A Finnish minister facing troubles because of Greenpeace

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Tiriol
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A Finnish minister facing troubles because of Greenpeace

Post by Tiriol » 2013-10-11 02:50am

Meanwhile, in Finland...
YLE News wrote:Minister suspected of behind-the-scenes intervention for Greenpeace
Heidi Hautala, who holds the post of Minister responsible for Ownership Steering in the Prime Minister's Office, is under fire for alleged moves to stop criminal complaints from being filed against environmental activists.

Minister for International Development Heidi Hautala is suspected of intervening in criminal complaints regarding Greenpeace activists. She is responsible for steering state ownership of corporations.

The tabloid Iltalehti reports on Wednesday that Hautala blocked the filing of complaints following two incidents last year when protesters climbed aboard state-owned icebreakers in Helsinki.

The ships are operated by the state-owned firm Arctia Shipping. The newspaper says that the company's management intended to lodge official complaints, but that Hautala forbid them from doing so.

Hautala's assistant Lauri Korkeaoja admits that the minister discussed the matter with Arctia executives. However he says it is an exaggeration to say that she blocked criminal complaints. Hautala, who is on a work trip, has not so far commented on the issue.

More recently, former Green League chair and MEP Hautala raised eyebrows with her open support for Greenpeace members detained by Russia after a protest against oil drilling in the Arctic. Earlier this year, she apologised for using black-market labour for domestic work.

Sources Yle
Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more.
YLE News wrote:MPs accuse Hautala of double standards

Minister for State Ownership steering Heidi Hautala faces increasing calls for her resignation. The ex-chair of the Green League has previously argued against an interventionist ownership strategy, but admitted on Wednesday that she was aware of efforts to prevent Arctia Shipping file criminal complaints against Greenpeace activists.

Finnish MPs are demanding answers from Heidi Hautala after she admitted her office intervened to stop Greenpeace facing charges. Activists had boarded two state-owned icebreakers in Helsinki last year, and the government-owned company that operates them had wanted to press charges.

Hautala says that she approved an effort by a civil servant under her command to stop Arctia from making a criminal complaint against the activists, who were protesting against Arctia's deal to provide icebreakers for oil company Shell's operations in Alaska.

In a statement she said that state-owned companies should have more tolerance for activism by non-governmental organisations.

That admission brought charges of double standards from politicians angry about the job losses inflicted at state-owned firms in recent years.

Hautala has consistently refused to use the large shareholdings the Finnish government holds in many Finnish firms to try and protect jobs.

Extensive redundancies
”State-owned companies have made extensive redundancies, and paid their senior managers generously,” said Tiilikainen. “Minister Hautala has not interfered in those, because according to her she cannot interfere in operational matters. Iltalehti’s claims about the minister’s interference in a state-owned company’s filing of a criminal complaint is of course interference in operational matters.”

Hautala has been criticised by unions over her inaction when state-owned firms announced new job cuts. In the most recent case the partly state-owned engineering firm Metso announced 660 job cuts in September.

Hautala was also criticised by Jussi Halla-aho, who has had his own brushes with the law. The Finns party MP has been convicted of inciting ethnic and religious hatred, and was unhappy about Greenpeace activists avoiding criminal charges.

“In her role as a minister Hautala has actively protected her ideological comrades from criminal charges, to the detriment of the state and taxpayers,” wrote Halla-aho. “It is clear to everyone that Hautala believes herself to be above the law.”

Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen has asked for an explanation from Hautala before deciding if she can remain as a minister.

Sources Yle
Hautala is supposed to make a public address about her conduct today. There are conflicting reports about what happened: according to one account, Hautala learned of a high-ranking official's decision to ask the company to drop the charges after the fact (but condoned them); other says that Hautala had discussed about it beforehand with that official (and as such had most likely given her blessing); and the third account (the one that tabloid Iltalehti is using) is that Hautala did indeed herself pressure the company.

