Fake election robocalls 'isolated,' top Tory says
Issue 'blown out of proportion,' former campaign director says
By Laura Payton, CBC News
Posted: Feb 29, 2012 4:54 PM ET
Misleading robocalls in an Ontario town are an isolated case, says the man who ran the Conservative Party's 2006 and 2008 election campaigns.
Doug Finley, who advised the Conservatives on the 2011 election and sits as a Conservative senator, says the case of the strange calls has been blown out of proportion.
Opposition MPs have a list of 45 ridings they say were targeted by automated robocalls or live calls wrongly telling voters their polling locations had changed, or harassing calls late at night or on religious holidays.
The controversy's epicentre is in Guelph, Ont., where Elections Canada is investigating allegations someone from the Conservative campaign deliberately tried to suppress votes by impersonating the election agency in robocalls directing people to the wrong voting location.
It's illegal to prevent a person from voting and to induce somebody to vote or not vote for a particular candidate.
Finley says the Conservatives are co-operating with Elections Canada.
"There hasn’t [been] so far, as far as I can determine, one single issue of voter suppression — not one," he told CBC News. "To me it would appear it’s very isolated. If Guelph is where it is, it’s where it is."
Robocalling and live campaign calls are legitimate methods of campaigning used by all parties, Finley said. The calls cost pennies and some call centres in Canada are capable of making 200,000 to 300,000 calls an hour, he said.
The Conservatives use a company called Responsive Marketing Group, Finley said, not Racknine, the call centre through which the Guelph robocalls were placed. RMG does live calls only, he said.
In question period Wednesday, the Conservatives changed tactics, accusing the Liberals and NDP of being sore losers.
"This member and the members of his party have conducted a smear campaign against our party — a completely unsubstantiated smear campaign," Del Mastro said to NDP MP Charlie Angus.
NDP MPs pointed out that only the Tories have had to pay a fine for breaking election laws. Charges against Finley and other party officials were dropped as part of an agreement that saw the party pay $52,000 in fines for moving money from the national campaign to local campaigns and back in 2006, a tactic that became known as "in and out."
Conservative MPs had pointed to Guelph campaign worker Michael Sona, who stepped down from his job with MP Eve Adams last week, as being behind the robocalls. But in a statement Tuesday, Sona denied he had anything to do with it and said he resigned from his job because of the controversy over his involvement.
"I have remained silent to this point with the hope that the real guilty party would be apprehended," he said. "The rumours continue to swirl and media are now involving my family, so I feel that it is imperative that I respond."
Allegations of bribery, the tape, the lawsuit
Dona Cadman says that her husband told her that prior to the vote, two Conservative Party officials, later suggested to be Tom Flanagan and Doug Finley, offered her husband a million-dollar life insurance policy in exchange for his vote against the Liberal budget in May 2005, the rationale being replacement of the life insurance that is part of an MP's compensation package (since Cadman was not running for re-election and would thus not die an MP if he voted down the government). An audio tape suggests then-opposition leader Stephen Harper was not only aware of a financial offer to Chuck Cadman but gave it his personal approval. According to Dona Cadman, Harper "looked me straight in the eyes and told me he had no knowledge of an insurance policy offer. I knew he was telling me the truth; I could see it in his eyes." Cadman's daughter also acknowledged that her father had been disturbed by the offer. However Harper later admitted in a August 2008 court deposition that he personally authorized an offer made to Cadman in 2005. The Conservative Party, based upon analysis by forensic experts who concluded that the tape was edited, asked an Ontario court to order to Liberals to stop using the tape. But neutral expert testimony showed that the tape has not been edited.
Under section 119 of the Criminal Code of Canada, it is illegal to bribe an MP. Accordingly, Opposition Liberal party Intergovernmental Affairs critic Dominic LeBlanc asked the RCMP in February 2008 to investigate this allegation, that the Conservatives had offered Mr. Cadman a million-dollar life insurance policy in exchange for his support on the budget vote. In May 2008, the RCMP announced that there was no evidence to support charges.
