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Federal Tory operatives part of BC HST scandal

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The facts now come out..this is in reality a federal Tory dirty tricks team sent in to help BC sell HST a tax the feds love.

UPDATED - BC Secret HST Contract Watch: Now, where have we seen those names before?

July 26, 2011 12:05 PM | Read 22 comments22

By Kady O'Malley

In what is, at the very least, a timely reminder that, in the context of partisan allegiance, the word "Liberal" can have a markedly different connotation in British Columbia than in the rest of the country, a special report that ran in today's Globe and Mail reveals that the lions' share of the more than $250,000 that has been quietly paid out by the provincial government for work related to the Harmonized Sales Tax went to two firms that also have ties to the federal Conservative Party -- as well as, in one case, small c-conservative municipal electoral wunderkind Rob Ford.

According to documents reportedly obtained through provincial access to information, Ontario-based political marketing firm Campaign Research Ltd. was the single largest beneficiary of the HST contracts, pulling in over $167,000 for "conducting telephone town hall meetings" related to the implementation of the controversial tax change. An official with the BC finance department -- which managed the contracting process -- told the Globe that the firm provided the "best value" out of the three bids that were privately solicited by the government.

As noted by the Globe, the company in question was deeply involved in George Abbott's unsuccessful campaign to win the BC Liberal leadership.

What it does not point out, however, is that it was co-founded by former Conservative Party national councillor and past party vice-president Richard Ciano, who - along with his then-partner Nick Kouvalis, was also a key member of the team that propelled Rob Ford to victory in last year's Toronto mayoral race.

Like most political communications firms, Campaign Research Ltd. tends to prefer to operate beneath the radar, they seem to have been willing to make an exception for Ford; not only does the CRL website feature a congratulatory post-victory statement that highlights the firm's role in his victory, but Ciano and Kouvalis allowed themselves to be quoted extensively in a lengthy Globe profile on the race.

(Kouvalis, it's worth pointing out, left the company following the election for a short stint as chief of staff to the mayor, but has since parted ways with his former client, and is apparently in the process of setting up a new grassroots organization based on the Ford campaign mantra of "respect for taxpayers." Whether the nascent group will take on the Ontario Liberal government for its harmonization program remains to be seen.)

UPDATE:The Campaign Research Ltd. website still lists Kouvalis as a principal.

Campaign Research has also surfaced on the federal scene in the past, albeit not always entirely on its own initiative.

As reported by CBC.ca during the election, back in 2007, the company was hired by a still-unidentified client to conduct a survey in the riding of then-Liberal MP Joe Volpe that, according to Ciano posed "questions involving a controversy he had been involved in." Volpe, however, claimed that the firm went considerably further than that:

Volpe asserts residents called him to alert him surveyors were asking misleading and defamatory questions. One resident claimed callers asked if they were aware Volpe was "charged with taking $5000 donations from twins".

But Volpe was never charged with such a thing. He engaged a senior parliamentary lawyer who issued a "cease and desist" letter. Both Opinion Search Inc and Campaign Research vehemently deny asking such a question or misrepresenting themselves in any way.

"I'm not saying we made any allegations he was convicted or charged or anything like that. We simply would have asked about awareness of the controversy and what people may have thought about it," Ciano told CBC.

For his part, Ciano served as campaign manager to then-federal Conservative hopeful Peter Van Loan during the 2005 election.

UPDATE: Not sure how I missed this in my initial research, particularly since the information was actually already rattling around somewhere in the back of my head, but Kouvalis and Campaign Research were also involved in Waterloo Conservative MP Peter Braid's campaign day get out the vote efforts during the last election.

Tags: bc politics, blackberry jungle, campaign research, eliminating interprovincial partisan trade barriers, secret contracts

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Looks as thouygh the federal Tories have franchised their dirty tricks and cheating game to BC. Since the provincial tories are a big zero they have tried to infiltrate the Libs which is a coalition party in BC.

As they say:

TORIES ARE LIARS AND LIARS ARE TORIES

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Words from the blogosphere:

It's clear to me that the psuedo-liberal government of Campbell et al was working closely with their conservative allies from the outset.

When Mulroney came to power his government sent out a direction to Supply and Services Canada that all advertising contracts were to be issued only to firms on a list of tory-friendly firms. The first thing that goes by the wayside in a conservative regime is fairness, openness and transparency.

Harper has presented many, many examples of this trait. In Toronto, the Blue machine has done the same for Rob Ford who has managed to walk way from every election promise he made - from the TTC to "No tax increase" promise. Well, my property taxes have gone up and other promises are being broken at an accelerated pace.

Why is anyone surprised that Harper, Ford, Campbell and their tory-friendly contractors are lined up at that pig trough of entitlement that Mulroney immortalized? Canadians knew Harper was all about "Privileged Entitlement" but they voted for him anyway.

The good news - less than 4 years left in this failing and unethical regime.

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And now more Tory arrogance is showing up in Toronto with Ford having been caught on his cell phone and giving the finger to a citizen.

Then his borther attacks a Canadian literary legend in Margaret Atwood... not only are these Tories ignorant but obviously they don't or can't read :lol:

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Partisan patronage, directed contracts to insiders, etc, etc, is a game ALL of the parties in power play. BC Liberals, Federal Liberals, Conservatives, whatever, they are all the same. The same stink is on all of them, it just comes from different parts of the body. As the party in power stays in power their arrogance increases until the public has enough, tosses them out and gets to do it all over again with the next set of crooks.

Gordon Campbell hit his peak of arrogance and was replaced by Christy Clark, who will likely take the fall for the party in the next BC election just like Kim Campbell took the hit for Mulroney and the stretching list of Lib pretenders are taking the hit for Chretien.

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And now more Tory arrogance is showing up in Toronto with Ford having been caught on his cell phone and giving the finger to a citizen.

Westerners remember getting the finger from an arrogant HypoGrit PM named Trudeau. Luckily his party has been all but wiped out so we're aren't likely to encounter that all too familiar HypoGrit arrogance for years to come. :lol:

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And now more Tory arrogance is showing up in Toronto with Ford having been caught on his cell phone and giving the finger to a citizen.

Then his borther attacks a Canadian literary legend in Margaret Atwood... not only are these Tories ignorant but obviously they don't or can't read :lol:

How Torontonians feel about ford now.

A tweet quote getting lots of action:

Ford booklist....men are from Mars Fords are from uranus (tcook052 should understand that one :lol: )

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