Conservative scandals

This page is a historical of Stephen Harper’s many scandals, corruption, spin-doctoring, bullying, dishonesty, & his record of abusive power.

Stephen Harper: master manipulator

“You could argue that they stole the election.”

“The Polaris Institute think tank reported in December 2012 that 45 oil lobbyists had been allowed to work inside Harper’s government and that during the previous four and a half years, officials and ministers had held some 2,700 meetings with the oil lobby. By contrast, the Climate Action Network had managed just six.”


Canada’s Ethics Commissioner Shouldn’t Let Harper Off the Hook

“Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson is so ineffective that the media, not her, have revealed all of the ethics violations in federal politics in the past five years, while she has let dozens of Conservatives off the hook for clear violations and made more than 80 secret rulings, and so clearly the ethics law needs to be strengthened to ensure proper and effective enforcement and thousands of Canadians are calling on the House Committee to strongly recommend these and other key changes to stop unethical politicians and lobbyists.”

Harper, his jailbirds and the march toward demockery

… “Despite having fled Canadian corruption charges, Porter is still a Canadian Privy Councillor, courtesy of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s stellar judgment of people. At least Panama is paying the good doctor’s room and board behind bars while he fights extradition to Canada on a clutch of criminal charges.

Harper also appointed Del Mastro as his parliamentary secretary, and kept him in that position even while he knew Del Mastro was under investigation by Elections Canada. Given his personal selection of Porter, Bruce Carson, Patrick Brazeau and Del Mastro, it’s a fair question: does this PM have an infatuation for jailbirds?

But things went from comedy to theatre of the absurd when Teneycke boasted of the Conservatives “We’re better than the news, we’re truthful.”

Even the base must be choking on that pork-chop bone. Some people tell lies to conceal the truth; the Conservatives tell lies because they have forgotten what the truth is.

On the whopper index, this PM continues to Reach for the Top. No boots on the ground in Iraq. Sixty-five F-35 stealth fighters for $15 billion. The cheater Peter Penashue is the best MP Labrador ever had. ISIS has already attacked Canada. It would be madness to regulate the energy sector. There will be no appointed senators. Opponents of pipelines are a bunch of foreign-financed extremists, Linda Keen was a Liberal hack, Stephen Maher is a controversial journalist….you get the picture.

It is all about controlling the message. As his political woes deepen, Harper has a habit of moving away from substantive discourse and doubling down on the emotional and irrational. He is a master channel changer and his success begins where debate ends.

Brigette DePape protests during the Senate throne speech in 2011.

2019: Stephen Harper Heads a Global Org That Helps Get Right-Wing Parties Elected. What Will It Do for Andrew Scheer?

By Michael Harris: Voter suppression works. Ask the Kochs, Trump and our very own robocall fakers.

“The Conservative Party of Canada is closely aligned with the U.S. Republican Party, and both are closely associated with the International Democratic Union.”

“Some people tell lies to conceal the truth; the Conservatives tell lies because they have forgotten what the truth is.” Michael Harris

‘Obstruction’ handbook leaked

EXCERPTS: “The Harper government is being accused of a Machiavellian plot to wreak parliamentary havoc after a secret Tory handbook on obstructing and manipulating Commons committees was leaked to the press.

Opposition parties pounced on news reports Friday about the 200-page handbook as proof that the Conservatives are to blame for the toxic atmosphere that has paralyzed Parliament this week.

“Now we learn, in fact, that the monkey wrench gang have had a plan all along and not just any plan, a 200-page playbook on how to frustrate, obstruct and shut down the democratic process.”

But Davies, a 10-year parliamentary veteran, said the Tories have taken manipulation to extremes she’s never seen before.”

Harper, Serial Abuser of Power: The Evidence Compiled

The Tyee’s full, updated list of 70 Harper government assaults on democracy and the law.

