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It’s time for the ethics committee to investigate the Cadman affair.

You’ve seen many Conservatives and a couple of others claiming online that since the RCMP could find no evidence of any wrongdoing with what they did in trying to persuade Cadman to vote for them Conservatives, that should be the end of the matter, or that it will put the affair on the back burner.

I’m in the camp of those who say it’s far from over (and also in the camp of those who fully expected the RCMP to come out and say what they did, but that’s another story).

As Danielle points out, the RCMP also didn’t find any evidence to charge former PM Brian Mulroney with any wrongdoing over his dealings with Mr. Shreiber , but that hasn’t stopped all parties from agreeing there needs to be a public inquiry into the Mulroney/Shreiber affair to look into the unanswered questions of that mess.  If there are some unanswered questions with regards to that, there are even more involving what was offered to Chuck Cadman and what then-opposition leader Stephen Harper was referring to when he said an offer had been made to replace “any financial considerations he might lose due to an election.”

As the Toronto Star asks in its editorial today: What financial issues? What insecurity? What exactly was Cadman offered and on what terms?

There is no real difference between this situation and the Mulroney/Shreiber situation, except the most important: it directly involves the Prime Minister and top Conservative officials, rather then a former retired PM.  If Harper and the Conservative officials are innocent of any wrongdoing, as they insist, then they should have no problem with the House of Commons Ethics (edit: or Justice, see footnote at end of article) Committee taking a look into the matter. If they are innocent as they say with nothing to hide, the Conservatives need to tell Ethics Justice chairman Art Hangar to stop running from the room every time this issue is brought up. (Running away from people, be it committees or reporters,  sure seems to be a common trait with these Cons, doesn’t it?)

While I don’t hold out much hope for the Cons. to change their stance, I have a bit more hope with the NDP. The Star says in its editorial today that the NDP should now support the aforementioned committee doing an investigation now that the RCMP has ended its looking into its affair. Many NDP bloggers have taken issue with Liberals pointing to the anonymous NDP strategist who was quoted in the papers saying the real reason the NDP didn’t support an investigation into Cadman was that it would benefit the Liberals, and not the NDP.  This, they have argued, was not being representative of the NDP and it wasn’t fair to quote an anonymous spokesperson as representing the party’s views.  Well, as the Star says, there is now no reason for the NDP to oppose this investigation.  We’ll now see if the NDP really is interested in looking at this affair and get to the bottom of what exactly transpired, or if it will play politics and continue to side with the Cons. on this issue. I’m encouraged that some NDP bloggers are now supporting an investigation, so I have hope the NDP will do the right thing and change its stance on this.

And, if it does, and if Pat Martin (the NDP member on the ethics justice committee) supports this,  that would give the opposition more votes on this issue then the Cons, if I’m not mistaken. If that’s the case, the first vote should be to remove Art Hangar as committee chair if he continues to pull his running from the room act and refuses to hold a vote on the opposition motion.  With the NDP onside, I believe there still would be enough votes to start an investigation into this even with an opposition member being chair.

[email protected]: Kady O’Malley of Macleans – the expert in the media on H. of C. Committees – corrects me in my comments section by informing me that Art Hangar is actually the chair of the Justice Committee, where the Cadman affair is currently mired in. However,  she also points out nothing stops it from being investigated by the ethics committee, which is where it should be in the first place, in my view, so my original title stands, as well as my urging the NDP to change course and to also remove Hangar from his  chair position in Justice if he continues to run out on proposed votes for investigating this.

Oh, and another thing to my Conservative commentators – just because James Moore comes out on Friday and issues blanket declarations and somehow looks confident about lawsuits means absolutely nothing as pointed out in comments – if the cases were all about looking confident by acting brash,  we wouldn’t need courts, and we’d believe every word that came out of  Pierre Poilivere’s mouth in the House. In either case, that’s limited to Conservative Kool-Aid drinkers and partisans, but not the rest of the general population, I’d be quite confident in saying.

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37 comments to It’s time for the ethics committee to investigate the Cadman affair.

  • kursk

    Sask boy..Harper’s crime?

    Pretty tough (and actionable) words that i hope you are prepared to back up if anybody ever comes to call you on it..

  • Scott, you’re welcome to add me to the list of people calling for more formal action to be taken on Harper’s crime.
    http://www.abandonedstuff.com/2008/05/17/zombie-hordes-have-plugged-their-ears/

  • Gayle

    Sorry Colin – I totally forgot the huge massive conspiracy against the CPC.

