Thursday, April 29, 2010

Open doors

Have you heard that Conservative talking point to the effect that no money or contracts were given to Jaffer? That's the saving grace line they're using. As in, that's the only part of this that counts. But think about it. It's like someone celebrating the fact that they got 50% on an exam. That's not so hot. They only got it half right. Jaffer had access and opportunities, not of a social nature, that are becoming clearer as days go by. That's the government's responsibility yet they want you to just focus on a narrow part of the whole mess.

We know that Jaffer and his partner meet with Brian Jean, Baird's parliamentary secretary. One of the projects they submitted to Jean had that notation "From Rahim - submit to dept" on the top, a symbol of that access. Providing more indications of access, a pile of emails and documents released last night that are worth a read. From the pile, here's one with yet another of those notations on it, using "w/ Rahim," again by first name, to apparently identify who Patrick Glemaud was with (page 16, click to enlarge):

CP reported on the documents last night. The first two paragraphs here are about Jaffer's request for $700,000 from the Western Economic Diversification office for a certain project (page 8):
In one message exchange with Doug Maley, an assistant deputy minister at Western Economic Diversification Canada, the two exchange pleasantries about Jaffer's recent graduate degree, a golf date, and a mercury capture project in Alberta.

"Can you have someone review this on a priority basis as I need to get back to Rahim this Friday afternoon on whether this may be of interest to WD," Maley writes to another bureaucrat.

A lengthy email trail among officials at Public Works shows they scrambled last fall — at the request of Minister Christian Paradis' office — to set up a meeting with "former Member of Parliament" Jaffer's company on a proposal to install solar panels on the roofs of federal buildings.

"This request comes from minister's office," says one email, rated "high" in importance.

"Sorry to be a pest . . . but MO (minister's office) is asking when?" says another.

At one point, Paradis' director of parliamentary affairs laments: "The sector has had this for weeks. What's the hold up?"
This material speaks to ethics, appearances and extending access privileges to insiders. Access that appears to have been provided within multiple ministries for Jaffer. So when we hear the line that there was no money given, no contract, etc., that's just one part of the story. What was all the prioritization and access about then? They were certainly willing to entertain the prospect of granting project approvals.

Here's another example from the emails, note the use of a Guergis email account (page 13, click to enlarge):
The documents give some insight as to how the channels of communication worked for Jaffer. There doesn't seem to be any hint of objection to the overtures, at least not in the documents provided. At a very basic level, the impression is one of, here's a project, does it fit the government criteria, then it heads off for consideration. No preliminary questions about whether it was appropriate to consider such projects. Not too many private citizens who have the kind of personal access seen here.