Their Ebook is also available in PDF

Supreme Court rules former Stephen Harper aide Bruce Carson guilty of influence peddling

“After leaving the PMO, he tried to use his government connections at what was then called Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, as well as in cabinet, to push the sale of water-purification systems for First Nations communities made by a company known as H2O Pros and H2O Global. “

A Conservative collection of Harper government scandals


“”It is one thing for journalists or even the public to use the more partisan ‘Harper government,’ but it is another thing for the state to equate the Government of Canada with the leader of the governing party,” said Jonathan Rose, a specialist in political communications at Queen’s University.”


Excellent summary by Moiz & Anna Flag: “… a timeline of some of the major scandals that have plagued Stephen Harper’s tenure as prime minister of Canada, gathered from various news sources.”

Dean Del Mastro, jailed for ‘cheating and lying’ in 2008 vote, out on bail

“Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s former parliamentary secretary Dean Del Mastro was granted bail Friday after spending one night in jail as a convicted electoral fraudster.”

Conservatives’ ‘in-and-out’ scandal investigation cost taxpayers $2.3-million

“Between May 2007 and last fall when the Conservative Party pleaded guilty to Elections Act charges, Elections Canada and the director of public prosecutions spent far more for lawyers, forensic accountants and investigators than the $52,000 the party paid in fines for violating its spending limits in the 2006 campaign.”

Former Conservative staffer found guilty in robocalls trial

“An Ontario judge has found former Conservative party staffer Michael Sona guilty of trying to prevent voters from reaching the polls during the 2011 federal election.”

Harper arranges Parliament suspension to avoid toppling of his minority government

GG agrees to suspend Parliament until January. Decision gives Tories reprieve, thwarts imminent attempt to topple government

Alleged Afghan prison torture controversy slips quietly into history books

‘Canada really lost its innocence in the detainee controversy,’ says lawyer Paul Champ

“In 2009, the government’s refusal to turn over documents related to allegations that Canadian-captured detainees may have been tortured sparked a political crisis that in 2009 nearly toppled Stephen Harper’s minority government.”

PM shuts down Parliament until March

Tories trying to ‘shut down democracy,’ Liberal MP Goodale says

“The move to prorogue, or suspend, Parliament is widely seen as a strategic move by Harper to gain a majority on Senate committees while possibly also avoiding criticism over the Afghan detainee issue. “

Prorogation redux: Harper in contempt of Parliament

EXCERPT: “The early decision to shut down Parliament was clearly to avoid the continuing scrutiny of a House of Commons committee over the mounting evidence of wilful blindness by the Harper government over the transfer of Afghan detainees to a substantial risk of torture. This is potentially a war crime and one of the most serious allegations any government has faced in the history of Canada.”

Harper limits journalists to five questions per day

“So there we have it: The Prime Minister who promised more openness and accountability, who’s been in power for five years, has told the press to get used to it – you can cover my campaign, but you can ask only five questions.”

Harper intimidates charities into silence

“Voluntary agencies live in fear of the Canada Revenue Agency. If it decides they have stepped over the line between good works and political activity — pointing out the link between poverty and government austerity for example — it can revoke their charitable status. “

Thankfully, Harper lost that fight: The Judge ruled that “the 10 per cent rule [for political activity] was an arbitrary and unjustified infringement of freedom of expression as guaranteed in Section 2 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”

See our blog posts on Prelude to Northern Gateway for more details and the Conspiracy Queen – Vivian Krause – who teamed up with Harper to make Charity harassment her mission.

Prime Minister Harper muzzles diplomats and foreign agencies

“His compulsive need to control all government communications hit our diplomats particularly hard. It hobbled their ability to publicly speak for Canada, something they have long been very good at. He muzzled them so much that, in 2008, the John Manley commission on Afghanistan publicly criticized him for preventing our embassies and ambassadors from representing our interests abroad.”

“What matters most to Harper is not human rights and democracy but rather their exact opposite: keeping authoritarian control, both at home and abroad.”

Canada’s spy agency allegedly monitors environmental activists

B.C. lawyer gagged from discussing hearing into alleged CSIS spying on pipeline protesters

“Secrets upon secrets surround a hearing into allegations that Canada’s spy agency kept tabs on environmental groups in an effort to suss out their anti-pipeline activities and may even have used moles to get the job done.

