The chairman of a proposed new Toronto radio station says he was asked to attend and contribute to a Conservative fundraiser while he was applying for a new federal broadcasting licence.
Stan Antony, who heads a bid for a new station called STAN FM, says he was invited over the phone by the host of a Conservative fundraiser to attend an event in a suburban Richmond Hill basement and make a contribution.
Mr. Antony confirms the $500 donation to the Oak Ridges-Markham Conservative Electoral District Association in a statement posted this week on the STAN FM website. He provided more detail Thursday to The Globe and Mail.
The riding of Oak Ridges-Markham is held by Paul Calandra, a Conservative MP who serves as parliamentary secretary to Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore.
The Prime Minister’s own fundraising rules for ministers and parliamentary secretaries, called Accountable Government, state: “There should be no singling out, or appearance of singling out, of individuals or organizations as targets of political fundraising because they have official dealings with Ministers, Ministers of State, Parliamentary Secretaries, or their staff or departments.”
Mr. Antony is applying to the CRTC to have his proposed company, STAN FM, fill an opening on the Toronto dial at 88.1 FM. More than 20 other companies are also competing for the coveted new spot. Hearings took place earlier this year, but the CRTC has not yet announced a decision. Mr. Antony said his radio application would have been well-known by the organizers but did not feel the fundraising request was inappropriate.
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission is an independent federal broadcast regulator that is funded under the budget of Canadian Heritage and reports annually to the heritage minister.
The Globe reported earlier this week that Mr. Calandra’s riding association has raised thousands of dollars from individuals connected to two companies vying for the radio station while the competition was taking place. Mr. Calandra initially denied that was the case when contacted by The Globe. But after reviewing his records, he confirmed the contributions and said Mr. Antony’s donation, and at least $5,000 raised at another basement fundraiser from investors in another company, WorldBand Media, will be returned.
Mr. Antony says he was invited to attend and contribute to the fundraiser by Bob Saroya, who was the federal Conservative candidate in Markham-Unionville during the 2011 federal election. Mr. Saroya hosted the Feb. 22 event in his basement.
Mr. Saroya confirmed this Thursday, but said he did not see a connection between the radio bid and Mr. Calandra. He said the riding association was aware of the invitation to Mr. Antony. Mr. Calandra said in an e-mail that while the riding association authorized the use of Mr. Saroya’s home for the event, it did not tell him who he could or could not invite.
The proposed chief operating officer of STAN FM is Ragavan Paranchothy, a Tamil-Canadian broadcast journalist who ran for the federal Conservatives in Scarborough-Southwest in the last election. During the campaign, The Globe reported he had hosted a November, 2010, televised special honouring the Tamil Tigers, the banned terrorist organization that fought and ultimately lost a civil war in 2009 with government forces in Sri Lanka.
Conservative cabinet minister Peter Kent initially called the TV program “outrageous,” then retracted his statement after Prime Minister Stephen Harper said during the campaign that Mr. Paranchothy had been rejecting the Tamil Tigers “for a long time.”
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for federal Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson said the commissioner is reviewing whether Mr. Calandra may have contravened the Conflict of Interest Act for public officeholders or the Conflict of Interest Code for MPs. The office has not decided whether or not to launch a formal investigation.
NDP MP Andrew Cash has also written a letter to the Prime Minister asking him to investigate Mr. Calandra’s conduct and whether the MP has breached the Prime Minister’s own guidelines for parliamentary secretaries.
“I ask you now to think of the trust placed in your government by Canadians, and investigate the fundraisers,” Mr. Cash writes.