    I think you are just afraid of what a committee investigation would find.

    Ted – what lawsuit? I mean besides the one Harper already filed?

  • Ted

    I smell a trap on this issue, Harper is not explaining the tape because he does not have to. Boom… lawsuit. The Liberals are falling into this trap blind folded, and they do not see it.

  • Colin

    Maybe you could point out which of those examples were investigated by a parliamentary committee with a majority of opposition MPs on it?

    Somalia and APEC were investigated before Chretien shut them down for getting too close to the truth. That was a common tactic of the Liberals while in govt, so take your govt controlled inquiries with a grain of salt.

    The RCMP have cleared Harper and the conservatives on the Cadman affair, the fact that the spanish inquisition was not involved does not invalidate their findings.

    That horse is long dead yet you continue to beat upon its poor carcass.

    And as to your amateurish attempt to discount the grewal tapes, Tim Murphy was clearly heard with no tape breaks offering nice comfy fur in exchange for his vote.

    Nice try though, get your talking points from Susan Delacourt by any chance?

    Emerson did not offer a life saving vote to keep a government alive. He is an extremely capable minister whereas Belinda is little more than a warm bed for washed up hockey players.

    To even begin to compare that empty pant suit to an accomplished executive like Emerson is actually a bit much even for you. But hey, that bathwater tastes good doesnt it?

  • Gayle

    Nice try Colin, but you cannot deflect this issue – especially since you use examples where inquiries were held. Why is it we should not hold an inquiry here then? Oh yeah, because you want different rules for the CPC.

    (I particularly like your example of Stronach – Emmerson anyone?, or Grewal – because who doctored those tapes again??).

    It is to laugh.

  • Colin

    And you very openly support a party that was found by a judge to be guilty of buying elections with stolen taxpayer dollars.

    I think that speaks volumes about your character.

    Or we could choose to discuss the Belinda Stronach defection…no funny business there eh? Just a ministerial limo and some badly needed credibility…

    Or we could examine the Liberals roll in the Grewal affair. Nice comfy fur Gayle?

    How about Shawinigate? Sell any golf courses lately?

    Oh or we could examine using the RCMP to harass national bank executives…

    Maybe even find out who ordered Hughie the Mountie to pepper spray college kids to keep Suharto from being embarassed.

  • Gayle

    Colin – there is a very clear allegation of wrongdoing, and a partial admission by the PM. This is not “thin gruel” no matter how much you wish it were.

    If you think an issue that goes to the heart of the integrity of the democratic political process – buying votes – is political gamesmanship, then that says a lot about your values.

  • Colin

    Gayle, you continue to overplay the committee and undervalue the RCMP.

    If as you say (and im sure you read the rules thoroughly) testimony to the committee cannot subsequently be used in a criminal investigation then all you have left is political gamesmanship. And that is unseemly and degrading to the Liberals.

    And there is still the fact that the RCMP have found no evidence of wrongdoing. All there is is an allegation based on hearsay and that is pretty thin gruel on which to launch a parliamentary investigation.

    And Im of the opinion that the people in question should not have to show up and explain when they stopped beating their wives.

  • Gayle

    Colin – let’s try this again.

    Under the Charter an accused person has the right to remain silent. That means that person cannot be compelled to give evidence to the police. That means that if Findley and Flanagan did offer a bribe to Cadman, they do NOT have to tell the RCMP about that, and there is absolutely nothing the RCMP can do about it.

    Even as mere witnesses, there is no law that compels them to tell the police anything. Yes it is an offence to lie to the police about a criminal investigation, but it is NOT an offence not to tell them anything at all.

    The only rube here is you and your complete lack of knowledge about how criminal offences are investigated, and how evidence is collected.

    “If you know of some magic formula by which MPs can glean information that the RCMP cannot please share it with us.”

    Let’s try this again – the witnesses like Flanagan and Findley may be subpoenaed to the committee. That means they have to attend or run the risk of being arrested. Once at the committee, they must swear an oath to tell the truth, and then they must answer all questions truthfully, lest they be charged with perjury. The reason they may be compelled by the committee is because the committee has no power to arrest or charge them for any wrongdoing, nor may the police use any of their testimony at the committee as part of a prosection. As their life, libery and security of the person is not at risk, they do not have Charter protection and must testify.

