancouver, that competes directly with the West Point Grey Academy where Justin Trudeau was once a teacher.
The Globe and Mail dug up some records that indicate Adamson also supported Cornell University, where Anna Purna Kambhampaty was a student before her new job at Time magazine and where she invented the dangerous Pocket Democracy voting application. They noted that Kambhampaty was friends with a young man by the name of Bennet Tadashi Adamson, and he is the son of this mysterious character who purportedly discovered the scandalized yearbook.
Unfortunately the Globe and Mail came up with little else and Free The Press Canada responded that this story was insufficient to resolve the issues of foreign election interference (original / archive). It amounted to a distraction that insinuated there was nothing to see here.
The Globe and Mail didn’t take issue with Kambhampaty’s journalistic fraud. But ethical considerations should have dictated that Time magazine couldn’t allow the rookie reporter to use a personal friend as a source. The story should have been handed to a different journalist and if there was no other option, she was obligated to disclose this conflict-of-interest transparently within the article.
Free The Press Canada became concerned that the Globe and Mail scoured the internet and Kambhampaty’s social accounts without finding a significant person of interest, who is also close friends with Bennet Tadashi Adamson. Inspecting the latter’s Facebook account places Hamish Marissen-Clark at the top of Adamson’s list (original only).
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Hamish Marissen-Clark is the son of former British Columbia Premier Christy Clark. He attended St. Georges private school with Bennet Tadashi Adamson in Vancouver, where the senior Adamson was a gracious donor and the parents would have known each another. After graduation both the boys departed to the United States for university and that’s where the friendship ignited with Time magazine’s Anna Purna Kambhampaty.
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Since Free The Press Canada discovered this on September 27, 2019 and hinted there was a shocking twist coming to the story, Google became scrubbed to erase that very information by the morning of today, September 28, 2019. All that’s left are the screencaps to prove what’s now been edited in one of the fastest turnaround times on the internet.
The young Mr. Marissen-Clark is now an adult and he’s heavily involved in theatrical arts. He’s also spent time in New York, where both Adamson and Kambhampaty are located since everyone graduated from high school.
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The former premier’s son emphatically supports the arts and he celebrated an investment in the Emily Carr University of Art and Design, where the fine artist Michael Adamson had attended and became wrongly implicated in the brownface scandal.
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Although Free The Press Canada doesn’t know what role Michael Adamson (the philanthropist), Bennet Adamson, Hamish Marissen-Clark, Christy Clark, or Jason Kenney might have played, it is clear that someone from Canada solicited a powerful American to meddle in the federal election with zero accountability and deceitful intent. The provenance of Anna Purna Kambhampaty’s story still can’t be verified and the dubious young reporter continues to decline contact with any media organizations in Canada to atone for her misrepresentation.
In the meantime Christy Clark continues to hit the media circuit, in support of Jason Kenney’s agenda and to criticize Justin Trudeau.
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Last but not least is the latest press release from Michael Adamson (the philanthropist). When it became clear that Free The Press Canada wouldn’t be deterred from telling this story, Adamson finally dispatched a statement through the Newswire service on September 27, 2019. In it he repeats the identical characterization that was communicated by Anna Purna Kambhampaty in the Time magazine article. The only new information is that he’s asking for his family’s privacy (original / archive).
The Newswire service is not free and a press release that is distributed Canada-wide costs a flat fee of $1,160 CAD. Therefore Michael Adamson (the philanthropist) has paid to cover up whatever it is that’s happened here.
All the individuals mentioned in this investigation are presumed innocent of wrongdoing. However, there is clearly enough evidence to not just warrant, but urgently require, a judicial and/or electoral inquiry to insulate Canadians from foreign interference.
One strange outcome that may result from this heinous scheme is a threat to press freedom and the ability to protect sources. Because all the possible meddling occurred through irresponsible and/or partisan media, only journalists will be able to assist Elections Canada or the RCMP with an investigation. Currently there is a contentious case that went before the Supreme Court of Canada to determine these particular limits and an outcome has not yet been determined (original / archive).
To combat foreign interference in this federal election, reporters will either have to submit to interrogation willingly, or risk losing important rights permanently if they force the issue through the justice system. Either way, press freedom is the loser and all the honest journalists in Canada will have to pay the price of their worst-behaved colleagues. Canadian voters will lose even more, if an illegitimate election transpires and it takes years to sort this out.
Make no mistake that someone has hoodwinked all Canadians and put us in a can’t-win-for-losing situation. The pillars of our democracy have just taken a beating and the road to recovery is going to be just as painful.
If readers wish to file a complaint with the commissioner, Elections Canada can be contacted by using the link provided here (intake form).
Free The Press Canada hopes for a free and fair vote, and we leave you with this audio interview to assist you in mulling it over.
It appears that everyone got played, from the Canadian media to the Liberal Party and Jody Wilson-Raybould. The SNC Lavalin affair took out some of the biggest players in the Canadian government, including the prime minister’s principal advisor, clerk of the privy council, and the attorney general. It’s a stark reminder the election is on, even before the writ drops.
I will now perform the post mortem analysis, armed with new details that were hidden from testimony to the justice committee. The reality is this scandal had less to do with SNC Lavalin than it did with Jody Wilson-Raybould’s indigenous heritage. A campaign was afoot against the former attorney general by various partisan interests to undermine her reputation and hamstring Liberals from making legal progress on the Indigenous Rights Framework promise.
The only question is – was Jody Wilson-Raybould a completely unwitting target, or did she willingly participate at any point, against the interests of her party? Hopefully this assessment will provide her with a safer space to explain certain actions than the viciously skewed battle-ring constructed by Canada’s hyper-partisan media.
Please note that sources will be linked for your inspection, including archived copies of the same pages (where possible) in case originals are deleted from the internet.
This begins with a helpful timeline that puts agendas in greater perspective, followed by sections examining key players, the relevant conflicts between them, and the potential legal consequences for Canadian press freedom.
An Illuminating Timeline
2014 – Multiple charges are laid against SNC Lavalin executives, related to the Libyan bribery scandal.
February 13, 2015 – Sami Bebawi, the former vice president of SNC Lavalin construction, is released on bail for obstruction of justice charges related to the Libyan bribery scandal. Charges were originally filed in 2014, but the accused was delayed in returning to Canada. (original + archive)
February 11, 2016 – SNC Lavalin begins lobbying the prime minister’s office (PMO), Liberal cabinet ministers, and several opposition MP’s including Andrew Scheer (Conservative leader) and Jagmeet Singh (NDP leader) for a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA), after firing its bad apples from the company. (original + archive)
***Edit – After publishing, NDP candidates took to social media to deny Jagmeet Singh’s involvement. A link to the lobbying record between NDP officials and SNC Lavalin is now provided, to resolve that partisan attempt at misinformation. (original + archive) Also added is the full lobbying record of SNC Lavalin, identifying every government official from every party they met with, in an effort to secure a DPA. (original – click Monthly Communication Reports for chronological list)
July 8, 2016 – The Supreme Court of Canada rules on R v. Jordan, setting a precedent that defendants must be tried within 18 months of being criminally charged, or within 30 months if a preliminary inquiry is pursued. (original + archive)
December 12, 2017 – Justice Richard Wagner is appointed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada. He was previously selected by former Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Wagner is the son of a former Quebec Liberal cabinet minister and federal candidate for Conservative leadership. Peers describe his rulings as somewhat Conservative leaning, although he’s upheld Charter rights on significant cases favouring Liberals. (original + archive)
May, 2018 – A private member’s bill (C-262) by MP Romeo Saganash (NDP) to harmonize federal laws with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) passes the first reading, with Conservatives voting against it. (original + archive)
September, 2018 – The Liberal government implements deferred prosecution agreements (DPA’s) in the omnibus budget bill, bringing Canada up to speed with our trading partners – the United States, United Kingdom, and France – to ensure they don’t have an unfair advantage – also to protect employees and pensioners who were not involved in wrongdoing. (original + archive)
September, 2018 – While still Attorney General, Jody Wilson-Raybould battles with the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, Carolyn Bennett, over the implementation of an Indigenous Rights Framework. The Trudeau government promised this action, but Bennett was opposed to moving quickly enough for this to happen before the next election. She also opposed the Department of Justice having control of the legal aspects, despite the attorney general’s expertise. (original + archive)
End of October, 2018 – The Privy Council Office (PCO/Wernick) requests a legal opinion from the Department of Justice regarding the potential impacts if SNC Lavalin is criminally convicted. As attorney general, Jody Wilson-Raybould instructed her deputy minister to withhold that report. (original + archive)
This is arguably insubordination, for refusing to provide legal advice to the PMO. The request didn’t constitute pressure to offer a DPA; instead asking what happens when one is denied. The legislation enabling a deferred prosecution agreement had only been live for one month when the prosecutor denied this option to SNC Lavalin. Also denied was advice to seek outside legal guidance on using a DPA, by the attorney general.
