Thursday, March 6, 2008

Canada Press: Clinton, not Obama, "winked" on NAFTA...

Alexander Panetta writes for The Globe and Mail (Canada's national newspaper):

What is now a swirling Canada-U.S. controversy began on Feb. 26, when the usually circumspect Mr. Brodie was milling among droves of Canadian media on budget day in the stately old building that once housed Ottawa's train station.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's chief of staff Ian Brodie watches from the back of the room during a photo op before the government caucus meeting on Parliament Hill in Ottawa Wednesday. (Tom Hanson/Canadian Press)

Reporters were locked up there all day, examining the federal budget until they were allowed to leave once it was tabled in the House of Commons at 4 p.m.

Since the budget contained little in the way of headline-grabbing surprises, some were left with enough free time to gather around a large-screen TV to watch the latest hockey news on NHL trade deadline day.

Mr. Brodie wandered over to speak to Finance Department officials and chatted amiably with journalists — who appreciated this rare moment of direct access to the top official in Mr. Harper's notoriously tight-lipped government.

The former university professor found himself in a room with CTV employees where he was quickly surrounded by a gaggle of reporters while other journalists were within earshot of other colleagues.

At the end of an extended conversation, Mr. Brodie was asked about remarks aimed by the Democratic candidates at Ohio's anti-NAFTA voters that carried serious economic implications for Canada.

Since 75 per cent of Canadian exports go to the U.S., Mr. Obama and Ms. Clinton's musings about reopening the North American free-trade pact had caused some concern.

Mr. Brodie downplayed those concerns.

"Quite a few people heard it," said one source in the room.

"He said someone from (Hillary) Clinton's campaign is telling the embassy to take it with a grain of salt. . . That someone called us and told us not to worry."

Government officials did not deny the conversation took place.

Emphasis mine.

(Full Article)

Also reported in the Winnepeg Sun.

Campbell Clark Writes for The Globe and Mail:

Mr. Brodie, during the media lockup for the Feb. 26 budget, stopped to chat with several journalists, and was surrounded by a group from CTV.

The conversation turned to the pledges to renegotiate the North American free-trade agreement made by the two Democratic contenders, Mr. Obama and New York Senator Hillary Clinton.

Mr. Brodie, apparently seeking to play down the potential impact on Canada, told the reporters the threat was not serious, and that someone from Ms. Clinton's campaign had even contacted Canadian diplomats to tell them not to worry because the NAFTA threats were mostly political posturing.

The Canadian Press cited an unnamed source last night as saying that several people overheard the remark.

The news agency quoted that source as saying that Mr. Brodie said that someone from Ms. Clinton'scampaign called and was "telling the embassy to take it with a grain of salt."

The story was followed by CTV's Washington bureau chief, Tom Clark, who reported that the Obama campaign, not the Clinton's, had reassured Canadian diplomats.

Mr. Clark cited unnamed Canadian sources in his initial report.

There was no explanation last night for why Mr. Brodie was said to have referred to the Clinton campaign but the news report was about the Obama campaign. CTV president Robert Hurst declined to comment.

The Prime Minister's communications director, Sandra Buckler, has said that Mr. Brodie "does not recall" discussing the issue.

(Full Article)

The thing that is unclear now is whether or not the "wink, wink" was fabricated by Brodie.
Either way, Obama and his campaign are completely vindicated.


Alecia said...

Just so you have the facts - WHO IS DEALING WITH CRIMINALS?

Hsu raised big money for Clinton supporters
Candidates she courted benefit

By Scott Helman, Globe Staff | September 26, 2007

Disgraced fund-raiser Norman Hsu did a lot more than just pump $850,000 into Hillary Clinton's campaign bank account: He also raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for local, state, and federal candidates who have endorsed Clinton or whose support she courted.
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A major fund-raiser for Democrats since 2003, Hsu became one of Clinton's biggest bundlers - gathering scores of individual checks and sending them to her campaign. But since revelations last month that Hsu was a fugitive in a 15-year-old California fraud case, Clinton has said she would return the $850,000 she has taken from him and his associates.

In at least some cases, Clinton or her aides directly channeled contributions from Hsu and his network to other politicians supportive of her presidential campaign, according to interviews and campaign finance records. There is nothing illegal about one politician steering wealthy contributors to another, but the New York senator's close ties to Hsu have become an embarrassment for her and her campaign.

Last fall, as the Nevada governor's race was heating up, Clinton agreed to help raise money for Democrat Dina Titus, a prominent party leader in a state that holds a key early presidential caucus. Clinton arranged for Hsu, at the time a little-known New York apparel executive with no apparent reason to take interest in Nevada politics, to give Titus $5,000 on Nov. 3, according to a person with knowledge of Clinton's fund-raising.

And in February, when former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack ended his own White House bid, he was about $450,000 in the red. A month after dropping out, Vilsack endorsed Clinton, and Clinton agreed to help him retire his debts. (Both insisted there was no quid pro quo.)

Over the next few months, some of Clinton's biggest fund-raisers gave Vilsack checks, including Hsu, who kicked in the maximum allowable contribution, $2,300, on May 3 after attending an event organized by Clinton's campaign, Newsweek reported this month. An associate of Hsu's, Paul Su, chipped in $1,000 on the same day.

In other cases, Clinton helped direct Hsu's money to influential politicians who have yet to endorse her but hail from key presidential primary states. Clinton raised at least $6,000 from Hsu and his network last year for Governor John Lynch of New Hampshire, according to Lynch aides. Lynch has no plans to endorse anyone before the state's crucial January primary, aides said.

Alecia said...

You might recall the 22 individuals – many of them prominent Clinton-Gore intimates and supporters – who were convicted of fraud or funnelling Asian money into the 1996 campaign. It was a massive effort by the PLA to influence the Clinton Administration and steer hardware and technology – some of it on a restricted list from the Department of Commerce – to the PLA. Corporate fundraisers like the Loral Corporation were allowed to transfer restricted satellite and missile technology to the PLA while other security controls on trade with China were either enforced in a lax manner or thrown out the window altogether.

Of course, it was impossible to prove that the Clinton Administration had been bribed by the PLA but the inference was plain as day. In exchange for contributions to the Clinton campaign, his presidential library, and his personal legal defense fund, the Chinese got access to restricted technology and hardware. It was one of the the biggest (and most underreported) campaign financing scandals in American history.

The Chinese denied everything – and then quietly went about the business of reforming the PLA by divorcing the army from any commercial enterprises. Apparently, the profit motive was at work in the scandal as much as the desire to steal technology. By 2000, the PLA was completely free of any commercial taint.

Enter our friend Mr. Hsu who apparently fled the United States to avoid jail time in his swindling case in 1991. He arrived in Hong Kong where investigators believe he went into the garment industry. Could he have made a fortune in the cutthroat Far East garment industry? As a naturalized American citizen, he almost certainly would have been at a disadvantage in the tightly knit, familial Chinese society – unless he was able to acquire valuable contacts to help him in that hyper competitive market.