Allnovascotia.comBy David BentleyJune 8, 2009
There`s a highly embarrassing sequel to last week's Ottawa hullabalooover cabinet Minister Lisa Raitt's misplaced nuclear-sensitivedocuments - and the Harper government is pulling out all the stops to prevent The Halifax Herald from telling it.
The newspaper will be in court in Halifax today to defend against anapplication for an injunction to muzzle information gathered by Hill reporter Steve Maher.
Allnovascotia.com understands Maher listened to a tape that was recorded by Jasmine MacDonnell, the Nova Scotian who resigned as Raitt's press secretary after Atomic Energy of Canada documents wereleft at the bureau of CTV - which broke the story last week. Opposition members like Halifax West MP, Geoff Regan, said Raitt herself should have resigned pointing out that's what External Affairs Minister, Maxine Bernier, did after sensitive papers were left at theapartment of his biker chick girlfriend, Julie Coulliard.
Stephen Harper & Co apparently believe Raitt's political future could be seriously in doubt if the Herald publishes what was on the Jasmine MacDonnell tape.
According to one unconfirmed report*, the federal Minister of Natural Resources was recorded making some less than flattering comments abouther cabinet colleague, Leona Aglukkaq, the fed Health Minister who entered parliament for the first time last year as the MP for Nunavut.
Allnovascotia.com understands that the Herald will be confronted incourt by lawyers representing MacDonnell. But sources suggest that Harperites are plotting the strategy. There`s a suggestion that the way the Herald obtained the tape will even be characterized as a breach of criminal code. The paper is expected to respond with a Charter argument, declaring that nothing less than freedom of the press is at stake.
The Raitt Affair already features a couple of Nova Scotians - and now that reporter, Steve Maher, has been drawn in, that makes a third. Raitt is originally from Cape Breton, according to the Toronto Star,though she has a master degree in chemistry from Guelph and a lawdegree from Osgood Hall. She lives in Oakville with comedy writer, David Raitt, and was previously CEO of the Toronto Port Authority.Jasmine MacDonnell is 26 and the daughter of Ralston MacDonnell, thewell-known engineering entrepreneur.
*Allnovascotia.com decided not to conventionally source this report,after considering what has happened to the Halifax Herald. The newspaper was apparently minutes away from publishing its story last week, when legal chill intervened.
Since that broke, Tonda McCharles of the Toronto Star is reporting that they are also trying to suppress the applicant.
An emergency hearing has been set for 2 p.m. during which Justice Gerald Moir will hear the injunction motion by an as-yet unnamed applicant who also seeking an order of confidentiality or publication ban. Such an order could block any publication of the identity of the applicant seeking to stop the newspaper from publishing, said spokesman John Piccolo.
Ooops, too late?
You'd think the brain trust behind Harper would realise that trying to hide stories is bigger news than the story itself.
It's just so, um, Nixonian?
Update - Those who are noticing:
David Aikin - here
Susan Delacourt - here
Gloria Galloway - here
CBC - here
She, McDonnell, left the tape in a washroom?
Follow Kady until my next post.