November 28, 2018 – Jody Wilson-Raybould texts with Gerry Butts (PMO) about the Indigenous Rights Framework, to advise she fulfilled an important part of her mandate letter from the prime minister. She advises she would publish the Attorney General Indigenous Litigation Directive the following day and she’s very happy about it. Wilson-Raybould indicates she negotiated with fellow ministers and notably, Conservative lawyers within the Department of Justice, to gain their approval. She fielded concerns from the PMO on this very day and presumably gained their support, because Butts doesn’t respond for a week and never dissents. (original + Scribd docs)
December 11, 2018 – Jody Wilson-Raybould texts with Gerry Butts (PMO) again, this time inquiring about changes the prime minister wants to the Attorney General Indigenous Litigation Directive (informal working title), what the outcome was at a cabinet meeting, and if she had approval to distribute these guidelines. She assures Butts that she made all the changes required by “Elder” (Elder Marques, senior policy advisor to the prime minister). They wouldn’t resume texting again until a month later. (original + Scribd docs)
December 19, 2018 – Clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick (PCO) meets with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for lunch. Wernick testified that he attempted to contact Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould later in the day at her home, to discuss SNC Lavalin and the consequences of her decision on whether to intervene in the case. (Some phone tag ensued before the two got in touch.) (original + archive)
December 19, 2018 – Jody Wilson-Raybould meets with ex Conservative prime minister Kim Campbell at a coffee shop in Vancouver, for advice on political interference in the attorney general’s office and the latter’s experience with the David Milgaard case for comparison. (original + archive)
December 19, 2018 – Jody Wilson-Raybould calls Michael Wernick back about the SNC Lavalin matter and records the conversation without informing him. (Bear in mind there is a three hour time difference between Ontario and British Columbia.) (video analysis + full call audio + archive)
As with many journalists, lawyers, and pundits, I argue this is a breach of ethics and give reasons in a viral Twitter essay. The thread addresses cabinet confidentiality and solicitor-client privilege as different paths to arrive at the same conclusion. (original + archive)
January 8, 2019 – After a few days of phone tag, Jody Wilson-Raybould learns she’s being moved from the attorney general post and texts with Gerry Butts (PMO) about the appearance of being “pushed out”. (original + Scribd docs)
January 9 & 10, 2019 – Jody Wilson-Raybould is on vacation in Bali. She and Gerry Butts (PMO) have trouble getting in touch with one another, and she acknowledges her fate being in his hands. Butts responds that it’s okay if she wants to tune out and enjoy her vacation for the next couple days. (original + Scribd docs)
January 11, 2019 – While still on vacation, Jody Wilson-Raybould publishes the Attorney General of Canada’s Directive on Civil Litigation Involving Indigenous Peoples on the Department of Justice (DOJ) website. It’s important to read this document in its entirety, because it’s at the heart of the current controversy and what the former attorney general is trying to protect – from Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett, Conservative lawyers in the DOJ, and through negotiations with cabinet, the PCO (Wernick), and PMO (Butts/Trudeau/Elder). (original + archive)
January 14, 2019 – Dr. Jane Philpott is shuffled from Minister of Indigenous Services to President of the Treasury Board and Minister of Digital Government. Jody Wilson-Raybould is shuffled from the Attorney General’s Office and Minister of Justice, to become the Minister of Veterans Affairs. (original + archive)
In response, Wilson-Raybould publishes a poignant letter addressing Indigenous issues that was subsequently deleted from the Liberal website upon ejecting her from the party. (original PDF now missing)
February 7, 2019 – The Globe and Mail publishes an exposé that claims the PMO politically interfered in the SNC Lavalin prosecution and placed undue pressure on Jody Wilson-Raybould to offer the corporation a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA). Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Principal Secretary Gerry Butts (PMO), and Clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick (PCO) all denied the allegation, that was based on an anonymous source. (archive for those without a subscription)
One point of contention is the leaker cited confidential information within the Prime Minister’s Office that only staff in the PMO or PCO would be privy to.
February 12, 2019 – Jody Wilson-Raybould resigns as Minister of Veterans Affairs. A number of anonymous sources leaked to media that senior government officials, including the prime minister, tried to negotiate with Wilson-Raybould for weeks leading up to this moment. They say the former attorney general had a number of conditions, such as apologizing and firing Gerry Butts, as well as Michael Wernick – but obviously that mediation was unsuccessful.
Five conditions were reported but the leakers would only describe three, with no explanation why they withheld part of the information. This indicates again that only Cabinet, the PCO, and PMO would have been privy to these details, to be able to inform reporters. (original + archive)
February 18, 2019 – Gerald Butts (aka Gerry) resigns as Principal Advisor to the Prime Minister. His letter is distributed to the public and he cites anonymous allegations against him regarding SNC Lavalin as the reason for his departure. He says those allegations are false and reiterates his good working relationship with Jody Wilson-Raybould throughout. This positive relationship is supported by Wilson-Raybould’s similar recollections and the text messages they shared previously, in contrast to the media’s depiction as adversarial. (original + archive)
February 22, 2019 – Conservative MP Lisa Raitt, Deputy Leader of the Opposition, floats the idea that Jody Wilson-Raybould believed she was removed as the attorney general due to her position on the Indigenous reconciliation file. (original + archive)
February 27, 2019 – Jody Wilson-Raybould testifies at the justice committee. She claims to have faced undue pressure to intervene in the SNC Lavalin case and offer a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA). (original transcript + archive)
February 27, 2019 – Self-professed Liberal strategist (and lawyer) Warren Kinsella publishes a photo of his wife, Lisa Kinsella, hugging Jody Wilson-Raybould upon conclusion of her testimony. This caused a stir on social media where he also posted and it was deleted shortly after. However, the Google cache retained a copy from the original webpage. (original deleted + cache copy + archive)
February 28, 2019 – Social media and Liberal activist ‘Paddy O’Limerick’ commented about the photo Warren Kinsella posted on Twitter of his wife hugging Jody Wilson-Raybould, in connection with the SNC Lavalin scandal. (archive)
Kinsella responded by trying to obtain her personal information in a threatening way and the internet considered this a threat to dox her.
Concerned individuals reported the threat to Twitter, but the social media company declined to intervene because ‘Paddy’s’ personal information had not yet been published. They decided that threats to publicly identify a user’s name and address are within the terms of service. (original + archive)
While Twitter may condone this behaviour and driving women off the internet, I warned the parties that Pat (aka Patty, Paddy) is the wife of a police officer through my personal and professional knowledge. This is why she uses an alias, to protect the safety of her family. (original + archive)
It is unknown if doxxing is considered conduct unbecoming of a lawyer by any law society. I’m not aware of a professional complaint being filed, although additional considerations about Mr. Kinsella are addressed in a subsequent section.
