02.20.2011 01:51 AM

In today’s Sun: Odious

It’s never the break-in. It’s always the cover-up.

That’s the political truism from the ’70s-era Watergate scandal, of course. It wasn’t so much the cartoonish June 1972 break-in at the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters by Republican operatives that felled U.S. president Richard M. Nixon. It was the stonewalling and cover-ups by very senior people working at the White House — including the president himself — that forced the ignominious resignation of Nixon, in August 1974. It is always thus.

Voters are pretty reasonable, you see. There can be a guy running for mayor of Toronto, for example, and he can be linked to all sorts of malfeasance — drunk driving, drugs, you name it — and he can still end up getting elected in a landslide. As long as the politician confesses to his or her misdeeds early on (which Rob Ford did, sort of), people will forgive. They don’t get as worked up about these things as the media and the political chattering class do.

But if you lie and prevaricate for a long time, and you don’t cop to your failings right away, you’re done. It’s over.

28 Comments

  1. MontrealElite says:

    I recall Oda saying to committee that they were operating in a “CSI” like atmosphere when they were peppering her as to the source of the “NOT”. She kept saying she didn’t know the source.

    What gall.

    Yes, she has the ministerial prerogative to change the funding, that’s cool.

    But why wouldn’t she rise in the House to say this herself? Why does Baird have to answer for her? Why does she have to cower behind Ambrose?

    The inference is clear.

    Ministerial Accountability demands that she step down.

  2. Oda O.D’d on odious falsehoods.

  3. nic coivert says:

    ODA, DOA…. (a do do do, o da da da- that’s all i got to say to you)

  4. V. Malaise says:

    Practically speaking, all Ms. Oda did was break the 11th. Commandment, “Thou shall not get caught.”

    Then she got just plain stupid and denied it. Such things can have long-term political consequences not just for her, but for her party too.

    I firmly believe that if Nixon had manned up and took admitted responsibility for Watergate, the whole scandal would have blown over and ended up as yesterday’s news.

    Instead he lived up to his moniker, “Tricky Dick,” and who did the US end up with? Gerald Ford and that peanut-planting fool Jimmy Carter.

    I suspect Oda’s deception will haunt the PC’s for some time to come.

  5. JenS says:

    Have you seen the BS backgrounder the Tories have sent to their MPs, to ensure they have the talking points to defend Oda? It’s unreal, and frankly, more than a little condescending to Canadians’ intelligence – so , really, a typical Tory doc’t. But if they are given the opportunity to tell this story often enough – like Dean DelAsshole was this morning on CTV’s QP – people might start to believe it. That’s my fear.

    • Namesake says:

      Yeah, their new story

      http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/Memo+only+altered+signal+direct+decision+from+Tories/4315982/story.html

      doesn’t make sense, even with some additional background bits which I’ve added that the new Tory talking points seem to leave out, but which are in KAIROS’ many press clippings on the affair:

      — okay, so Minister Oda had been dithering over this decision for at least two months, already, and CIDA had been extending it temporary funding in the meantime, until this funding proposal they’d been working on with them for months to ensure that it met the department’s states objectives (which their Directors were satisfied it did) was finally approved; but,

      – that temporary funding was about to be exhausted, so CIDA had promised KAIROS that the decision would definitely be made by the end of that day (Nov. 29, 2009) to notify KAIROS whether they’d be receiving any more funding (presumably starting in Dec. or Jan), or would have to immediately lay people off in Toronto and notify their 30 partner agencies in the other countries that they wouldn’t have that Cndn. gov’t funding for them to support their work, after all; and,

      – okay, so apparently Minister Oda was away from Ottawa on that deadline-of-their-own-making date, so if that memo asking her to authorize it was to go through, the staff would have to do it on her behalf, but of course only with her verbal / telephoned or emailed authorization: fine.

      But since the decision was “No,” then, gee, all they had to do was _call_ the agency with the bad news — which is what they did; there really wasn’t any need to amend and robo-sign the memo to say “I do not authorize this” — merely declining to sign it accomplishes that. (This is something that Andrew Coyne and Keith Beardsley and many others who have worked in or are familiar with the workings of Ministerial Offices have also been at pains to point out.)

      And since that memo was for internal use only and was never intended to be sent to the agency (it only surfaced 6 months later or so via an FOI request from the media to find out WHY it was declined), then if there was no attempt at subterfuge going on, they could and should have:

      simply waited for her to come back, at which point she could either write “I do not accept this recommendation and decline this funding” at the bottom and sign _that_; or,

      better yet, have them type up a new memo with that innovative option it only took them, what, _decades_ to think up, to include an option for “Declined” with a little box for the Minister to tick and initial (good God, how hard is that? she’s got a whole staff!).