  • Colin

    Gayle you seem to under the impression that the RCMP are a bunch of rubes that conducts investigations by watching the evening news.

    Im going to go out on a limb here and suggest that all parties were interviewed by the RCMP and NO evidence came forward of any illegal behaviour. Im also going to suggest that since they have reported no evidence of a cover up or any attempt to mislead them nothing like that happened.

    Lying to or with-holding evidence from the RCMP is called obstruction of justice Gayle and it is a crime.

    If you know of some magic formula by which MPs can glean information that the RCMP cannot please share it with us.

  • Gayle

    Colin – what part of compellable witnesses don’t you understand? As in, the RCMP cannot compel anyone to give evidence, but the committee can. As in, the committee can obtain evidence the RCMP cannot. As in, the committee has more tools to get to the truth of this matter than the RCMP.

    Committee hearings have been around for a long time. What do you think the ethics committee is for anyway? Are you suggesting the rules should change for the CPC just because it is their turn to be under the microscope?

    Neither Findley nor Flanagan have spoken publicly about this. Have you considered that if they were to do so, and if the CPC stopped running away and avoiding this issue, people would not smell blood?

  • Colin

    So a parliamentary committee comprised of heavily partisan opposition MPs looking to score political points would be more adept at uncovering the truth than trained RCMP investigators.

    Wow, thats some wicked spin. And when they dont like the answers they are given what then? Compel witnesses to tell the proper version of the truth?

    When Findley and Flanagan confirm that Cadman was only offered repayable loans to help with his election expenses what then?

    Parliamentary committees have no legal staff, no investigators. They only have MPs and some of them have no legal training or knowledge. The immunity provided allows the MPs to make damaging slurs with no proof. It provides the evening news with drama and drive by’s with no substance. It serves no purpose other than politcal theatre for morons like Goodale and McGuinty to use their slime ball tactics with no recourse.

    I hope this silly, sordid, make belive tale dies a quick death.

  • “Enjoy your Toronto immigrant bastion of support. You have precious little eleswhere.”

    LOL.

  • zoop

    Have a look at this … It looks like the Liberals altered the date on the RCMP letter to LeBlank before posting it to their website:

    http://www.liberal.ca/pdf/forms/080516_LeBlanc_Letter.pdf

    Notice how the date is sharper and darker than everything else on the page. It would be very tempting for the Liberals to delay the release of this exculpatory information to fall late on Friday before a long weekend! Did they sit on the letter and change the date to cover their tracks?

    The original letter should be available through access to information, right?

  • Gayle

    “Gayle you just are so wrong it isnt funny. Your guys are being sued and are desperate to escape the noose. Our guys were CLEARED by the RCMP.’

    Um, no. I see how you want to ignore what I have actually said, and then just make something up. That may make you feel better, but it does not make it true.

    No one really cares that Harper filed a law suit. I could file one too. It is meaningless.

    Tell you what – if the CPC have nothing to fear they can sit back and allow the committee to investigate. If the CPC did nothing wrong then nothing will come out of it…right?

  • It seems not a single person here addressed how (as Scott and I noted) it is difficult to justify supporting an inquiry into Mulroney/Shreiber and yet remaining opposed to looking into the Cadman affair in committee.

    How does Harper and some Liberals (like Bowie and Kinsella) support one and not the other? I just don’t see how you can support an inquiry into Mulroney/Shreiber when the RCMP dropped the matter years ago and suggest dropping the Cadman matter entirely solely because the RCMP says they don’t have evidence to support charges right now.

    The line “the RCMP looked into this and cleared me” has been tried by Mulroney and hasn’t stopped an inquiry, why should the line work for Harper?

    Surely someone can explain this contradiction no?

    I would say for both Mulroney/Shreiber and Cadman there are too many unanswered questions and Canadians deserve answers to them. I hope the NDP finally comes on board so we can get to the bottom of this.

  • Colin

    Gayle you just are so wrong it isnt funny. Your guys are being sued and are desperate to escape the noose. Our guys were CLEARED by the RCMP.

    Your party is being hauled before the courts to answer for wrongdoing. How you can claim that we are desperate about anything is laughable. It is your side that is doing all in its power to slander and smear the sitting PM.

    The desperation is on your side of the house. Enjoy your Toronto immigrant bastion of support. You have precious little eleswhere.

  • Gayle

    Not semantics kursk, though I well understand your desperate need to think it is.