March 4, 2019 – Dr. Jane Philpott resigns as Treasury Board President and Minister of Digital Government. She makes this decision in support of Jody Wilson-Raybould and claims she has lost confidence in this government, over the handling of SNC Lavalin. (original + archive)
March 6, 2019 – Former Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, Gerald Butts (aka Gerry), testifies at the justice committee. He doesn’t wish to quarrel with Jody Wilson-Raybould about their recollection of events, but denies putting pressure on the ex attorney general regarding SNC Lavalin. Instead he reports in their December 5, 2018 meeting that she was primarily concerned with the Indigenous rights and civil litigation directive. (original transcript + archive)
March 6, 2019 – Clerk of the Privy Council, Michael Wernick, testifies again and publishes a supplementary statement on the government website. In the last paragraph he warns the justice committee needs to investigate the Attorney General of Canada’s Directive on Civil Litigation Involving Indigenous Peoples that Jody Wilson-Raybould published on January 11, 2019, because ‘it marks a profound change in the legal landscape’. He advises it can be easily rescinded, and characterizes the question of support for Wilson-Raybould’s directive as an election wedge issue. (original + archive)
March 8, 2019 – A federal judge rejects SNC Lavalin’s application for judicial review of the prosecutor’s refusal to negotiate a DPA. The court cited the company’s failure to suggest there had been an abuse of process. (original + archive)
March 18, 2019 – Michael Wernick resigns as Clerk of the Privy Council. He cites the non-partisan duties of an impending election and that ‘there is no path to have a relationship of mutual trust and respect with the leaders of the Opposition parties’. (original + archive)
March 19, 2019 – The Trudeau Liberal government delivers the federal (election) budget, but it fails to gain much traction against the political sniping surrounding Jody Wilson-Raybould and SNC Lavalin. (original + archive)
March 19, 2019 – A photo is sent to Susan Delacourt (Liberal columnist at the Toronto Star and iPolitics) depicting Jody Wilson-Raybould, Dr. Jane Philpott, and Lisa Kinsella engaged in a post-budget chat at Chateau Laurier. Kinsella is Warren’s wife and his partner in the Daisy Group political consulting business. She was with Wilson-Raybould at the conclusion of the latter’s testimony as well. (original + archive)
March 20, 2019 – Retired judge, Brian Giesbrecht, publishes a screed against Jody Wilson-Raybould for her directive to the Department of Justice regarding Indigenous rights and how to approach civil litigation involving Section 35 matters. Giesbrecht claims that Jody Wilson-Raybould instructed federal lawyers not to appeal decisions against the government and a wide range of boogeyman allegations; but that simplistic regurgitation isn’t wholly true, nor is it a reasonable representation of the former attorney general’s guidelines. For context, Giesbrecht is a senior fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy – a known Conservative institution. He also published in Troy Media, that plainly states it is a Conservative operation. (original + archive)
March 21, 2019 – Dr. Jane Philpott gives an exclusive interview to Macleans and claims, “There’s much more to the story that needs to be told.” She encourages the government to tell Canadians the truth, but withholds what truth she’s talking about. (original + archive)
March 24, 2019 – Owner of the Daisy Group political consulting firm, Warren Kinsella, trades friendly repartée with ex Conservative prime minister Kim Campbell and brags about his nickname as the Prince of Darkness. (archive)
March 25, 2019 – An anonymous source leaks that Jody Wilson-Raybould recommended Justice Glenn Joyal for Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada. This information is highly confidential and she is criticized for backing a known Conservative, who took issue with Charter rights being used as a means of political activism to ‘govern from the bench’.
This source knew the former attorney general submitted a 60-page report in support of Joyal and the only people who would have known this fine detail are close colleagues in the Department of Justice, the PCO/PMO, or the ‘independent’ advisory board that was headed by former Conservative Prime Minister Kim Campbell. (original + archive)
March 25, 2019 – Chief Justice Glenn Joyal of the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench slams the government leaker and Canadian media for engaging in a political smear campaign using his name. Joyal corrects the propaganda and reports that he withdrew his name from Supreme Court deliberations due to his wife’s cancer diagnosis before a decision was made. (archive for those without a subscription)
March 26, 2019 – One day later, another anonymous source peddled more detailed information about Jody Wilson-Raybould’s thought process behind nominating Justice Glenn Joyal over Justice Richard Wagner. This leaker had such exclusive access to the highest levels of government that they must have received the former attorney general’s 60-page nomination report. These details indicate a serious breach in parliamentary security. (archive for those without a subscription)
March 26, 2019 – Self-proclaimed Liberal strategist (also attorney) Warren Kinsella slams Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as blameworthy for the leak about Justice Joyal and the Supreme Court appointments process. He claims the PMO is responsible for a campaign to smear Jody Wilson-Raybould. (original + archive)
April 1, 2019 – A preliminary inquiry concludes and a judge must decide if there is enough evidence to proceed with a trial against the SNC Lavalin corporation, regarding the Libyan bribery scandal. (original + archive)
April 1, 2019 – Bill C-262 (by Romeo Saganash, NDP) to harmonize federal laws with Indigenous rights enters the second reading at the senate level. The Assembly of First Nations urges support to pass this legislation (given that Conservatives voted against it). (original + archive)
April 2, 2019 – Former Principal Secretary Gerry Butts (PMO) submits his text messages with Jody Wilson-Raybould in response to her testimony at the justice committee, and to supplement his own statement. They largely confirm both parties’ recollections that SNC Lavalin was hardly mentioned. (original + Scribd docs)
April 2, 2019 – Jody Wilson-Raybould and Dr. Jane Philpott are ejected from the Liberal Party of Canada. The former shares an impassioned plea about remaining with the party, but the prime minister reports that trust is broken with the government caucus. (original + archive)
Wilson-Raybould urges, “… rather than letting authority be the truth, let truth be the authority.”
April 3, 2019 – Jody Wilson-Raybould attends the Daughters of the Vote event on Parliament Hill. She cites supporting the young ladies, but also ex Conservative Prime Minister Kim Campbell, whom she believes is an “amazing person”. (original + archive)
April 4, 2019 – Bullets are fired at the home of Toronto city councilor, John Filion, and CBC host, Anna Maria Tremonti. The event is so recent that police don’t know if the attacker was motivated by his municipal work, or possibly her coverage of Jody Wilson-Raybould. (original + archive)
April 5, 2019 – Conrad Black publishes a screed against Jody Wilson-Raybould in the National Post. He opens by accusing the former attorney general of advancing Indigenous causes at the “expense of the Canadian national interest”. Only after attacking her racial heritage does he continue with the SNC Lavalin matter. (original + archive)
For context, Conrad Black was publisher of the National Post and that newspaper was founded by fellows from the Fraser Institute, in an effort to broadcast more Conservative voices into Canadian media. This included Ezra Levant, Jon Kay, and Conservative Member of Parliament John Williamson. (original + archive)
Black cited his motivation as a response to the Globe and Mail; a publication the disgraced Lord deemed to be a Liberal platform. But the Globe and Mail has since revealed its own Conservative bias, when editor-in-chief David Walmsly overrode the editorial board’s endorsement of a Liberal government. In a haphazard fashion, it was changed to support one of the worst-performing Conservative leaders in Canadian history and silence the paper’s journalists. (original + archive)
April 5, 2019 – Now as an independent member of parliament, Jody Wilson-Raybould provides an interview to Mercedes Stephenson at Global News. The ex attorney general makes a valid point that she was never criticized or disciplined for her job performance prior to resigning from cabinet. Even as the Globe and Mail allegations broke pertaining to SNC Lavalin, the prime minister and principal secretary supported her. It therefore stands to reason that any criticism afterwards may be classified as a smear campaign. (original + archive)
Insofar as getting a fair shake from colleagues and media goes, it doesn’t appear that Mercedes Stephenson disclosed her conflict of interest with Jody Wilson-Raybould. In 2010 the journalist participated with Gerry Butts in penning a report for the G20 that praised the effect of climate change opening the Canadian Arctic for business. It was crass and harboured racist attitudes toward the Indigenous peoples and their traditional food sources. (Scribd doc)
Liberal Women Divided Over Indigenous Affairs
If you skipped it before, it would be prudent to read Jody Wilson-Raybould’s Attorney General of Canada’s Directive on Civil Litigation Involving Indigenous Peoples now. (original + archive) It was the most important work she did at the Department of Justice and the most controversial to Conservative opponents, as well as Michael Wernick (PCO) and nail-biters in the PMO.
