Friday, March 03, 2006

Ethics Investigation of Harper/Emerson

This should be interesting:
The ethics commissioner is launching a preliminary inquiry into conflict-of-interest allegations against Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Bernard Shapiro said Friday he will look into what influence was wielded in the decision by former Liberal David Emerson to cross the Commons floor and join Harper's Conservative government cabinet. In a letter to three MPs who complained about the switch, Shapiro says he will issue one report on the conduct of both Harper and Emerson, who is now international trade minister.

How embarrassing for a new Prime Minister, whose cornerstone campaign promise was a return to ethical government. I have a feeling, that as Canadians learn the details of this deal, it will take the bloom off Harper and cement the black cloud over Emerson. At the very least, this investigation assures that this issue will remain part of the political dialogue for some time.


Harper plays the partisan card:
In a release, the PMO added, “this Liberal appointee’s actions have strengthened the prime minister’s resolve to create a truly non-partisan ethics commissioner, who is accountable to Parliament.”

The dodge and weave:
The Tories are crying foul, noting that Shapiro turned down their request for an investigation into Liberal Tony Valeri’s landholdings during the election campaign on the grounds the commissioner couldn’t act between sittings of Parliament.

Translation, the Liberal hack didn't act on Valeri so Emerson is fine because there was no parliament. Trouble with this logic is it fails to admit an election did take place, so the two situations aren't similar. During an election isn't a precedent for after the vote. Try again. I would stick with the Liberal crony angle to discredit the entire process. However, we do have some precedent with the Grewal decision and it is hard to argue that Emerson hasn't "gained" from his decision.


CuriosityKilledTheCat said...

Gotta love it. The Ethics Prime Minister being investigated by the Ethics Commissioner for enticing an elected parliamentarian to walk away from his voters and join another party.

“Superficial criticism” my foot!

It will be very interesting to see just how much of this investigation is made public, and how cooperative Messrs Harper and Emerson will be.

I am sure the voters of Vancouver Kingsway would like public disclosure of the materials provided to and part of the Ethics Commissioner’s investigation.

By the way, I wonder if the Commissioner will be calling for evidence from others directly involved? I could just imagine the number of disaffected Liberal party members who volunteered time and money to elect Emerson, relishing in his statements of opposition to Mr Harper’s New Tories, who would now welcome a chance personally to explain to the Commissioner just how much they feel cheated by the defection of their MP.

Must be at least a dozen voters who would like to explain their dismay, perhaps hundreds ...

Could be a long hearing.

Steve V said...


This issue was losing some steam, now the voters will be re-energized and emboldened. Harper made a statement earlier in the week that he expected the fallout, but felt the advantages outweighed the criticism. I wonder if he still feels that way now?

Dana said...

#1. What Ethics Commissioner? He's just a Liberal stooge.

#2. Why do we still need an Ethics Commissioner now that we have an ethical government?

#3. Who cares?

Try it yourself. It's easy to come up with the reasons we'll hear from the Harperistas.

Steve V said...


Number 1 right out of the gate!

Dana said...

Thankyou, Steve. I've also seen #3 in the G&M comments. Yet to see #2 verbatim but I've seen an adapted version.

I think some more creative ones will show up too. Not all whingers are bags of wet mice although all bags of wet mice are whingers.

Got any favorite whinger excuses you anticipate seeing?

Steve V said...

Got any favorite whinger excuses you anticipate seeing?

9/11? Oops, wrong country- for now. I bet we see the softwood talks "heat up" with a timely deal prior to any reports.

D said...

Wouldn't that be interesting? I'm a little dubious that GWB is in any big hurry to piss off any more of his base than he already has with the ports deal. There does remain the possibility that Happer is willing to sign a bad deal just for the sake of saying he got one. That's not a real great long term strategy but then again we've seen lots of short term thinking from him so far as things stand now. The media would take him to the woodshed if it's a bad deal but we also already know he doesn't much care what the media think. A bad deal would also tell us he doesn't much care what the people think either. Not that I think he does, but he needs more of us to think he does. But it would be interesting.

Dana said...

We find this:"The Prime Minister's Office attacked the credibility of the ethics commissioner Friday night after he announced an investigation into conflict of interest allegations against Stephen Harper."

Didn't take long.

CuriosityKilledTheCat said...

Who shall guard the guards?

Clearly something stinks in Denmark (on the Rideau), and the stench emanates from both the former governing party and the current one. The average citizen reads or hears about the shenanigans and shakes his or her head, disbelievingly.

There are two issues: (1) Whether we need an ethics commissioner to keep Parliamentarians on the straight and narrow and if so what kind of commissioner with what kind of powers. (2) Should the Emerson-Harper deal be investigated and should Harper cooperate with the ethics commissioner.

In my view the answer in both cases is Yes.

Yes to a properly constituted Ethics Commissioner, appointed as a member of the civil service, with a legislated independent mandate, and an a mandate to be impartial.

Yes to Harper and Emerson cooperating with the Ethics Commissioner.

Stephen Harper campaigned on a platform of ethics, as Mr Clean, bringing a new broom to the capital city. He won a narrow victory. Now it is time for him to govern in a clean and ethical manner. By doing these two things – passing legislation for an independent ethics commissioner, and cooperating re the Emerson walkabout – he will be acting in accordance with promises made before the election.

By not doing these two things, he will be breaking promises made to the voters.

It is as simple as that, and no contortions of logic can obscure this moral simplicity.

Steve V said...


Well said, it really is that simple.

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