Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Great article on the current state of the Cadman controversy...

Don Martin writes a great piece in the National Post today on the Cadman Controversy, and how it's the Prime Minister himself who is doing the most damage to his own reputation by basically ignoring the fact that there is an audio tape of him saying some very uncomfortable things.

If you haven't read one of the fuller transcripts of Mr. Harper's taped interview, you definitely should!

Here are the bits (of his own words) that Mr. Harper really needs to explain:

"No, no, they were legitimately representing the party. I said don't press him. I mean, you have this theory that it's, you know, financial insecurity and, you know, just, you know, if that's what you're saying, make that case but don't press it."


"the offer to Chuck was that it was only to replace financial considerations he might lose due to an election"

emphasis added

How do either of these statements square with Mr. Harper's current contention that he had no idea such an offer was made? Maybe he didn't know the precise details of what "financial considerations" were going to be offered, and in what form but he has stated in his own words that he knew there was a theory that Mr. Cadman's reluctance to force an election was based upon his "financial insecurity" and (again, in his own words) he has said, on tape, that he told members of his party who were "legitimately representing the party" to "make the case, but don't press it". So, what's the worse scenario? That the PM knew there was a financial offer being made to Mr. Cadman and is being disingenuous about his supposed ignorance after the fact, or this notion that he knew that people "legitimately representing the party" were going to make a financial offer to Mr. Cadman, but what he didn't know (or care?) waswhat form that offer would take?

To me, the tape sounds not at all like a man concerned that perhaps offering a sitting MP "financial considerations" in regard to his vote is unethical (or illegal) but of a man concerned that someone like Chuck Cadman might just drop kick someone out of his office for making such an offer. He doesn't, it's true, appear concerned that this is effectively an offer of a bribe. He DOES seem concerned that Mr. Cadman will perceive it as a bribe. In Harper's words "make the case, but don't press it". In other words, "see if he'll accept "financial considerations" to compensate him for the effect of his vote on his own financial situation, but don't let him get mad about our attempt to give him these "considerations". Well, everything we've read suggests that perhaps those men who were "
legitimately representing the party" did press Mr. Cadman too hard, because no less than three members of his family have recounted three separate occasions in which Mr. Cadman expressed how angry the offer made him.

Also, as Jim Bobby points out, even if Harper didn't know about the offer when it was made (which seems to contradict his own recorded words above, but we'll leave that aside for the moment) he CERTAINLY knew about it 2 1/2 years ago, when Dona Cadman asked him about it. She looked him right in the eye and asked him about it. Now, Mrs. Cadman apparently believed the PM when he told her he didn't know about a financial offer being made (this contradicts his own words on tape, but we'll leave that aside, again) So, as before, let's take Mrs. Cadman at her word, and also assume that she's an astute judge of character and really did "see in his eyes" that Mr. Harper was telling the truth when he said this allegation was all news to him (again, this all works best if you pretend that pesky audio tape doesn't exist). So, the PM didn't know at the time that members of his party made offers of "financial considerations" to try to convince Mr. Cadman to vote with the Tories (remember, we're ignoring the taped conversation where he says he did know). Fine. Now, what did Mr. Harper do when he found out from Mrs. Cadman that this had indeed happened??? When she told him it had happened, Mrs. Cadman was satisfied that it was all news to Mr. Harper. I wonder, was she equally satisfied with his response to the news?

Did he even have a response?

Again, there are a lot of questions here, and as Don Martin points out, the PM isn't help by the tendency thus far of "Mr. Harper
and his scripted sidekicks [to] keep up their Oz-like pay-no-attention-to-that-tape behaviour". Pretending the tape doesn't exist might SEEM like a good idea, but the Tories seem to have forgotten one thing.

Eventually, Dorothy looked behind the curtain.

Recommend this Post


clh said...

I've found the National Post articles on the Cadman controversy completely useless, until this one by Martin which you profile. This is what I'd most like to hear -- Harper explain the statements he made on tape in 2005.

Mark Francis said...

And Harper and crew seem to be doing a lot of song and dance and huffing and puffing while avoiding the elephant in the room.

I can completely accept the idea that Harper did not authorize and/or know about a bribe... if it weren't for his obvious obfuscation and misdirection.

But what, to me, is most damaging here is his contempt for free speech. It is completely ridiculous to threaten to sue over content previously broadcast nation-wide in its entirety, and widely quoted in the media. Our draconian libel laws aside, clearly, the Liberals could do no more damage to Harper by repeating what was said in the House.

The whole premise behind this alleged libel is ridiculous.

We really need to reform our libel law.

Here's a good article as to why: