Okay, I’ve been reading a lot on the web about how Jim Dinning is evil because he donated money to Paul Martin’s Liberal leadership campaign, and he’s got a lot of Ralph’s infrastructure in place for his leadership bid. Clearly, most of these criticisms come from one particular camp, but I’ve yet to see a Dinning rebuttal, other than “you guys are jerks”. So, in the interest of fairness, here we go.
Jim Dinning’s name appears on a cheque made out to Paul Martin’s Liberal leadership campaign. True. The cheque’s image appears all over the web, so go look for it if you don’t believe me. A question, though: On whose account does the cheque draw? Not Jim Dinning’s. The cheque is from a corporation (TransAlta) that employed Dinning to, in part, control contributions to charities and politicians. Dinning himself is as responsible for that cheque as is Scott Brison for every single tax refund cheque mailed out in 2005, which had his signature scanned and printed on the bottom right. Some of those cheques went to people convicted of sex offenses at some point in their life, as an example. Does Scott Brison support sex offenders? Of course not. To suggest so would be ridiculous.
The corporation that Dinning worked for (not RAN – he was an employee, and did as he was told) contributed money to a politician. Not normally a big deal. Corporations do this all the time – it’s an investment. A wise one, even, considering the political landscape at the time: Martin was the runaway favourite to win leadership of the majority party in the House of Commons – he was the anointed next Prime Minister, and likely to hold office for several years, if not longer. So the corporation in question sent him $25,000 – a pittance for a corporation so large, really – and had Jim Dinning, who was “their man” for such projects, cut the cheque and enclose a note to the future P.M.
What did this awful, scandalous note say?
“I can only hope that Mr. Martin and others might be able to re-inject a sense of urgency, passion, and priority into the affairs of our nation. Soon." – hardly scandalous, considering he was writing the man who was about to become Prime Minister. Dinning suggested that the current administration of the country - under Jean Chretien - was stuck in neutral. Shocking. Then, the BIG ONE, that Dinning detractors claim proves that Jim is a “close, personal friend” of Paul Martin, Dark Lord of the Sith. This statement? “Kind Personal Regards”. A meaningless platitude used to end hundreds of letters every day, often from ex-wives to ex-husbands, and vice versa. A $40 replacement for “From”. And the exactly correct phrase to use when kissing up, on behalf of your employer, to the man who in a few months will almost certainly be in control of a majority Parliament. A picture of Paul Martin and Jim Dinning French kissing? THAT would be proof of a personal relationship. “Kind Personal Regards”? That’s the closing that appears on half of the Microsoft Word letter templates, and proves nothing except that Dinning knows how to end a letter to a politician. Which he should, he’s received enough to have seen the phrase hundreds of times, from near-total strangers.
Watch this… everyone watching?
“Dear Satan – in the event that the Jehovah’s Witnesses are right, and I’m doomed to burn in eternal damnation, please keep a seat warm for me. Just our little joke.
Kind Personal Regards,
The Enlightened Savage.”
Wow… guess he must be really good friends with me, huh? I DID, after all, say “Kind Personal Regards”. OR, maybe that particular phrase is as meaningless as I propose, in which case, Mr. Morningstar and I are not, in fact, close friends at all, and I’m just kissing up to someone who may be a position to make my life as difficult or as easy as he’d like in a while. Just like Paul Martin was in a position to do the same for Dinning’s employer, as the imminent Prime Minister.
A cheque from his boss and a meaningless platitude on a vaguely-worded note of support for a leadership campaign that was all-but-guaranteed to succeed, all on behalf of a major corporation that also happened to be his chief source of income. If that’s the worst you can tie to Jim Dinning, then desperate times truly ARE calling for desperate measures.
So, unable to make the tenuous link between Dinning and Martin hold, detractors then set their sights on Rod Love. The same Rod Love, mind you, who was a "genius" in the eyes of these same detractors when he left provincial politics to work for the Harper Conservatives, but is now part of the "Calgary Mafia", since he's not working for Ted. The common complaint is that Dinning has surrounded himself with Klein-era advisors and politicos, and therefore Jim Dinning must therefore be the "status quo" candidate, and represent everything that's wrong with the current state of Alberta politics.
Jim Dinning is many things, but a political idiot isn't one of them. Likewise, this small army of advisors, some of whom also served Ralph, is in all likelihood politically saavy. Hard to be a political insider without political instincts. So, both Jim and these advisors know a little something about politics. Agreed?
These advisors know a winner when they see one. And they want to BACK the winner that they see, because that's how they stay employed. So they saw that Ralph was stepping down, looked around, saw who his most likely successor was, and jumped. So these resumes hit Jim's desk. He looks at them, and looks at the landslide victories that the PC's have enjoyed since 1992, and ponders... "Hmmm... some of these people contributed to the most unstoppable political machine in the country... I wonder if it would be wise to have them help ME get elected by landslide majorities for the next decade-and-a-half...". And they're hired. They have their own ideas, Dinning has his, and advisors who didn't work for Ralph have THEIR own ideas. These ideas get bandied about, and policy comes forth. (So does a plan, but we get to see that later. Apparently.) This isn't about someone being a member of the "Old Boys Club", or the "Calgary Mafia", of being representative of the "Status Quo". This is about smart people deciding to back the front-runner, and him wanting the smartest people with the best credentials available. Can you find me someone in this country MORE qualified to lead a landslide assault on the Alberta electorate than Rod Love?
So, Jim has connections to Paul Martin (on behalf of someone else), and to Rod Love (an employee of his).
Guilt by association? Let’s talk about one of Ted Morton’s big supporters and good, personal friends, Rob Anders. A list of Rob’s views and transgressions is readily available through a Google search. Ted’s admitted friends, like Mr. "Nelson Mandela is a terrorist" himself, are a bigger threat to modern civilization than Paul Martin or Rod Love have ever been.
Or, to put it in terms that many of those slagging Dinning on Morton’s behalf (because Jim's linked to "bad people") might better understand:
“Let he among you who is without sin cast the first stone.”