Tuesday, March 04, 2008

NDP Playing Politics With Cadman?

Before NDP supporters jump all over me, as some partisan Liberal, I ask the above question honestly. I admit complete confusion, in trying to understand the sudden about face we have seen from the NDP.

The same NDP MP Pat Martin, who initially pushed for the Ethics Committee to look into the matter, who said all other matters would be pushed aside, this issue would rocket to the top of the agenda, who tabled a motion to investigate, is now saying we should leave it the RCMP and the unproven Director of Public Prosecutions. Martin puts his faith in the RCMP, but then offers this contradictory assessment of their potential investigation:
Suggesting the RCMP often wears kid gloves in cases involving elected officials, he still believes the matter is best left to police -- and possibly the new office of public prosecutions....

"It is a straightforward matter -- it either happened or it didn't, and it's an extremely serious criminal offence that is best investigated by the RCMP or even better, the new director of public prosecutions," Martin told Sun Media.

"There is a lingering perception that the RCMP tread gently when investigating wrongdoing of elected officials, especially prime ministers."

Martin concludes the RCMP tread lightly, a perception that they may be apprehensive, and yet he puts his faith in them, choosing to dispose of another tool available. As it relates to the Director of Public Prosecutions, this person is beholden to the RCMP:
The PPSC is not an investigative agency. It prosecutes when a charge has been laid pursuant to an investigation by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) or some other police force or investigative agency of a violation of federal law. The PPSC provides advice and assistance to investigators at the investigative stage and works closely with them, particularly in terrorism, criminal organization, proceeds of crime, money laundering, market fraud, and mega cases.

In essence, the Director seems irrelevant, unless the RCMP provides the latitude to move. The NDP elevates the new Director as some savior here, when in fact, the person is just an extension of pre-existing legal channels. If we take Martin at his word, he is content to let this entire matter rest in the hands of an entity that doesn't have his full confidence. Strange, to say the least.

It is for that reason, that I suspect the motivations are purely political, rather than the neat package presented. I tend to believe this rationale:
Some Liberals were surprised by the move and suggested that the New Democrats may be afraid that the Liberals would receive too much publicity if the committee were to look into the matter.

The NDP suffers from chronic "Liberal on the brain". We say the preamble as early as Thursday, when out of nowhere, the NDP seemed more interested in when the Liberals knew of Cadman, rather than the elephant in the room, as it related to the Conservatives. I found that kneejerk query odd, given the gravity of what was unfolding. In other words, why does it seem the always immediate calculation revolves around the Liberal Party, and does it seem like much of a stretch to believe that this weekend's about face on Cadman isn't an extension of the pre-occupation?

If the real focus is getting to the truth, then the NDP should be fighting to use all organs available, there should be a united opposition front. It is curious, that on a day when the opposition parties could first confront Harper over the tape, Layton chooses to ask a question about Obama instead. The nature of a leader's question is a calculation, a decision on a particular angle, the omission of Cadman is quite striking, left to surrogates to make the case.

Where it all seems to meet, the NDP has decided that they aren't particularly interested in a public spectacle, they prefer the subtle, and that begs the question, why? Could it have something to do with the Liberals?

46 comments:

Gayle said...

I do believe the issue with Obama is very important, and should not get lost in the Cadman thing. While the Cadman allegations are serious, so are allegations that our government is trying to interfere with the US elections.

That said, I think the answer to your question is obvious. When even the NP (begrudgingly) suggests that Dion may be able to use this issue, and the fact he stood up to Harper on the lawsuit thing, as a means to establish his leadership credentials, you have to know Layton is just as worried about this as Harper.

I think asking the Obama question was a safe out for him though, given its importance.

Steve V said...

gayle

I agree with you on Obama, it is very important. That said, I believe Layton's question was tactical. A "safe out" sounds right.

Here is what Cullen said on the CBC today, after the EC meeting:

""I'm not sure I can help you with answers Don, we used up most of our meeting debating two other matters. By the time we got around to the Cadman motions that were tabled, the clerk advised us that he was unsure if there would be an order, because none of the principles in the Cadman affair are public officer holders, by the definition of the House of Commons"

Martin plays up the angle that this doesn't involve office holders, and yet he was the one talking about the key office holder, the Prime Minister of Canada, Thursday and Friday. Shreiber didn't hold any office, just like Dona Cadman, but he was quite the witness, in determining if an office holder had committed an offense. It doesn't add up.

clh said...