      They’re trying to play us for fools… and certainly succeeding, with much of their base, who are seizing on this bogus explanation with all four limbs.

      And of course, all this does nothing to address how the House was repeatedly misled into thinking that CIDA had dis-recommended the proposal because it did not meet their criteria. Indeed, her own Parliamentary Secretary, Jim Abbott, was misled into thinking that, which is why he asserted that to the House himself, but later retracted and apologized for that when he learned the truth.

      http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2011/02/15/kairos-timeline.html

  6. Peterb says:

    Liberal says Oda not physically present when “not” inserted but under her direction.

    When Oda answered the question ” who inserted the word NOT?” she said she didn’t know who (name of the person) who did it and she was truthful with that answer.
    If you read the following explanation, by a former Liberal ministerial aide and current Liberal party member, you will learn why her answer is consistent with the facts and circumstances.
    She has also maintained from day one that it was her decision and direction to reject funding for Kairos, and most people including the President of CIDA, has without qualification stated to a parliamentary committee, it is the minister’s right, prerogative, and duty to implement the will of the government.

    Here is statement of former Liberal aide and current Liberal party member
    http://stuffoccurs.wordpress.com/2011/02/19/minister-oda-and-not-why-i-agree-with-the-minister/

    “On the day the decision was finally made the Minister was away from her Ottawa office and was on the phone with her staff. Normally, that means all the staff (we had 12 in our office) are gathered around a table in conference call fashion. The Minister directed her staff to indicate that she disagreed with the public service and would not continue to fund KAIROS. One of those staffers (we don?t know which one) put ?NOT? on the document because there was no place to disagree and then sign with the auto-pen. Standard stuff. We know there was an urgency about the decision, so sending it back to the public service to correct, and go through the process of getting signatures and dealing with some public service blowback, was not a reasonable option.”

    • Pete says:

      That is pure BS and we all know it. Why did she cover it up in the first place and admit she did it?

      In my humble opinion the opposition ought to ask for a non confidence vote since the PM has also lied on her behalf.

    • Namesake says:

      uh-huh. Well, see my reply above: there’s been no reason stated in any official account yet as to why there had to be a signed document that day, at all — just a decision.

      And that account you just quoted interweaves its writer’s past experiences with an imagining of what she assumes MAY have happened in the present case in a very misleading way to give it a falsely comforting authoritative tone. She wasn’t there; that’s just her speculation as to what MIGHT have happened, and why.

      And it’s a narrative which doesn’t make sense: why was there a deadline to put that piece of paper to bed? In my experience, deadlines for the paperwork on funding proposals are for submitting them, or for passing the decision up to a superior — not for their arbiter, the person where the buck stops here: they can take their sweet time, especially if the decision is “no.”

      And if there was a deadline for that internal memo, for some reason, well, it didn’t have to be “pretty,” as the Tories testified to the speaker and the Globe Friday afternoon: so why couldn’t they just scrawl in — or try to rustle up an actual typewriter to type in — a full line to make it clear: “I, Minister Bev. Oda, decline to accept the above recommendation” instead of that BS’y “we the directors of CIDA recommend that you ^NOT fund”?

      Anyhow, here’s a fuller version of the same spin, sent by the PMO itself, which NN has got ahold of and leaked.

      One of the most egregious parts for me is in the “The Order Paper Question” paragraph, where it does a shuck & jive between CIDA having the right NOT to recommend funding something, and it not having the right to actually grant the funding for the things it DOES recommend without the Minister’s approval:

      http://www.nationalnewswatch.com/insider35.htm

      I’ll reproduce it in the next post ‘cuz it may disappear, soon, and the formatting was a bit wonky, anyway

      • Namesake says:

        p.s., on the very same day the PMO’s “only a Minister has the authority to sign off on and approve contracts” TP memo went out, THIS story appeared:

        “Renovation document changed at last minute”
        By STEPHEN MAHER Ottawa Bureau | Halifax Chronicle Herald EXCLUSIVE
        Sat, Feb 19 – 4:54 AM

        “The official approval document for the renovation of the West Block of Parliament was altered with a typewriter at the last minute so that the acting assistant deputy minister could sign it instead of Michael Fortier, the minister of public works at the time. Fortier has testified he wasn?t even aware that the contract was awarded.”

        http://thechronicleherald.ca/Front/1228770.html

  7. V. Malaise says:

    Where can I find this backgrounder, please? I can always use a good giggle.

