Rights and Democracy: Let 100 schools of thought contend

A rebuttal to Sen. Linda Frum’s guest column

The current print edition of Maclean’s contains a guest column from Sen. Linda Frum, a friend of this magazine who pauses to say some nice things about me while attempting a general rebuttal of my coverage of the Rights and Democracy controversy.

Frankly I hope readers commenting under Sen. Frum’s column will start to tone down the vitriol a bit. For what it’s worth, I’m happy Maclean’s remains a place for opposing views on important issues. I wish only that the Senator had shown up with a fresher arsenal of arguments. I see no point in wasting much time on her column because every single point she makes comes pre-rebutted in my earlier writing on this issue, except perhaps for her assertion that the R&D staff were “aided” in their conflict with the board “by the disappearance of managerial laptops and computer records.” The laptops disappeared in a burglary. What, precisely, is the Senator alleging?

Anyway. Elsewhere in today’s news, the Braun Seven majority on the board of Rights and Democracy has published another in their series of occasional op-eds wondering why the world is so mean to them. “We call upon Parliament to hold public hearings so that facts can replace fantasies, and we can move ahead,” they write.

Here’s a fact: after first confirming he would appear tomorrow before the foreign-affairs committee of Parliament, Braun has now sent word that he’s too busy to show up.

Here’s another fact: that’s how the guy rolls. Braun’s op-ed today repeats this casual calumny against a dead man, Rémy Beauregard: “Both before and after its compulsory submission of the review to government, the board’s evaluation committee (the same three members whose resignation is being demanded) repeatedly offered to meet with the former president to discuss the evaluation. Regrettably, he rejected that option, rejected the review of his leadership, and launched an intensive campaign to overturn it.” Here’s how I dealt with that the last time Braun and his crew trotted out that stale talking point a month ago:

Rémy Beauregard actually addressed that point in a long letter to the board of Rights and Democracy on Oct. 26, 2009. “With respect to the efforts made to accommodate the President for a meeting of the Committee,” he wrote, “it is important to clarify that of the 55 days proposed by the Secretary of the Board for such a meeting, the President indicated he was available for 45 of those days.”

Then why was there no meeting? Because, as I’ve learned when trying to seek comment from them, Aurel Braun and his pals can be difficult to pin down. The Executive Committee of the R&D board is supposed to meet four times a year. How’d that go in 2009? “In June 2009, the dates for these meetings were not set because some members were not sure of the days they would have to teach. The Secretary of the Board was mandated to hold an e-mail consultation to try to set a date that would be suitable for as many people as possible. Starting in early August, she proceeded with this consultation and offered fifteen possible dates for the meeting. None of the proposed dates was convenient.”

How handy now that Beauregard is dead and that my source for the above information, if an employee at Rights and Democracy, would be fired if discovered. So the Braun faction of the board can keep repeating their misinformation. The guy they’re heaping calumnies on is safely tucked away in his grave. I remain a minor inconvenience, but all they have to do is outlast me.

This same tactic — keep repeating risible claims in the hope that you will finally outlast scrutiny — informs another claim from today’s op-ed:

The plain facts show undeniably that the so-called “crisis” at Rights and Democracy was self-created by staff within the organization. Soon after the untimely death in January of Rights and Democracy’s president Rémy Beauregard, staff erupted into visible revolt against the board.

Got it? The crisis was “self-created by staff… soon after the untimely death in January” of Beauregard. Once again, this claim comes entirely pre-rebutted. The first print column I wrote about Rights and Democracy, way back in January, quotes a letter from five then-members of the R&D board to Lawrence Cannon last October saying the board — not the staff, or relations between the board and the staff, but the board itself — was “dysfunctional” and in a “crisis.” That was October. Beauregard himself used almost the same language in his own letter to Cannon in November, warning of “deep divisions.” Fortunately for Braun and Co., Lawrence Cannon apparently doesn’t read his mail.

And so on. Since this is the level Braun, his allies and their supporters in the Senate argue on, no wonder Braun is so hard to find when there is any danger of anybody arguing back. But I’ve got an easy one for him and Gauthier. They don’t even have to write anything down for this, nor sit in front of a microphone.

A month ago they hired Deloitte to do an audit of the company’s books over a carefully-selected date span. “Results will be made public as soon as possible after the report is accepted by the board of directors,” Gauthier said in the press release sent out by a communications firm he hired without tender outside the target period of the Deloitte audit.

Excellent. Good. Fine. Great. The Deloitte audit was going to take three weeks. That was four weeks ago. When will Braun and Gauthier table the audit — along with the terms of reference and the details of the consulting contracts Gauthier has entered into, on Rights and Democracy’s behalf, since February?

Since nobody has anything to hide.