Sunday, February 22, 2009

PM must come clean in Cadman affair, failing which.....



PM must come clean in Cadman affair


By ALAN SHANOFF
Toronto Sun

February 22, 2009
Prime Minister Stephen Harper went on the warpath last March, suing the Liberal Party for defamation.

Last month, he quietly wandered off the warpath and back to his corner.

The stunning about-face did nothing to repair the reputation he claimed had been lowered so badly and answered none of the questions that are still left wide open.

Harper's fury erupted over the Chuck Cadman affair. Cadman, an independent MP in the House of Commons, was suffering from cancer but made it back to Ottawa in May 2005 for a vote on that year's budget. His vote would determine whether Paul Martin's Liberal government would survive or fail.

Allegations later surfaced that someone offered Cadman a $1-million insurance policy for voting against the Liberals. He backed the government but it is clear there were discussions and some sort of offer was made.

Beyond that, the situation is murky. In July 2005, Cadman died.

Outside Parliament, the Liberal Party published various items which, according to documents filed in Harper's lawsuit, accused Harper of being dishonest, engaging in criminal activity, covering up a bribe, being involved in a bribe and other equally damning allegations.

According to Harper's statement of claim filed with the court, these were not merely false, but "devastatingly false" allegations and the Liberal Party should be required to pay the PM $1 million for damage caused to his reputation.

Harper claimed an additional $1 million in part because of a refusal to apologize and an additional $500,000 in punitive damages for malicious, oppressive and high-handed conduct.

He later added an additional claim for $1 million for some obscure legal wrong called misappropriation of personality.

Around the time the lawsuit was commenced, Harper publicly stated in Parliament "the Liberal Party and its agents have been making allegations against me that are of a criminal nature, that are absolutely false and that are despicable," and "I have every right, as does my family, to defend our reputation, and Mr. Speaker, the Liberal Party will come to regret engaging in this illegal and untruthful behaviour."

Shortly after the lawsuit was commenced I was concerned the very laws in place to protect one's reputation from unfair attacks were being abused to prevent legitimate public inquiry and hinder freedom of speech, thereby protecting those in power.

Silly me.

So I was shocked when the lawsuit was dropped earlier this month.

Did Harper get an apology? No. Did he get any money for the damage to his reputation? If he even got one dollar it's being kept a secret.

All we know is Harper approved a press release stating "the action will be dismissed without costs" and "the parties are pleased to put the matter behind them and will make no further comment."

A few days after this cryptic announcement, Harper was quoted stating he dropped the lawsuit because Stephane Dion is no longer Liberal leader.

Incredible isn't it? Harper is content to leave in the public arena multiple statements that he admits label him a crook and he says caused him to be "brought into ridicule, scandal and contempt" because Dion is no longer the Grit boss.

Conveniently what's been forgotten is whatever happened or didn't happen before that key vote in May 2005 reflects on the integrity and honesty of both Harper and the Conservative Party.

The public deserves to know what happened. Who approached Cadman? What was said? What did Harper know and when did he know it?

Harper can no longer refuse to answer questions on the basis that the matter is before the courts but he can now conveniently refuse to answer questions as the settlement appears to include a confidentiality agreement.

The public deserves more from both Harper and Michael Ignatieff.

Prime minister, the public needs to know if you are a crook, as you say the Liberals falsely labelled you.

YOU RAISED THE ISSUE

How can we have confidence in you not knowing the truth? You raised this issue by starting a lawsuit.

The settlement reflects equally poorly on Ignatieff, the new Liberal leader.

How could he agree with any settlement that might close the door on the Cadman affair? The settlement reflects on the integrity of the Ignatieff and the Liberal Party. Canadians deserve better.

The lawsuit may have been settled but nothing has been settled as far as I'm concerned.

ALAN.SHANOFF@SUNMEDIA.CA

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Alan:

Bravo to you for this piece in today’s Toronto Sun!

And bravo to your fellow journalist, Tom Zytaruk, for having the balls and fortitude to put up with the thugs (James Moore) and goons (Pierre Poilievre) in the Harper government and for having exposed this high crime and misdemeanour in the first place.

Possible bribery of an elected official is something that can not be tolerated, whether it be of a member of a local town council or a Member of Parliament, especially alleged bribery on the part of our current Prime Minister.

“Coming clean” to my mind does not simply mean Harper being given yet another chance to weave some new explanation that serves to tie the facts as we know them into some new version that serves to absolve him, but rather a degree of third party investigation that expands upon what is presently in the public record, namely a body of facts and evidence, such as the various emails etc that had been subpoenaed in the civil case by the Liberals,. but which Harper was (apparently) loathe too disclose.

We do know however what is on Tom Zytaruk’s tape, and it is most self incriminating of Harper by Harper. This is prima facie evidence of Harper’s guilt and is the incriminating evidence that Harper needs to refute with credible evidence to the contrary, assuming any exists:

"But the, uh, of the offer to Chuck [Cadman] was that it was only to replace, uh, financial, uh, considerations, he might lose due to an election."