    Jeezuz, I long for the days of straight-shooters like Pierre “you just watch me” Trudeau and Jean “this is MY handshake” Chretien.

    Instead we have PM Bligh and I-picked-out-her-dress Bernier.

  8. Namesake says:

    Background memo sent by *senior government officials to members of the Conservative caucus

    Background Information

    Minister Oda and KAIROS: the Facts

    * Our Government supports funding to deliver aid and tangible results for the people of developing countries, not subsidizing advocacy.

    * Minister Oda made a decision that reflects the priorities and policies of our Government.

    * The Minister has been clear: this was her decision.

    * The Minister has apologized for a lack of clarity in her testimony before Committee, and has rectified that lack of clarity.

    * We stand by Minister Oda and her decision not to provide millions of dollars in advocacy funding to KAIROS.

    Here are the facts:

    KAIROS? Request for $7 million

    KAIROS made a request for funding from CIDA in the amount of $7 million. Minister Oda determined that this request was inconsistent with our Government’s foreign aid priorities. Our Government believes taxpayers money budgeted for foreign aid should be used to deliver aid and tangible results for the people of developing countries, not for subsidizing advocacy.

    CIDA?s Memo to Minister Oda Seeking Her Decision

    The internal memo in question was sent to Minister Oda by CIDA public servants who were seeking a decision from her. An internal memo is not a contract requiring the parties, in this case the Minister and her department, to agree. An internal memo includes departmental analysis and a departmental recommendation, and is a tool used to convey the decision of the Minister to her officials so that they may implement the Minister’s decision. Across government, hundreds of these internal memos cross ministers? desks everyday. This is how elected officials transmit their decisions to the public service in our system of government.

    Minister Oda was the only person with the authority to make a decision regarding this application for funding. In this case, the Minister?s decision was to reject the recommendation provided to her, and direct that CIDA not provide funding to KAIROS.

    The Minister had reviewed the memo, made her decision not to approve the funding application, and asked her staff to follow through on it. The Minister was travelling out of Ottawa on the day that her staff completed the paper work to implement her decision, so they, with the Minister’s authority, applied her automated signature, which is used when required because a Minister is unable to personally sign a document, and indicated her decision on the memo by clearly indicating that she did NOT approve the funding application.

    The memo was then returned to the very officials who had sent it to the Minister for a decision. By definition, those who received the returned memo could not have been misled, and were not misled, by the manner in which the Minister?s decision was communicated in the document.

    Margaret Biggs, President of CIDA, confirmed this when she testified before a House committee on December 9, 2010:

    Ms. Margaret Biggs (President of CIDA): Yes, I think as the minister said, the agency did recommend the project to the minister. She has indicated that. But it was her decision, after due consideration, to not accept the department’s advice.

    This is quite normal, and I certainly was aware of her decision. The inclusion of the word “not” is just a simple reflection of what her decision was, and she has been clear. So that’s quite normal. I think we have changed the format for these memos so the minister has a much clearer place to put where she doesn’t want to accept the advice, which is her prerogative.

    The Order Paper Question

    Liberal MP Glen Pearson posed an order paper question in early 2010 to Minister Oda asking why CIDA had decided not to fund KAIROS. In her April 2010 answer to this order paper question, Minister Oda referred to “The CIDA decision not to continue KAIROS funding.” The Liberals now assert that this answer suggests that agency officials rather than the Minister opposed funding to KAIROS. Public servants did not have the authority to approve funding for this application. Only the Minister did. For this funding request, there was only one possible decision-maker, Minister Oda, and once she made a decision it became CIDA’s decision. Her answer was not only accurate, it was fully responsive to the order paper question and could not have been answered in any other way.

    The Alleged Contradiction

    While testifying at the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs Minister Oda was asked who had inserted the word “NOT” to communicate back to the department her decision not to provide funding to KAIROS. Because she did not know specifically which staff member had inserted the word “NOT”, she said she did not know.

    At the same hearing, she told the Committee eleven times that she was responsible for the decision.

    The Bigger Picture

    The Minister has apologized for a lack of clarity in her testimony before the Committee, and has rectified that lack of clarity. Minister Oda made a decision which reflected the priorities and policies of our Government. We stand by Minister Oda and her decision.

    http://www.nationalnewswatch.com/insider35.htm

  9. Peterb says:

    Oda never did say she inserted the “Not” Here is her statement in Hansard.
    Somebody is telling lies and it is not Oda.

