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.