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Posted by Brent Fullard at 6:07 PM
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
This is not Zimbabwe
Allegations of election fraud demand serious response
Calgary Herald February 28, 2012
Some of the Conservative reaction to the growing robocall scandal reminds us of Leslie Nielsen standing in front of an exploding fire-works factory in Naked Gun while telling a gathering crowd, "Move on. Nothing to see here."
On Monday, Tory Senator Mike Duffy blamed it on third parties. Conservative strategist Tim Powers called it opposition hysteria. On the weekend, Defence Minister Peter MacKay called it an isolated incident. In question period Monday, the unflappable Stephen Harper gave them all a lesson in crisis communications, saying that anyone with evidence of illegal acts should notify Elections Canada, as Harper says his party has done, so the agency can investigate and report back to the House of Commons. It's the only credible response.
With staff at a Thunder Bay call centre admitting they made live calls scripted by the Conservatives to mislead voters about polling station locations in hotly contested ridings, dismissing the allegations merely reinforces the reputation that this is a bullying, stop-at-nothing government that has muzzled everyone from scientists to veterans' advocates.
The Conservatives, after all, once hired a polling company to spread the false word that Liberal MP Irwin Cotler of Montreal intended to resign from Parliament - a tactic that Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer later called "reprehensible." Election fraud is serious. This is not Zimbabwe. If Harper doesn't want to be perceived as Canada's version of Robert Mugabe, he and his party have no choice but to co-operate fully with the joint Elections Canada-RCMP investigation underway.
Notwithstanding the utterances of some of their members, the Tories backed a unanimous House of Commons motion put forth by the NDP Monday calling on all MPs to turn over any information they have to what appears to be a widespread Conservative voter-suppression scheme in the 2011 federal election. Blaming it on overly enthusiastic neophytes, as some Tories have done, will never fly. Although a relative few could orchestrate a computerized robocall scheme, a campaign of live voice calls in at least 18 and as many as 40 at-risk ridings could not have taken place without co-ordination and money.
The question that must be answered is how high up the pole this goes. The Harper government's ethical reputation is at stake. Critics point to the robocalls as the apex of Conservative control politics, ranging from the long-form census issue to removing discretionary sentencing by judges - not to mention pro-rogation of Parliament.
If some riding results are overturned, as they could should a judge determine that dirty tricks resulted in a measurable difference of electors in marginal ridings, the Conservative's narrow 12-seat majority could be diminished, perhaps even lost. All Tories must respond with the seriousness that this demands.
© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald
Read more: http://www.calgaryherald.com/news/This%2BZimbabwe/6219844/story.html#ixzz1nk01CHBZ
Posted by Brent Fullard at 11:18 PM
Infamous for his robo-calls that misdirected voters to non-existent polling stations, it seems that Michael Sona has a history of voter suppression. What part of this was Harper unaware of? Oh yeah, Harper claims he doesn't read Canadian papers.
Special ballot held at U of G valid, Elections Canada rules
Sat Apr 16 2011
GUELPH — Votes cast by about 700 students in a special ballot held Wednesday at the University of Guelph are valid, Elections Canada ruled Friday afternoon.
In a letter sent Thursday to the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer, the Tories alleged that the polling station was not sanctioned by Elections Canada, that partisan election material was on display near the ballot box, and that scrutineers from the various parties were not present.
Elections Canada ruled against the Conservative claims.
“All information at our disposal indicates that the votes were cast in a manner that respects the Canada Elections Act and are valid,” according to a statement issued nationally by Elections Canada.
“They should be valid as far as I’m concerned. I’m so glad to hear it,” first-time voter Gracen Johnson said. “Students won’t be discouraged by what happened.”
Several students and a Liberal scrutineer present at the polling station allege Marty Burke’s director of communication, Michael Sona, attempted Wednesday to grab a ballot box in an effort to stop voting at the U of G polling station.
Sona and the Burke campaign team directed all requests for media comment about this episode to the Conservative Party of Canada national campaign.
In a news release issued Friday morning, the party “vehemently denies that any of its workers or volunteers interfered” at the polling station.
“In particular, the Marty Burke campaign denies that any of its workers or volunteers touched a ballot box or ballot,” read the release. “The outlandish and unfounded claims being spread on the internet are the product of desperation, and are most regrettable.”