    From Hansard Number 130 Monday Feb 14 2011
    Hon. Bev Oda (Minister of International Cooperation, CPC): previous intervention
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to set the record straight regarding the funding application for KAIROS. I wish to clearly inform the House of the matter and clear up any misunderstandings that exist.

    The CIDA officials did forward a document in which they sought approval of the recommendation for funding of the KAIROS proposal, but ultimately the decision to not provide funding was mine, as Minister of International Cooperation.

    As you know, Mr. Speaker, departments do make recommendations to ministers and ministers, in carrying out their responsibilities, can agree with those recommendations or, as is the case with this issue, they can disagree. In this case, the process in place requires the department to make recommendations, not to make the decision.

    There was no decision taken by the department to provide funding. It was only a recommendation. It was my decision to disagree with the recommendation based on discussions with advisers. I was fully aware that my decision was not aligned with the recommendation of the department.

    In the matter before you, Mr. Speaker, the opposition has asked you to rule on whether I intentionally or knowingly misled the House by saying it was a department decision.

    At no time have I stated that the decision for funding was that of the department. I have repeatedly and clearly stated in response to questions in the House and at committee that the funding decision was mine. The ?not? was inserted at my direction.

    Given the way the document was formatted, allowing only for concurrence, this was the only way to reflect my decision. If some were led to conclude that my language implied that the department and I were of one mind on this application, then I apologize.

    I would, Mr. Speaker, indicate to you that the way in which this case has been handled, including by myself, has been unfortunate.

    In conclusion, let me be clear. In the memo the department did make a recommendation to me, as the minister for funding. My decision, as the minister, did not concur with the recommendation of the department. My instructions were to indicate on the document my decision not to provide funding.

    I have consistently taken responsibility for that decision. I have consistently informed the House of the government’s aid and effectiveness agenda, stating that our government’s policy is to achieve impact, making a sustainable difference in the lives of those it is intended to help. In no way have I intentionally or knowingly misled the House or the committee.

    • Namesake says:

      uh, Peter, this is her saying she DID direct that the “Not” be inserted

      (which many of us still seriously doubt: and so this speech may actually be her biggest lie, to date, if it was the PMO that directed the change and ordered her staff to comply, so thanks for finding it).

      The pre-existing misleadings of the House came three times earlier:

      1) On April 23, 2010, in the signed reply she tabled, stating, “The CIDA decision not to continue funding KAIROS was based on the overall assessment of the proposal, not on any single criterion. ‘Non-government organizations proposals to CIDA are assessed on a variety of criteria, which are described on CIDA’s website…’

      That gave the distinct impression to any reasonable person that the officials within CIDA itself (other than the Minister) had evaluated Kairos using its stated criteria and found that its proposal wanting. But that is not what happened: they RECOMMENDED funding it, on Sept. 25 2009.

      2) On Oct. 28, 2010, when Oda told the House: “…all projects by CIDA are assessed against our effectiveness standard. After due diligence, it was determined that KAIROS’ proposal did not meet government standards.”

      That’s misleading, because, again, it suggests that CIDA — the public service agency, not the political Ministry — had vetoed it. But in reality, the bureaucrats within CIDA had been working with KAIROS from Dec. 2008 when the proposal was first submitted to June, to “tweak” it to ensure that it fell within all the current mandates, and had satisfied themselves that it DID meet those standards after it reviewed the proposal with all due diligence. Now maybe “the government” had different ideas, using different criteria than the ones CIDA is actually explicitly directed to evaluate proposals by — like, are they ever in the least bit critical of Israel? — but that’s a big equivocation between CIDA the line department and the Cabinet which might manhandle things later.

      3) And on Dec. 9, 2010, when Oda testified to the Commons committee that not only did she not add the “Not” herself, but she also did not know who did, either. That’s generally known as a “Lie of Omission,” since she MISLED them into thinking she had no idea how it got there, and that she didn’t know who ordered that it be put there. The Committee Chair cut off that line of questioning supposedly because of time, but she didn’t submit anything later to correct that impression. But she &/or the PMO knew that it was misleading, as evidenced by the fact that she finally felt obliged to tell the House in that PMO drafted speech you quoted above that she wanted to “clear up any misunderstandings” that she may have caused.

  10. Kephalos says:

    C’mon let’s have some forensic, eh? Who had access to the document? Let’s see their hand-writing samples.

    If this was a civil matter about contract approved/not approved, sheeple would have to produce samples. This is more important than a civil dispute. This is the Nation’s business. So let’s have those samples, eh?

    C’mon, get to the bottom… or top of this, as the case maybe.