    The RCMP cannot compel Findley to give a statement (ie, give “evidence”), hence the RCMP could not find evidence.

    The committee, on the other hand, can subpoena him, and force him to give evidence under oath.

  • kursk

    “For those who keep saying that the RCMP found no evidence of a bribe, please stand corrected. The RCMP said that they found no evidence to *support charges*. That’s not the same thing as saying that there’s no evidence.”

    Semantics.

    Well, one would have to look at the issue, the evidence, to determine if that evidence was of any value to support charges no?

    If that evidence is found to be lacking in substance (reality?) the RCMP finds there is insufficient evidence to lay charges.It is also reasonable to state that that the RCMP looked at the precis issue, was there a bribe, and found no such evidence there was.

    I know you wish it to be so, but there you are..

  • Colin

    “It is the job of the Opposition to ask difficult questions of the government and to inform Canadians of those questions, the answers given and their analysis of them.”

    Asking tough questions within the HOC is allowed and is privileged communication. Stepping outside of the HOC and changing that question into an accusation and making specific claims that are not supported by evidence is actionable.

    “People remember smears against Navdeep Bains,”

    Most people quite rightly have no idea who a nobody like Bains is. What they remember is Warren Kinsella on TV with a toy mocking Stockwell Days religion. They remember guns firing into the TV screen in Liberal attack ads. They remember John McCallum and Judy Sgro accosting the PM in public with smears and innuendo. And they remember soldiers in our cities with guns.

    The party of fear and smear is the Liberals Gayle.

  • Gayle

    “Im not a lawyer and I dont know if standard rules of evidence apply in civil suits but without those statements the Liberals have no defence that I know of.”

    You are a) clearly not a lawyer, and b) clearly have no idea what the libel suit is about.

    I suggest you read Mark’s post again and try to understand what he is teaching you.

    As for “the party of gutter politics”. I think the CPC have a strangle hold on that title. People remember smears against Navdeep Bains, suggestions that anyone who questions the treatment of detainees is “pro-Taliban”, and very childish attack ads and diatribes in the House.

  • Colin

    “If Harper is so innocent, why does he still refuse to explain his taped words?”

    Harper has explained his taped words its just that the Liberals didn’t like the answer.

    The Liberals want to get this to committee so that they can conduct political theatre with parliamentary immunity. As I mentioned earlier that would be harmful to the Liberals as Canadians would continue to see them as the party of gutter politics.

    “Libel law in Canada is quite archaic. Other English-speaking countries have reformed their libel law to avoid these forms of lawsuits.”

    That is neither here nor there. What other countries do has no bearing on the law in Canada.

  • For those who keep saying that the RCMP found no evidence of a bribe, please stand corrected. The RCMP said that they found no evidence to *support charges*. That’s not the same thing as saying that there’s no evidence.

    Harper has been cleared? Was he personally investigated by the RCMP? If Harper is so innocent, why does he still refuse to explain his taped words?

    “Allegations by third parties are not usually considered as evidence.”

    Hearsay is weighed differently. Sometimes it is rejected from evidence. In the case of deathbed admissions, they are usually admitted; However, when a living person contradicts it, without the light of further evidence, the hearsay is often considered less reliable.

    This is likely why there were no charges, and is why many of us were not expecting any.

    The LPC can most certainly be found not guilty of libel for an number of reasons. Top of the list is Fair Comment, which does allow, with conditions, a publisher to defame someone with false information.

    It is the job of the Opposition to ask difficult questions of the government and to inform Canadians of those questions, the answers given and their analysis of them.

    Harper’s lawsuit is an attack upon an important institution, and I hope that the LPC fights it.

    Libel law in Canada is quite archaic. Other English-speaking countries have reformed their libel law to avoid these forms of lawsuits.

  • Colin

    This issue about discovery seems to be Liberals grasping at straws. The RCMP have investigated and found NO evidence of a bribe.

    I’ll say this again for the slower witted folks. The RCMP has investigated and found NO evidence of a bribe. Harper has been investigated and cleared.

    The conservatives probably hired real lawyers with law degrees and were likely aware of the process of discovery. They have nothing to hide.

    Allegations by third parties are not usually considered as evidence. Im not a lawyer and I dont know if standard rules of evidence apply in civil suits but without those statements the Liberals have no defence that I know of.

  • Gayle get a hold of yourself. You people just want to use the committees has a court system where they can say anything without any consequence,and the government is just pushing back period. Just move on,because you just sound Desperate for political points.