A full reading indicates she did not preclude government appeals against Indigenous claims, as the retired Conservative judge exclaimed. In fact, she walked an incredibly careful path to fulfill her mandate from the prime minister without hamstringing government lawyers from addressing Section 35 matters and civil litigation. Jody Wilson-Raybould did what she was instructed to accomplish. This despite opposition from Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett, and misogynist whisper campaigns that she was “difficult”.
Dr. Bennett carries herself like the white saviour of Indigenous peoples and it’s plain to see she resented any lived and legal experience from Jody Wilson-Raybould. Michael Wernick (PCO) went so far as to defend Dr. Bennett’s honour in his justice committee testimony and the policy spat he revealed between the women was widely covered by the media. It’s just unfortunate the narrative was spun to impugn the former attorney general as the party who was being “difficult”. That’s an entirely different ilk of putting pressure on Wilson-Raybould, to see her name destroyed if she didn’t come to another minister’s heel. (original + archive)
Moreover, Dr. Bennett came to Michael Wernick’s defence when he was appointed by Trudeau as Clerk of the Privy Council. Previously Wernick was the Deputy Minister of Indian (sic) Affairs under the leadership of former Conservative prime minister, Stephen Harper. These were cruel years to First Nations and he was part of the campaign that implemented spying and disruption tactics against Indigenous advocates. (original + archive)
Cindy Blackstock is only one example and she was tormented for filing a human rights claim as executive director of the First Nation Child and Family Caring Society. The Assembly of First Nations supported Blackstock and she eventually won in a ruling that blasted the federal government for discriminating against Indigenous children by underfunding child welfare agencies on reserves.
Wernick was tasked with an investigation into the spying allegations and he fudged a report to absolve the Conservative administration of any wrongdoing whatsoever. He was later refuted by the privacy commissioner who independently investigated and confirmed the anti-Indigenous spy campaign was in fact true. (original + archive)
In Wernick’s testimony to the justice committee, he acknowledged a policy stand-off between Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett and Minister of Justice/Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould. But Wernick never describes the policy they disagreed about and the only one it wouldn’t be is SNC Lavalin.
Dr. Philpott was the Minister of Indigenous Services and had to work with Dr. Bennett on the most regular basis out of all the cabinet ministers. Their jobs were related to serve the Indigenous population and both these women are physicians. But Dr. Philpott took a principled stand and supported Jody Wilson-Raybould, as an Indigenous attorney general, over Dr. Bennett and every other person in Cabinet.
Philpott repeatedly warns there is more to this story and she compels Cabinet to be honest with the Canadian people. She accuses the prime minister and his closest advisors of ‘shutting down the story’, but never reveals what part of the story she feels is being silenced.
Likewise, Jody Wilson-Raybould won’t disclose two of her conditions for staying with the party, before her unceremonious ejection occurred. The high-ranking government leakers who peddled that story to multiple news agencies won’t discuss those two conditions either.
Despite Gerry Butts tabling his text messages with Jody Wilson-Raybould, her Attorney General of Canada’s Directive on Civil Litigation Involving Indigenous Peoples is the one thing that can’t be mentioned – even though it was part of their recurring discussions and part of the justice committee evidence.
But key Conservatives are squawking about it and Micheal Wernick tried to make this directive an election issue. In some circles it’s been suggested that Jody Wilson-Raybould owed a deferred prosecution agreement to SNC Lavalin, to equalize the favoured treatment she’s been accused of giving to First Nations.
In a text conversation with the prime minister’s principal advisor, Wilson-Raybould further discusses the approval she needed from Conservative lawyers within the Department of Justice. The DOJ is supposed to be non-partisan, yet two of the highest-ranking officials in the country acknowledged needing that partisan buy-in to be able to proceed with the Indigenous directive. No one is questioning the tyranny of an attorney general needing to pacify the Opposition within the public service.
Jody Wilson-Raybould may have committed an ethical breach when she recorded Michael Wernick without informing him. It appears she may have been insubordinate when she instructed her deputy minister to withhold the legal opinion on SNC Lavalin from the Privy Council. This requires discipline.
If we were to view this situation through a tort law lens, it could be compared to a drunk driving accident. The drunk driver causes the accident, but the victim with injuries wasn’t wearing a seatbelt. In cases like these the victim is still entitled to damages, but they lose 25 percent of the settlement due to their part in the negligence for failing to wear a seatbelt. In Canadian law our judgment doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing.
It’s apparent there were extenuating circumstances for Jody Wilson-Raybould and a multi-faceted political campaign to deeply undermine her. It doesn’t seem even-handed to throw the baby out with the bathwater, and Canada’s relationship with Indigenous peoples along with it. The former attorney general’s Indigenous directive is at stake and this is a decisive moment in Canadian history. Whether Cabinet and mainstream media want to discuss this or not, the repercussions of excluding Wilson-Raybould for writing that directive will reverberate for decades. This also comes after the Conservative experiment with attempting to manipulate Senator Patrick Brazeau.
Dr. Philpott and Ms. Wilson-Raybould were willing to sit as back benchers and still contribute the wealth of their experience to representing constituents. Extraordinary investments were made in their professional development and it’s being wasted so a timid government can keep secrets about Indigenous issues as we head into an election. The Conservatives and NDP must not have wanted to be pigeonholed on reconciliation either, because it was their duty to know this and they chose to ignore or remain silent.
The truth of the matter with SNC Lavalin is that two executives were exonerated when everyone wasn’t looking. Lengthy court delays intervened to make this a non-issue; and the Jordan ruling may yet prevail to dismiss the case against the corporation. If SNC Lavalin is forced to trial, they could still plead political interference based on the government leakers and partisan media spectacle over the past two months, non-stop. This isn’t a justifiable reason to discourage women in politics, or sever communication with Indigenous partners.
On Warren Kinsella’s Inner Battle With Liberals
I’m well aware that Mr. Kinsella threatens lawsuits against his detractors liberally. We tangoed once before when his wife was an executive at ORNGE (the Ontario air ambulance) and that company was spectacularly scandalized. This section will begin by taking that elephant out of the room and thanking Kathleen Wynne for SLAPP legislation that was long overdue in Ontario. If Kinsella engages in silencing tactics anyway, perhaps the Ottawa bubble will pitch in for a Kickstarter campaign to fund a proper defence of press freedom. Preaching for Jody Wilson-Raybould to be allowed to speak her truth doesn’t mesh with censoring the analysts who know a thing or two about it.
It’s become necessary to address the Kinsellas because they’re ingratiating themselves to Jody Wilson-Raybould and implanting their influence in the SNC Lavalin matter. The former attorney general wouldn’t be familiar with the company she’s been keeping, or their conflict of interest with Indigenous issues that are being muffled by all the players.
Warren Kinsella projects himself as a Liberal strategist, and indeed he was integral to the Ontario McGuinty government. (archive) He was also a staffer to Jean Chrétien, who was eventually undone by Paul Martin in a Liberal family coup. McGuinty was turfed as one of the most shady administrations and these rifts within the party have never quite healed. (archive) You can gauge that damage through the behaviour of Sheila Copps, lately on social media.