Students Brenna Anstett and Claire Whalen both said Sona tried to grab the ballot box. Anstett was “100 per cent” sure it was Sona after she identified him in a group photo provided by the Guelph Mercury.
Sona is a former University of Guelph student and former member of the Guelph Campus Conservatives. He also founded the group’s Facebook page.
Conservative party spokesperson Ryan Sparrow, the official responding to media queries about the case, wouldn’t say if Sona had been on campus in connection with the episode.
Elections Canada also ruled Friday that no other special ballot polling stations, similar to the one in Guelph, will be authorized anywhere else in Canada during this campaign.
“In light of the focus on youth and student electoral participation at the 41st general election, and on efforts to increase voter interest and turnout among this group, a well-intentioned returning officer undertook a special initiative to create an opportunity for students at the University of Guelph to vote by special ballot,” the media release read. “Once Elections Canada officials were made aware of the local initiative in Guelph, the returning officer was instructed not to engage in any further activities of a similar nature. All returning officers have received this instruction.”
The Conservatives seem satisfied by Elections Canada’s decision and also view the matter as closed.
“While the Elections Canada statement confirms that what happened in Guelph lacked proper authorization, we applaud the decision not to disenfranchise University of Guelph students because of errors by the local returning officer. These student voters should not suffer because of mistakes by the local election officials,” a Tory media release stated. “At the same time, we are pleased that the rules for special balloting have been clarified and reconfirmed. The same rules should apply everywhere and be applied consistently across the country.”
Guelph incumbent Liberal MP Frank Valeriote said he had no problems with the Conservatives protesting the validity of the special ballot.
“I deny the validity of their challenge but at least their lawyer (Arthur Hamilton) was using proper procedure,” Valeriote said Friday.
Rather, Valeriote had a problem with the happenings reported at the ballot box and attributed to Conservative campaign members.
Elections Canada media adviser James Hale said Thursday the episode “was a minor incident. It was mostly yelling and shouting.”
However, several witnesses allege an attempt was made to seize control of a ballot box during the incident.
“What happened at the polling station, it was nothing but thuggery,” Valeriote said. “The type of conduct seen at the polling station is the type of conduct condoned by the prime minister in Ottawa and it’s now been exported to Guelph.”
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff and Prime Minister Stephen Harper addressed the case on the campaign trail Friday, prior to Elections Canada’s decisions.
Harper said the party was interested in making sure election rules were followed.
“It’s worrying. I can’t believe it,” Ignatieff said, during a campaign stop in the Ottawa suburb of Orleans.
“This is part of a pattern. First you have a prime minister check the Facebook page of people coming to his meeting … and then you have a Conservative operative trying to grab a ballot box at a university in a town precisely where students were mobilizing to get out the vote,” he said.
Guelph NDP candidate Bobbi Stewart said she was in disbelief over the matter. Cancelling the student votes would have amounted to “another erosion of our democracy,” she said.
Guelph Green party candidate John Lawson said the Conservative party’s handling of this matter is now “a key issue” in this campaign. “It’s about the politics of intimidation and exclusion. This is politics of fear.”
UPDATE: February 28, 2012 10:00PM EST: Michael Sona states he had nothing to do with the Robo-calls. Article here
Posted by Brent Fullard at 9:09 AM
Monday, February 20, 2012
Image: An Euler diagram illustrating the association fallacy. Although A is within B and is also within C, not all of B is within C.
As Tina Bounds writes in today's Edmonton Journal below, this tactic of forcing legislation down Canadians throats by comparing anyone who opposes it as being "with the child pornographers" is actually a well worn tactic employed by the extremist and polarizing Harper government.
How important do you suppose the association fallacy that "income trusts cause tax leakage" and "nation of coupon clippers" was in absolving Harper from his broken election promise of "never taxing income trusts"?
Unfortunately our supposed vanguards of democracy, the Canadian media, lapped this nonsense up like honey, the losers that they are and the association fallacy that it was.
