Relevant Links

Your Ad Here

The Abotech Affair: Confirmation and Considerations

From the December 18 issue of the West Quebec Post:

Smith's cousin, Cannon's signs, Brault's concern, and the Bloc's subtle helpers

The uproar over Pontiac MP David Smith's business dealings has not subsided. One question is Mr Smith's claim of aboriginal heritage -- Metis. This is of public concern not because we want to delve into Mr Smith's background, which is none of our business, but because his heritage is being used to qualify him for special treatment afforded to aboriginal companies in government contract awards. Hence, we are right to question his qualifications to gain access to these contracts. To claim that any question of his heritage is a personal matter is silly since Mr Smith himself put his heritage into the public domain when he first applied for aboriginal status for his company. Mr Smith made the issue a public one, not The West Quebec Post, nor the NDP's Celine Brault who rightly asked for clarifications.

Likewise Mr Smith's family relationship with the government consultant Frank Brazeau is also a public issue. Mr Brazeau is believed to have had some influence in the awarding of contracts to Mr Smith's firm. No one claims Mr Brazeau is responsible for contracts, but if he did not excuse himself from the discussions of contracts for a company owned by a relative of his, this deserves public scrutiny. We would expect Mr Smith himself to insist that his cousin not handle his applications. Otherwise, we could suspect nepotism, and this is a charge any candidiate would avoid.

Mr Smith's supporters, including his brother Daniel who confirmed the cousin relationship to The Post, claim the media has a political motive in pursuing these questions. This isn't true. Our relationship with Mr Smith as an MP has been supportive. In our rural area, all elements of our community need to pull in the same direction, but there are professional limitations to this. We cannot support a candidate in an election, nor can we work against one.

Curiously, another issue -- candidate Lawrence Cannon's use of English on some of his signs -- bears similarities. Cultural nationalists have been all over this issue, from Imperatif français to LeDroit newspaper, which reported that all of Cannon's signs are in English only. Such a move by Cannon would be suicidal, and this unlikeliness should have tipped off the staff of LeDroit, but nationalism loves a crusade, obviously, whether it is a real crusade or one manufactured. Notice the photo of one Cannon's French-language signs on page 3 of this editon. Le Droit's journalists could have seen the French signs, too, had they looked.

That the Cannon sign question is manufactured we can only suspect. The charge is so foolish that it must have ulterior motives, and the only motive would be to support the Bloc candidate at Cannon's expense. If francophones can be riled up by a flagrant disregard for the official langauge of Quebec, only the Bloc will benefit at the ballot box. So who has the political motives here?

Language of political signs is not legislated as it is on commercial signs. So what is the public issue? Mr Smith's heritage is his business, until he puts it forward in order to gain consideration for government contracts. Government contracts, especially in the context of the sponsorship scandal, are a public issue. And to tie up this circle, Mr Smith has stepped back into our picture by criticising his opponent for his English signs. No possibility of wrong-doing there, Mr Smith; but we're still not clear on that matter of government contracts.


Dan Smith, David Smith's campaign manager and twin brother, confirms that Frank Brazeau, the bureaucrat from Consulting and Audit Canada suspended for irregularities somehow related to David Smith's Abotech contracts, is actually David Smith's cousin, a fact first revealed in this blog, though lacking independent verification.

That certainty adds more concern about how decisions were being made at CAC in allocating contracts.

But anticipating the focus of the CBC Radio One report broadcast by Evan Dyer, Fred Ryan points out that concern over David Smith's aboriginal status was prompted by David Smith himself, when he decided to use his aboriginal status (a private issue) to make Abotech eligible for set-aside contracts (a public issue), regardless of whether any such contracts were ever actually awarded. Criticism from aboriginals about Smith's status is newsworthy, and Fred Ryan defends the journalistic integrity of the West Quebec Post.

Despite what Dan Smith thinks--he believes that "they don't vote, these people"--does not make the concerns of the members of the Kitigan Zibi band any less legitimate.

But the second half of the editorial concerning the use of language on Conservative candidate Lawrence Cannon's signs is telling. Who would make the clearly frivolous accusation that Cannon was printing only English signs?

The obvious culprit would the Bloc Quebecois, since the separatist party is devoted to keeping Quebec French-only. However, this doesn't make sense. Why? If Lawrence Cannon's support collapses, the federalist votes will go to David Smith, guaranteeing a Liberal win in Pontiac.

It is in the interest of the Bloc to have a strong Conservative candidate, since that makes it possible that a split in the federalist vote could deliver the riding to the Bloc. It's a bit of a long shot, but it is the Bloc's best bet for a win.

The fact is, the Liberal candidate, David Smith, is the only one really threatened by a strong Conservative candidate, and the CPC has such a candidate in Lawrence Cannon. That coupled with David Smith's own troubles because of Abotech means that Lawrence Cannon could seriously challenge the Liberal incumbent.

Pontiac is turning into a fascinating riding to watch.

Here's a question: Is the riding of Pontiac one of the 45 "no hope" ridings in Quebec named in the infamous memo that was accidently leaked to reporters last week?

Its 11 shaky seats are mainly in the Montreal area and in western Quebec, including the ridings of Liberal ministers Pierre Pettigrew, Liza Frulla and Jean Lapierre.

Western Quebec? I wonder...

Your Ad Here
Relevant Links

Your Ad Here

Create Commons License 2.5
Angry in the Great White North by Steve Janke is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Canada License. Based on a work at
Valid XHTML 1.0 Strict
[Valid Atom 1.0]
Valid CSS!