The PR firm that attacked Darcy Allan Sheppard’s past is led by a convicted fraudster and forger
In the aftermath of Darcy Allan Sheppard’s death, Michael Bryant led an aggressive campaign to spin the story in his favour. It was suggested that after calling his lawyer, his second phone call was to hire the public relations firm, Navigator Ltd. In fact shortly after the altercation, many people have speculated that a Navigator representative attempted to prevent the media from filming Bryant in the back seat of a police cruiser.
Navigator has been successful in persuading some journalists to ignore the facts of the case and report on speculative theories that require making unsupported assumptions about Darcy Allan Sheppard.
Rick Salutin of the Globe and Mail describes part of the problem between public relations firm and the media:
You can consider this matter a subcategory of the general problem of relations between PR and journalism. A huge number of Canadian journalism grads end up in PR. Some go directly; others have distinguished careers first, then switch.
THE FIRM – NAVIGATOR LTD.
Navigator Ltd. is a public relations and communications firm with many years experience. They spun the facts for Brian Mulroney when it was discovered that he accepted suitcases full of cash from Karlheinz Schreiber while he was a member of parliament.
Navigator’s role is to “deliver an analysis [of the facts] that will illuminate the issue in new ways. They “take an issue that has been looked at, sometimes for years, and radically shift perspective to reveal new insights.”
Navigator’s consultants come from the fields of research, corporate communications, marketing, law and journalism. They operate much like a political campaign. In Bryant’s case Navigator controls the message. It has been reported that even Bryant’s legal team is told what to say by the PR firm. Navigator is in full control of all Bryant’s communication on this case.
Navigator crafted Bryant’s original statement, his Invest Toronto resignation letter and they will write all of his further communications. The PR firm has even taken to posting on social media sites (as bryantfacts) and set up a special website to spin the “facts” in Bryant’s interest.
Despite their communications expertise, they haven’t permitted Bryant to tell his side of the story about death of Darcy Allan Sheppard. Nor have they leaked it to the press.
Who is behind Navigator explains why they give marching orders to many in the media. Navigator was once known as the home of Warren Kinsella but after today the two senior partners of Navigator are Jaime Watt and Robin Sears, both of whom were political campaign managers.
Jaime Watt, is the Chair of the Navigator and Senior Partner. He has been described by the National Post as the “serene spin doctor,” and is “touted for knowing everybody in Canadian power circles.” Watt lives in the same general neighbourhood as Michael Bryant and the two are said to be close.
Watt was the senior communications advisor for Mike Harris’ Progressive Conservative Party election campaigns in 1995 and 1999. Watt was responsible for Harris’s campaign to impose a lifetime ban on anyone convicted of welfare fraud. The ban led to the suicide death of a student and the backlash prevented Harris appointing Watt to any government positions because Watt, himself was convicted of forgery and fraud.
In 1984, Watt pleaded guilty to thirteen charges of fraud and forgery. He forged the names of Oakville businessmen and politicians to save a clothing store he was running. He got off with thirty days in the slammer.
– Convicted fraud to lead Eves’ campaign – Straigtgoods.ca, February 17, 2003
In a strange “coincidence,” shortly after the media attacks on Al Sheppard’s past, on September 6, someone deleted all references to Watt’s convictions on his Wikipedia page.
Watt is a regular panellist on the “political affairs television programme, Politics with Don Newman. He also appears on CBC, Global, CTV, and TVO and in the National Post and The Globe and Mail as a commentator on public affairs issues.”
Robin Sears is a senior partner at Navigator. A former NDP’er he switched alliances to act as a spokesman for Brian Mulroney during the Karlheinz Schreiber affair. While he was representing Mulroney , the National Post printed a lengthy opinion piece by Sears, defending Mulroney.
During the Schreiber affair testimony, Sears was the victim of its own spin when, he falsely claimed that the laughter of two journalists caused Mulroney to break down in to tears.
Robin Sears is a former National Director of the New Democratic Party (NDP) and former Chief of Staff to Bob Rae, where he earned the nickname “Vlad the Impaler .” He is a senior writer for Policy Options magazine, and a frequent guest on CBC Newsworld’s Politics. Sears got his start in journalism working for Moses Znaimer at City-TV in Toronto.
Mr Sears is the son of Val Sears who at one time was one of the most important political journalists in Canada. Val Sears is a former editor of the Toronto Star. He is married to Edith Cody-Rice, who is a Senior Legal Counsel for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). Val Sears is also the father of Kit Melamed, a producer for the CBC investigative journalism program, the Fifth Estate.