Monday, June 02, 2008

Canadian Conservative Party dirty tricks against Obama

Remember the mini scandal over revelations that an Obama operative had contacted Canadian officials to explain that Obama's dissing of NAFTA was just Rust Belt politics that he didn't really mean, revelations that probably hurt him in places like Ohio and Pennsylvania? Lost in the shuffle was the fact that the Clinton camp made exactly the same diplomatic approach to the Canadian ambassador in Washington. Of course, the American media kept that side of the two-facedness of campaigning quiet. The Toronto Star has been following up on the story, and it looks like a Republican dirty tricks campaign against Obama, the candidate they really fear, arranged through the strange religious connections between the Republican Party and the Canadian Conservative Party. James Travers (my emphasis in red):
"Fingers are pointing at Conservatives close to Stephen Harper for leaking a diplomatic memo that badly embarrassed Barack Obama and put Canada's vital cross-border interests at risk. Multiple sources say the Canadian note questioning the Democrat frontrunner's public promise to reopen NAFTA was leaked from the Prime Minister's Office to a Republican contact before it made American headline news.

Their claims come days after an internal probe threw up its hands at finding the source. Contradicting Friday's inconclusive report, they claim the controversial memo was slipped to the son of Wisconsin Republican Congressman James Sensenbrenner. Frank Sensenbrenner is well connected to Harper's inner circle and, at Ottawa's insistence, was briefly on contract with Canada's Washington embassy to work on congressional relations."

" Getting the diplomatic memo to the U.S. media was pivotal in amplifying a small Canadian story into big American political news. The interpretation by Canadian diplomats that Obama was speaking out of both sides of his mouth on free trade is widely believed to have damaged his prospects in the Ohio primary and distracted Democrats to Republican advantage.

'This was a very deliberate piece of business for political purpose,' one of the sources said. 'It puts political ideology ahead of what's good for the country.'"

From Tim Harper:
"Frank Sensenbrenner, the one-time Young Republican fundraiser now at the epicentre of a scandal over a leaked Canadian memo which wounded Democratic presidential front-runner Barack Obama, was always a poor fit at the Canadian embassy.

The ambassador, Michael Wilson, didn't want him there.

The diplomatic corps on Pennsylvania Ave. didn't want him there and ultimately were so distrustful of the son of a right-wing Republican congressman, they muttered that they wanted his door left open so they could hear who he was talking to.

But officials in Stephen Harper's office wanted him there and Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day particularly wanted him there, based on Sensenbrenner's long links, dating back to school days, with the former Reform party, the precursor of today's government in Ottawa."

The Conservatives actually installed an American private-sector lobbyist, one born into the top ranks of the Republican Party, in an office inside the Canadian embassy in Washington. His business card, complete with his office address, must have been very useful in proving that he really was well connected to the Canadian government! When some propaganda against Obama fell into their laps, the Conservatives promptly turned it over to their in-house Republican lobbyist, who wasted no time sending to over to the Associated Press, so the story could have the maximum American media exposure, and provide the maximum embarrassment to Obama. Of course, Sensenbrenner denies that he had anything to do with this story. More from Tim Harper (my emphasis in red):
"The network which got him placed in the embassy has its roots in Ottawa, Toronto, Calgary and Washington.

'It's typical on the part of that far-right cabal of Tories and Republicans who have put together a network, trying to work below the radar, because they think only they can solve the problems of the two countries together,' said one former diplomat.

Sensenbrenner was introduced to senior embassy officials by Gerry Chipeur, a Calgary-based lawyer who was once legal counsel to the Reform and Canadian Alliance parties, the antecedents of today's Conservative party.

Chipeur, a dual citizen who headed the Republicans Abroad Canada, also has deep ties to the evangelical community in both countries and prominent U.S. Republicans, including Kansas Senator Sam Brownback.

The entrée of Sensenbrenner into Canadian diplomatic circles was forged at the Republican National Convention in New York in 2004, where members of the Canadian embassy and Conservative officials such as Day, Chipeur, Alberta MP Jason Kenney and John Reynolds, co-chair of the Tory 2006 election campaign, all attended.

Sensenbrenner had cut his political teeth in Canada, attending private college in the Toronto area and attending early Reform party conventions where he first befriended those in then-leader Preston Manning's inner circle.

The push to get him on the payroll came particularly from Day, sources said, when he took over the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative file, the name given to the Republican move to require all Canadians crossing the U.S. land border to carry passports or secure driver's licences."


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