Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Kinsella v. Spector, Redux

Kinsella has gone and picked a fight with Norman Spector again over a column published today in the Globe. The charge:

Okay, here's another blogger-style gauntlet, thrown down with gusto (and hopefully the Post will reprint it again, so Norm can't ignore it): Norm, identify one sponsorship grant "handed out in 1995." Just one. One! That's all I ask. You can't do it, Normie, because there wasn't one.

Kinsella amplified his comments later in the day after Spector's initial response:

But, Norm, here's the thing: on this Public Works list of every single goddamned sponsorship-type event ever, ever, ever...NOTHING about what you are whispering about. Fifteen pages, single spaced, but nothing from 1995. Do one of those helpful little Adobe searches - I did. More to the point, can you spot anything AT ALL from 1995? Nope, you can't.
Readers of Kinsella's musings will remember that this spat with Spector dates back to the time of Guite's testimony circa May 4th, 2005 (scroll down to the date). He's right, of course, that the list linked to doesn't seem to include any events in 1995. But does it really list "every single goddamned sponsorship-type event ever, ever, ever..." ? For one, it's dated April 26th, 2004. Note that Spector responded with further detail as follows:

Earlier today, I wrote about a sponsorship which was approved in 1995 and had been managed by a BC agency.

That sponsorship was one of the first in a long line of projects approved before the sponsorship program was established in 2000-01. Here are the details:

The contract number was 771-5-0093. The contract was dated June 16, 1995. The contract referred to a sponsorship by the Government of Canada for an event called "Blue Sky," which was held in Alberta in the summer of 1995. The name of the agency?--Palmer Jarvis.
Admittedly, I know next to nothing about this saga. I am just interested in getting to the substance of what is being debated, partly to pass the time while cheering on the Rams against Indy. The handy "anti-corruption.ca" website has a useful transcript search function that points quickly to the mentions of the concert. I'll highlight three. First off, from Ms. Larose's October 26th, 2004 examination, at p. 84-85, from line 13:

MR. ROY: The contract number is 771-5-0093. Do you know whether this contract refers to a sponsorship by the Government of Canada for an event called "Blue Sky" and which was held in western Canada in the summer of 1995?

MS. LAROSE: If I may, the event was called "Big Sky", and ---

MR. ROY: "Big Sky", I apologize. Thank you.

MS. LAROSE: Yes, and I believe it was held in western Canada in the summer of '95.

MR. ROY: Do you know whether the office of the Prime Minister had asked or recommended that the event be sponsored?

MS. LAROSE: I'm not aware of that.

MR. ROY: You're not aware of that?


MR. ROY: Did you know that this event was one whose main sponsor was the Hudson's Bay Company?

MS. LAROSE: That's possible, yes. I think I read that in the documents, and I remember that the Bay was one of the promoters.

MR. ROY: And in your opinion, which factors were taken into consideration to lead the Government of Canada to agree to invest $300,000 in an event which was essentially being promoted by the Hudson's Bay Company of Canada?

MS. LAROSE: I have no idea.

So apart from making the same error as Mr. Roy (which Kinsella is certain to gleefully highlight), Spector seems to be correct about a potential sponsorship contract "handed out" in 1995 for "Big Sky". Did that amount to a "sponsorship-type event" on par with the later process? That's the rub - and the bald insinuation that they are inextricably linked is surely what has Kinsella pissed.

But look at the examination of Mr. Bilodeau on December 8th, 2004 at p. 68-71, from line 19, also in reference to Big Sky and its connection to "sponsorship".
MR. BILODEAU: I must admit, sir, on rereading the memo that Big Sky did not ring any bells just now.

MR. ROY: It doesn’t ring any bells?


MR. ROY: And you were not aware at the time that the Prime Minister’s Office had recommended that this concert receive funding to the tune of $500,000?

MR. BILODEAU: On reading the memo, certainly, on co-signing it I must have known about it at the time, but at this instant, I could not recall it.

MR. ROY: So, it was in 1995, in July 1995, and sponsorships were being discussed.


MR. ROY: At the time when this document was drafted, had the federal government to your knowledge funded sponsorship projects or activities through the reserve fund?

MR. BILODEAU: I am not aware, sir, that there were others. It was definitely one of the first times, I think, that I saw the word “sponsorship” and that we saw the word “sponsorship”. The sponsorship program became much more structured after the referendum.

MR. ROY: And if I could draw your attention now to the memorandum of the nineteenth of . . .


MR. ROY: . . . July 1995, to the Prime Minister. You will note at the very end . . .


MR. ROY: . . . the Prime Minister is being asked to authorize the disbursement of $250,000 for an activity slated to take place in early September 1995 in Vancouver, namely the Molson Indy.

MR. BILODEAU: Correct.

MR. ROY: And does this reference to the Molson Indy ring any bells with you?

MR. BILODEAU: Not especially. On rereading the memo I of course remembered it, but at this point, not especially.

MR. ROY: Do you recall that that particular sponsorship, since it . . . let me rephrase the question. In your . . . on remembering it or on recalling this event just now, was it a sponsorship in your mind?

MR. BILODEAU: It is certainly similar to a sponsorship, since they’re talking about outdoor advertising and support for the event. I would say, then, that it was indeed a sponsorship.

MR. ROY: And therefore . . .

MR. BILODEAU: Not advertising.

MR. ROY: You would agree with me, then, that this was a sponsorship for the same reasons that the Big Sky concert was also a sponsorship?

MR. BILODEAU: That would appear to be the case, sir.

MR. ROY: In your opinion, were those events or activities forerunners, so to speak, of the activities that followed once everything became more structured a little later on in 1996 and in 1997 . . .

MR. BILODEAU: Those activities are certainly similar to sponsorships that were developed later.
And so on... and, finally, remember Chuck Guite's controversial testimony of May 4th, 2005 - because that is also what Spector hangs his hat on here:
MR. ROY: You will have noted that I did not make reference to the item 2 or the “Événement 2” which is Festival international de Jazz de Montréal because we weren’t able – we weren’t able to find proof that there was indeed a sponsorship that year. And the same comment applies to the number 3 item which is Festival international de Québec. And if you move down the list, Festival de Montgolfière for 1995, we weren’t able to find any reference to a contract awarded to Lafleur for that year. And lastly, item 3, Concert B.-C. for $450,000, we do know that there was a concert that summer in August of ’95 in Alberta, the Big Sky Concert, but that event was handled by Palmer Jarvis. So I have omitted and it was in Alberta; it was not in B.-C. So you are familiar with these events; is that correct?


MR. ROY: Okay. And these would have been, correct me if I am wrong, among the first events sponsored by the Government of Canada and which were handled by an
outside agency, i.e. Lafleur?

MR. GUITÉ: Correct.

MR. ROY: In 1995.

MR. GUITÉ: Correct.

So that's a bit of the background. Make of it what you will. More complicated than either side makes it out to be, in this commentator's humble opinion. Spector would do well to qualify his assertions somewhat, while there is enough of a reference to "sponsorship-type" pre-1997 activity that Kinsella may want to watch the snarky nature of his comments. But we know how likely that is.


Blogger Don said...

The whole smoozle is because when Kinsella left the dept he went to Palmer Jarvis - the company that made money off of Big Sky and who also received $50,000 for design of the Unity office logo.

While at Palmer Jarvis, Kinsella met and received faxes from Guite - something that deservedly raises eyebrows.

Then, Kinsella went to run for a seat in BC and received a $10,000 donation from Palmer Jarvis.

It's all a little too cute, no?

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