Showing posts sorted by relevance for query duff conacher. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query duff conacher. Sort by date Show all posts

03 June 2015

Duff in the Hole #nlpoli #cdnpoli

Dwight Ball’s announcement last week about Liberal Party funding was a good example of how relatively simple mistakes can turn a good-news announcement into a major public relations problem.

Another aspect to the story is a good example of how false information can make the story worse.

05 September 2011

Democracy Watch: Duff’s guff #nlpoli

Let’s get it simply stated up front:  Democracy Watch is the most inappropriately named organization on the planet, bar none.

They don’t watch for one thing.

And on the specific issue of fixed election dates in some provinces, they are bitching about something, for some unexplained reason but it evidently has frig all to do with democracy.

Here’s the quote you’ll find in a CBC story on the Prince Edward island election.  it’s Duff Conacher, the guy who founded Democracy Watch:

"There's no good reason to have it so early in the fall. It also gives an advantage to the ruling party because it allows the ruling party to, sort of, come off a summer when people aren't really paying attention and get right into a campaign and have it over before people really have a chance to determine whether they want to question the ruling party's ongoing governing."

The Canadian Press story elaborates a bit:

The group says the elections should be set back to the last Monday in October or even early November.

It says parents busy getting children settled in school in September have little time to participate in election campaigns or even pay them much attention.

University students are also tied up in September and may have difficulty establishing residency at their school location until later in October, which keeps them from voting.

Voter turn-out and people getting involved in campaigns has been a problem for years.  Long before fixed election dates.

And the idea that Mom can’t think about anything as important  as an election in October because the kids are back in school the first week of September is just laughably silly.

Establishing residency ain’t a problem either.  Elections offices in the country have had rules in place for decades to handle the thousands of people who move in between elections, fixed date or moveable feast.

If Duff Conacher has a problem with fixed election dates, he needs to go back to the drawing board and figure out what the real problem is.

One of the real problems he might consider is that Duff doesn’t actually talk about problems with democracy across Canada.  Take a look at the Democracy Watch website.  Search for “newfoundland and labrador” or any combination of the words.  Duff’s taken a few e-mails about the shenanigans going on in these quarters over the past decade so he ought to know what’s been going on.

Not a peep from D-watch.

You can hear the crickets chirping and there are no crickets in Newfoundland and Labrador, at least on the island.

No Duff Conacher either.

Not a peep about the ludicrous changes to the provincial election laws in 2004 that created, among other things, a situation where people can vote when there is no election and where independent candidates are disenfranchised.

Not even a whisper when the premier of the province muses aloud about the need to wipe out free speech in the province’s legislatures.

Nothing that Duff Conacher moaned about to the media this weekend is an issue caused by or made worse by having a fixed election in October.

Duff’s out there about fixed election dates, but basically all he is saying is pure guff.

And maybe if he spoke up about real problems affecting democracy across the country, people might take this more seriously.

- srbp -

22 June 2007

Democracy Watch on public gifts

The other side of the treating business, namely gifts to politicians and their staffs:

Scientific Studies Show Even Small Gifts Have Undue Influence -- New Federal Ethics Watchdogs Must Enforce Federal Rules That Prohibit Almost All Gifts to Politicians, Staff, Appointees and Public Servants, and All Governments in Canada Must Also Prohibit Gifts

OTTAWA - Today, Democracy Watch called on the new Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, new Public Sector Integrity Commissioner, and the still-to-be-appointed Commissioner of Lobbyists to require some recent large gifts to federal MPs to be returned, and to issue public interpretations and strictly enforce rules on gifts to politicians, ministerial staff, Cabinet appointees and public servants that have never been enforced. Former Ethics Counsellor Howard Wilson and former Ethics Commissioner Bernard Shapiro and ongoing Registrar of Lobbyists Michael Nelson completely failed to enforce ethics rules concerning gifts, sponsored travel and other benefits.

