‘Seek and destroy’ contract came with strings, Kinsella reveals

'Seek and destroy' contract came with strings, Kinsella reveals
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Embattled political strategist Warren Kinsella on Friday shed new light on the “seek and destroy” campaign his company was hired to conduct against Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party of Canada, saying he set three conditions when he accepted the contract.

On his Kinsellacast podcast, an unapologetic Kinsella said the campaign to spotlight racists who attached themselves to the fledgling party was not supposed to extend into the period covered by election spending rules. 

“Our efforts would strictly adhere to Canadian election law and cease all operations on June 29,” he said. 

He also said disclosure Daisy Group’s work was “subject to full public disclosure. It would all be disclosed.”

Nor would the client be exempt from criticism, Kinsella said.

“We would reserve the right to vigorously criticize the client itself, publicly and in the media if the client’s own members were found to be espousing racism,” he said, adding that there were times when he criticized the client in the media.

However, Kinsella has refused to reveal who hired his company, maintaining that it was protected by solicitor-client privilege.

While Daisy Group describes itself as a strategic communications firm, Kinsella is also a lawyer and member of the Law Society of Ontario.

The podcast comes a week after the news broke that Kinsella’s company was behind a social media campaign to undermine the People’s Party and keep Bernier out of the federal leaders debate, according to records provided to CBC News.

A source with knowledge of the project identified the Conservative Party of Canada as the client. Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has repeatedly refused to confirm or deny that his party commissioned the work.

Bernier has filed a complaint with the Commissioner of Canada Elections to investigate the campaign.

Representatives from the People’s Party have not responded to a request for comment. When questions arose during the campaign about things candidates for his party had said that could be viewed as intolerant, Bernier generally accepted their apologies or explained their comments and allowed the candidates to continue to represent his party.

In his podcast, Kinsella defended Daisy Group’s work to undermine Bernier’s party, saying its work over the years to fight racism and white supremacy has set it aside from other companies that do similar communications and opposition research work.

“Daisy Group staff have worked for, or with, every single mainstream political party or their candidates to research, expose and oppose racist elements. Those have included the Liberal Party, the Conservative Party, the New Democratic Party, the Green Party and the now-defunct Progressive Conservative and Reform parties,” he said. 

Kinsella said years ago he helped Stephen Harper, prior his time with the Conservatives, root out and expel Heritage Front members from the Reform Party.

Kinsella said he has not worked with Bernier’s party because of some of the people it has attracted.

“He has attracted the support and involvement of myriad racists, anti-Semites and bigots,” said Kinsella.

Among those who signed registration papers for the People’s Party were members of the Soldiers of Odin and other white supremacist, anti-immigration groups, Kinsella said.

Kinsella said Daisy was approached because of its reputation. “Daisy fights racism and hate. That’s what we do. That’s why we were approached to assist in exposing and opposing racist elements within the ranks of the People’s Party.”

Kinsella said Daisy Group felt it was important for Canadians to know more about the People’s Party and who it was attracting.

Kinsella said his company worked for months through an online anti-racism group called STAMP (Standing Together Against Misogyny and Prejudice) to spotlight examples of racism in Bernier’s party.

“We had been going after racists in other parties too but Bernier had more than all the others put together.”

Kinsella said he has no regrets about waging the campaign against Bernier’s party.

“Will I apologize for opposing racism and homophobia and anti-Semitism and misogyny? No. Never. Will I apologize for opposing extremists and haters in Bernier’s People’s Party? No. Never.”

However, Kinsella did apologize for not disclosing the existence of the campaign earlier, given that it was going to be disclosed later anyway.

Elizabeth Thompson can be reached at elizabeth.thompson@cbc.ca



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