In a story worthy of a cloak-and-dagger spy thriller, the lawyer representing the groups was forbidden from discussing anything that took place at a restricted hearing of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service watchdog committee.”

Revealed: Canadian government spent millions on secret tar sands advocacy

Conservative government used public money on outreach campaign to counter criticism of controversial Alberta tar sands

” The outreach activities, which cost $4.5 million and were never publicly disclosed, included efforts to “advance energy literacy amongst BC First Nations communities.””

Two dozen secret cabinet decisions hidden from Parliament, Canadians

09/02/15. “A review by iPolitics of more than 21,000 orders-in-council published on the Privy Council’s website since 2004 found that 25 OICs adopted by the Harper government are missing. Only three OICs adopted by the previous Liberal government between 2004 and 2005 aren’t in the database.

The decisions are so secret that they are kept in a safe, separate from other orders-in-council — and cabinet ministers are only briefed on them in rooms without wireless devices.”

Military procurement under the Harper government

“… there has been a spectacular increase in secretive sole source defence contracts issued under the Harper government. A major beneficiary has been General Dynamics, which received $4.3 billion in contracts of which 95% were sole source; that is, not won through an open competitive bidding process.
The list of military procurement debacles since 2006 is long.”

Harper’s dishonesty on display in latest Pentagon papers on F-35

“Auditor General Michael Ferguson found that the government’s costing for the F-35 – supposedly a mere $15 billion – was astronomically and deliberately out of whack. The true cost of this expensive and troubled experimental jet was $25 billion, 40 per cent higher than Harper was willing to admit publicly.”

Canada F-35s: Leaked Story Prompted Harper To Call In RCMP

” The Harper government called in the RCMP to investigate a politically embarrassing story involving the decision to sole-source the purchase of the F-35 stealth fighter, claiming it was a breach of national security, The Canadian Press has learned.”

The Peter MacKay File: Lies, Jets & Junkets

“This video reports on five situations in which Stephen Harper’s Defence Minster, Peter MacKay, has used government aircraft as if they were personal taxis, was not truthful with Parliament and the Canadian people about the costs of defence expenditures, and lived “large on the land” as he spent taxpayers’ money for luxury hotels.”

Harper defends how refugees are processed

“This week The Globe also revealed that Mr. Harper ordered Citizenship and Immigration Canada to stop processing Syrian refugees referred by the United Nations, a halt that lasted several weeks in the midst of a global crisis.

Paul Champ, an Ottawa human rights lawyer, said the refugees referred to Canada by the UN agency are all vulnerable, and by choosing to prioritize some and not others the government could be running afoul of the law.

Harper’s Niqab ‘Distraction’ Blasted After Report Shows Ban Kept 2 Women From Taking Oath

“”This prime minister would rather play up the politics of fear and division, and get everyone talking about anxieties and hot button issues, than reflect on the fact that for 10 years, Mr. Harper has had the worst growth rate of any prime minister since R.B. Bennett in the depths of the Great Depression,” he said.”

Kenney refuses to apologize for fake citizenship broadcast, blames bureaucrats

“A fake citizenship ceremony broadcast last fall on Sun News was the result of “logistical problems,” Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said Thursday in the House of Commons, amid much laughter”

Harper’s reputation for cunning hides blunders

“… The unusual public goading of Barack Obama (“a no brainer … won’t take no for an answer … etc.”) into making a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline project, six years after it was first proposed?

Either a play to the base or a wink to the Republicans or a deliberate raising of the diplomatic stakes, anything but what it looks like: a catastrophic fumbling of a key file.

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below. The pattern that emerges from these and other bungles – the Marc Nadon appointment to the Supreme Court, Northern Gateway – is a consistent one.
Step one: Fail to gather consensus or anticipate opposition.

Step two: Make no effort to disarm or co-opt critics, but antagonize them at every turn. Step three: Attempt to bluster or bully them into submission. Step four: Ignore warnings of imminent collision with reality. Step five: crash and burn.