I am really disappointed in the NDP on this one. They lost my vote last year, but even those still staying with the NDP who I talked to are quite ticked at the idea that Harper may get an easier ride on this because of the NDP. It could end up costing them if they don't turn around and if it gets any press. Most non-Conservatives want Harper to be required to explain what kind of financial offer was made.

northwestern_lad said...

Steve... i'll just repeat my comment that I put on your other post

"As to everyone's speculation about why the NDP isn't supporting taking this whole Cadman thing to the Ethics Committee is because of "concerns that any testimony heard there couldn't be used for future criminal prosecutions due to parliamentary privilege".

So to my Liberal friends, lets try to look past any possible political motivation here, because it seems like if this goes to the Ethics Committee that would destroy any chances of pursuing any possible criminal charges, if the RCMP were to find any. If there were laws broken, don't we want to make sure that those who broke them are prosecuted???"

Steve V said...

cam

Why is Cullen putting his faith in an entity he has little confidence in? Why not use every hammer at your disposal? Why change your story so dramatically, in just a matter of days?

northwestern_lad said...

Steve... first of all his name is "Martin" not Cullen... secondly maybe he wasn't aware of this detail when he first was pushing for this to go to the Ethics Committee??? Isn't it better to make sure that they do this right rather than rush into a process that might eliminate any chances to prosecute any possible illegal acts?

Gayle said...

I think there is zero chance the RCMP will lay charges. They simply cannot prove this case. So the RCMP thing is a cop-out.

Steve V said...

"If there were laws broken, don't we want to make sure that those who broke them are prosecuted???"

There isn't a paper trial, the chances of prosecution seems a long shot. Isn't it advantageous to have the principles publicly explain their role, or hide behind legalese, on a matter which is apparently above board?? If they aren't forthcoming, then it says something, beyond what is provable in legal terms. I want the questions answered, or the nonsense of hiding, and the committee provides this forum, another tool that should be used, if people are truly interested, beyond politics, in getting answers.

Steve V said...

Thanks Cam, I used Martin and Cullen in the post. Brainfart.


"I think there is zero chance the RCMP will lay charges. They simply cannot prove this case. So the RCMP thing is a cop-out."

Bingo!

northwestern_lad said...

Steve... I want to get these questions answered too, but I also want to make sure that we don't let anyone off the hook of possible punishment because we went too fast.

A BCer in Toronto said...

"As to everyone's speculation about why the NDP isn't supporting taking this whole Cadman thing to the Ethics Committee is because of "concerns that any testimony heard there couldn't be used for future criminal prosecutions due to parliamentary privilege".

I forget, did the NDP push to have the public acounts commitee not investigate sponsorship for fear it could jeopardize the then ongoing RCMP investigation? Or did they, well, not?

clh said...

The NDP excuse doesn't make sense. Why didn't they worry about this for other cases before the ethics committee. What about Mulroney who went before the Ethics committee and is being investigated by the RCMP?

Scott Tribe said...

Kady' O'Malley at Macleans didn't buy Pat Martin's explanation last week. Let me recap for Cam, since he's the NDP's chief apologist it seems of late. On the reason for his threatening to pull his motion asking the ethics committee to investigate this:

Apparently, he's doing so on the dubious grounds that somehow, the issue is "too serious" to be dealt with by committee, since testimony would be protected by parliamentary privilege, which -- is totally irrelevant, unless he has good reason to believe that witnesses will perjure themselves, which is kind of putting the cart before the horse, since it's not even clear yet who would be called to testify.

With regards to the Special Prosecutor Martin wants to use, O'Malley says he's barking up the wrong tree:

What isn't clear, however, is how that would work in this case, since the mandate states explicitly that the Public Prosecution Service of Canada is "not an investigative agency": It prosecutes when a charge has been laid pursuant to an investigation by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) or some other police force or investigative agency of a violation of federal law.

Either Pat Martin doesn't get the law, or else as you say Steve, the NDP would rather not let the Liberals get any traction with this issue. Ironic that Stephen Harper's greatest allies on this are the supposedly polar opposite NDP.

clh said...