Gerry Butts is the best friend of current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, but he was McGuinty’s principal secretary before assuming the same role with Trudeau. (archive) Both Kinsella and Butts were instrumental to the Liberal administration when the ORNGE bribery/kickback scheme was transpiring.
The maiden name of Warren’s wife is Lisa Kirbie. She was one of the most central figures to the ORNGE scandal, as the director of government relations. She handled the paperwork for ORNGE, to-and-from government, that was pivotal to the police investigation. (original + archive)
Uncovering the problems at ORNGE occurred because an issue of public safety arose for patients they were transporting. It ballooned into an alleged $4.7 million boondoggle and Kirbie was fired from the company in the course of the fallout. She was offered a severance package, but sued for more on the basis of damages for sexual harassment allegations that were filed after being terminated. (original + archive)
Before leaving the company, Kirbie secretly recorded executives in her effort to substantiate the allegations, that included holding Alfred Apps responsible for the ORNGE scandal as the “mastermind”. Apps was a lawyer for ORNGE and president of the Liberal Party of Canada. He adamantly denied Kirbie’s accusations, but was turfed as party president due to the bad press. (original + archive)
Not only did Apps leave his post at the helm of the Liberal Party, but he also resigned from Fasken Martineau. The law firm continued to represent ORNGE and Apps departed to practice with his brother. He says that departure had nothing to do with the ORNGE file. Nor has he ever been charged with an offence. (original + archive)
As a sidebar, Fasken Martineau is now representing Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, to defend against libel allegations levied by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau regarding the SNC Lavalin dispute. (original + archive)
Kirbie was dating Kinsella at the time of the ORNGE scandal and they married a short while later. It’s unknown what came of her wrongful dismissal suit, but her secret recordings never resulted in criminal repercussions for the company. Only the key colleagues she worked with were terminated or resigned in kind. Their reputations were also destroyed. (original + archive)
Continuing, Warren Kinsella is one of the grandfathers of negative attack ads in Canadian politics and he is proud to defend that strategy. (archive) He is a practising lawyer in Ontario, subject to the Rules of Professional Conduct. (original) He’s the owner/operator of The Daisy Group, a political and public relations consulting firm. (archive) He’s also a Sun Media columnist, who once skirted a libel suit brought by a diplomat based on a technicality. (original + archive)
Kinsella defended Ezra Levant’s Sun News Network when the channel was closed, as a matter of press freedom that ignored the bigotry and racism it promoted. It was a sister to the Sun newspaper where Kinsella publishes and he frequently appeared on their political television programs. (archive)
Sun Media was owned by Québecor until 2015. (archive) And former Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney remains Chairman of the Board at Québecor. (original + archive) Pierre Karl Péladeau is the CEO of Québecor and past CEO of Sun Media, as well as being the former Leader of the Parti Québécois. He’s best known for his political stance as a Québec separatist and ran for the PQ in a riding that is a stone’s throw from Justin Trudeau’s Liberal constituency. (archive) These are, or have been, the employers of Warren Kinsella.
On the political front, and despite Kinsella’s professed Liberal identity, he worked the John Tory municipal campaign and counts Nick Kouvalis as a best friend. (archive) John Tory is the former leader of Ontario Progressive Conservatives and in that time he ran against Dalton McGuinty for premier. (archive) Nick Kouvalis ran Kellie Leitch’s campaign for leadership of the federal Conservatives, that was widely denounced for racism, Islamophobia, and the pursuit of a snitch line. (archive) He also has a criminal record for drunk driving and an incident related to a different Conservative campaign. (archive) The beef between Canadian media and Kouvalis is that he embraced and defended the spread of fake news, as a source that gleefully libelled Justin Trudeau. (archive)
On April 1, 2019 Kinsella and Kouvalis collaborated again, for the purpose of a Sun News article that was a takedown of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Kinsella promoted Kouvalis as a trustworthy authority, and among their comments was a nod to #Gropegate (wherein Trudeau was accused of inappropriately touching a reporter). They further noted that PMJT can only win the impending election if he picks up more votes in Québec. Coincidentally, that’s where SNC Lavalin is located. (archive)
But in that article Kinsella forgot to disclose that he was the source of #Gropegate. He forgot to disclose that he advised one of Kent Hehr’s accusers, while also writing extensively about that #MeToo scandal that resulted in Hehr’s removal from the federal Liberal Cabinet. (archive)
Although Warren Kinsella vows he is a Liberal strategist, he has a history of batting for more than one team and sniping out more high profile Liberals than the Opposition could dream of. He was ejected from the Olivia Chow mayoral campaign and the feeling was apparently mutual. (archive) He’s attempting to assist the Conservative’s Andrew Scheer in the current election against Trudeau. (archive) In the Hill Times he’s attempting to assist the NDP’s Jagmeet Singh. (archive) All the while Kinsella claims to be close enough to the PMO to know that former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney is the (Conservative) leader that Trudeau speaks with most frequently. (archive)
He even harbours ill feelings toward former Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin and former Liberal Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne. For the record, it was Martin who recruited Jody Wilson-Raybould on behalf of Justin Trudeau. (archive)
Kinsella has an interesting take on what constitutes a conflict of interest, but none could be more concerning than his precarious situation and attitude toward Indigenous matters.
In celebrating the Daisy Group’s 10-year anniversary, Kinsella boasted about some of his clients. They include: all levels of the Liberal Party, bar associations, law firms, the Department of Justice (where Jody Wilson-Raybould used to work), Indian (sic) Affairs (where Michael Wernick used to work), and a couple of First Nations. (archive)
Warren Kinsella fathered a child from the Carcross Tagish First Nation. He’s deleted most entries that cited his daughter, but kept one published that notes the reserve’s recent support for Jody Wilson-Raybould. (archive)
Other entries on Kinsella’s personal website that reference his Indigenous daughter are deleted from 2012, during Stephen Harper’s tenure. The following titles are no longer available:
Aug 2012 – In Carcross Tagish Territory Tonight
Sept 2012 – CTFN: This Is My Daughter’s First Nation
More recently he deleted an entry about his wife’s involvement with Jody Wilson-Raybould, surrounding her justice committee testimony. Now missing from the site is this title:
It should be noted that Lisa Kinsella joined the Daisy Group as a managing partner after leaving ORNGE. She’s originally from British Columbia, where Jody Wilson-Raybould calls home.
So Warren Kinsella and the Daisy Group have professionally represented First Nations, including the one where his daughter resides. (archive) But he also claims to have been an advisor to former prime ministers Chrétien, Martin, and Harper on Indigenous issues and doesn’t see it as a conflict of interest. Representing the government’s Indian (sic) Affairs didn’t ring any warning bells either. (archive)
To read the tone of Kinsella’s sentiments toward Indigenous peoples is confusing at best. He sympathizes with their suffering, yet also claims that Indigenous leaders bear much responsibility for the ongoing crises. He wields accusations that have been decried as racist, such as blaming elders for misappropriating their government reparations. For example, Kinsella took a hard line against Attawapiskat and Chief Theresa Spence. (archive)
He further describes his position at the Daisy Group as a government and public relations consultant who is “living in spin” and an “apprentice of the dark arts”. (archive)
On the serious side however, the Carcross Tagish First Nation is where the Klondike Gold Rush began. It was also one of the first Indigenous reserves converted to a fee simple municipality, as the Harper Conservatives formed government. The negotiations transpired under Paul Martin’s Liberals and came into effect in 2006. The agreement extinguished Indigenous rights in many regards and opened their land for mining, akin to SNC Lavalin interests. It also brought them into the Canadian taxation schedule. (original government link + downloadable PDF, 583 pages)
Warren Kinsella failed to see the irony when his daughter’s First Nation, the one that he represented, gave him a carving of a shark turning into a man. (archive)
Within six years of signing onto the fee simple municipality structure, the Carcross Tagish First Nation was fighting to change the agreement. A number of clauses in the settlement with government prevent that from happening, however. (original + archive)
The client list at Daisy Group is full of potential conflicts, between groups and governments, First Nations and governments, as well as various businesses and governments. Unfortunately Warren Kinsella’s policy to deal with these conflicts is not as prominently featured. (archive)
What Kinsella did to silence his detractors is possibly just as alarming. He sued Twitter because the social media giant didn’t remove a post that was critical of his adventures. Instead of going after the commentator for libel and proving the allegation, he forced Twitter to settle with him or face the prospect of setting a legal precedent that would undoubtedly affect its investors. Twitter settled with Kinsella for $200,000. (original + archive)
And then, somehow, Twitter became a Daisy Group client. (archive)
Only Jody Wilson-Raybould knows if the Kinsellas disclosed these details to her. Only she can tell us if she was aware that the attorney general’s Indigenous directive conflicts with the fee simple approach. Regardless of her knowledge though, SNC Lavalin has an interest in the way this plays out.