At this point I don't know what account is correct. But Hautala is a perfect example of why I find the Finnish Green Party irksome: its leadership is incapable of admitting of being wrong on anything, on the other hand lecturing people around them but on the other hand doing the same shit themselves (like Hautala using black market labor even though she was a member of the Parliament committee in charge of researching how to stop black market labor from being used...). Their holier-than-thou attitude has returned to bite them in the ass this time. Of course, they are not above selling their principles if it means staying in power (Green Party opposes nuclear power, but when a former government authorized the construction permit of a new nuclear plant, the Greens went along with it so that they would keep their seat in the government, despite having "No more nuclear power!" as their slogan in the elections). At the very least Hautala is a disgusting hypocrite; at the very worst, she seems to exhibit the same manners, only smaller and lighter in scale, than Russian politicians she has criticized.
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Re: A Finnish minister facing troubles because of Greenpeace

Post by Tiriol » 2013-10-12 05:00am

A rather surprising turn of events: a politician actually has to face responsibility for her actions. Heidi Hautala steps down from her position as a Minister.
YLE News wrote:Hautala steps down over Greenpeace furore
Minister for International Development Heidi Hautala announced on Friday that she is resigning from the government.

At a press conference, Hautala said she takes responsibility for the move to demand the withdrawal of a criminal complaint against Greenpeace by the state-owned firm Arctia Shipping.

Hautala stressed that she would have taken the same stance regardless of which NGO had been involved.

However she said that she still approved of the actions of her subordinate, Pekka Timonen, who told the company's management to withdraw the complaint.

Hautala said her resignation was due to her providing imprecise and misleading information about the sequence of events rather than the actual content of the decisions.

The outgoing minister, who was on a working trip to Washington at the time the story broke, said she had initially described the sequence of events incorrectly based on a faulty recollection.

She noted that the shipping company was 100-percent state-owned and that as such the government was party to the intrusion incident. She also noted that a state-owned company has a duty to engage in dialogue with citizens.

Greens chair and Environment Minister Ville Niinistö said that the party will name a new minister next Wednesday.

Sources Yle
Hautala still considers that it was right thing to do to pressure a state-owned company to drop criminal charges (while at the same time refusing to pressure state-owned companies from giving their top-level managers huge paychecks and bonuses when they are firing people left and right). This apparently also includes threatening said company's managers with firing unless they comply.
YLE News wrote:Timonen admits threatening icebreaker bosses
Arctia Shipping executives were told they would lose their jobs if they did not drop the case against Greenpeace protesters -- a key event that outgoing minister Heidi Hautala failed to mention in her account of the incident.

Pekka Timonen, who was the head of the Government Ownership Steering Department last year, threatened two top executives of a state icebreaker company with firing if they did not withdraw a criminal complaint against Greenpeace activists who staged protests on the firm’s vessels.

Those threatened were Arctia Shipping CEO Tero Vauraste and board chair Matti Virtaala. The story was first reported by the Finnish News Agency STT on Friday afternoon.

That followed a press conference in which Greens politician Heidi Hautala announced her resignation – but did not mention the threats. She released an otherwise detailed statement recounting the events which led to her stepping down.

Timonen later confirmed the account to Yle. He is now a department head at the Ministry of Employment and the Economy.

Greens MP Oras Tynkkynen said that the threats were meant to be included in Hautala’s statement, but that the detail had been inadvertently been left out.

Arctia Shipping, the fully state-owned company that originally filed the criminal complaint, has declined to comment on the events.

Sources Yle
Good riddance to rubbish. It's almost hilarious that a tabloid - one of those things people like to sneer at - was the one who brought this whole fiasco up and it ended up causing a resignation from a Minister of government. I still remember when some of Green Party supporters desperately tried to dismiss the entire thing as a stupid non-news because it was the Iltalehti tabloid, not some REAL newspaper. Guess what: Iltalehti was right all along and it wasn't even fully aware how much pressure Haudala and/or her subordinates had put on the company management. I can only hope that other newspapers will pick up the slack as well so that politicians and officials will have to consider public opinion more carefully and face the fact that they do have to bear responsibility for their actions.
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Re: A Finnish minister facing troubles because of Greenpeace

Post by Grumman » 2013-10-12 08:05am

Were these nuclear powered icebreakers? Or did Greenpeace have some other reason for boarding the ships?

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Re: A Finnish minister facing troubles because of Greenpeace

Post by Grumman » 2013-10-12 08:17am

Ah, whoops. Didn't notice this bit on first read:
Hautala says that she approved an effort by a civil servant under her command to stop Arctia from making a criminal complaint against the activists, who were protesting against Arctia's deal to provide icebreakers for oil company Shell's operations in Alaska.