Brent Fullard

Dr Mike said...

"accused Harper of being dishonest, engaging in criminal activity, covering up a bribe, being involved in a bribe and other equally damning allegations."

Uh ok---sounds good to me.

So ferret out the truth.

Get to the bottom of this.

Somebody do something as this is about to slip beyond our reach.

Is this not what the opposition is there for , to dig a little deeper & protect the interests of the Canadian people--be that watchdog & not just a lapdog.

A watchdog usually barks if he sees something that is out of the ordinary.

A lapdog fawns to his master & sleeps away the time.

It is a sad day when it has been left up to Happy Jack & Uncle Gilles to be on guard for the little guy.

Dr Mike.

Anonymous said...

An Immodest Proposal.

Maybe this is a really dumb idea; perhaps it's not even legal. But humour me a bit and give it some thought.

I propose that CAITI set up a trust and invite the general public to contribute to it. If sufficient funds are raised, they would be used to fund a lawsuit for defamation by Tom Zytaruk against the Conservative Party. If the suit has a favourable outcome the damages awarded plus the contributed funds would be distributed to the contributors. (Call the fund an "Outcome Trust"?)

Obviously Mr. Zytaruk would have to agree to this arrangement. Additionally, I think he should agree not to settle out of court for anything less than costs plus 10% of the balance in the trust, assuring the contributors of at least a 10% return. Additionally, he would not accept any settlement that restricted his or anyone else's freedom to comment on the case or reveal the terms.

Win or lose, the suit would generate the publicity the affair deserves and which the Conservatives have managed to suppress so far. And CAITI and the income trust tax issue would also get further publicity. Not all of it good perhaps, but even bad publicity is better than none.

Worst case, the suit is lost and the contributors lose a good chunk of their money. Perhaps all of it.

Best case, the suit is successful, the trust contributors make a modest profit, and the Conservative Party is stuck with a major embarrassment and substantial cost. If we get a sympathetic judge there may even be punitive damages tacked on.

Legal expenses may even be fairly modest. If the lawyer who acted for the Liberals in Harper's suit is available a lot of the work would already be done and paid for. Even better perhaps would be to get Harper's original lawyer who either quit or was fired, but I'm guessing he would be prohibited from now in effect acting against a former client.

So, whaddya think?

Regards,

EhBC

CAITI said...

EhBC:

I had a similar idea, and in fact a few people I know have been in direct contact with Zytaruk who is mulling over what to do next.

His email is tomzytaruk@yahoo.ca

My suggestion to others is very similar to yours, including the idea of retaining the Liberal’s former lawyer to leverage off all the fine work he has done to date. The settlement may however preclude this?

No chance that the CON’s former lawyer could be retained, but who would want somebody who has proven himself willing to work for scum and to defend sleazy politicians against patently obvious criminal acts of bribery?

My variation on your theme was that the monies raised to defend Zytaruk against Harper’s slander and libel would be repaid with the proceeds from the sale of a book to be written by Zytrauk on the entire trial/ordeal.

The proceeds from the book would first go to pay off those who contributed to his legal defense and any excess would accrue to Zytrauk, 100%

Who do you think should get the profits from the sale of movie rights? The Movie could be called Harper’s High Crimes and Misdemeanours, or some such thing? Who knows, It could very well become a cult movie, in the same vein as Rocky Horror Picture Show?

Harper Horror Picture Show, Part 1? Lots of sequel potential as well.

Brent Fullard

Meanwhile did you see this:


The Hill Times, February 23rd, 2009
NDP MP Comartin looks at ways to help author Zytaruk sue Conservatives
NDP MP Joe Comartin says Conservatives must stop 'really ridiculous position' and false accusations against Tom Zytaruk.
By Harris MacLeod
NDP MP Joe Comartin says he is looking at ways to help author Tom Zytaruk finance a lawsuit against the governing Conservatives.

Mr. Zytaruk's book Like A Rock: The Chuck Cadman Story prompted sensational Liberal allegations last year of bribery against the Prime Minister who in turn launched an unprecedented $3.5-million defamation lawsuit against the Grits. But the Prime Minister suddenly dropped his lawsuit earlier this month and the Conservatives and Liberals agreed not to talk about the settlement.

But Mr. Comartin (Windsor-Tecumseh, Ont.) said Mr. Zytaruk sent him an email last week thanking him for defending him against more recent Conservative attacks in the House of Commons and for going after Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre (Nepean-Carleton, Ont.) in Question Period after Mr. Poilievre, who is Prime Minister Stephen Harper's (Calgary Southwest, Alta.) Parliamentary secretary, repeated the sensational allegation that Mr. Zytaruk doctored a taped interview he had with Mr. Harper in 2005 which was part of the book.

On the tape, Mr. Zytaruk and Mr. Harper, who was then leader of the opposition, can be heard responding to Mr. Zytaruk's question about an alleged $1-million insurance policy offer made to then-Independent MP Chuck Cadman, who was dying, in exchange for his crucial budget vote in the House of Commons to defeat the Liberal Paul Martin government.