Backlash over Internet bill well-deserved
BY TINA BOUNDS, EDMONTON JOURNAL FEBRUARY 20, 2012 1:09 AM
Re: "Tories willing to look at changes to law," The Journal, Feb. 16.
It's good that Bill C-30 is getting criticized by both the public and opposition parties. Despite attempts by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Public Safety Minister Vic Toews to persuade Canadians otherwise, this is bad legislation that should not be passed.
This new bill supposes that every single person who uses the Internet in Canada is a possible child pornographer, and that it's worth completely eroding the online privacy of 35 million people to catch the 219 Canadians convicted of child pornography charges in 2007, for instance.
While child pornography is a serious crime, with deep repercussions for the children unfortunate enough to be involved, it is an emotional diversion and was attached by the government late in the drafting process in hopes of silencing opposition. If the Conservative government were serious about protecting children from sexual predators, they would direct more financial support toward agencies aimed at ending sexual exploitation. Giving the government the power to track which silly kitten videos you watch on YouTube won't do a thing to protect kids in need.
Toews's comment that Canadians "can either stand with us or with the child pornographers" is nearly a textbook example of an association fallacy. That's an easy game to play. In George Orwell's 1984, the evil privacy-outlawing Big Brother had a bushy moustache, just like Toews's.
Tina Bounds, Edmonton
© Copyright (c) The Edmonton Journal
Posted by Brent Fullard at 11:01 AM
Friday, February 17, 2012
Wikipedia defines phishing as "a way of attempting to acquire information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication. Communications purporting to be from popular social web sites, auction sites, online payment processors or IT administrators are commonly used to lure the unsuspecting public."
How is that any different than Stephen Harper's phishing exercise:
Critics take aim at Harper's online surveillance bill
By Sarah Schmidt,
Postmedia News February 15, 201
OTTAWA — Prime Minister Stephen Harper called on parliamentarians Tuesday to stand firm against child pornography and support a contentious bill that will require telecommunications companies to hand over customer information to police without a court order.
But opposition parties hit back hard by predicting the new bill will lead to an infringement of the privacy of Canadians, saying it will allow police to build a detailed profile of people, including law-abiding citizens, using their digital footprint — without any judicial oversight. They also blasted one of Harper's senior ministers who told a critic of the bill he "can either stand with us or with the child pornographers."
Even Ontario's privacy commissioner called the government's attempt to sell this bill as an effort to protect children from predators as "fear-mongering" and "spreading fear."
At issue is the government's "lawful access" legislation tabled in the House of Commons Tuesday. The legislation, newly branded by the government as the "Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act" but dubbed "online spying" by critics, is expected to pass under a Conservative majority government.
Public Safety Minister Vic Toews inflamed matters Monday by saying that an opponent of the bill "can either stand with us or with the child pornographers." This comment dominated Question Period, with opposition parties calling on Harper to explain them.
"A Conservative minister accuses people who are worried about an unjustified government intrusion in their personal lives as in favour of child pornography. They're going off the rails. The question is, is this being managed by the prime minister?" asked interim NDP leader Nycole Turmel.
"With regard to child pornography, our party is totally against it and I encourage the NDP to adopt the same position," replied Harper, who invoked the protection of children in response to more questions from interim Liberal leader Bob Rae about lumping Canada's privacy commissioners in with "friends of child pornographers."
"It is important that among the provinces there really is an all-party consensus on this. I hope Parliament will study this bill carefully and make sure we do what is best for our children and our law enforcement agencies," Harper responded.
Toews, when pressed by reporters Tuesday, said that to characterize an opponent of the legislation as standing with child pornographers "is not a fair comment," claiming he never made such comments in the House of Commons Monday.
The bill will require Internet service providers and cellphone companies to install equipment for real-time surveillance and will create new police powers designed to access the surveillance data. This means police can order a telecom company to preserve data for a specified period, but must first obtain a warrant to read the actual content.
The bill will allow for the warrantless access to subscriber information — a provision that triggered a sustained campaign last year by the federal and provincial privacy commissioners to get it scrapped from the bill before the Conservatives re-introduced it. An earlier version of the bill died when the federal election was called last spring.