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Re: A Finnish minister facing troubles because of Greenpeace

Post by Welf » 2013-10-12 10:36am

Tiriol wrote:At this point I don't know what account is correct. But Hautala is a perfect example of why I find the Finnish Green Party irksome: its leadership is incapable of admitting of being wrong on anything, on the other hand lecturing people around them but on the other hand doing the same shit themselves (like Hautala using black market labor even though she was a member of the Parliament committee in charge of researching how to stop black market labor from being used...). Their holier-than-thou attitude has returned to bite them in the ass this time. Of course, they are not above selling their principles if it means staying in power (Green Party opposes nuclear power, but when a former government authorized the construction permit of a new nuclear plant, the Greens went along with it so that they would keep their seat in the government, despite having "No more nuclear power!" as their slogan in the elections). At the very least Hautala is a disgusting hypocrite; at the very worst, she seems to exhibit the same manners, only smaller and lighter in scale, than Russian politicians she has criticized.
Greens are basically the new conservatives. They are a movement based on values who like to use government authority to implement their world view.

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Re: A Finnish minister facing troubles because of Greenpeace

Post by Siege » 2013-10-12 10:49am

All political parties like to use government to implement their world view. That's why they're political.
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Re: A Finnish minister facing troubles because of Greenpeace

Post by Welf » 2013-10-13 11:35am

True that. I should have specified. Conservative parties tend to try to "control the bedroom", with laws permitting only a quite narrow set of lifestyle concepts.

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Re: A Finnish minister facing troubles because of Greenpeace

Post by Lord Revan » 2013-10-13 12:54pm

while every political party tries to push their own agenda, the finnish Green Party is annoyingly self-righteous about it, when me, my older brother and my dad were talking about it when driving to our summer cabin our main gripe was that Hautala went against the decided goverment line about how to admister the goverment own companies when it meant some Greenpeace members would avoid criminal charges, but when goverment own companies fired hundreds of people while giving the excutives massive bonuses Hautala did nothing as it was the goverment policy to keep a "hands off" style admistering policy.
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Re: A Finnish minister facing troubles because of Greenpeace

Post by Edi » 2013-10-13 03:42pm

Never mind all the other shit she has pulled. Some of her portfolio includes, or has included, portions related to combating the gray market, so what does she do when she needs to have some renovations done? Hires a contractor to do her renovations off the books and skips paying the required taxes and when the shit hits the fan and it becomes public (when she and the contractor have a legal dispute about something), it was like pulling teeth to get her to admit anything. She then paid the taxes retroactively, but refused to admit that she had really done anything substantially wrong.

It's about fucking time they crucified the hypocritical asshole.
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Re: A Finnish minister facing troubles because of Greenpeace

Post by Tiriol » 2013-10-14 03:30am

Edi wrote:Never mind all the other shit she has pulled. Some of her portfolio includes, or has included, portions related to combating the gray market, so what does she do when she needs to have some renovations done? Hires a contractor to do her renovations off the books and skips paying the required taxes and when the shit hits the fan and it becomes public (when she and the contractor have a legal dispute about something), it was like pulling teeth to get her to admit anything. She then paid the taxes retroactively, but refused to admit that she had really done anything substantially wrong.

It's about fucking time they crucified the hypocritical asshole.
It should be noted that even now Hautala refuses to admit to any wrongdoing and tends to claim that she simply made some people angry with threatening their business interests. Anything to avoid facing the fact that she fucked up big time and couldn't weasel her way out of it this time. From what I understand she even tried to lie (oh, sorry - she tried to explain with some information missing) to Prime Minister Katainen and was quickly caught in the act. In any normal situation she would be called a liar to her face; but in politics, normal rules don't apply when it comes to lying.

The politics journalist of Iltalehti tabloid believes that the Greens will use this colossal humiliation as marketing tool during their European Parliament campaign to drum up support for Hautala, who tends to bring in many votes. "A minister forced to resign for following her conscience!" is a powerful recruiting tool, even when it's completely bonkers.
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Re: A Finnish minister facing troubles because of Greenpeace

Post by Lord Revan » 2013-10-14 05:39am

we can only hope that is scandal was public enough that only the most fanatic supporters of the Green Party will buy into that.

That said I'm not holding my breath over it.
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