Potential Legal Consequences For Canada & Canadian Journalism
A number of leaks have now occurred from the highest levels of the Canadian government. Whether it’s about the policy on deferred prosecution agreements, deliberations for a Supreme Court judge, the Khadr settlement (archive), or Jody Wilson-Raybould’s conditions to Cabinet, only the PMO, PCO, or Department of Justice could be responsible for them. A campaign to remove the attorney general couldn’t be more clear and two of the people who aren’t behind this are Wilson-Raybould and Trudeau.
But as a country we are nonetheless facing a severe security breach. It must be investigated to resolve the integrity of the federal government and the sanctity of operations – especially with an election approaching. That would mean trying to obtain records from journalists that are supposed to be protected, to determine the identity of leakers.
Recently Vice News was responsible for setting a precedent that already stripped away journalists’ ability to protect sources, unless they are anonymous. As expected, the Canadian media resorted to using only anonymous sources after that decision. But now we have a national security risk that can only be mitigated by chipping away at what was left of press freedom and the new Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada may become responsible for managing that outcome. (original + archive)
It is with great regret that I bring this to everyone’s attention. The reason I’ve done this is to spark a genuine, adult conversation about the consequential issues that are going on behind the superficial headlines. So long as we continue to believe the problem is over a DPA with SNC Lavalin, we will continue to fail at addressing these substantive threats to the Canadian – Indigenous relationship.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his lifelong friend, Gerald Butts, enjoy seeking sage advice in historical and contemporary literature. On that note this dispatch will close with a few words of that nature.
“The willingness to change one’s mind in the light of new evidence is the sign of rationality, not weakness.” Stuart Sutherland
(Full disclosure: When I took time off from journalism, I was the director of a federal Liberal riding association – the one that had to contend with Conservative Kellie Leitch. I have never participated in politics while reporting on them and my ethical values on managing conflicts of interest are set in stone. I guest lecture on matters of ethics and the partisan effect on press freedom, and I’ve been an advisor to the Inter American Press Association. I even managed to score myself a spot on Stephen Harper’s so-called ‘Enemy List’. I believe journalists have a fundamental right to vote and be knowledgeable about the issues, but that we cannot wear two hats at the same time and exploit our personal experiences for professional gain.)
In a stunning twist to the Jian Ghomeshi scandal, new details emerge from the reporter who broke this story that cast doubt on the professional integrity of his investigation. On or about December 11, 2014 and after charges were laid against Ghomeshi, Jesse Brown provided a friendly interview to Ed The Sock that raises considerable issues (clip appears below).
Ed The Sock is a provocative puppet personality and a former fixture at CityTV. The character was played by Steven Kerzner who no longer stars on MuchMusic, but he maintains an obscure podcast to keep in touch with nostalgic fans. Kerzner previously ran for the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario before supporting the NDP, as well.
With fewer than 1,200 listeners, Brown admitted numerous details he withheld from the Ghomeshi exposé, that was eventually published in conjunction with the Toronto Star. A hearty dose of laughter accompanies this discussion about Brown’s “recriminations”, that may precipitate a need to examine his involvement.
Personal & Professional Conflicts at CBC
Jesse Brown begins by confessing he is a personal friend to Kathryn Borel, the former CBC producer who alleges Ghomeshi threatened to “hate f–k” her during a business meeting at Q. It is unknown whether Brown failed to disclose his personal conflicts, or if the Toronto Star agreed to withhold the information in light of Ms. Borel’s intention to remain anonymous at the onset. Neither Brown nor the Toronto Star would respond to questions about this matter.
Not only were Brown and Borel friends, but they were also coworkers. Jesse Brown failed to disclose his relationship with CBC as a radio host, in competition with Ghomeshi, at the very time Borel confided in him about the alleged harassment. The three were CBC colleagues and Brown now admits he was the employee who didn’t come forward to report the abuse. He goes on to suggest that all men need to have this conversation, about why they remain silent as he did and what is required of men to protect women in modern times.
From Brown’s perspective and due to the shrinking pool of available jobs in journalism, he felt that reporting Ghomeshi would result in losing his position for rocking the boat and forcing CBC to confront its workplace issues. No events were mentioned to cause this apprehension, but Brown freely admits his own ambition was a factor in staying quiet, as the only person who also confesses to knowing about Borel’s predicament. Every insult and allegation leveled against Q staff and CBC producers was ultimately directed inward.
CBC Complaint & The Missing Witness
The other part of Brown’s explanation for remaining silent raises issues for the internal investigation. CBC hired an outside lawyer to determine what went wrong, because Borel claims to have submitted a complaint that was ignored by the union and broadcaster.
However, the Canadian Media Guild denied receiving a complaint that included sexual harassment allegations and CBC is under fire for failing to discover corresponding records that identify her claim. In the audio clip, Jesse Brown mentions that Borel never made a complaint and he was sworn to secrecy because she didn’t wish to come forward. He says it wasn’t his place to betray Borel’s wishes and he supported his friend by instructing her to keep notes, at least.
Brown adds there was a witness to the former producer’s allegation; but none was mentioned in the Toronto Star report, witnesses were excluded from the Ghomeshi narrative and Brown is continuing to withhold that name. Without it, neither the CBC nor the police and Ghomeshi’s lawyers can investigate.
Kathryn Borel also approached foreign press at The Guardian to finish telling her story, instead of sharing with the immediately concerned Canadian media. In her editorial, Borel adds new sexual assault allegations that accuse Ghomeshi of massaging her upper body and thrusting his private area into her backside (clothed). She claims there was a witness to this event in support of Brown’s recent interview, but doesn’t disclose that name either.
The Toronto Star and Jesse Brown declined to comment about their knowledge of Borel’s newly published allegations. It’s unknown if Borel withheld this information in her anonymous account, or if the investigating reporters withheld these details since the beginning. The more fulsome description that was published in another country isn’t aided by Brown’s confession that he “amended details” about all the women’s stories, due to his self perceived “license” to direct, craft and alter their reports.
This is also the first time a friendship between Kathryn Borel and Jesse Brown was disclosed, by the complainant and not the journalist. Furthermore, Brown admits he was the one to solicit Borel’s allegation for the news. He explains sharing her story with the other women and offering to seek his friend’s support to bolster their claims.
Based on Jesse Brown’s confession, there appears to be a conflict of interest to protect his old job while selectively blaming former colleagues and censoring the bulk of details that include his direct involvement. Ethics forbid this behaviour and the failure to disclose, but Brown admits he is new to investigative journalism and believes that online reporting is allowed to play by ‘different rules’ than the mainstream is required to uphold. These rules are understood by journalists as libel law and issues that concern truth in reporting, vetting and verification.
Were The Women Using Jesse?