Thanks, Scott. I see O'Malley had some good columns on this. She seems quite concerned about Pat Martin's role, implying he already may be trying to keep the press away. I hope the NDP tactics are exposed on this one, although often the press just ignores them. I think Harper should be required to answer questions about his words on tape and I'd like it to be reported.

northwestern_lad said...

Scott.... no offence, but come off of it What is the rush to get this before the Committee right away? I guess the question remains then: Are the Liberals willing to accept the blame if this goes to Committee, illegal acts are proved, but those who committed them get to skate on it because charges can't laid???

Personally, i'd think that the Liberals would be more interested in enforcing the rule of law, but from the way you're saying it Scott, that doesn't seem to be the case.

clh said...

Northwestern, why was the NDP happy to have the Mulroney-Schreiber affair go before both simultaneously? There you know you have cash in envelopes and some paper trail in Switzerland. It is much more likely that the RCMP should actually be able to prosecute, but they still appeared before the ethics committee, even though the RCMP started their investigation in November. What is different?

northwestern_lad said...

CLH... the big difference there is that the RCMP investigated the whole Mulroney/Schreiber affair years before it went to the Ethics Committee. The RCMP had already done their thing and didn't find anything to lay charges on, which meant that the Ethics Committee had nothing to loose in going forward

Scott Tribe said...

Rather then go after me, Cam, or the Liberals, which is the knee-jerk instinctive reaction of NDP'ers nowadays, why dont you address Kady's criticisms of Mr. Martin and his strategy?

On a more humourous note, see her latest blogpiece liveblogging? She called it The Last Temptation of Pat Martin

northwestern_lad said...

The RCMP had investigated Airbus for over a decade. Also the other difference was the impending extradition of Mr. Schreiber, which made that situation very unique. The fact that they had to use a speaks warrant to get him there and keep him in the Country, a warrant that hadn't been used in like 80 years, really spoke to the unique nature of that situation

northwestern_lad said...

Scott.... did you read my post on my blog??? I'm not going after anyone, i'm defending a position. Why is it alright to question the motives of the NDP and not the Liberals Scott??? My concern is not what the Liberals do, it's with making sure that we don't possibly let someone get away with a crime because some people go all hot and bothered and rushed to a committee and make it impossible to act legally on anything that came out in that Committee.

clh said...

The RCMP launched an investigation in November 2007 based on new allegations. For the same reason, the ethics committee is investigating it. Again, why is it fine to have these going on at the same time? I think it is even more important for Canadians to be informed of Harper now, than it is of Schrieber-Mulroney. Also the latter is such a complex case, I think the ethics committee can't do anything substantial. The Harper case is much simpler and there are some obvious questions to be asked. The NDP is really being inconsistent here.

A BCer in Toronto said...

The RCMP had investigated Airbus for over a decade.

But the Adscam investigation was active when Public Accounts looked into it. And the NDP supported that investigation without fear it would comprimise the investigation, or ther laying of charges. Why the double-standard?

northwestern_lad said...

As for Adscam, the RCMP had already laid charges in that case when it went to the House Ethics Committee, so the Committee didn't jeopardize any possible charges.

Once again, I ask the question which no one has yet to answer: Why shouldn't we wait, make sure that we do this right, and get it right the first time? If some did something wrong, I want to make sure that they get what's coming to them and that we don't bugger it up by rushing

clh said...

I have a very low opinion of the RCMP for political investigations, so I put little weight on that. Also, I don't see it jeopardizing anything anyway. As you stated, special cases have been made and I don't see anyone saying how they jeopardized anything. Exactly what is it in this case that the NDP thinks is different? I just want Harper and others asked questions so that Canadians can hear their answers. If the NDP really does stop this, I am hoping the press will take up the challenge. I think Canadians have a right to know.

northwestern_lad said...

CLH... if you so want these answers, then please tell me what is the rush if it means potentially allowing any criminal wrong-doing discovered to go unpunished???

The NDP isn't arguing that this should get swept under the rug, they are suggesting that those questions get asked so that actual action can be taken on it, not just to score political points. This is a case of alleged bribery, and that calls for this to be taken seriously and with all care.

clh said...

I can't imagine the circumstances under which this would compromise the RCMP investigation and I don't expect the RCMP investigation to go on in a public way. Clearly this is a we-say-they-say situation. I want to hear the we-say-they-say and I don't think we will get that from the RCMP. I don't understand what the NDP is worried about. Can you or the NDP give an example where the ethics committee compromised the RCMP investigation?