  11. Peterb says:

    “In this case, the Minister’s decision was to reject the recommendation provided to her, and direct that CIDA not provide funding to KAI-ROS,” it read. “The Minister had reviewed the memo, made her decision not to approve the funding application, and asked her staff to follow through on it.

    “The Minister was travelling out of Ottawa on the day that her staff completed the paper work to implement her decision, so they, with the Minister’s authority, applied her automated signature, which is used when required because a Minister is unable to personally sign a document, and indicated her decision on the memo by clearly indicating that she did NOT approve the funding application.”

    According to the background document, the memo was then returned to the “very officials” who had sent it to Oda for a decision. Because of that, says the government, the two bureaucrats whose names were on the memo “could not have been misled” because they knew that the word “not” had been inserted.
    And the Tories say Oda did not lie when asked at a Commons committee last December if she knew who inserted the word “not” on the memo, because she didn’t know which staff member was responsible.
    After all Oda was not physically present to see who wrote the “not” in, as she was out of Ottawa when the “not” was inserted to follow her direction to staff to not approve the funding for Karios

    Read more: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/Aide+stamped+signature+funding+memo/4316862/story.html#ixzz1EXgC1dvn

  12. Peterb says:

    Jen S
    What you people,have done is shout she lied – no proof or evidence. If you had the necessary quotes you wouldn’t have to keep shouting.
    You have Oda’s statement in the House above and there is no discrepancy – end of story.
    Even your friends are having doubts about your honesty – what about your mother?

    • Namesake says:

      Sigh. She misled the House at least three, and likely four times, as I explained in detail here earlier:

      http://warrenkinsella.com/2011/02/in-todays-sun-odious/#comment-27169

      • JenS says:

        As Namesake noted, there is plenty of evidence she lied and intentionally misled. You shouting talking points, Peterb, doesn’t alter the facts of the situation: Bev Oda intentionally misled the house; she lied not only about the document but about the reasons for denial of funding only to find her “friend” Kenney was only too willing to hang her out to dry for it. But keep spewing your parallel universe version of events, by all means. No doubt there are some who will believe you.

  13. Peterb says:

    Ms. Dimanno
    In your column you said
    “Oda subsequently misled to a Parliamentary committee about her hands-on disfigurement of the document, claiming she?d no idea who had doctored the material, then last week ? memory miraculously jogged ? owned up to the doctoring, suddenly recalling, oh yeah, ?twas me. On my planet, that?s a palpable lie.”

    http://www.thestar.com/news/article/942283–dimanno-fibbing-to-parliament-a-serious-transgression

    If you are are gleefully going to join in on the pile on of another female, Ms. Oda, at least work with the truth.
    Rose on my planet and everyone else’s that statement of yours in the Star is a palpable lie.
    That is a complete fabrication and an outright lie, as she never ever made such a statement or anything even similar last week, in the House, and is very unfair to Oda . This is a disgrace and one would not think some members of the media would stoop so low to twist, distort and lie in an attempt to discredit or assassinate an innocent person. If this is norm for the course then why should I defend freedom of the press.
    Go to her statement in the House uncut and unedited, on Monday Feb. 15 from Hansard and you can see she never ever said that she “disfigured the document” and inserted the “Not” or changed her mind or said “twas me”.
    You owe Ms. Oda an apology, as well as all the readers, and all Canadians. I am very interested to know if your editor approved of this blatant and deliberate distortion of the truth. Can we expect a correction from you and the Star in tomorrow’s paper.

  14. Peterb says:

    What is the problem some people have the way the recommendation was rejected.
    President of CIDA Margaret Biggs, who signed the Kairos document, testified before the parliamentary committee in December, Oda did nothing wrong and used her ministerial discretion and judgment to deny approval of the funding.

    ?I think as the minister said, the agency did recommend the project to the minister. She has indicated that. But it was her decision, after due consideration, to not accept the department?s advice. This is quite normal, and I certainly was aware of her decision. The inclusion of the word ?not? is just a simple reflection of what her decision was, and she has been clear. So that?s quite normal,? she told the foreign affairs committee.?

    So Oda instructed her staff that she was not approving the recommendation and they inserted the word “not” before the word recommend. As Ms. Biggs president of CIDA told the committee they got the message and understood it – it was sent to the minister for approval or non approval – she didn’t approve it obviously when “not recommend” was on the paper . That was the minister doing her job -she had every right to refuse approval as Biggs testified so what is the problem.
    To claim forgery or defacing of a document is absurd and ridiculous – that doesn’t wash with anyone who has an IQ higher than their shoe size.

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