Canada briefs – April 28

A top Tory strategist has left the Harper campaign after a media mogul outed him for allegedly supplying false information.

Top Troy strategist leaves Harper team after false leak to Sun Media

OTTAWA — A top Tory strategist has left the Harper campaign after a media mogul outed him for allegedly supplying false information.

The Conservatives confirmed Wednesday that Patrick Muttart has parted ways with Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s team.

“He has no further role in our campaign,” Conservative spokesman Alykhan Velshi said from the party’s Ottawa war room.

Muttart was a key backroom player in Harper’s election victories in 2006 and 2008, and served as his deputy chief of staff before leaving to join an American public affairs firm.

Muttart recently returned to work on the Conservative campaign as a consultant “offering advice on messaging and strategy,” according to Velshi.

A call to Muttart’s office voice mail in Chicago, where he is believed to working during this campaign, was not immediately returned.

Sun Media owner Pierre Karl Peladeau took Muttart to task Wednesday, saying he supplied false information to the news organization that inaccurately portrayed Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff as a planner of the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.


Judge to decide today whether to hear case calling for G8 report release

TORONTO — A Federal Court judge will rule Thursday on whether to hear a case that calls for the auditor general to release her report on G8 spending before next week’s election.

A hearing was held Wednesday asking the court to expedite the case and Justice Simon Noel reserved his decision.

Toronto’s Kathleen Trotter, a 27-year-old personal trainer who is backed by the global online activist group Avaaz, filed the lawsuit in Federal Court this week.

She says Sheila Fraser’s refusal to release the report on the G8 legacy infrastructure fund is preventing her from making an informed choice in Monday’s federal election. She claims her Charter rights are being violated.

Earlier this month, a leaked draft copy of Fraser’s report said the government had “misinformed” Parliament to get approval for some G8 spending.

Trotter wasn’t in court Wednesday but her lawyer Frank Addario urged the judge to hear the case.

“Plainly, this is urgent,” he told the court. “The election is only days away.”

The public has the right to be informed about the government’s behaviour and no time is more meaningful than on the eve of an election, said Addario.

Todd Burke, lawyer for the auditor general, said there isn’t enough time to prepare a complex constitutional argument.

“A hurry-up offence will lead to nothing but a bad outcome,” said Burke.

Fraser’s office has said the report can’t be released because Parliament isn’t sitting.


Dhalla accuses rival of having inappropriate access to Kenney

BRAMPTON, Ont. — Liberal candidate Ruby Dhalla is urging the auditor general to investigate the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration over allegations that her Conservative rival has inappropriate access to Minister Jason Kenney.

The Liberal party is calling for Conservative candidate Parm Gill to be fired over allegations that he tried to buy votes by offering to help residents of the Brampton-Springdale riding obtain visas for their family members.

Dhalla alleges that Gill has set himself up as Kenney’s official delegate on visas.

“No political party in our country should be utilizing the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration for the purpose of buying ethnic votes,” Dhalla said at a news conference Wednesday. “This is a new low for Canadian democracy. It speaks and smells of corruption, it speaks and smells of fraud.”

Gill calls the accusations “mudslinging” meant to divert attention from Dhalla’s own record of controversies, including allegations that her family illegally employed and mistreated nannies. She has denied those allegations.

“I am proud of the fact that when newcomers ask my volunteers for information on the immigration system we have helped them find that publicly available information,” Gill said in a written statement. “This demonstrates my commitment to the people of Brampton-Springdale.”


York student mourned

TORONTO — Fellow students, friends and family were among those who filed into a north Toronto funeral home Wednesday to bid farewell to Qian Liu, a York University student found dead in her apartment.

The 23-year-old came to Toronto from China to study English at the university. But she died under mysterious circumstances in her basement apartment near the campus, after being seen on a webcam struggling with an unknown intruder.

An autopsy failed to determine what killed Liu and police say it may be weeks before toxicology results are known.

Brian Dickson, 29, has been charged with first-degree murder in Liu’s April 15 death. He is being held in custody until his next court appearance May 24.

Among those at the closed funeral were the woman’s parents, who arrived from China last week, and dozens of York University students as well as Chinese consular officials and university staff.


Judicial review won’t see prison tapes

TORONTO — A judge has ruled that a judicial review doesn’t need to see videotapes showing teenage inmate Ashley Smith being forcibly restrained and given anti-psychotic drugs.

In a ruling Ontario Superior Court Justice Thomas Lederer says descriptions of the videos are sufficient for the Divisional Court to make a decision.

The family of the mentally ill New Brunswick teen who died in custody in an Ontario prison in 2007 wanted the tapes used in a judicial review on May 2.

That review will look into whether presiding coroner Dr. Bonita Porter made a mistake in refusing to include the tapes in an upcoming inquest into Smith’s death.

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