Thursday, February 11, 2010

Rights and Democracy: Beauregard speaks from the grave

More information is surfacing about the Rights and Democracy imbroglio. A memorandum from the late President, Rémy Beauregard, replying to a secret negative evaluation of his performance by three new Harper appointees, has found its way into the hands of Le Devoir, via Maclean's, where no story has appeared as yet. (Readers who have been following this saga will recall that Beauregard had to use Access to Information to obtain this evaluation.)

This follows hard on the heels of a fatuous claim by a certain Tim Mak, at David Frum's website, that Rights and Democracy had provided funds for the Durban II conference, dubbed by the writer an "Anti-Semitic Hate Fest." Paul Wells has had gorgeous fun with this, as have his commenters. It appears that the Harper government sent millions to the same place--the UN High Commission on Human Rights--and Rights and Democracy, unlike the government, had earmarked its funds to be spent elsewhere.

But Beauregard's memo indicates just how far things have gone downhill since Harper's new arrivals descended upon the Board. A few highlights, if they can be called that:

  • Beauregard was accused by new Board members of meeting with representatives of Hamas and Hezbollah, a charge he indignantly denied:

    "Cela est absolument faux et je considère cette allégation comme une atteinte à ma réputation", réplique le principal intéressé. Il appert que M. Beauregard aurait plutôt fait une présentation générale à une délégation libanaise au sein de laquelle se trouvaient un ou des élus du Hezbollah.

    ["That is absolutely false and I consider this allegation an attack on my reputation," [Beauregard] replied. It appears that Beauregard had instead made a general presentation to a Lebanese delegation among whom one or more elected Hezbollah representatives were included.]

  • He was also accused of having attended the Durban II conference, which he had not. He was then accused of failing to denounce the anti-Semitic remarks of Iran's president, at the conference he had not attended. As Beauregard put it:

    "Il aurait été incongru de faire une déclaration à propos d'une conférence à laquelle j'avais décidé, en tant que président, que notre institution ne participerait pas."

    ["It would be incongruous to make a declaration about a conference that I had decided, in my role as President, our organization would not participate in."]
  • Then--and this is frankly bizarre--he was criticized in a follow-up memo by the now-President of Rights and Democracy, Jacques Gauthier, for having no Jewish employees:

    "J'ai été aussi très surpris d'être informé subséquemment qu'il n'y a aucun employé juif au bureau de Droits et démocratie de Montréal."

    ["I was also very surprised to be informed subsequently that there was not a single Jewish employee at the Montreal office of Rights and Democracy."]

    At that point, Beauregard let him have it:

    "Il est complètement inacceptable qu'un membre du conseil d'administration s'enquiert de l'ethnicité et/ou de l'appartenance religieuse des employés, en particulier dans une organisation des droits de la personne. Lorsque le syndicat apprendra cela et lorsque nous saurons comment M. Gauthier a enquêté sur les appartenances religieuses des employés, ce sera le bordel."

    ["It is completely unacceptable that a Board member inquires into the ethnic origins and/or the religion of employees, in particular in an organization that defends human rights. When the union learns about that, and when we know how M. Gauthier has been asking about the religion of our employees, there will be a bloody mess."]
We may have a clue as to why Maclean's has not, as of this writing, broken the story. It appears that Paul Wells has been threatened by Gauthier, and no doubt a team of lawyers is even now poring over his copy:

Ni M. Braun, ni M. Gauthier n'ont voulu répondre au magazine Maclean's. «Les hypothèses qui sous-tendent vos questions, répond Jacques Gauthier au journaliste Paul Wells, sont en très grande partie fausses, trompeuses, incomplètes et/ou déformées et je vous mets en garde de publier un article qui s'appuierait dessus.»

[Neither Mr. Braun [Auel Braun, the Chair of the Rights and Democracy Board] nor Mr. Gauthier wanted to respond to
Maclean's magazine "The assumptions underlying your questions, " said Mr. Gauthier to Wells, "are in large part false, erroneous, incomplete and/or distorted and I would caution you about publishing an article based upon them."]

The whole affair appears headed for court after three senior managers were suspended and SIRCO, a private investigative firm specializing in infiltration, surveillance and computer forensics, was called in, according to inside sources, to help justify the suspensions. They have retained the services of the stellar Quebec advocate Julius Grey, so things could get very interesting indeed. Stay tuned and make plenty of popcorn.

[H/t ftbt, b/c]

UPDATE: (February 12) And here at last is Paul Wells.

[H/t reader POGGE]

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