Gayle said...

The only way it can compromise an investigation is if evidence comes out in testimony during the hearings that was not available before the hearings. Anything someone says during the hearing cannot be used against them in a subsequent legal proceeding.

The NDP's position presumes that this evidence would somehow be available without the hearing. That assumes that witnesses will give this evidence to the RCMP during an investigation.

Since I would say there is absolutely no chance Harper, Finley or Flanigan say anything to the RCMP, that leaves them with a fishing expedition - the hope that some conservative staffer heard or saw something that supports the charges, and that that person is willing to discuss same with the RCMP.

Again, chances are pretty slim that will happen.

The ethics committee at least has the power to subpoena and compel testimony. The RCMP do not.

clh said...

I don't think it is so much that it can't be used against them, as it would need to be repeated.

The NDP is worried that Harper and others will give new evidence in the ethics committee which shows they committed illegal acts and then refuse to repeat those same statements to the RCMP, but if they hadn't said them to the ethics committee then the NDP believes they would have said them to the RCMP. And Harper and his crew would do this because he wants the whole country to know that he is guilty, but he doesn't want to go to jail.

Actually, with the tools the ethics committee has (oath, subpeona, public scrutiny) it sounds like the best place to get the relevant questions answered.

CfSR said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CfSR said...

I think it may be simpler than that.

Reminding Surrey North votes of the Cadman record for integrity could cost the NDP the seat - what with Dona Cadman running there.

Sure it's politics.

Hell bent on adscam-ebven though only allegedly minor players had been charged.

Hell bent on exposing the Goodale investigation letter-which could have compromised a sensitive investigation.

Hell bent on Airbus/Mulroney-even though no charges had been laid.

Not hell bent on serious ethical allegations.

Why not?

It's obvious.

jb said...

I find it pretty funny that people are accusing the NDP of playing politics with this issue when that is exactly what the Liberals are doing.

Where were they before this broke? They were being openly mocked by even their own supporters for their Yoga-esq contortions over supporting the Conservative Budget.

We are talking about political parties here. Of course there is political considerations going on here.

You think that the Liberals are being altruistic here?

Is the Ethics commission really going to get to the bottom of this? I doubt it. Will an Independent commisioner?

Maybe, we've never had one so it might be interesting to see what that office can offer. And it would be ironic to have a position that Harper made come back and bite him.

Also all testimony at the committee can't be used in a court of law so it might actually bung up the whole "getting to the bottom" that the Liberals seem to want.

Gayle said...

jb - actually, a criminal trial rarely gets to the bottom of anything, as you cannot compel the testimony of the accused. So I disagree that a trial will get more results than the committee.

As for the substance of your post, you are correct that this is about politics for the liberals too.

Of course they have not been trying to portray themselves as being beyond reproach and the only party who stands up for hard working Canadians. Turns out the holier than thou party are actually no more holy than everyone else.

Wheatsheaf said...

I can only speculate on the NDP's reasoning, but I suspect it may be a) realize that this story may only come down to a he said/she said game that will not be resolved by the Ethics Committee, b) realize that should the RCMP find anything this story will simply become bigger and more credible, c) witnessing the public reaction to the Mulroney-Schreiber affair, they realize that the Ethics Committee is losing public confidence and therefore any resolution will simply be painted as partisan (i.e. no party wins), or, d) a combination of the above.

Susan said...

It's sad to say but ever since 'lend me your vote' Layton came on the scene, the NDP have had one purpose only - to 'get' the Liberals. It's not going to work because the NDP have lost what they had going for them - 'integrity', and now they'd rather see Harper get off the hook than see the Liberals rise a few points in the polls!

clh said...

"I find it pretty funny that people are accusing the NDP of playing politics with this issue when that is exactly what the Liberals are doing."

I expect every party to play politics, so I don't think that is the problem. Everyone I have talked to EXCEPT for Conservative voters (i.e. NDP/Liberal/Green) wants Harper to have to explain the tape. I don't know anyone who belongs to a party and most people don't always vote the same way, but they do have their preferences. Perhaps this view is different as you are suggesting, and the hard-core NDP feel differently. However, outside this group, it seems that the NDP is standing in the way of having the people involved explain to Canadians, and I think people are going to be upset.

