Film, record industry fundraiser for Liberal MP a ‘worry’: Granatstein

5 Jan ’06

This is the title of a CP piece on the Bulte fundraising concerns originally raised by Michael Geist that I recently blogged. Historian Jack Granatstein has been outspoken in his criticism of Bulte.

The event has drawn the attention of several Internet blogs as well as criticism from prominent Canadian historian Jack Granatstein, who says the bash is inappropriate for a politician who could spearhead key changes to copyright law if she’s re-elected on Jan. 23.

“I worry when any politician, at any time but particularly in an election time, is given a fundraiser by a lobby group,” said Granatstein, author of more than a dozen books on Canadian politics.

“Politicians should be somewhat more careful than to be seen to be in the pocket of a particular collection of lobbyists on a matter of public importance.”

The CP piece notes that the issue has come up in a public meeting:

The fundraiser also came up at an all-candidates meeting in Bulte’s Parkdale-High Park riding Wednesday night with opponents questioning Bulte’s ethics.

“If this was the big banks doing this for the finance minister, people would question that,” said Peggy Nash, the NDP candidate.

Antonia Zerbisias of the Toronto Star has also covered the issue in her blog.

Update (2005-01-06) – The Toronto Star covers the story this morning. Bulte’s opponents are interviewed and Tory candidate Jurij Klufas has an interesting observation: “Conservative Jurij Klufas said he believes Bulte ‘should not be drafting legislation for her friends.’ ” An interesting turn of phrase.

Angry in The Great White North posts on some observations reported to him by someone who attended that public meeting (an all candidates meeting):

I am a constituent of the Parkdale-High Park riding. I attended an all candidates debate last evening at Swansea Town Hall and thought you would be interested in the way the copyright law ethics issue was handled by Sarmite Bulte and her campaign team.

In order to divert attention away from this controversy and to preempt it from becoming an issue, the Liberal team planted a questioner in the audience to lob an accusatory question at the NDP candidate, Peggy Nash. The very first questioner, a first year university student named Jamie who works for Bulte’s campaign, accused Nash of not being concerned about copyright issues because she had no information about this subject on her website.

Sarmite Bulte’s campaign manager, throughout the course of the evening, orchestrated and choreographed the way in which Liberal plants in the audience asked questions in order to deflect attention from any topics that would be considered controversial for their candidate and to eat up time by using innocuous questions. He could be seen constantly communicating with people in the audience, signaling with his hands what they should be doing.

One questioner was finally able to ask about the ethics of attending a lunch organized by industry lobbyists. Bulte responded by calling University of Ottawa Law Professor Michael Geist’s claims about this issue “egregious” and stated that the organizers and attendees were all personal friends of hers for many years. She then invited everybody in the audience to pay $250 to attend the lunch, for which they would receive a generous tax deduction.

Turns out another attendee who also got in touch with me met with Jamie just prior to the meeting. Jamie is a Liberal to the bone, or so I’m told, and has aspirations to live at 24 Sussex Drive one day. When asked what he thought about the copyright issue, Jamie told this person that he didn’t understand the issue and that he did not have opinion.

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