An exception, perhaps, was the Canada Job Grant, but only after it was handed off to Jason Kenney, who appears to have set up a kind of private practice within the government.

But in general this government has only two plays: the frontal assault and the spectacular about-face. That was enough, when it came to intimidating or outfoxing their hapless parliamentary opposition, where the prime minister, even in a minority Parliament, has all the advantages. But however powerful he may be within the precinct of Parliament Hill, he cannot snap his fingers to quite the same effect with regard to the Supreme Court, other governments or extra-parliamentary adversaries.

It makes no difference that in many of these cases I think the Tories have the right side of the argument.

The Supreme Court’s Nadon and Senate decisions strike me as especially ill-considered, the one a violent misreading of the relevant text, the other simply ignoring it.

But they were hardly unpredictable, or unpredicted.

With regard to the Senate, in particular, we are left with two possibilities: either the government failed to foresee what virtually everyone was telling them was at least a strong possibility, or they knew it was coming and wasted everyone’s time for eight years.

Why they did not go to the court first, rather than last, is a mystery, but it’s typical of this government’s tendency to place large bets on small prizes. Huge amounts of political capital have been frittered away, and for what? A superannuated maritime law specialist the prime minister took a shine to? The chance to get in a few kicks at Elections Canada? Imagine if the Tories had taken the same risks in pursuit of something real – reforming taxes or restructuring government or freeing up markets – rather than settling scores or seeking partisan advantage.

It is telling that among the prime minister’s most trenchant critics these days is Tom Flanagan, once one of his closest advisers, an academic-cum-political strategist who is at once both deeply conservative and shrewdly pragmatic.

This government is neither.

It is reckless, not in the style of governments that overread their mandate, but in an aimless, scattershot way. It is partisan, but for no purpose other than stubbornness and tribalism. It will take every fight to the limit, pick fights if none present themselves, with no thought to the consequences of either victory or defeat but seemingly out of sheer blood lust. Like the proverbial dog chasing the car, it has no idea what it will do when it catches it.

Trudeau Protest Was Manned By Tory Interns And Organized By PMO

“It is the latest revelation about the lengths to which Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s office — the nerve centre of the federal government — will go to meddle in partisan politics. Staff in the PMO, who help the party plot election strategy and who designed the first round of attack ads against Trudeau, have also been behind recent negative stories about his speaking fees.”

Government favours infrastructure projects to Conservative ridings

” The federal government has funnelled 83 per cent of the projects under its signature infrastructure fund to Conservative-held ridings, according to an analysis by The Globe and Mail of the announcements made to date.”

Sen. Beyak broke Senate’s code of conduct by posting racist letters

Stephen Harper’s courts: How the judiciary has been remade

“Constitutional romantics assume the worst of elected legislators and the best of judges,” Mr. Huscroft has written. For nearly 10 years, the Conservative government has been dripping blue ink into a red pot – attempting to expunge, bit by bit, the country’s 30-year romance with the Charter, and with judges who go out of their way to be the guarantor of rights.”

The Impact of the Harper Government’s “Tough on Crime” Strategy:

EXCERPTS: “The Harper government’s “tough on crime” strategy has been premised on the rhetoric of “making communities safer.”

“One of the most obvious changes in the federal correctional system brought on by the “tough on crime” strategy has been a shift from re-habilitating to warehousing prisoners. As one worker described it, “With the different public policy changes and the changes in Federal Corrections what we’ve seen is there’s been, you know, the orientation has really moved away from a rehabilitation model to an incarceration and a containment model.” This shift in orientation has occurred at the same time as incarceration numbers are increasing — and budgets are being cut.”

PDF link:


Canada’s Prison Watchdog Is Being Fired After Raising the Alarm About Problems in Jails

The high price of speaking out in Ottawa: Editorial. The Harper government stifles or removes government watchdogs who get in its way

“Forthright government watchdogs have a way of disappearing in Ottawa. They are quietly replaced. Their mandates are terminated or not renewed. They are suddenly found to be unqualified.”