If the NDP sticks to this position, I hope the press hammers them and we will see what people want.

MarkCh said...

"NDP Playing Politics?" Duh...of course they are - just like everyone else. Every NDPer knows that the road to Canada's first NDP government leads through a Conservative majority. The Liberals are the real barrier to power for the NDP. If anything has surprised me over the last couple of years, it is how soft Layton has been on the Liberals, given this obvious fact.

Can they square this with their consciences? Of course. We all know that the demonstrable Liberal misbehaviour at that time, specifically ignoring a non-confidence vote in the house until such time as they could beg, borrow, or steal the votes to keep them in office, is far more ethically serious than what the Conservatives are alleged to have done, let alone what they can actually be shown to have done.

I'm not saying it is wrong to bash the Conservatives - far from it. But let's be clear: unless some real substantive evidence turns up, it is merely a political tactic.

This whole discussion speaks (again) to Liberals' sense of entitlement. Why do you guys all feel that the NDP should back you up, even though it is not in their party political interests to do so?

clh said...

Markch, the NDP can of course do whatever it wants to. The solid partisans of each party will mostly stay put no matter what. However, most people don't belong to any party and a lot of these don't always vote for the same party.

The people I know who move their votes between the Liberals and NDP are all aghast at Harper and would like to see Harper defeated. They don't support going through a Harper majority for any reason. So NDPers may be able to square this with their consciences, but as signs of this leak out, the NDP are likely to lose some voters and not gain new ones, except possibly for some disgruntled conservatives.

Joseph said...

Probably for the same reason that the NDP seems to think they are "entitled" to constant fawning for "standing on principal" when they are really just playing politics.

Give me a break. The whole entitlement smear is such bull.

Joseph said...

And I suppose that in the next election, the NDP rallying cry will be to "lend the conservatives a majority" because its the only way we're going to win?

Good luck with that.

RuralSandi said...

Other than interfere with the NDP's dream along with the CPC to destroy the Liberals, this is very suspicious.

What does Jack Layton owe Harper and/or does this eat into the NDP/CPC coalition to destroy the Liberals.

C'mon, it doesn't make sense - usually the sanctimonious NDP, especially Pat Martin, love to get into this stuff.

This smells really bad.

Joe Calgary said...

Perhaps the NDP simply realize the story has zero legs in courts, criminal or otherwise, and see's the Liberals ending up with egg on their face on this one.

Egg they don't want to share in.

There is simply no way a crown prosecutor would touch this. It's lost before it starts.

Gayle said...

"There is simply no way a crown prosecutor would touch this. It's lost before it starts."

Yes, which makes Mr. Martin's insistence this go to the RCMP rather than the ethics committee rather odd, don't you think?

Joe Calgary said...

Odd?? Not at all, send it to the RCMP, they look at it, and they charge them or they don't. If there is no evidence, it goes away.

If the NDP think it's a lame duck, it's simpler to shuffle it off, than to waste time in the ethics committee...

Even the Chairman of the committee, a Liberal, doesn't want to waste any time on it.

Gayle said...

"If there is no evidence, it goes away."

The problem is that it goes away even if there is evidence. The RCMP are not going to lay charges unless they can prove the charge, beyond all reasonable doubt, in a court of law.

Even if they know a criminal offence has been commited, they will not lay charges without admissible evidence.

(Of course, they actually do lay charges without admissible evidence all the time, but a case like this is going to go to a crown prosecutor before a decision is made to charge, and the crown will nix it).

Our justice system is not structured to get to the bottom of anything. The system in places like France is different - this is an inquisatorial system. It is similar to the ethics committee. The mandate is to find out what happened, not whether a criminal code offence can be proven.

Gayle said...

That last paragraph was not worded well. I meant to say the inquisitorial system in France is similar to the ethics committee in the sense they are both set up to find out the truth, not to prove an offence.

Calgary Junkie said...

My take on the politics of the NDP's move are:

1) In the next election campaign, Layton is going to partly run on: The Liberals are not an effective opposition party
So, why would Layton do anything now which supports the Liberals, and helps to recast them as effective ?

2) There is a chance this Cadman affair will blow up in Dion's face, in which case Layton wants to be nowhere near the fallout. Layton can then reinforce his message from #1, by saying the Liberals were wasting their time, while the NDP were holding Harper accountable over the budget, etc.