Which right wing Canadian party would you rather vote for?

Friday, February 29, 2008

Stephen Harper knew about $1 million Bribery

In 2005 Stephen Harper knew Conservative party officials were making a financial offer of $1 million to independent MP Chuck Cadman in exchange for his vote to topple the minority Liberal government in May 2005, a new book charges. Harper believed it was a waste of time to try bribing Cadman.

Harper was Opposition leader when two party operatives offered Cadman, who had terminal cancer, a million-dollar life insurance policy, according to the book.

In an audio tape released to the Star by the publisher of Like A Rock: The Chuck Cadman Story, it is clear that Harper knew of the offer when he was interviewed by author Tom Zytaruk in September 2005.

When Zytaruk asked Harper whether he knew of the offer, Harper said: "I don't know the details. I knew that there were discussions, uh, this is not for publication?"

Zytaruk told Harper that the interview was "not for the newspaper. This is for the book."

Harper said: "I can tell you that I had told the individuals – I mean, they wanted to do it – but I told them they were wasting their time.

"I said Chuck had made up his mind he was going to vote with the Liberals. I knew why, and I respected the decision, but they were convinced there was financial issues ... but I said that's not going to change the decision," Harper said.

"I said `Don't press him, I mean, you have this theory that it's, you know, financial insecurity, and ... if that's what you say, make the case,' but I said `Don't press it.'

"We had all kinds of our guys were calling him and trying to persuade him, but I just had concluded that that's where he stood and respected that," Harper said.

Asked about the insurance policy, Harper said, "it was only to replace financial considerations he might lose due to an election, okay? That's my understanding of what they were talking about."

Harper, now prime minister, denied yesterday that there was any financial offer made to Cadman. The RCMP confirmed last night they are examining the Liberals' claim the incident violates the Criminal Code.

The allegations caused an uproar in the House of Commons, with Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion saying "not only was trying to bribe Chuck Cadman an insult to his integrity and his honour, not only was it morally and ethically wrong, but it was against the law. Again, I ask the Prime Minister: What was he thinking?"

In an interview with CTV News yesterday, Dona Cadman stood by her story, outlined in the book, that the Tory officials had met with her husband to woo his vote.

"Two gentlemen had visited him, offered him a million-dollar life insurance policy and a few other things," said Cadman, who is the Conservative candidate in the Surrey North riding once held by her husband.

Asked whether she considered it a bribe, she responded, "Yes, in a way."

In a statement yesterday, senior Conservative officials Tom Flanagan and Doug Finley confirmed that they met with Cadman on May 19, 2005, two days after the meeting described in the book, and just hours before the non-confidence vote in the Commons, to discuss his possible return to the Conservative caucus.

"We offered ways that we – as campaign officials – could help Mr. Cadman in the Conservative nomination process, and if successful, wage a competitive campaign in a general election," the two officials said in a joint statement yesterday.

"As the record shows, Mr. Cadman declined our offer to rejoin the Conservative caucus and voted to prevent a general election," the statement said.

It is clear from Harper's comments – and in a book written last year by Flanagan – that Conservative officials and the Tory leader had several meetings with Cadman, not just one on May 19, 2005.

The Liberals asked the RCMP to launch a criminal probe. "Any allegations of financial inducements being offered to an elected public official in an attempt to influence that individual must be treated with the utmost seriousness," Liberal MP Dominic LeBlanc (Beauséjour) wrote to RCMP Commissioner William Elliott.

As well, New Democrat MP Pat Martin (Winnipeg Centre) is asking the Commons' ethics committee to launch an investigation into the allegations outlined in the book.

"Trying to bribe somebody to change their vote is one of the most serious offences in the Criminal Code of Canada. It's a subversion of the Constitution, it undermines democracy," Martin said.

Harper rebutted the allegations yesterday, saying nothing was offered to Cadman before the vote on May 19, 2005.

"This is completely false, completely irresponsible," the Prime Minister said in question period.

Deputy Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff asked: "Is the widow lying?"

The response from several members of the government, including Harper, was to repeat that Cadman said on CTV on May 19, 2005, that he had "received no other offers."

But a transcript of that interview suggests Cadman was talking about offers from other parties to join them.

Cadman, a former Reform and then Canadian Alliance MP, was dying of skin cancer when a crucial budget vote came up on May 19, 2005. Then-Liberal prime minister Paul Martin needed Cadman's vote to stay in power, while Harper's Conservatives needed the independent MP's support to force an election.