Mr. Harper, Heritage Minister James Moore (Port Moody-Westwood-Port Coquitlam, B.C.), and PMO press secretary Dimitri Soudas have all said publicly in the past that Mr. Zytaruk doctored the tape, however, a court ordered analysis determined it had not been altered "except for an over-recording that started after any contentious statement," the Globereported.

On Feb. 6, lawyers for the Tory and Liberal parties issued a joint statement saying the issue was settled out of court, without damages, and that neither side would have any further comment.

Prime Minister Harper, in his only public statement about the case since the settlement was reached, suggested on Feb. 11 in the House that the fact that the former Liberal leader Stéphane Dion (Saint-Laurent-Cartierville, Que.) has now been replaced by new leader Michael Ignatieff (Etobicoke-Lakeshore, Ont.) since he launched his suit had something to do with the case being dropped.

"I have already said all I have to say about this case. I would note that the leader of the Liberal Party is no longer in his position," Mr. Harper said.

But Mr. Poilievre repeated the allegation that the tape had been tampered with on Feb. 13 in the House of Commons. However, when Mr. Comartin challenged him to say it outside of the House, where he would not be protected by Parliamentary privilege, Mr. Poilievre slipped past reporters through a back door after leaving the House.

Mr. Zytaruk, a journalist with Survey Now, has said he cannot afford a legal battle with the Tories, and in an email last week to The Hill Times said that media reports stating that he was threatening to sue the Conservatives were exaggerated.

"Clearly there's an information vacuum because the politicians are clamming up, so reporters are calling me to see how upset I am," wrote Mr. Zytaruk.

Mr. Comartin said he wants to have a serious discussion with Mr. Zytaruk, however, to get some "direction" from him before he helps him mount a legal case against the Conservatives for slander.

"I really would like to see if there isn't something we can do if the Conservatives continue with their really ridiculous position of making these false accusations against him. I really would like to be able to step forward, step up, and see if we can help him," said Mr. Comartin.

Mr. Comartin, a lawyer, estimated that it would cost at least $100,000 for Mr. Zytaruk to sue the Conservative Party, and he added that costs could run as high as $300,000. He said the NDP are not in a position financially to cover the costs of a lawsuit but said he's interested in exploring options such as fundraising and finding him a lawyer who would take the case on a contingency basis.

In Mr. Zytaruk's book Mr. Cadman's widow, Dona Cadman (Surrey North, B.C.), who now sits as a Conservative MP, alleged that Conservative Party officials offered her dying husband a life insurance policy.

The tape in question alleges that Mr. Harper knew about and approved of the offer, which sparked allegations of bribery against the Prime Minister and the Conservative Party. The Liberals, under then leader Mr. Dion, posted the allegation that Mr. Harper knew about the offer on the party's website, which led Mr. Harper to launch the lawsuit against the Liberal Party.

Mr. Zytaruk has called the lack of transparency around the Feb. 6 announced settlement "distasteful," and the NDP have called on both parties to release details about the deal that was reached.

In response to a "Spin Doctors'" question in last week's issue of The Hill Times that asked if the Prime Minister and the Liberal Party should explain the details of their out-of-court settlement, Liberal Party spokesman Dan Lauzon drew a distinction between the so-called "Cadman affair" and Mr. Harper's lawsuit against the Liberal Party.

Mr. Comartin said he thinks the Liberals have been instructed not to comment.

"When I went after Poilievre and challenged him to take his statement outside and stop hiding behind Parliamentary privilege, a number of [Liberal MPs] stood up and applauded. Up to that point, I don't know how many questions had been asked but they had remained completely silent on it," Mr. Comartin said. "My sense is that a number of the members of the Liberal caucus would in fact like to pursue the issue but have been very clearly told not to."

The Hill Times repeatedly contacted Liberal justice critic Dominic LeBlanc (Beauséjour, N.B.), who last year called on the RCMP to investigate the bribery allegations, however, he did not return calls for comment. The Hill Times also contacted the other two Liberal MPs who sit on the House Justice Committee, Brian Murphy (Moncton-Riverview-Dieppe, N.B.), and Ujjal Dosanjh (Vancouver South, B.C.). A staffer in Mr. Murphy's office said he was "not reachable," and a staffer in Mr. Dosanjh's office said that Mr. Dosanjh suggested The Hill Times contact Mr. LeBlanc.

Mr. Comartin, the only NDP MP on the House Justice Committee, said he would like to get to the bottom of the bribery allegations, however he said his reason for contacting Mr. Zytaruk was to help him fight back against the Tories' accusations.

"We don't have to turn [Mr. Zytaruk] into a victim even though the Conservatives seem determined to do that. Our thrust right now is to try and provide him with some relief against the accusations that have been made against him."

hmacleod@hilltimes.com

The Hill Times

Dr Mike said...

Go Joe go!!!

Joe seems to have become the official opposition.

Dr Mike.