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.)
Was Rob Ford Talking About Drugs on the Danforth?
This weekend marks a staple celebration in Toronto, and the mayor of Canada’s largest city was there. Rob Ford attended Taste of the Danforth; not as a proper ambassador, but rather as a patron intent to enjoy the festivities intoxicated.
YouTube users have been flooding the site with video evidence of their concerns, prolonging the mayor’s woes with media inquiries into his suspected struggles with substance abuse. The Toronto Star as well as the Globe and Mail have addressed the recent spectacle, but what seems to be overlooked is a poignant entry that may indicate a reference to cocaine.
As Ford poses for pictures with festival goers on the street, he comes across a fellow who he repeatedly refers to as “brother”. Amid the intoxicated slurs, the mayor appears to ask if someone in the group is looking for “blow” and confirms that he has some (although what he claims to possess is unproven). See this clip at 0:17 (UPDATE: The Toronto Star enhanced this audio and found Rob Ford said “cologne” not “blow”)
(Video now removed from source, a copy can be found at the Toronto Star)
Blow is a nickname for cocaine, raising new suspicions about the infamous crack video first covered by Gawker. The fallout has claimed numerous members of the Ford political entourage, as they departed from City Hall and the world at large encouraged the mayor to seek help for drug addiction.
The newest “drug video” has been viewed nearly 18,000 times on some sites, as listeners attempt to discern a controversial quote attributed to Rob Ford,
“You want some blow? I’ll get you some blow. I have it, seriously!”
These words do appear to be uttered by Toronto’s mayor and whether Ford raised the issue of drugs with constituents or one of them inquired about his troubles, it should be noted that he didn’t condemn the conversation. Instead it was a jovial and carefree moment that substances can induce, when a user isn’t sober enough to realize the consequence of their words and actions.
Toronto is a world class city that deserves to be represented in kind and regardless of any smack talk about illicit drugs, there is still the issue of alcohol to contend with. Sarah Thomson previously accused the mayor of inappropriate behaviour while under the influence and despite his denials, the Danforth reinforces similar concerns.
Another resident posted video citing worries the mayor was drunk and had driven to the festival. In fairness to Ford he does say that he isn’t driving when pressed on the issue, but others reported him by the vehicle later in the evening.
Ford used his party time to seek the spotlight while posing for countless pictures. He knew all eyes were on him because he was smiling for the attention. He knows the cloud of suspicion that surrounds him is darkening the city’s reputation and causing dysfunction within city council. He didn’t use this opportunity to speak about responsible drinking or provide a good example, nor did he address the economic and cultural benefits that come from hosting events like Taste of the Danforth.
That was too much to ask from a man who is tasked with managing the concerns of millions and the only business Rob Ford wishes to discuss is where to find the next venue with mind-altering substances. In lieu of drumming up support for business and community, the mayor was concerned with partying. He promoted public intoxication over public safety and couldn’t see beyond enjoyment of self in what some would call a slurring stupor.
So the question begs to be asked, is this the face constituents want to represent their interests while attracting committed business to the metropolis? Is this how the mayor behaves when negotiating deals with corporate friends? Are these the actions of a leader or truly Conservatives ideals? Is Ford’s judgement sound or is it really shaded by addiction?
Let us not forget the mayor is a fishing buddy to our Prime Minister and a previous party to celebrate their pursuit of a Tory trifecta was attended by the most powerful CPC personalities.
They say we’re judged by the company we keep and to date the mayor is alleged to be friendly with convicted, stabbed and/or dead drug dealers. Stephen Harper considers Ford to be part of his inner circle and our country’s leader was surrounded by Mike Duffy, Nigel Wright, Patrick Brazeau, and Mike Sona as well. All individuals are innocent until proven guilty, but can we name another Prime Minister who was dogged by so many illicit allegations in his entourage, or intoxicated partners who repeatedly star in questionable videos?