Two days before the vote, Zytaruk writes, Cadman was visited by two Conservative representatives and presented with a list of enticements to rejoin the party before the vote.

"They wanted him to vote against the government," Zytaruk quotes Cadman's wife Dona.

A million-dollar life insurance policy was on the list, Zytaruk writes.

"That was on him, so that if he died I'd get the million dollars," Dona Cadman said.

"There was a few other things thrown in there too, but it was the million-dollar policy that just pissed him right off."

The book says that the MP responded to the proposed deal by "bouncing them out of his office."

"He came home and was mad. He just said that he was insulted and that he was ashamed to have been a part of the Conservative party," Cadman's wife recalled in the book.

Cadman sided with the minority Liberals in the crucial vote, ensuring Canadians would not head to the polls for a summer election. He died just a few months later.

Dona Cadman said she had no regrets about telling the story, though she conceded it was a "little" awkward for her now that she was running for the Conservatives.

The statement issued by Flanagan and Finley makes no mention of any earlier meeting with Cadman.

But in his own book, Harper's Team, Behind the Scenes in the Conservative Rise to Power, Flanagan hints that the May 19 meeting wasn't the first time they had tried to persuade Cadman to come back to the Conservative benches.

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Liberal de facto government

Who is calling the shots in Ottawa? The minority Conservative government, or the Liberals?

I think it is now the Liberals. The Conservative budget, the war in Afghanistan, they are all being tailored to please the Liberals and keep the current minority Conservative government in power.


Because they are tied in the polls and if we went to an election we would only get another minority government. It is a stalemate between the two.

"A de facto government is a government wherein all the attributes of sovereignty have, by usurpation, been transferred from those who had been legally invested with them to others, who, sustained by a power above the forms of law, claim to act and do really act in their stead."

The only party that is growing in power (cough, cough) is the Greens, mostly due to the youth vote and the environmental movement which is currently all the rage. Which is pathetic at the same time, because they didn't win a single seat in the last election despite being tied with the NDP in the polls. (Methinks Green voters either forgot to actually vote or all voted for the Liberals out of fear of a Conservative majority.)

Another problem is what would the Conservative Party actually promise in a 2008 election? They already made good on their GST reduction of 2%. There is really nothing they have left to offer right now, beyond maintaining the status quo.

The Liberals however are riding high on the environmental issues, with their leader Dion an active environmental crusader. It is too late for the Kyoto Protocol to be implemented (the Conservatives deliberately dragged their feet until it was too late), but that doesn't mean Canada can't do other things to set targets on greenhouse gas reductions.

Therefore the 10% of the population which are Green voters are just enough to push the Liberals towards a majority win. Outside of Quebec, the Liberals and Conservatives are neck and neck with about 37% of the vote. If the Green voters vote Liberal instead they can push it over 45% threshold usually needed to win a majority (thanks to the marvel of vote splitting in a multi-party system).

Quebec however could still be key to winning a majority or a minority. Depending on how few seats the PQ win, if the race is close enough in English Canada, the deciding factor could be 10 to 20 seats within Quebec for either the Liberals or the Conservatives.

And right now, it is anybody's call as to who would actually win and how would they make a government. If the Liberals win a minority they could forge an alliance with either the PQ or the NDP or both. If the Conservatives win a minority they would need to make an alliance with the PQ or the Liberals (the chances of a Conservative/NDP alliance is extremely slim).

The problem however is that the Conservatives already had an alliance with the PQ which has since fallen apart. The current situation with the Liberals isn't even an alliance. First the Conservatives tried to bully the Liberals by threatening an election if they didn't pass key legislation. Now the Conservatives are hanging on by a thread and changing things just to please the Liberals to avoid going to an election.

Stephen Harper seems to keep flip-flopping on whether to call an election or not. First he says he wants one, but then he turns around and tailors legislation in order to avoid one.

I would love to see what the hell is going on inside Conservative caucus meetings. Do they want an election or not? Make up their damn minds.

If we keep going as is it is basically a Liberal de facto government because they are currently the ones calling the shots.

If we go to an election the current environmental political climate and Green swing voters gives the Liberals the edge they need to win.

The Conservatives may be flush with cash and able to afford non-election ad campaigns, but all those anti-Dion ad campaigns have done very little to diminish his support amongst Liberal and Green voters.

(On a side note, the United States is also going through an interesting phase in its run up towards the 2008 election in November. The Republicans have basically already chosen their leader, but he's a bit of a nobody vs. the likes of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. The real question is who the Democrats will pick? A woman, or a black guy with a name that sounds like Osama bin Laden?)