Constitutional challenge of retroactive Tory law on gun registry data in limbo

EXCERPTS: “Legal observers, including 12 of Canada’s 13 provincial and territorial information commissioners, say the retroactive legal changes undermine both the rule of law generally and government access-to-information systems specifically.

Upholding the Conservative legal move “would have far-reaching implications for criminal law principles,” says a brief by the Criminal Lawyers’ Association seeking intervener status in the court case.”

Tory logo on cheques goes too far: ethics chief

“The federal ethics commissioner says the use of Conservative Party logos on ceremonial funding cheques is inappropriate but not against the MPs’ code of ethics or the Conflict of Interest Act.”

Pierre Poilievre’s shirt choice for promoting UCCB raises eyebrows

MP sports Conservative Party clothing at government event, angering opposition

The latter included provisions that discriminated against asylum seekers who came to Canada by boat, or who came from countries a minister could arbitrarily and unilaterally designate as safe.

Jason Kenney’s discriminatory and unfair refugee rules lie in ruins

“Kenney’s signature accomplishments in that role were to ostentatiously kill a low-cost federal program that funded refugee health care and bring in a major overhaul of the rules and regulations for refugees.

The current Liberal government rolled back a number of Kenney’s most odious changes. It restored health care for refugee claimants, for instance. The courts have also done their part to undo many of the Kenney measures that defy human rights.

Most recently, the federal court deemed that Jason Kenney’s signature safe designated country of origin (DCO) provision is unconstitutional. The case was brought by a group of Roma from Hungary who were seeking refugee status in Canada.”

Editorial: Harper denies care to refugees, closes door to Roma

“This cynical move pushed by Kenney, disguised as an attempt to discourage so-called “bogus refugees,” is doing nothing less than shifting responsibility for providing basic care in a refugee process that Ottawa controls onto provincial hands. Those seeking protection should have immediate access to at least the same benefits as provided by provinces and territories to social welfare recipients.”

Rick’s Rant – The Harper Government

The Mercer Report, March 15, 2011

Mel Hurtig Tags Stephen Harper: ‘The Arrogant Autocrat’

The Harper Government Has Trashed and Destroyed Environmental Books and Documents

In the first few days of 2014, scientists, journalists, and environmentalists were horrified to discover that the Harper government had begun a process to close seven of the 11 of Canada’s world-renowned Department of Fisheries and Oceans libraries…

Harper Shrugs as Foreigners Snap up Canadian-Owned Companies

PM waves goodbye to home-grown successes that should anchor economy. Second in a series.

Busting Harper’s Favourite Myth: He’s Been Hell on Canada’s Economy

Canada got less competitive under Tories.

Stephen Harper, Jobs Killer

When Tories brag about ‘their’ economy, pull up these grim unemployment facts.

Eight Ways the Harper Economy Is a Bust

These reality check truths are bound to dog Tories on election trail.

How Harper Put Canada Massively in the Red

He ate up a huge federal surplus, piled up six deficits.

101 scandalous, unethical or just plain sad Harper government moments

“It’s been a long decade of scandal, ethical lapses and just plain sad behaviour from the Harper government. How many of these moments do you remember?”

Stephen Harper government builds stone wall around information: Public editor

“It is no secret that the Harper government has gone to extraordinary lengths to seek to control the agenda and thwart journalists’ dual purpose of holding politicians to account and making government more transparent to citizens.”

“The destruction of libraries and treasured manuscripts. A fundamentalist ideology that puts faith before science.”

Election Fraud finding by Federal Court points directly at Conservative Party, says Council of Canadians

“The Federal Court has found in no uncertain terms that widespread election fraud took place during the 2011 federal election. The ruling clearly states that “there was an orchestrated effort to suppress votes during the 2011 election campaign by a person with access to the [Conservative Party’s] CIMS database.””

Who’s to blame for the Khadr payout? Stephen Harper, mostly.

More Conservative scandals on our blog: