Inside Politics

UPDATED - Stan FM confirms $500 donation to Heritage ParlSec Calanda's riding association

UPDATE: Stan FM has issued an official statement on the matter, in which it confirms that last February, Stan Antony was invited to an event hosted by the Markham-Oakridges [sic] EDA last February "as a guest and a donor," at which he made a contribution of $500. The statement goes on to note that, during the event, Antony "was in the presence of close to 20 other people including, Mr. Prabha Selvadurai  - the Principal owner of World Band Media, and a large team of his friends and family. 

The statement notes that "no official business of STANFM was discussed and no opportunity was sought for this," and concludes by stating that  "STANFM adheres to the all the codes of conduct with respect to political fundraising." 

Scroll down to read the statement in its entirety. 

Meanwhile, the Globe reports that PMO has jumped to Calandra's defence, despite the fact that Calandra himself has stated that his riding association intends to refund more than $5,000 in contributions from people with connections to the 88.1 FM bidding war, including the $500 from Antony. 

It's worth noting that, as pointed out in the original post, the association does not have to report any of the above donations to Elections Canada until next year. The details for 2011 are also not yet available online, as the association requested a six month extension to the original filing deadline, which is set to expire next week. 

Original headline: Newly revealed donor linked to controversial Conservative candidate 

When it comes to extricating yourself from a potentially tricky political situation, honesty -- nay, transparency! --  may not always be the right -- or, at least, the wisest -- policy.

In his attempt to do a little preemptive damage control in advance of today's Globe and Mail report on the thousands of dollars in political contributions that his riding association has raked in from people involved in a high-stakes bidding war for a spot on Toronto's FM dial, Conservative MP Paul Calandra may have done himself more harm than good with this remarkable -- and seemingly spontaneous -- disclosure:

Mr. Calandra said his riding association is also reviewing a contribution from Stan Antony from another fundraiser this year that was held in the basement of a home in Richmond Hill, Ont., on Feb. 22. Mr. Antony is leading a competing bid for 88.1 with the CRTC that would be called Stan FM.

A quick scan of the Stan FM website reveals that Antony's right-hand man in his new endeavour is none other than former Conservative candidate Ragavan Paranchothy. 

Although initially touted as an example of the party's expanding reach into suburban Toronto, Paranchothy found himself making headlines for all the wrong reasons midway through the last election, when the Globe and Mail revealed that, just months before snagging the nomination in Scarborough Southwest, he had hosted "a televised tribute to the Tamil Tigers."

Although the Globe noted that, when asked, Paranchothy said he supported the Conservative government's ban on the Tigers, the revelation raised the hackles of one potential future caucus colleague.

Former broadcaster Peter Kent, who had initially endorsed Paranchothy's candidacy, had a public change of heart after viewing the video, telling the Globe that it was "a reflection on the party's lack of due diligence," and suggesting that somebody had "obviously dropped the ball.

A few days later, Kent "clarified" his statement, noting that "at the time he made his comments, he was not aware Paranchothy 'had given firm and unequivocal assurances that he is not a supporter of the [Tigers].'"

In response, Paranchothy told CBC News that, while he felt Kent's remarks were "unfortunate," he continued to have "a lot of respect for his former fellow broadcaster."

Case closed? Not quite.

Although the CBC report notes that Paranchothy "would not discuss the political slant of the stations where he worked, and suggested he had severed ties with them last summer," his office later told CBC that "he continued to work for one of the stations right up until the election call." 

In fact, Paranchothy's own campaign website listed his occupation as director of public relations at Canadian Multicultural Radio, and stated that his "responsibilities also include producing/hosting radio and television programs."

In the initial Globe story, Paranchothy was cagey about what the paper characterized as his "uncritical coverage of the Tigers," noting that "he did not have the "luxury" of stating his own views, but had to adhere to his stations' policy of remaining "neutral" in the Sri Lankan conflict. "The media I work for obviously cater to the Tamil community," he said. "We can't come out and be very critical."

The "Heroes Tribute" video, which can be viewed here, was uploaded by, which describes itself as "The Canadian Multicultural Radio's Television broadcast," although it appears to be defunct; the last posted video is from November 2011, and the cable channels listed on the website are out of date.

But at the time that the Peter Kent-offending video was posted, CMR's controlling shareholder, chair and CEO was -- and, at least as of March of this year, remained --  Stan Antony, Stan FM 88.1 licence hopeful and newly politicized financial supporter of the Oak Ridges Markham Conservative Association, at least according to Paul Calandra.

(Contributions to EDAs do not have to be reported quarterly, which means that this year's donors won't show up in the Elections Canada database until 2013. A search of available records revealed no previous donations under his name.)

Following his unsuccessful bid for public office, Paranchothy returned to his job at CMR last year, and has since been handpicked by Antony to serve as chief operating officer for Stan FM.

His former campaign director, Bret Snider, has also been tapped for Stan FM. During his appearance before the CRTC last May, Antony told the commission that if the bid goes through, Snider will be the station's community outreach director. 

All of which brings us to the question that sparked the research that led to this post in the first place, namely, why would Calandra go out of his way to tell the Globe about Antony's donation in the first place?

Was he aware of the close ties between Stan FM and the controversial former candidate who was on the Conservative campaign hustings just a few ridings away?

Were there any other CMR/Stan FM-connected donors at that heretofore clandestine fundraiser last February? If so, how much did the riding association take in from Antony and his associates? How much is it now planning to give back -- and why?

In hopes of getting answers to at least a few of these questions, I've put in calls to Calandra's riding and Hill offices, and have also sent an email to the address listed for Antony on the Stan FM website. I'll let you know what, if anything, I hear back. Stay tuned!

UPDATE: Stan FM has released an official statement on the donation: 


July 25, 2012
In keeping with its corporate  philosophy STAN FM (Sounds of Toronto Audience Network) wishes to provide full disclosure and clarity around contributions by its Chairman in his individual capacity as a Canadian citizen and donor to the Conservative party of Canada.  Specifically STAN FM wishes to clarify  Mr. Stan Antony's contributions to MP Paul Calandra's Electoral District Association.

Mr. Stan Antony is an active member of his community and is well engaged in civic and social activities. It is his practice to make donations whenever possible to worthy causes,  and to actively participte in political engagement. He is a well respected philanthropist who is approached by various charities and political organizations alike. Mr. Antony has donated funds to various political candidates and associations in the past decade including that of Mr. Calandra.

Mr. Antony donated $500 in his individual capacity to Mr. Calandra's fundraiser in Richmond Hill in February 2012. He was invited to this fundraiser as a guest and donor by Markham-Oakridges EDA, the organizers of the event. Mr. Antony was in the presence of close to 20 other people including, Mr. Prabha Selvadurai  - the Principal owner of World Band Media, and a large team of his friends and family.

No official business of STANFM was discussed and no opportunity was sought for this. STANFM adheres to the all the codes of conduct with repsect to political fundraising.

I'm still waiting to hear back from Calandra's office. 

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