Friday, April 08, 2005

This is Not Good

OK, I thought I’d take this time to share some thoughts on Senate reform…ha ha, just kidding. No, the dam has finally broken and the bulk of the “explosive” testimony is now public.

I don’t think we’ll know what this means for a few days yet. Harper and Martin are in Rome right now so Paul is probably more concerned with the Pope's funeral than his own. Darrel Bricker was on CTV yesterday and made it clear that Ipsos-Reid will be doing some intense polling on this. In my mind, the magic number is 35. When the AG’s report broke last February, the Liberals bottomed out at 35%. If they fall much bellow this number, they’re in trouble and the opposition may be motivated to go to the polls.

A few of my initial reactions to this:

1. This is bad. There’s no way to sugar-coat it. Jean Brault is not the most credible witness but he seems to have a lot of documentation to back him up. And it looks like several people in the Liberal Party did hand out these contracts in return for kick-backs. It’s ugly and there’s no way around this. My gut reactions is that a lot of Canadians are going to say “enough is enough”. And, to be honest, I’m not sure how volunteers, myself included, will be able to respond to comments about that during the next election.

2. TDH is reporting that several high profile ministerial staff have recently been let go in Ottawa. I’ve been hearing the same thing over the past few weeks and the opposition hinted at this in Question Period today. As the media starts digging, this story is only going to grow and there are going to be new revelations every day about key people in Ministers X, Y, Z offices. Liza Frulla’s chief of staff has been implicated but she won’t be the last Minister to have staff implicated.

3. The PQ angle is interesting. The Conservatives used a lot of Question Period time asking about the Parti Quebecois’ involvement in this. Apparently the Conservatives are polling at 16% in Quebec. Maybe they smell a breakthrough. On the provincial scene, Mario Dumont must be grinning from ear to ear this morning. Hopefully it will also make it a lot harder for the separatists to use this as the launching pad for another referendum campaign.

4. Before people make too much out of this, it's the word of one man - a man on trial for a lot of messy crimes. There’s little that can be pinned directly on Jean Chretien or Paul Martin. If this is spun right (and I have my doubts it will be), this isn’t fatal. Mike Pearson still won, despite scandal-plagued years in office. The problem is, the onus is now on Martin to give Canadians a reason to vote for him whereas before it was up to Harper to do this.


  • I have a hunch that PM was more or less in the dark. For that matter, Chretien probably was too, at least with respect to details. You're protected from details at a higher level for cases just like this. But I imagine that they knew the gist of it; how many different Cabinet posts had Chretien occupied as a Quebec minister before being PM? And Martin, despite his current protestations, is no virgin. There's too many senior organizers in the mix for that to be completely opaque.

    So here's the rub: neither of them knew details. And that shouldn't matter at all. This is the governing party of the country which has lost moral authority. End.

    By Blogger matt, at 1:07 PM  

  • Oh yeah - the PQ thing has zero traction thus far out here in Quebec. They never claimed to be virgins, and aren't expected to be.

    And the Bloc/PQ connection to Quebecers isn't the direct separatist demonic one that it is to other Canadians.

    Besides which, it's not the PQ spending taxpayer money, it's them accepting it via a third party. That'll have zero impact on any referendum. And on that score, start praying.

    By Blogger matt, at 1:11 PM  

  • Oh, this is fatal alright. And for the disgraceful suggestion that this could be "spun right"; well, it well past that, my friend. The worst thing the mobster Grits can do right now is spin their way out of it.

    The best thing that you can hope for, I should think, is that a class action lawsuit is not brought against the Liberal Party of Canada by thousands of citizen taxpayers, the size of which would probably bankrupt the party brand into extinction.

    By Blogger the monarchist, at 2:01 PM  

  • Have you no shame, sir?

    By Blogger Sean McCormick, at 2:58 PM  

  • In Manitoba, there was a vote-rigging scandal that came out of the 1995 election and lead to an inquiry over winter 1999. It was bad for the party (though a fraction of how bad this stuff seems to be).

    Well I'll be honest, door knocking for the Tories that fall in a losing election sucked hard. People telling off campaign workers at the door.

    I'll gloat about the top dog Liberals skirming (and the occasional ex-Tory like Minister Brison tee hee), but I do honestly feel for Liberals in the trenches.

    They're likely good (if deluded) people, and they're going to get a tough ride in the next election.

    By Blogger The Hack, at 4:00 PM  

  • I have no shame, these are allegations by one man facing criminal charges, so far I have yet to hear it collaberated by anyone outside of him and his groupaction sidekicks.

    By Blogger iloveLaP, at 4:11 PM  

  • I disagree with Matt - the fact that the PQ is caught doing the same thing completely limits their ability to act indignantly about this. And it was exactly the same thing - in return for a government contract, money was allegedly funneled back to the party.

    Even more serious, there are very stringent laws against corporate political donations in Quebec, so the fact that the PQ knowingly benefitted from this is significant. In fact, the PQ does claim to be "virgins"- they brought in the current law, back in the late '70's, and have been constantly bragging about how they cleaned up the system from the Liberals (and presumably UN). This could hurt them worse, actually.

