Saturday, March 31, 2007

did Dion have anything to do with this?

Kovach Ouster Has Her Seeking Legal Advice
Doug Hallett, Guelph Tribune (Mar 30, 2007)

Coun. Gloria Kovach says she plans to seek legal advice related to her ouster as president of the Canadian Federation of Municipalities, which she charges was caused by Liberal leader St√ąphane Dion.

"I'd like an apology for what has happened," said Kovach, who was stripped of the FCM presidency after losing the local Conservative Party nomination to Brent Barr last week.

Kovach, who has been FCM president since December 2005 and whose term was supposed to end this May, announced Feb. 1 that she was seeking the Conservative nomination to run in the next federal election.

She said the trouble began soon afterwards when she met with Dion for prebudget discussions. With her at that meeting, her first with the new Liberal leader, was FCM first vice-president Gord Steeves of Winnipeg.

Dion "was not very engaging. He did not have a lot to say to us," Kovach said.

Soon afterwards, FCM staff told her that Dion had contacted FCM and the Big City Mayors Caucus "to say he would not deal with FCM with me as president," she said in an interview Wednesday.

"From there it started a spiral: What do we do? Dion's not happy," she said.

She said she agreed to take a short-term leave of absence, with the situation to be re-examined after the Conservative nomination meeting here on March 20.

"It was just the most bizarre turn of events . . . they just removed me as president," Kovach said about a March 21 conference call in which she was replaced by Steeves as FCM president.

She said she can't divulge the details of that in camera conference call and isn't even sure about the identity of everyone involved in the call.

Dion's office is denying Kovach's allegations.

"The reality is . . . Mr. Dion did not have any conversations with FCM related to her running to become a nominated candidate for the Conservative Party of Canada," spokesperson Elizabeth Whiting said Wednesday from Ottawa in response to a Trib enquiry.

"In fact, they had a pleasant conversation, a pleasant meeting face to face in Ottawa at the beginning of Feb-ruary," Whiting said.

FCM communications officer Joanne Mac-Donald wouldn't comment Thursday on Kovach's allegations related to Dion.

However, "the board's decision was in no way motivated by political or partisan considerations," she said in a phone interview from Ottawa.

That FCM board decision on March 21 "was a vote taken at an in camera meeting for the removal of a director, and it was done in accordance with FCM bylaws which required 75 per cent of the votes cast at the meeting for that purpose," she said.

"That is all we are willing to talk about at this point," MacDonald said.

Kovach said other FCM presidents, including current NDP leader Jack Layton, have had clear political affiliations while involved in running FCM.

FCM "is a nonpartisan organization, but we are all politicians," she said.

Michael Coleman, the man she replaced as president late in 2005 after he failed to win re-election as mayor of Duncan, B.C., had previously run federally as a Liberal, she said.

Asked why she thought Dion would have so much influence on FCM, she replied, "I have no idea."

She went on to say that she'd have thought a new Opposition leader would have better things to do "than trying to discredit a committed community leader. I didn't do anything untoward towards him."

She said she took an unpaid leave of absence from her nursing job to take on the FCM presidency, which has no salary.

"A lot of my colleagues across the country are devastated" by her ouster and have been sending her e-mails and even flowers, she said.

Kovach said she worked with all the party leaders as FCM president. "I couldn't imagine" Prime Minister Stephen Harper "trying to flex his muscles in this way," as Dion did, she said.


greyburr said...

More of the same eh!The way the libogs & LPC are avoiding the issue causes one to think where there is smoke ,there is fire and some truth!But then with the RCMP emerging scandal involving the LPC perhaps there might be too many fires to control so ignore and maybe it will go away is the official position at the moment.

audacious said...

be interesting to see what fires are not put out ... .

Jerry Prager said...

You should probably do a search of blogs from Guelph if you want to get a picture of how Kovach is being perceived by the people who know something about her.
The fire may be coming from Gloria herself as her political career self-combusts.