Currently, telecom companies can provide the personal information of customers on a voluntary basis. Companies turn over the information to law enforcement agencies in about 95 per cent of cases, but the turnaround time takes an average of 13 days, Toews told reporters Tuesday.
"The point here is this can no longer be discretionary on the part of telecommunication service providers, especially when children's lives are at stake. It's clear we need a better system," said Toews.
In addition to name, address, phone number, email address and name of service provider identifier, the bill will require companies to hand over the Internet protocol address.
The government has dropped a series of device-identification numbers from the list of basic information that must be handed over if police ask. Those numbers can facilitate the tracking of a person's movement through the location of their cellphone.
Ontario's privacy commissioner, Ann Cavoukian, called the removal of device identification numbers and a strengthened oversight system with regular audits as a "small victory." But Cavoukian said warrantless access to customers' basic subscriber information is "completely unacceptable."
"Once you have something like an IP address or some other number, that can facilitate connection with other pieces of information: websites that you visit, what activities you're engage in, what sites you surf, what you read, the videos you look at, who you connect with. It's these kinds of connections, these data linkages that can form a very detailed personal profile that can be extremely revealing," said Cavoukian.
"The police can do this on law-abiding citizens. They don't have to make the case that there's been an infraction here and they go before a judge to make the case and get a warrant. I have no problem with them going after the bad guys — of course not. I want them to do that. But that is not what warrantless access entails. And what I take great personal offense at is Minister Toews comparing all the privacy commissioners, saying we're on the side of child pornographers," said Cavoukian.
Chantal Bernier, assistant privacy commissioner of Canada, echoed Cavoukian's concerns, while characterizing the two changes as "improvements."
"But the privacy concern remains, which is the warrantless access to personal information," Bernier said in an interview.
"They're going to the personal information behind the IP address without a warrant and without a framework that limits this to criminal activity, which means, as we read that provision now, it can capture any law-abiding citizen," said Bernier, who said it's grossly unfair to peg any critic of the bill as standing with child pornographers.
"What I would reply to you is that, of course, privacy can never ever, ever stand in the way of protecting children, but that is not the issue here. The issue is warrantless access to anyone's personal information in Section 16 of the bill."
Posted by Brent Fullard at 8:30 AM
Thursday, February 16, 2012
Don Drummond was one of the key instigators behind Dalton McGuinty's crazy HST that had the effect of raising home heating costs and hydro rates by 8%. Now he's advocating another increase in hydro rates:
Drummond Report: New roadmap for Ontario includes higher hydro bills, larger school classes
Posted by Brent Fullard at 8:26 PM
Thursday, February 9, 2012
Feb 9, 2012: Harper Said to Urge China for Manulife Investment Approval
Feb. 9, 2012: Manulife CFO leaving; charge sends insurer to loss
Posted by Brent Fullard at 10:54 AM
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Harper's all-Canadian remark might hurt RIM sale
By: LuAnn LaSalle
Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
MONTREAL -- Research In Motion might not have many suitors at home or abroad, especially with Prime Minister Stephen Harper's comments that he would like to see the BlackBerry maker remain a Canadian company, analysts said Monday.
The prime minister recently told the Reuters news agency he wants to see the "company succeed and continue to grow as a Canadian company."
"A hostile takeover is not very likely to go through based on what Harper has said," telecom analyst Troy Crandall said.
But RIM doesn't seem to have a lot of obvious suitors.
"Any of the potential acquirers for RIM right now seem to either have partnered with somebody else already or bought somebody else," said Crandall, of investment firm MacDougall, MacDougall & MacTier.
Harper's comments last week reflect a worry that too many Canadian companies are being swallowed by foreign buyers.
Jaguar Financial and more than a dozen other shareholders own about 10 per cent of RIM and have been pushing for a revamped board and a strategic review of the company, which would include a possible sale.
Jaguar chief executive Vic Alboini said he still believes RIM's new chairwoman, Barbara Stymiest, should do a strategic review of the company and consider a sale.
"I think if the federal government wants to put its toe in this water, it has to lay out what the guidelines are so there is no uncertainty in the capital market," said Alboini, head of the Toronto-based merchant bank.
"I am not sure we want a government poison pill here," Alboini said of the prime minister's comments.