    By Blogger Fiddlers' Green, at 5:36 PM  

  • Jim: even if everything you say is right (and I think it is), you miss my point. It is this: it won't matter. You've proved that it ought to matter, and I agree (although the Liberal $'s being bigger, that side of things ought to matter more). Zero traction here.

    By Blogger matt, at 6:57 PM  

  • CalGrit - you say that volunteering will be tough in the next election... which leads me to ask: why even bother?

    What exactly has this Liberal minority government done to deserve your time? Or even your vote?

    Now, I consider myself very Liberal on a lot of issues, but this government needs to be spanked hard. The Party needs to be gutted and cleansed until a clean, bright, young leader emerges to replace Mr. Dithers.

    We need to put the integrity back into politics. (But fuck Harper -- he's nothing more than the hard-right's attempt to sleaze its way into the center)

    By Blogger Jim, at 7:20 PM  

  • At the moment, the most that can be said is that certain members of the Quebec wing of the Liberal Party could possibly be corrupt if Brault's testimony is true. The Tories are going to overreach if they start claiming the entire Liberal Party is criminal (which is what Peter Mckay did in the House and got admonished for by the Speaker - if he'd said that outside Parliament, he might have been facing libel charges).

    As I have said at BlogsCanada E-Group, The problem for the Conservatives is they havent solved any of the reasons the public didnt vote enough of them in last time. They are viewed as social conservative neanderthals in the East and in urban areas... and they now have policy positions that dont jaive with the majority of Canadians (ie - re-open BMD talks with Bush, gut Kyoto, and possibly use the Notwithstanding Clause to make sure SS Marriage isnt made into law).

    The party that should gain the most from this then is Jack Layton's NDP... but its an open question to me whether the naturally inclined centre-left voting populace will be comfortable enough to migrate to them if they cant vote Liberal, but know that voting Tory will bring a party to power that opposes most of what they believe in.

    By Blogger Scott Tribe, at 7:47 PM  

  • ilovelaP does make a good point with respect to Brault. Apparently he got applause as he left the courtroom which is really sickening. He's one person who has admited to being involved in criminal activity and is facing a whole whack of charges. It's quite possible that he's embelished a few of the charges being levied.

    So...on that point, I think Martin makes a very valid point when he says it's important not to rush into an election. It would be crass political opportunism on Harper's part to rush into a spring election.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 8:06 PM  

  • I don't really want this rag-tag bunch of guys running the show, but I'd rather have Dithers and co than Harper and them. I think losing enough to kick Martin out will do us well, but we don't want a con majority (that would be a huge blow to the country). This is one time when I don't mind having the Bloc steal some seats

    By Blogger UWHabs, at 11:18 PM  

  • Calgary Grit:

    Your Party stole the last three elections away from the electorate in what can nicely be called crass criminal opportunism on the part of the Grits.

    The bottom line is that your party has no moral authority to govern anymore, and that if we kept it around until the Fall, nothing would get done. The only way the Grits can govern now would be to get a fresh mandate. Grit or Tory, the cesspool of skank that is the Chretien legacy needs to be left behind in the dust for good.

    By Blogger the monarchist, at 12:18 AM  

  • Stole the last three elections? Ya, that is what the Libs did, they "stole" the last three elections, they stuffed the ballot box, prevented old racist conservatives from voting, banned free media (please see the communist broadcasting corporation), banned freedom of expression (please see intolerant, bigoted conservatives being prevented from expressing their opinion in public about the blacks belonging in the back of the store) etc.

    In fact I think that the last three elections the Liberals got a majority (in the Chretien years) or a plurality of the seats in what is known as the "House of Commons" which allowed them to form government, I have not seen any individuals accused of fraud alleging that the Liberals stole the last three elections yet

    Oh ya, and Abolish the Monarchy, what a useless institution. Talk about a tradition that just rubs salt in the wounds of over half the Canadian population

    By Blogger iloveLaP, at 12:16 PM  

  • There has always been a fuzzy line about what is appropriate when it comes to political fund raising. Does Bombardier give to the Liberals because they support the general direction of Liberal policy (including subsidisation of industries such as theirs)? Or as a direct quid pro quo?

    Every party has 'bagmen' who raise funds by sailing as close to that line as possible, and any company of a certain size will have employees whose job is to get maximum advantage from various governments in contracts, grants, tax-deferrals, etc.

    These bagmen (corporate and political) spend their careers flirting with out-and-out corruption.

    In this case, they seem to have crossed the line. Both sides must be punished. Brault must be prosecuted. The Liberal Party, which on the best interpretation through carelessness or greed let its bagmen off of the leash, must be punished at the polls.

    But I wonder now about one piece of Cretien's legacy: the new party finance rules. Doesn't that system, once it is fully operational, undermine the importance of party bagmen? Might it have been a reaction to Cretien knowing (in some general way) about these problems?

    By Blogger buckets, at 3:21 PM  

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    By Blogger cash at home, at 5:09 PM  

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