[UPDATED below with contrite statement from Fullard, and what he thought 10 months ago.]
I see the Tories have politely suggested Stéphane Dion might consider reconsidering Brent Fullard’s logic-defying candidacy in Whitby-Oshawa. (Frankly, my jaw’s still sore from hitting the table when I discovered he’d been nominated in the first place.) [Insta-update: I shouldn’t say it defies logic, exactly. Siccing someone like Fullard on Jim Flaherty makes perfect sense, just not at any cost.] For those unfamiliar with his, shall we say, tireless fight against the government’s income trust flip-flop, here’s a brief piece I did for the magazine in November.
Getting over the income trust debacle
Protest on the Hill: Anyone but the Tories… or the NDP
CHRIS SELLEY | November 8, 2007 |
On the one-year anniversary of Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s “Halloween massacre” — the government’s decision to tax income trusts starting in 2011, in violation of an election promise — about 100 small investors gathered on Parliament Hill. In Calgary, the Coalition of Canadian Energy Trusts (CCET) publicly renewed its objections, among them the lack of public consultation and the flimsy evidence of tax “leakage” under the old model. But Canadian Association of Income Trust Investors (CAITI) president Brent Fullard was upping the ante. In an Oct. 16 mass email criticizing the Conservatives for targeting ethnic voters, he compared the Canadian Council of Chief Executives’ support for Stephen Harper to “Thyssen Steel . . . supporting Hitler’s rise to power.” Another email was entitled, “Heil mein Harper.”
Government critics peg the loss to investors at $35 billion. Money managers say the angry phone calls still flow in, and many Conservative party memberships have understandably been torn up. But Fullard’s shrill voice is increasingly lonely. CCET co-chair John Dielwart, president and CEO of ARC Energy Trust, says he and other Alberta trust executives hold out little hope the Tories will change their minds — and the trust sector has managed a modest rebound over the year. Dielwart’s group is a financial backer of Fullard’s organization, and Dielwart believes Fullard is doing an “excellent job” getting the message out. But he concedes “there might be a little bit of overkill in there.”
Fullard offers no apologies, and denies likening Harper to Hitler — even in the case of another email entitled “Hitler was a strong leader too.” He says he’s simply calling Canadians’ attention to the Prime Minister’s “dictator-like” qualities in hopes they’ll vote for someone else — the Liberals, for example, who have proposed a more modest 10 per cent tax. “Any issue is fair game,” says Fullard. “Just like Danny Williams is saying, anyone but Conservative. Except in our case we add anyone but the NDP.”
UPDATE: A statement from Brent Fullard in the comments below.
Here’s how he explained the Hitler comparisons, or non-comparisons, to me in November of last year:
Q: [Terence Corcoran] also talked about what he called “ugly political commentary.” I’ve been forwarded a few of the more fiery e-mails from your mailing list—things like “Heil mein Harper” and “Hitler was a strong leader too”…
A: Yeah, but see, that’s right. I must send out ten e-mails a day, and I have for the last four months. So we’re talking about 400 e-mails and two of them made a veiled reference to that.
Q: It’s not veiled, is it? “Heil mein Harper?” There’s nothing veiled about that.
A: Well, what does “Heil mein Harper” mean to you? It doesn’t [necessarily] mean Hitler.
Q: But in light of the other e-mail that says Hitler was a strong leader…
A: Well, you see, now you’re joining two e-mails. You can’t do that.
Q: Alright, so why don’t we focus on the one that says “Hitler was a strong leader too.” There you’re comparing Harper to Hitler, right?
A: Well no, I’m simply saying … the point of that e-mail, had anyone inquired, was that … you know, OK, for Harper… let’s acknowledge, as all the surveys seem to do, that he is the better leader, he is a strong leader. Well, guess what, world: it’s not a unidimensional thing. … It’s going to be the whole premise of his upcoming election campaign, is that he is perceived as being a strong leader.
And my point was simply to undermine the nonsensical nature of taking a unidimensional approach to evaluating a person by observing, Hitler was a strong leader too. OK. So, world, wake up to the fact… I’m not calling Harper a Hitler. I’m not drawing that [comparison] for a second. I’m simply making the point—and maybe it’s over these people’s intellectual capacity—I’m simply saying, you don’t evaluate a person on a unidimensional basis. That’s my point.
And then the one about the “Heil mein Harper,” what I was saying there was, I was simply making the point that, well, interesting, Ed Stelmach did this royalty thing, which is a retroactive tax. But the big difference between Ed Stelmach and Harper? Well, first of all Stelmach had public consultation. He went to great lengths to consult the public—whether in the end it made any difference I don’t know. He at least went through the formal process. He wasn’t breaking any election promise.
And then Harper, did a complete about face on an explicit election promise that formed the foundation of his being reelected, doesn’t even give us the goddamn common courtesy of having a public consultation. And so I conclude that’s the act of a person who’s very dictator-like. So pick your dictator of choice, you know. I don’t know. Pick one. So the way I invoked … I’m trying to convey messages in as few words as possible, but if you want to pick on those two e-mails… why don’t you go and look at the 50 postings on our blog?
And if you want to get into how it is he might actually share some other characteristics with people of the past… hey, this guy is purposefully making an issue of burkas. OK? I find that reprehensible.