Very strange. It all started with a quick search. I was looking for a link between two ridings for not-so-obvious reasons. For the time being, they'll probably remain that way but I'll toss out the items and perhaps the sharper minds of others can make some further connections. (Click on all images to expand)
1. On doing a google search for "Julian Fantino" + "Randy Kamp", this is what appeared before me on hitting one of the top returns.
Then a domain search on Fantino's page turns up this.
2. The common thread? Backbonetechnology.com. I also have the IP address which is shared by both Conservative MPs, so I decided to do a reverse look up. Got this.
That is a giant bouquet of Harper MPs, from Ben Lobb to Tony Clement, first names being alphabetically significant. There are a few other outfits, unrelated to the Harper mob, sharing the same IP as the who's who of the Conservative party.
But this doesn't tell us much really. It's no big deal. 150 different websites sharing the same IP is common in a large organization. The commonality, however, is backbonetechnology.com, so it was time to have a look. First thing? Do an IP check on the domain.
Huh?!!! bcliberals.com ? That created a WTF moment. At least until I realized that both the shared IP for all those Harper MPs and the IP for the BC Liberals fell within the same NetRange.
3. Time to go look at Backbone technology. Click on PORTFOLIO and quick as a flash ... samples of lots of developed websites including two for the BC Liberals, several for the BC government, two different provincial health authorities, the 2010 Olympics (BC government), and, (I like to think of this as a find), the BC government campaign to convince everyone that the HST was just the peachiest tax you've ever heard of.
These guys are connected and, not to put too fine a point on it, there is a gray area there. Having both the BC Liberal party and the BC government as clients might be viewed as some as being ... well, you can figure it out.
The problem was that there was nothing to indicate they had done anything for the Conservative Party of Canada. Sifting around the site didn't produce much. Stop for a coffee and stare at the home page. They have production in three languages. Only an idiot would hit Greek if he doesn't speak Greek. So I click on Greek. Why not? Hit PORTFOLIO again.
Oh! Would you look at that? Right at the bottom of the page. Find out more.After reading about the client, the solution and the result, in their own words:
Today, Backbone's relationship with the Conservatives is stronger than ever as Expression continues to adapt to the party's needs. Quite simply, Backbone's experience – combined with its Expression platform – has given the Conservative Party of Canada enterprise-level performance that continues to offer a high return on their investment.Excellent. Glad to hear it. (And it wasn't even in Greek!) Happier than you know because, (assumption), I'm willing to bet a dollar to a hole in a doughnut that there isn't a political party in this country who doesn't demand exclusivity from a contractor. That can come in many ways, from political donations, to service in kind, to a legally bound document which states in many more words, "you won't so much as have coffee with our enemies". (Enemies is a Harper concept transported from his western firewall days which would be viewed as political opponents almost anywhere else).
Which would mean, you don't do business with political parties which don't pass the Harper smell-test. Which means the BC Liberals ... do.
4. Who runs this politically connected outfit? A quick look at the Industry Canada company directory and we get Marc Charalambous. Hey ... I know that name from somewhere.
5. A quick search of the name produces this little gem:
The government office running the province's pro-harmonized sales tax campaign secretly doled out contracts to two Liberal-connected companies and a former aide to the minister who introduced the tax, records show.Ummm. First off, what possible "confidentiality" was involved with a referendum on a tax? Secondly, Campaign Research Inc. was not what appeared on the contract. In fact it involved an Ontario numbered company which turned out to be Campaign Research Inc. The BC Government knows which Ontario numbered companies to call for an open street-fight referendum? How very cool.
Internal government guidelines would normally have required those contracts to be awarded via a competitive process because they're valued at $25,000 or more. But the guidelines allow that process to be circumvented - and contracts awarded without public notice - if it would "compromise government confidentiality."
$52,746.75 went to Backbone Technology Inc. to develop the province's HST information Website. Backbone has worked for the Liberals since 2001, setting up a private intranet for the party executive, as well as the Liberal Website.
Company president and chief executive officer Marc Charalambous acknowledged those Liberal links, and confirmed that party information director Hoong Neoh provides advice to Backbone on an informal, volunteer basis.
But Mr. Gordon said it was the company's "good reputation" for delivering high-profile government projects on time - including Websites for reviews on health care and postsecondary education - that got it the contract.
"I was called to look at doing this in a short timeline - which is typically the kinds of work we've done for the government. We've done quite a few projects over the last five or six years under such an environment," added Mr. Charalambous.
... (and backtrack)
Campaign Research Inc., which worked on cabinet minister George Abbott's unsuccessful campaign for the Liberal leadership, got the biggest contract - receiving $167,800 for conducting the government's telephone town-hall meetings on the HST.
The company didn't respond Monday to a request for comment. Mr. Gordon said Campaign Research wasn't given that work because of its Liberal connection but rather because it provided the best value out of three quotes privately solicited by the government.
Have I written down Campaign Research Inc. enough?
This Campaign Research Inc.
Backbone Technologies: Federal Conservative and BC Liberal linked.
Campaign Research Inc.: Federal Conservative and BC Liberal linked.
BC Liberal premier Christy Clark's chief of staff? Posted into Victoria directly from Harper's office: Ken Boessenkool.
BC Liberal premier Christy Clark's director of communications? Posted into Victoria directly from Harper's office: Sara MacIntyre. (Complete with a shitty attitude and 48 cases of chewing gum).
(As an aside, I am fairly confident that there is a Canadian Army general who was probably very relieved to see this pair fly out of Ottawa).
So, I got nuttin'. I went looking for one thing in particular and came up with something completely different. And, yes, it's all been out there in bits and pieces form. I just wonder when the Clark/Campbell crowd will start calling themselves the Harper Government?
Aside from the issue of the BC government under premier "photo op" violating their own tendering rules to accommodate their paranoia, there is nothing to suggest that anyone or anything has committed a legal breach. A bad smell doesn't constitute evidence of anything except ...
That doesn't mean that there isn't more. That's where you come in. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to take those points and see if there is a line going somewhere significant. If it does, credit will be provided in a future post. (And I'll make cookies).
UPDATE: The Gazetteer (working with the inimitable North Van Grumps) has started to stride and pegged the Harper infiltration of the Christy Clark enterprise at before the arrival of the two Ottawa spawns mentioned above. Quick summary: Nina Chiarelli, arrived in Victoria from Ottawa, in June 2011. That was just one month after the 2011 federal election. Chiarelli had been acting communications director for the Harper PMO during the campaign. Chiarelli was, according to the information I just read, still the director of communications for federal Transport, Infrastructure and Communities up to July 2011. It looks like Chiarelli held down both jobs for a short time. Go get more cookie-worthy details at The Gazetteer.
UPDATE II: Alison weighs in with another revealing find. Dimitri Pantazopoulos, with Reform Party and US Republican baggage, drifted into the Christy Clark/BC Liberal fold in April 2011. RossK has sharpened the focus on the arrival of Chiarelli.
Keep in mind, despite the fact that this may be the most accidental post I've ever done, that the significance of this Harper infiltration is profound. This is an endeavour to Americanize not the just politics, but the way politics is done in this country. This is the Reform movement at work. From the Ontario PCs, to the Toronto mayor's office, to the Alberta Wild Rose Party, to the BC Liberals, this is an attempt at a Reform power grab.
Oh yes. Those recent off-writ Harper-style attack ads. NVG has the story.