"Is it something he would consider to be a problem if management of RIM entered into a friendly deal with a foreign acquirer?" he said.
"It raises a ton of uncertainty for potential acquirers, whether domestic or foreign, because people don't know where the government stands and, therefore, what you're going to do is take out the takeover bid premium out of the marketplace," Alboini said.
"Is that what the government really wants to do?"
Posted by Brent Fullard at 10:51 PM
Monday, February 6, 2012
How revealing of our fair weather Prime Minister that he only shows up at London, Ontario's Electo-Motive plant for photo-ops to announce corporate tax cuts, and is no where to be seen when the plant's owner, Caterpillar Inc. subsequently shuts it down, throwing 450 skilled Canadian workers out of their jobs.
Quiz: What's does Stephen Harper have in common with Caterpillar?
Answer: Both are creepy crawlers
Posted by Brent Fullard at 8:59 PM
Saturday, February 4, 2012
Why am I not surprised?
ORNGE paid lawyers $11 million
Fri Feb 03 2012
ORNGE has paid $11 million to lawyers — taxpayer money used to create its now bankrupt for-profit companies, two closed charities and to raise funds on Bay Street.
Last month, ORNGE paid $1 million for legal expenses incurred after the Star revealed huge problems at the company
The legal expenses, covering 2006 to January 2012, were released by ORNGE to the Star this week.
Almost $9 million went to the Toronto based law firm of Fasken Martineau, where key ORNGE adviser and federal Liberal strategist Alf Apps is a partner. The remaining payments went to other law firms.
Apps, a close adviser to former ORNGE boss Dr. Chris Mazza, has done a lot for the service over the years.
He has made presentations to the Ontario Ministry of Health on behalf of ORNGE, sought financial investors, and provided guidance on “matters where his specialized expertise in structured financing was required,” according to a spokesman for the law firm.
At any given time, Apps was one of 15 Fasken Martineau lawyers working on the ORNGE file.
Fasken spokesman Stephen Hastings said Fasken Martineau serviced (and continues to service) ORNGE well and does so in the same manner it helps all clients.
“We believe that Fasken Martineau has and continues to provide significant value to ORNGE and the people of Ontario,” Hastings said. He noted that his firm is owed an additional $440,000 that has not yet been paid.
The billing records provided show that in January, ORNGE paid Fasken Martineau $507,000 (a similar amount went to a group of other law firms that month). Insiders say that in January top ORNGE executives and board members (some of whom are now out of a job) were hunkered down at Fasken’s Toronto office seeking legal advice on the growing ORNGE mess.
ORNGE is the provincial air ambulance service created in 2005 by Mazza and former health minister George Smitherman. An ongoing Star investigation has revealed high salaries, dispatch problems and the creation within the non-profit ORNGE of a series of for-profit companies with names like ORNGE Peel and ORNGE Global.
Mazza, a former emergency room doctor, was the driving force behind ORNGE. As his empire grew, Apps was always close by. Just before their public troubles began in December, Apps gave the opening address to a group of high net worth businessmen and women at a dinner catered by Humber College culinary students at the posh ORNGE headquarters. The evening was billed as “an investment opportunity that can shape the world’s health care landscape for the coming decades.”
Apps was there because he was not only a lawyer for ORNGE, he was the chairman of Byron Capital, the investment firm hired by ORNGE to raise $15 million to $20 million in a deal that was never completed.
Until his two-year term ended recently, Apps was the president of the federal Liberals. He is well connected in political circles.
While the Star has been provided with the total amount of legal fees (including taxes and disbursements) paid to Apps firm, few specifics have been provided. The annual amount has increased over the years.
As of this week, those for-profit firms are bankrupt, which led to the termination of Mazza and other executives. Insiders say Mazza is considering suing ORNGE. The bankruptcy of the for-profit firms has left Fasken Martineau a creditor, owed $440,000 in unpaid bills.
Fasken Martineau was the law firm that represented the precursor to ORNGE, the air ambulance service based at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. The arrangement began in 2002.
By 2006, the first full year of ORNGE’s existence, Fasken Martineau was paid $475,000. In 2007, the Fasken Martineau charges were $237,000.
