Trying to defeat your opponents is not a scandal, it’s politics

Like it or not, third party influencers are part of the system

So, let’s get something perfectly clear right off the top.

I am not for or against pipelines. I am not for or against fossil fuels. I am not for or against fracking, oilsands, LNG or mining.

When it comes to climate change, I guess you could say I’m a bit of a fatalist. It could be the end of us, or maybe we will adapt to it. Either way, I don’t think there is enough political will on the planet to stop it.

Furthermore, I am not a member of any political party, nor do I have any affiliation with third party organizations. I receive no funding from anyone domestic or foreign.

I am not a shill for anything or anyone—with the possible exception of my dog (did I mention my children’s book Lady MacBeth Afraid of the Stairs is available on Amazon?).

In a recent op-ed piece (“Obama wasn’t the only American interfering in the Canadian election,” Financial Post Oct. 22), Vivian Krause complains about Leadnow, a Canadian left-wing organization with American affiliations working during the election to defeat conservatives.

I say, “so what?”

She outlines all the connections between Leadnow and the Online Progressive Engagement Network (OPEN), the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, The American Tides Foundation and their Tar Sands Campaign.

Again, I say, “so what?”

The single most important thing she says in the article is: “Let’s be clear: there’s nothing wrong with Leadnow being part of an international network of progressive organizations. But, no pun intended, this needs to be out in the open.”

It is out in the open. She had just outlined it herself in the preceding paragraphs.

Furthermore, just because they have ties to an international network of progressive organizations does not mean they are using foreign funding for their Canadian political activities.

In fact, they were cleared of any wrong-doing in an Elections Canada investigation regarding complaints to that effect following the 2015 election. Cue the conspiracy theories that Elections Canada is in on it.

The fact of the matter is Canadian politics is full of third party influencers.

Leadnow worked, not directly for any particular political party, but to get out the progressive vote for eight candidates they deemed sympathetic to their cause from the NDP, Greens and Liberals, including our own Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Taylor Bachrach.

Exactly what else would one expect a left-wing organization to do during an election than try to defeat conservatives?

Oh, and guess what, it cuts both ways.

As of Oct. 15, the Manning Centre, a conservative think-tank founded by former Reform Party leader Preston Manning, had donated $312,000 to right-wing third parties to try to defeat progressives.

The rules say third parties have to disclose the source of their funding. But the Manning Centre is not registered as a third party, so the third parties they donated to can disclose Manning Centre as their source while the original donors remain anonymous.

What a nifty bit of subterfuge that is.

The largest donation, $240,500, went to Canada Strong and Proud, which was responsible for a bunch of attack ads against the Liberals.

Exactly what else would you expect a right-wing organization to do during an election than try to defeat liberals.

The top-spending third party in 2019, by far, was the union Unifor, which spent a total of nearly $1.3 million to help defeat conservatives.

Now, if you want to have a serious conversation about getting money out of politics, I’m all ears. In the meantime, I think Unifor president Jerry Dias said it best responding to criticism about their spending.

“If we’re going to talk about a puritan system where the media and everybody else is hands off and there’s no interference, that’s one thing, but that’s not the system we live in,” he said in an interview.

Hear, hear.

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