Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Preston Manning Centre for Building Buildings

Covert cell phone video catches a Calgary developer homebuilder referring to buying the campaigns of development-friendly local candidates. In his speech to 150 Calgary industry nobs in November, his remarks about Preston Manning, who also attended and spoke at the meeting, appear at the 1:54 mark: 
"... keeping in mind, in order to bring Preston on board, 11 of us put up 100 thousand - so $1.1-million. So it's not like we haven't put up our money you know, and we are also going to be there to put up it again and yet we're also supporting the candidates."
Hey, those Manning Centre free marketeer courses put on for those Calgary municipal councilors don't pay for themselves, you know. 

They are run by Manning Centre Municipal Governance Project manager Dimitri Pantazopoulos, a former Republican pollster and Harper policy advisor, who was also Christy Clark's Trade and Intergovernmental Relations ADM and former principal secretary, now listed at his Manning Centre bio as one of her key advisors.  A "Dimitri" is mentioned by Cal Wenzel in the video above, asking Wenzel if anyone can beat Mayor Nenshi.

Even before seeing the vid, Mr Pantazopoulos had talking points circulated advising that Preston would be unable to respond to media questions because he was out of the country, however : 
"Incoming Manning Centre chair Chuck Strahl is prepared to respond to media as needed in Preston’s absence."
Chuck Strahl? Former BC ReformaCon MP Chuck Strahl is chair of the Manning Centre and chair of CSIS watchdog the Security Intelligence Review Committee since last June, and, along with Stockwell Day, helping Christy Clark with her BC election campaign ?

Another developer CEO at the conference said that it's : 
“up to Preston” if he needs more money beyond the $1.1 million. 
“He really appreciated getting funding. It helped to finish off the offices and other things, their training facilities.”
Ah yes, the brand new Manning Centre offices in Calgary ... home of the Manning Centre For Building Democracy Buildings. 

You know, you're really better off reading the locals on this one :
Alberta Diary and Daveberta
h/t Holly Stick
Update : Calgary Mayor Nenshi tonight
" This has to do with the Manning Centre and I don't want to get into an enormous amount of detail on this but this is a challenge. I think the Canada Revenue needs to take a look at this.  
We've had the Manning Centre say over the last couple of days that the donors did not intend to enrich themselves, that they were giving the money generally to the work of the Manning Centre, but we have the donor himself saying on tape that he gave the money to bring Preston Manning onboard and to hire an employee for his campaign. In law, if the donation benefits the donor, it's not a donation. And a tax-exempt organization may not be a tax-exempt organization if it's working to the benefit of its donors. Now we understand that Preston Manning was in the room, another employee of the Manning Centre was in the room, so they cannot now claim they didn't realize that that was the donor's intent."


Holly Stick said...

And here's Cal Wenzel with a gish gallop and a rather vengeful-sounding expectation that they will soon find out who filmed the meeting.

Holly Stick said...

Oops, link:

I should mention that apparently there have been rumours about this meeting for months (it was in November), and that may help to explain a clash between Nenshi and the developers that was in the news recently

Holly Stick said...

Donations to City Council:

Holly Stick said...

Radio interview with Nenshi this morning: he sounds very sensible and intelligent, talking about funding, etc!

He points out that the people at the meeting were home builders, not developers

I'll stop now - must go do work!

Alison said...

Thanks, Holly. See updated comments from Nenshi tonight above. I don't know squat about Calgary politics - my concern is the Manning Centre meddling in local elections, as first outlined here.

Anonymous said...

What I don't get is why it even matters. This IS going on across the country, Calgary got caught, big woop. When will Canadians say Enough is enough? When will Canadians realize the richie rich all wear panties under their suits?

Alison said...

Not sure I get your panties reference, but getting caught with them round your ankles while buying government, even a failed attempt at buying government, is one of the big 'woops' actually, no matter how widespread and underground it is.

Are millions of Canadians going to pour into the streets tomorrow about election fraud of any kind? Nope. Will more of them give up voting because of it? Probably. Will that benefit the perps? Yes.
So without the millions hitting the streets, what you've got left is process, and busting them is step one of that process.

It would seem many of us don't care that our democracy has never worked properly as long as we get to keep our stuff. That isn't going to last, you know, as more people don't get to keep their stuff .

MgS said...

From a Calgarian's perspective, the fecal matter is hitting the revolving object this week.

Wenzel's denials are less than believable in the light of the original recording. He clearly believes that his "donations" buy him control, and there is no getting away from it.

The Manning Center's involvement is seen by many as furthering an under the surface right-wing move to control the power and financial structures.

With any luck, come September, there are a bunch of candidates whose likelihood of getting elected/re-elected is about nil.

Holly Stick said...

That's a great quote from Nenshi about the Manning Centre not acting as a legitimate tax-exempt organization. This is the type of thing the HarperCons keep trying to smear environment groups with; but they always seem to accuse others of doing what they are secretly doing themselves.

Holly Stick said...

A rightwing group running in Red Deer election. It doesn't clearly state whether they are Manning Centre trained like the Calgary ones but I wouldn't be surprised:

Plus more good information about Manning Centre, including quotes from Chuck Strahl and another builder who put up $100,000:

"...“Yeah, so what. It’s better than what we have now,” Kolozetti said, when told his six-digit contribution might only be supporting three candidates..."

and Strahl again:

West End Bob said...

It would seem many of us don't care that our democracy has never worked properly as long as we get to keep our stuff. That isn't going to last, you know, as more people don't get to keep their stuff.

Brilliantly put, Dear Lady ! ! ! !

Alison said...

MgS : Manning Centre is quite upfront about their agenda :
Incoming Manning Centre president Chuck Strahl on the candidate-training process:
“We have a contribution agreement. If people are interested in helping to fund that – we’re quite explicit about it – this is what we do, we train and equip people that are looking for market-oriented solutions to municipal issues.”

Bob : if just a tad over-simplified perhaps ;-)

Holly : Red Deer First slate leader Ryan Handley on FB :
"Likes : Glenn Beck, Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin ... Red Deer First, Manning Centre for Building Democracy"

Holly Stick said...

Interesting comments about Manning Centre by Wayne Frisch who is running for City Council in the same ward as the James Maxim Frisch calls an old friend of Cal Wenzel's (on Frisch's Facebook page; a few comments about Manning Centre from March there: )

And Jason Markusoff on what the $1.1 million is used for by Manning Centre

Holly Stick said...

Oops, MArkusoff article:

Also earlier articles and interview with Manning there which you may have seen already.

Holly Stick said...

Woo-hoo, a couple more: NDP questioning Strahl being in SIRC and Manning Centre political activities:

The unspeakable Kenney whines about witch hunts against particular organizations (Ask Suzuki & Tides about that, scumbag!)

Alison said...

Ward 11 hopeful James Maxim attended the Jan. 23 official opening of the Manning Centre for Building Democracy.

Holly Stick said...

Non-partisan politician boot camp at UBC, including Strahl, Manning and Harcourt:

Alison said...

Thanks, Holly. Will see if I can talk to MLAs who've gone through it.
Strahl's bio at SIRC has not been updated since July 2012 but states :
"In 2011, he was appointed as a Director of the Manning Centre for Building Democracy."

However his bio under Preston Manning's at the UBC "boot camp for aspiring politicians" updated April 29 2013 doesn't mention his SIRC position.

POGGE wrote about Manning Centre/Strahl yesterday and links to an iPolitics article from a few days ago as well.

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