During 2007, Apps was added to the ORNGE legal team, the law firm said.
Total payments to Fasken Martineau were $1.1 million in 2008, $2.4 million in 2009, $1.5 million in 2010, and $2.6 million in 2011.
The law firm noted to the Star that “any increase in the volume of work was not tied to the involvement of any specific lawyer on the file.”
The total amount paid to Fasken Martineau (Apps’ own amount is not broken out) totalled $8.8 million. ORNGE paid an additional $2.3 million to other (unnamed on the document the Star obtained) law firms during the same six-year period.
According to the law firm and ORNGE, one of the big services Apps provided was the 2008-2009 structuring of a deal that raised $275 million to purchase new helicopters and airplanes. The payments of interest and capital back to investors comes out of the $150 million taxpayers give ORNGE each year.
In an earlier interview, Apps told the Star this deal was very successful.
“From a rating and pricing perspective . . . this was probably the most successful financing recently completed from the perspective of an organization that is neither government, nor a Crown agency or corporation and the rating was upgraded in October 2010,” Apps said.
Fasken Martineau was also involved in the creation of two ORNGE charities, the ORNGE Foundation and J-Smarts, a charity set up to teach youth how to safely engage in high risk sports. Mazza’s son was killed in a ski accident in 2006. Both charities were recently shut down on the advice of the province.
One specific detail Fasken Martineau did provide relates to the creation of the for-profit firms. Fasken Martineau said it was paid $2.5 million to structure the firms, which Mazza said would earn money for Ontario — 3 per cent of gross revenue for the province, the rest for Mazza and executives.
The for-profit firms included a high-end executive medical rescue program, and an attempt to sell ORNGE expertise around the world. Apps told the Star he was not one of the firm’s lawyers who set up the for-profit companies.
The companies were owned by Mazza and other executives.
When ORNGE briefed Ontario’s health ministry on its for-profit plans on Jan. 14, 2011, Apps was in the meeting room at Queen’s Park, along with an ORNGE executive and the now past chairman of the air ambulance service’s board.
In one of several emails, Apps told the Star he was there to “explain the structure” of the for-profit ORNGE Global to the ministry. He stressed that he was not in any way lobbying the government. Apps also briefed government finance officials on the same subject matter, he said.
People who lobby the Ontario government must register and there is no registry of Apps.
In an email to the Star Friday, Fasken Martineau said it has now asked the Registrar of Lobbyists for Ontario if Apps’ “communication” with the province to set up the Jan. 14 meeting constitutes lobbying.
Kevin Donovan can be reached at (416) 312-3503 or email@example.com
ORNGE: Alf Apps resign from his law firm
Feb 10 2012
The lawyer who was involved in many of ORNGE’s deals has resigned from his law firm.
Alf Apps, who is also the former president of the Liberal Party of Canada, tendered his resignation Friday afternoon from law firm Fasken Martineau. Apps was listed as a counsel to the firm, not a partner.
Meanwhile, ORNGE is preparing a request for proposal, inviting law firms to bid for legal work at the air ambulance firm, ORNGE president Ron McKerlie told the Star.
A recent Star story revealed that since 2005, Fasken has been paid about $9 million by ORNGE for legal fees, expenses and disbursements for work that included structuring the air ambulance service’s now closed for-profit companies. Apps began working on ORNGE files in 2007.
Another $2 million in payments were paid to other firms over the same period. Fasken Martineau was the lawyer for the former air ambulance service based at Sunnybrook Hospital and when founder Dr. Chris Mazza started ORNGE in 2005 Fasken came on as its law firm.
Apps is also chairman of a company ORNGE chose last fall to try to raise $15 million to support its for-profit business.
Fasken managing partner Martin Denyes said in a statement that Apps is joining the law firm Wildeboer Dellelce LLP.
“At Wildeboer Dellelce, Mr. Apps intends to continue practicing law and to pursue his many business and board interests,” Denyes said.
“Mr. Apps’ colleagues at Fasken Martineau wish him well,” he added.
Posted by Brent Fullard at 9:30 AM