Given our history with the Campus Conservatives here in Manitoba, this article doesn’t shock me one bit.
“The leaked materials were posted on WikiLeaks.org over the weekend and add to the growing body of evidence that the Conservative Party has a strategy for interfering in campus student unions.”
“During the workshop, student Conservatives were also coached [including by MP Peter Baird] on how to set up “shell groups” as a way to advance a partisan agenda on campus.
“Yeah we had a front group like that: the Campus Coalition for Liberty. It was really just a front for the Conservatives, but it gave us like two voices.” said [Peter Baird’s Campaign Manager Aaron] Lee-Wudrick.
He added: “Don’t think that the Party doesn’t like that, because they do. They’re things that will help the Party, but it looks like it’s an organically-grown organization and it just stimulated from the grassroots spontaneously. They love that stuff… “
So, Conservative MPs and party officials are counciling junior Tories on how to fake a grassroots campaign so as to interfere in student democracy? And, they are admitting to creating their own “front for the Conservatives”?
I’d imagine that – as I am currenly reading John Ralston Saul’s “A Fair Country” – that Saul would surely point out that this is in keeping with the anti-democratic traditions of the Tory minority. They show themselves to have complete contempt for democracy in Canada and for real grassroots campaigns – and they train their youth in the best way to deceive others.
And, I’ll quickly add that 8000 defamatory pamphlets were circulated anonymously on U of M campus – and in direct violation of election rules, at a cost exceding the total budget of our campaign – which defamed two of our candidates and claimed to be from a faux-grassroots organisation (Students for Better Parking). So, this doesn’t surprise me:
“While recordings are available from only the Waterloo workshop, the OPCCA and the Manning Foundation have held similar Conservative training sessions on campuses in Ottawa, Toronto, London, Halifax and Winnipeg.”
UPDATE: Conservative Minister for Democratic Renewal and former UMSU President Stephen Fletcher was on campus this afternoon. Did anyone attend and was this article – widely circulated on campus – mentioned?