In this interview with Ed The Sock, Jesse Brown elaborates on the other female complainants. He describes the initial email from the first woman and says it led to consecutive interviews with the others. Brown nor the Toronto Star would comment if the first complainant coordinated the others, or if these women approached Brown independently.
But he did accuse the females of “using him”. When Ed The Sock realized the inappropriate nature of this comment, he guided Brown to describe the event as washing each other’s hands, as opposed to being used. Brown responds by agreeing and admits his professional position was compromised, that he crossed into “sticky territory” as a supportive and friendly therapist. There were questions if the women were “pissed off”, that Brown used their friendship to obtain a story – one they didn’t wish to be told. He describes a process of having to remind the complainants about his status as a reporter, when they shared details about their relationships with Ghomeshi.
To achieve the females’ consent, Brown admits he amended details and yet there were still “certain places they didn’t want him to go”. He admits altering more than their names and “all sorts of stuff” was withheld. This suppression occurred in concert with censorship that Brown demanded, because to him this wasn’t about a sex scandal. In his license and authority to reconstruct the narrative, he admits fighting with the Toronto Star to bury and exclude information that would shift from his focus on violence and CBC as a sick institution.
Regarding acts of sexual violence, Jesse Brown reports the women questioning their memories and if they could trust their recollections. According to the interview, he describes having to “push and pull” the complainants to obtain their information and admits “media proofing” them prior to the Toronto Star‘s publication.
Strombo Equated With Ghomeshi, Levant On A Pedestal
Expanding on Brown’s view about the real problem surrounding Jian Ghomeshi, he blames the CBC for creating stars when they’ve done nothing to earn that prestige. To him, this wasn’t about the criminal charges and rather the success of talent that he doesn’t deem worthy. Brown goes on to discuss his greater performance and believes he lost his position at CBC because they’re not looking for skilled staff of his caliber.
For some time Brown rants about the employment of George Stroumboulopoulus and claims the same case can be made against him as Ghomeshi. It’s not that Brown is alleging sexual misconduct, but this drives the point home that his concerns about Ghomeshi didn’t focus on the women or the alleged assaults. To him, this was strictly about the future of CBC, his own access to employment and ratings.
It’s Ed The Sock who feels compelled to defend George Strombo and he appears surprised by Brown’s attack. The clash occurs again when Brown slurs “they could never wash the CityTV off” and then accuses CBC of poaching unmerited celebrity from competitors like MuchMusic and bands like the one Ghomeshi starred in.
To provide context, Jesse Brown lavishes Ezra Levant with admiration for his exceptional talent at pushing everyone’s buttons. Two weeks before this commentary, Levant lost an $80,000 lawsuit that was filed against him for defamation. The judge cited his “reckless disregard for the truth”, but this had no effect on Brown’s perception of successful news personalities, versus the substandard celebrity he attributes to the CBC and the vast majority of Canadian entertainment.
Politics & Jeffrey Dvorkin
In another interview with J-Source that slightly pre-dates the Ghomeshi story, Brown describes himself as a bitter and disgruntled, ex-employee of the CBC. He says Canadaland was losing money and the show’s more generous sponsorship had come to an end. At the midpoint of a Ghomeshi investigation, Brown told The Walrus he was struggling so badly that filmmakers and comedy writers were being added to cover the gap in entertainment. He felt the podcast had become poisonous to his connections and career.
These commentaries span a few months and mere weeks before the Ghomeshi story broke, he lamented about a need for stable funding to continue. Brown attributes some optimism to daily encouragement he received from other journalists, specifically naming Jeffrey Dvorkin.
Dvorkin hails from Calgary, Alberta and now serves as the Director of Journalism at the University of Toronto. Before that, he held positions in Canada at CBC Radio and on the stateside at NPR. In 2010, he accepted an assignment from the U.S. Department of State, to lecture Niger and Guinea on the role of press in elections. This was followed by a similar mission to teach Turkish reporters about their powers in 2011, despite the widespread incarceration of journalists and a government-media scandal that ensued.
Dvorkin is also a major force behind the push to remove CBC from television airwaves, converting solely to internet production and the often debated Canadian Netflix. He was making this case at the same time Jesse Brown began the Ghomeshi investigation.
Before any news about the sexual allegations surfaced, Dvorkin appeared on Canadaland to encourage support for the dismantling and reconstruction of CBC. During this interview with Jesse Brown, Dvorkin scoffs at senior CBC staff for suggesting that Justin Trudeau’s Liberals would restore funding to cure their ills. He closes by citing cuts from Liberal governments as the reason he left CBC for greener pastures in the United States.
This viewpoint appears to influence Jesse Brown’s position, as heard in the audio clip with Ed The Sock. At length, he parrots the same talking points and goes on to assert the CRTC should plan for obsolescence too. This rant is peppered with much criticism for Canadian talent and programming, with a dig at ACTRA forming part of the exchange.
It should be noted that Lucy DeCoutere, one of the Ghomeshi complainants, is also one of these Canadian actors that Brown carelessly disparages with gusto, in addition to his description of feeling used.
Friends & Eyes Wide Shut
Less known is Brown’s entry into the lucrative tech business, as the co-creator of Bitstrips. This app was once popular on social media and allows users to express their lives in cartoon caricature versions of themselves. It’s still popular in the school system and the company received a $3 million investment, but articles about Bitstrips fail to mention Brown and he’s the only source to assert this relationship. He declined to answer questions from FreeThePressCanada about this issue.
In his other pursuits, Brown’s investigation of Ghomeshi benefited from an allegation that arose from Professor Jeremy Copeland. The Toronto Star published that Copeland shunned his students from pursuing internships at Q due to inappropriate behaviour, but Western University denied this was possible and so did the student newspaper. Other journalism programs then came forward to deny issues or complaints about Ghomeshi at their facilities. The matter was never questioned or readdressed by the press.
Cautiously and coincidentally, Jeremy Copeland worked with the U.S. government to fill a similar role as Jeffrey Dvorkin. The former was the American spokesperson for out-of-country voting in Iraq and he trained Iraqi journalists how to cover their election after the war that responded to 9/11 attacks. The same as Turkey, this country descended into chaos and lost the battle for message control. Both are now mired by ISIS and political-media issues, along with the greatest threat to the survival of journalists.
Jesse Brown describes this cast of personalities as the media version of Eyes Wide Shut in his discussion with Ed The Sock. He claims the community is Toronto-centric and he singles out neighbourhoods from Beaches and the Annex, as those who know and contribute to the decline by playing along. Brown believes they’re all friends or married to one another and he admits being part of this dysfunctional but influential posse, that determines the narrative for Canadian views.
Brown describes the group as inbred and David Akin reminds everyone that Sun TV was pursuing a ‘hotbed’ of sexual harassment suspicions at CBC since the year before. He used the Ghomeshi scandal to suggest that CBC mislead parliament when it responded to accusations in the last round. In that example, the broadcaster was accused of processing 1,454 sexual harassment complaints in Toronto and Ottawa alone (proven untrue, see link for details). Regardless, Ezra Levant from Sun TV appeared on Canadaland a few days ago.
Cash Flow Returns, But Politics Remain
In Jesse Brown’s history with the CBC, he once faced a dispute about the right to republish work from The Contrarian on his own website. The broadcaster has a policy to archive online materials after a period of 2 years, thereby causing the content to become inaccessible. As Brown attempted to save his creative input from the compression pile, he received a takedown notice from CBC management and today these shows are nowhere to be found on the internet. When the same issue arose regarding Jian Ghomeshi and the public’s sensitivity toward archiving programs from Q, Brown was at the forefront pushing for this content to be relegated in the same manner.
After the Ghomeshi story broke, the Globe and Mail reported Brown’s income had risen to more than $9,000 per month. The Columbia Journalism Review went one step further and tracked these increases on a monthly basis since October – the same month Brown’s crowdfunding campaign went live and the Ghomeshi allegations were published.
