Wednesday, June 01, 2005
Harper Speaks Cautiously; Martin Blathers Foolishly; Layton Wants to Call 911 But Doesn't
CTV News reports that:
Conservative Leader Stephen Harper is backing up his MP Gurmant Grewal, who secretly taped conversations with senior members of the Liberal government.
"I have to believe what Gurmant tells me," Harper told reporters in Ottawa after caucus.
"I think the tapes make clear that offer was on the table, even though the prime minister said that's not the case."
At last Stephen Harper - and by extension, the Conservative Party - has backed up Gurmant Grewal's claims. Sort of. Notice that Harper said: "I have to believe what Gurmant tells me". This seems dangerously close to damning with faint praise. 'I believe', 'Of course I believe', 'What's not to believe' were obvious turns of phrase that Harper didn't choose. Why not? My guess is there are only 2 choices - either Harper isn't convinced or he dislikes Grewal for some reason. The fact that no other Conservative has apparently voiced an opinion suggests that Harper has issued a gag order. (Update: Harper says he didn't pressure Gurmant Grewal to record private conversations with top Liberal officials, but defended the B.C. member of Parliament's right to secretly tape the meetings.)
(Yet another update - from Canoe Webnews comes the explanation to my wondering about Grewal being "damned with faint praise": "Sources said there's deep distrust of Grewal in caucus and his future in the party was limited even before this incident. He was taken to task at caucus Wednesday and told his actions were dishonest, wrong and brought disrepute to all politicians. If indeed this was a sting operation, as Grewal maintains, he was told Harper should have been informed from the outset and the negotiations carried on far longer than necessary to obtain incriminating evidence. There is also a sentiment among some Conservatives that information remains to come out and - if it turns out Grewal lied to Harper about his involvement with the Liberals - he should be turfed from the party."
Translation: Some Conservatives believe that Grewal initiated the contact and as soon as they can prove it, they'll get rid of him. Reasons include not liking him anyway and there are some Tory MPs who are dead set against having an early election. Getting rid of Grewal would likely kill any enthusiam for more non-confidence votes, making a pre-Christmas election all but impossible.
The second interesting development is Paul Martin saying he doubts the authenticity of the tapes! Where were his handlers on that one? Is he claiming that Grewal manufactured Tim Murphy's voice? Anyone who is not brain-dead will have trouble with that position. Talk about grasping at straws. (Update: Dosanjh says, in effect, that "It is clear to me that the recordings have been altered." ....Ujjal, if you need some more paint to reach the corner, just keep talking!)
The third somewhat interesting issue is: By what process does an investigation begin? Jack Layton thinks the RCMP must investigate. Well Jack, if 911 doesn't work, here is the contact info of the RCMP detachment nearest to Ottawa:
R.C.M.P. Cornwall Detachment
691 Brookdale Ave, SUITE G
Cornwall, ON K6J 5C6
Tel: (613) 937-2800
Go for it Jack, Do what you know in your heart is the right thing to do.
Let's see if they mosey on over to Ottawa to get their person. If they don't get there right quick, don't give up. They might need to call Tim Murphy first to get permission.
(Update: The Ethics Commisioner is interested in the tapes. I suppose that's a start of sorts. But unless the current Ethics Commissioner has significantly less sense of allegiance to Paul Martin than his predecessor, Mr. Wilson, had to Jean Chrétien, this will simply be a chance for the Liberals to get their hands on the tapes. More ominously, it's possible that the Ethics Commissioner wants to get involved, not to investigate the tapes per se, but to throw the book at Grewal by claiming he (Grewal) attempted to interfere with his (the Ethics Commissioner) investigation of Volpe's allegations against Grewal. All they really need to do to survive this one is turn public opinion against Grewal and prevent an objective investigation of the tapes.)
As the hearings phase of the Gomery Inquiry is now all but over, and the House is apparently sitting for 3 more weeks, Paul Martin must be wishing that summer vacation had already started. I wonder how many Question Periods he'll miss between now and June 23? My guess is: look for lots more of Scott Brison trying to save his master's ass.
Money will buy votes but it's unlikely to hide the truth.