  • Gayle

    JG – that is exactly why I do not think this lawsuit will go anywhere. Harper himself is going to have to give evidence, and be cross-examined by liberal lawyers. The CPC will not have the same access to Dion or any high placed liberals.

  • Gayle

    RIght – funny that you would endorse such tactics for the CPC to avoid being exposed on this issue.

    Funny that you think the liberals pushing Cadman makes them look desperate, but Harper proroguing and/or fillibustering makes him look smart. If he were to do that it would scream desperation.

  • If the opposition forces the government on this issue they can always poruge parliament or Philobuster,and this would take care of everything. There is only a couple of weeks left before the summer session. As to unanswered questions about this affair is simple. The government has
    answered these questions over and over,you just simply don’t like the answers period.

    Anyways if the liberals try to push this they will only look like Desperate,petty and vindictive bunch that they are. Fine by me LOL;)

  • Whooee! From what I hear-tell, there’s some sorta legal “discovery” thing that means if the Con’s keep suin’, they gotta reveal some inconvenient truths in court. The public inquiry thing might be blowin’ up in the Grits’ faces but the lawsuit could really blow up in the Con’s faces.

    Good to see KadyGal droppin’ by.

    JB

  • Gayle

    “Liberals have to show they are fit to govern, holding hearings on Cadman show they are not.”

    I am not sure why this would be so. The issue most people are talking about right now is the carbon tax. I cannot see how the liberals can’t pursue both policy and investigate Cadman.

    There is an allegation a political party attempted to bribe an independent MP for his vote. This is serious and needs to be taken seriously. Do we simply ignore investigations into such ethical transgressions because it is not politically expedient? What does that say about our government?

    “Judging from the tone of James Moore on friday I would say they are very confident their lawsuit will win and no apology will be accepted. The award for damages could bankrupt your party.”

    If lawsuits were determined by the “tone” of the plaintiff, we would never need the courts. The mere fact James Moore is good at posturing does not make this a slam dunk for the cons.

  • Just a quick technical note — the Cadman motion is currently before Justice, not Ethics – that’s the one with Runaway Chair Art Hanger. The Ethics committee is chaired by Paul Szabo, who initially ruled against a motion to deal with the matter at *his* committee, which is how it wound up before Justice. There is, however, nothing to stop a member of Ethics from bringing forward a new motion – presumably, one that would be more likely to be ruled in order by the chair. There is – luckily or unluckily, depending on your perspective – no double jeopardy within the committee system. At one point earlier this year, we had at least two (and possibly three, my mind is going) committees looking at job losses in the Quebec forestry sector after the Bloc Quebecois successfully passed an almost identical motion at Natural Resources, Industry and – possibly Human Resources? I forget if there was a third. Anyway, there is no reason to be limited to one committee in an attempt to have an inquiry into the Cadman Affair.

  • Colin

    The Liberals need to take James’ advice. Stop trying to score points on this issue and start raising money to pay the legal fees that are going to mount.

    Judging from the tone of James Moore on friday I would say they are very confident their lawsuit will win and no apology will be accepted. The award for damages could bankrupt your party.

  • Ted

    This issue is blowing up in the Liberals face, politically and legally.

    My advice to Liberals, move on, issues will drive the next election, take head from the NDP. The Liberals have a opportunity to ride a potential Obama North American bandwagon. Liberals have to show they are fit to govern, holding hearings on Cadman show they are not.

  • I hate to say this, but I think Colin may be right. I think we both agree with Dan Arnold. I do believe that an inappropriate financial offer was made to Cadman with the knowledge and consent of Stephen Harper, and he called it “financial considerations” on tape.

    Even though they haven’t been “cleared” by the RCMP, the Tories will say that they have been. That’s a better soundbite than “we need to know more?” and “why won’t the Prime Minister explain what he meant on the tape?”

    As our friend Kinsella points out, it would have been advantageous for us to politicize the issue, but not to criminalize it. Then we’d still have a scandal to talk about. And we can’t afford this lawsuit we’re in.

  • We could have the committee look at it, but Art Hanger will take another fit. As long as there are Cons on the committee, we can forget it. If they were fair, the committee could go on, but try to find anyone fair in Harper’s gang! They just will not agree

  • Colin

    And your tin ear for politics continues. When the RCMP clears someone the public moves on. There is no benefit to this line of attack and will only further diminish the Liberals in the eyes of Canadians.

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