One month after that major headline, Ed The Sock was a guest on Jesse Brown’s Canadaland in a role reversal. During this interview, Steven Kerzner (aka Ed), is asked about sexual misconduct allegations involving Moses Znaimer at CityTV. Odd behaviour is discussed, but Kerzner declines to contribute to any rumour mills.
When Brown visits Kerzner less than two weeks later, they discuss Jesse’s pitch to all the major publishers for an earlier version of his media criticism program. Brown reports he was prepared to be ‘more responsible and sober’ and ‘not a satirical’. These blanket denials to provide him with a venue resulted in the establishment of Canadaland, described in the audio clip as kicking people in the shins, in lieu.
When the income generated by Brown’s podcast hit the $10,000 per month benchmark, he intended to hire staff. Brown declined to answer questions about his income, but Sean D. B. Craig was employed to break the Amanda Lang story on behalf of Canadaland more recently. Craig is unknown as a journalist and no bio can be found online. Originally he promoted himself as a CBC producer on social media, but later apologized for the humorous misrepresentation, due to the commotion and confusion it caused. Brown then introduced his new hire as a “pinko comrade”. The term pinko is commonly directed toward supporters of the NDP, both fondly and as a slur.
Jesse Brown, CBC, the Toronto Star and lawyers for Jian Ghomeshi were contacted.
The CBC was approached with this audio clip and a proposal to run the story. Director of Government Relations, Shaun Poulter, was exceptionally helpful to facilitate contact with others at the broadcaster. The Head of Media Relations, Chuck Thompson, also took a concerned interest to facilitate discussion. The latter agreed this information should be forwarded to the external investigator, but a decision to print the story would need to come from the news department directly.
Thompson involved the senior producer of CBC News, Ian Kalushner. After three days of debating the story without hearing the file, he declined any proposition to provide coverage. Mr. Thompson was then re-approached and encouraged to review the clip before another publication was canvassed, in lieu of the broadcaster’s response.
At this time Thompson attended the news department to discuss the clip with Kalushner. A compromise was reached and the reporter regularly assigned to the Ghomeshi file was asked to evaluate the evidence, as the most knowledgeable person about these developments on staff. CBC News expressed hesitation to publish freelance work, despite the fact that FreeThePressCanada had a history of reporting politics for the broadcaster in years past.
After another five day lapse, CBC journalist Ioanna Roumeliotis accepted the file for review. Both she and producer Ian Kalushner responded,
“You would be accurate to describe my assessment of the audio clip as material that is not newsworthy.”
Chuck Thompson responded,
“… I don’t make editorial decisions for CBC News and I know you have been in touch with them. It’s their call as to whether or not they want to go further with what you have discussed.”
Jesse Brown was notified about the impending article and presented with 42 questions for comment. He declined to provide answers and politely rebutted,
“The story of my investigation of Jian Ghomeshi is an important one that I will tell the public in detail.
It will take a lot of work and care. Here’s what I need to be mindful of:
Protecting my sources’ identities. Presenting a full account may expose them, so I need to go over everything very carefully, consulting with them where possible to remove identifying details.
Legal concerns. The professional and personal behaviour of many people will be discussed, so this story needs to get lawyered.
Accuracy. This is a complicated story, key aspects of which unfolded rapidly. I need to go over hundreds of notes and emails and dozens of public documents. Since I see no immediate urgency in reporting this story as soon as possible (I’m not finished with the investigation of Jian itself yet!) I’m going to take my time and tell it as precisely and as well as possible.
Finally, I am in the news business, so of course my intention is to save all this stuff for my own report.”
The Toronto Star was provided with a similar opportunity to comment and 25 related questions. Multiple attempts were made to contact investigative journalist, Kevin Donovan, and the newspaper’s editor, Michael Cooke. Both were informed they are the only source that refuses to respond, beyond Mr. Donovan’s messages to inquire about the nature of these questions on social media.
That silence was broken by an unrelated Toronto Star columnist, Jack Lakey, who proceeded to insult and intimidate FreeThePressCanada for approaching his colleagues to send the email inquiry.
Henein Hutchinson LLP accepted the audio clip quite recently. The law firm representing Jian Ghomeshi hasn’t received a reasonable amount of time to examine and comment. If a statement is forthcoming, this article will be edited to include that response.
The Clip: Jesse Brown & Ed The Sock
Please be advised this audio contains profanity and racial, religious jokes that some may find offensive. Originally published by Ed The Sock’s Soundcloud account, December 11, 2014. This is re-posted for news reporting and fair comment purposes (original source).
Also, this investigation isn’t meant to detract from the seriousness of allegations against Jian Ghomeshi, a police investigation, or the equitable court process. It is not meant to discourage victims from seeking justice, through professional, compassionate and capable members of law enforcement. This investigation only reflects the techniques of a journalist and ethical reporting. No inference or suggestion about the female complainants or Jian Ghomeshi is made by FreeThePressCanada.
A photo of Canada’s Attorney General and Justice Minister, Peter MacKay, recently went viral on social media. The government’s top legal bureaucrat was seen posing with Canada’s National Firearms Association, sporting a t-shirt in support of the group’s endeavours. The graphic on this gifted apparel melded the country’s maple leaf symbol with a rifle, and everyone in the shot was smiling. Going by the acronym “NFA”, it is the northern counterpart to America’s NRA, that holds considerable influence over gun control laws on the stateside.
The NFA was identified by mainstream news as a social force behind repeal of the Long Gun Registry. The Quebec government was also mentioned for a temporary injunction to halt that repeal, with its case to be heard by the Supreme Court of Canada. Despite this acknowledgement, the most important information that raises questions about of conflict of interest appears to be overlooked or censored.
On Docket 35448, Attorney General of Quebec v. Attorney General of Canada, et al, the NFA is listed as a party to the proceeding, that will argue constitutional matters in relation to gun control. Quebec wishes to keep a registry and the federal government is strongly opposed, with the NFA in its corner.
On June 5, 2014, Canada’s National Firearms Association received Intervener status from the Supreme Court. It came with instructions to pay the Attorney Generals (Canada and/or Quebec) any monies required to cover the cost of additional disbursements that may arise from the gun lobby’s participation in the hearing. The NFA is forbidden from introducing new evidence, or supplementing the appellant and respondents’ records.
On July 31, 2014, the NFA filed its documents including a Factum and Book of Authorities. On August 14, 2014, MacKay’s office did the same and the following day the case to suspend Quebec’s gun registry was set to proceed with appeal. It was less than two weeks later that the infamous picture was discovered, indicating a personal-political relationship between NFA members and Canada’s Attorney General.
Given the longstanding ruckus between Peter MacKay, the Prime Minister’s Office and the Supreme Court of Canada, the public has little patience for the appearance of impropriety. Going forward it will be important to learn if or what gifts might have changed hands between these judicial parties, and the appropriateness of campaigning for one another while legally opposing a provincial government.
More to the unsavoury appearance, the Twitterverse discovered additional photos of NFA members who posed with the Attorney General. On veteran Kurtis Gaucher’s Facebook page, he’s found casually bragging about 4 ounces of marijuana. Perhaps Gaucher has a medical prescription, but in light of MacKay’s vehement stance against the substance, it sparked renewed publicity across social media.
On Ericka Clarke’s Facebook account, a photo of the woman holding a significant weapon was discovered. Her social media has since been closed to public access and the option to contact was removed. Before this occurred, a Twitter member took the liberty of pointing out the irony with a Buddies, Bullets & Bongs meme that is quickly gaining traction.
In the meantime this relationship is clouding another Supreme Court case regarding constitutional rights within the provinces. The Attorney General of Canada appears to support ‘gun toting drug slingers’ over public safety, according to the consensus of popular social media. With a little less tongue-in-cheek, the Supreme Court may need to ask if the fees it assessed were paid to the government in promotional t-shirts, however.