Democracy Watch also called on municipal, provincial and territorial governments across Canada to ensure that they have strong rules in place that prohibit even small gifts, as even small gifts have been shown to have undue influence on decision-makers, and to ensure that they have a fully independent, fully empowered ethics watchdog agency to enforce the rules. Gift scandals have occurred across Canada in the past few years.

Scientists in both Canada and the U.S. have shown through clinical studies that even small gifts have undue influence because they create a psychological obligation to return the favour. Research by Dr. Joel Lexchin of York University and others has shown clearly that doctors change their drug prescribing patterns because of gifts, large and small, given to them by drug companies. In response to this research, and several gift-giving scandals, the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Associations in January 2007 announced a new worldwide code prohibiting essentially all gifts to doctors from drug companies.

Dr. Robert Cialdini, and other psychologists in the U.S., have conducted clinical studies showing that gifts (even small ones) and other benefits are the most powerful way to influence people.

The federal Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons (MPs Code) specifically bars MPs and their family members from accepting "any gift or other benefit" (including sponsored travel) connected with their position (subsection 14(1)) except normal "hospitality" or "protocol", and all gifts "that might reasonably be seen to compromise their personal judgment or integrity" must be declined (subsection 2(e)). The MPs Code also requires MPs generally to "uphold the highest standards so as to avoid real or apparent conflicts on interests" (subsection 2(b)). The code for federal Cabinet ministers, their staff, Cabinet appointees and senior government officials, and the Values and Ethics Code for federal public servants, contain similar prohibitions.

"Many people in government love the gravy train of gifts, wining and dining and event tickets from lobbyists, and wilfully ignore the clear, scientific evidence that such gifts influence their decisions," said Duff Conacher, Coordinator of Democracy Watch. "Governments and ethics watchdog agencies across Canada must immediately stop this unethical gravy train in its tracks."

- 30 -

Duff Conacher, Coordinator of Democracy Watch
Tel: (613) 241-5179

30 January 2017

Duff in the hole encore #nlpoli

Oh dear.

The CBC has gone off to the mainland to get Duff Conacher to make a comment about the need for political finance reform in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Three observations:

1.  There is a desperate need for campaign finance reform in Newfoundland and Labrador.  SRBP has been writing about it relentlessly for a dozen years.  By comparison, the conventional media simply couldn't be arsed to cover the subject more often than not.

When they did notice something was amiss, as in 2006,  they were inclined to follow the line set by the government-of-the-day rather than have a look at the facts for themselves. What they would have discovered in the massive patronage scheme that ran here between 1996 and 2006, for example, was that the the level of misuse of public funds went *up* after 2003.

And after that they'd have found all sorts of other odd things.  Donations by companies getting hefty contracts from government?  Absolutely, a problem. Tired of writing about it.  Finance minister and later premier Tom Marshall financed his entire election campaign in 2011 out of a series of seven cheques from construction companies all of which did work for the government as Marshall shovelled cash into capital works at an unprecedented - and unsustainable - rate.

But what about political donations by town councils and the police?  Or what about a politician who ran a charity while he was in office that was funded by his government salary)?

2,  Conacher knows shag-all about what is happening here, as some of his previous comments have shown.  That actually weakens the case for campaign finance reform here since he is going to miss more than he hits.

Duff's good for the penetrating insights into the obvious - we need reform because it lends itself to corruption - but as with the CBC story his ignorance of the particulars makes him look like a bit of a goof at best or a blind nob at worst.  You see, Duff's been stonily silent on far worse things between 2003 and 2015 than anything he said before 2003 or since 2015.

3.  Stunned as me arse or what?  You really have to shake your head in disbelief at Dwight Ball's comments in the CBC story.  His election platform included a promise to change the campaign finance laws.  Instead of playing that up, Ball goes on the defensive making he look like he opposes finance reform.

That's the kind of stuff that must leave everyone outside of the Premier's Office banging their heads on the wall in frustration.  Inside the office, it's likely high-fives all around as the boss nailed another one to the wall.

Nailed his thumb more like it.