UPDATED: Brad Trost speaks! Diane Ablonczy? Still MIA.

Backbencher praises minister—but still no friend of that parade

UPDATE: The Globe’s Adam Radwanski has more on the still not satisfactorily answered question of what precipitated PMO to send out that fateful caucus bulletin on the marquee event program.

The interview — which appeared in today’s Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, confirms that he “stands by his statement”, but doesn’t want it to seem as though he’s “criticizing” the now de-funded minister:

“My goal is not to criticize Diane, and that’s what people are trying to make the story of,” he said. “Diane has done a good job as a minister and I didn’t want to continue to add to the whole concept of criticizing Diane that was being implied.”

“Implied”, one can only presume, by LifeSite News, which, in its original story, had Trost “hint[ing] that Minister Diane Ablonczy, who was responsible for the funding, lost the file as a consequence of the embarrassment to the Party,” although it added that he had “protest[ed] more than once that there was no “official connection,” — while simultaneously telling the reporter that, “it should be noted that the file has been reassigned to a different Cabinet Minister since that announcement was made.”

He’s still against funding for parades, though. Well, some parades. Okay, that parade:

The MP said he hasn’t reviewed all of the Canadian events that have received funding through MTEP, but so far Toronto Pride Week appears to be the only one he thinks should not have received federal dollars.

“I haven’t actually looked through the whole entire list, but it may be that this one is the unique one,” he said. “I’ve seen about a partial list of what was funded through this program, but not a complete list.”

Trost hopes MTEP eventually expands to fund smaller events such as local parades.

Spoken like a true “fiscal conservative”.

From the Star-Phoenix, we also learn that the PMO talking points that apparently inspired Trost’s initial foray into a Ryan Sparrowian attempt at damage control, have also turned up in a letter to constituents sent out by his fellow Saskatchewan backbencher, Maurice Vellacott:

In response to the funding scandal, Maurice Vellacott, Conservative MP for Saskatoon-Wanuskewin, sent a letter this week to his constituents saying federal Industry Minister Tony Clement, who is now responsible for MTEP, is conducting a review of the program to ensure funding is “providing appropriate stimulus to the economy.”

“Hardworking Canadians expect their tax dollars will be used for suitable purposes,” Vellacott wrote.

Note how, in Vellacott’s version of the story, the review is to ensure that the stimulus will be “appropriate” and “suitable”, and not “genuine”, which was how PMO described it, which suggests that even if the investment in Pride Toronto turns out to have brought in buckets full of tourist dollars, it still might not meet some undetermined – and unexplained – standard that he, apparently, believes that Tony Clement will now retroactively apply to successfully qualifiying events.

ITQ’s favourite part, however, comes near the bottom of the article. Move over, Kory Teneycke –this is how you direct communications with the media:

After the interview was over, Trost accused the StarPhoenix reporter of “ambushing” him with questions about the issue and pressed the stop button on her voice recorder.

(Didn’t some other minister/ministerial aide try that trick on a reporter last year? Or is ITQ misremembering?

UPDATE: She was – mistaken, that is.  Thanks to Commenter Phil, ITQ can report that it was, in fact, Ottawa’s not-currently-the-mayor Larry O’Brien, as reported here by CBC:

One minute later, the mayor abruptly got up and tried to turn off the CBC tape recorder.

“Stop it and turn it off,” O’Brien said. “How do I erase everything I’ve said so far?”

After being unable to erase the interview, he ordered CBC Radio’s Alistair Steele to leave the room.

In the end, O’Brien continued the interview with just the reporter from the Ottawa Sun.