Sunday, March 16, 2008

When You Can't Muzzle Everyone

I wrote the other day about the odd behaviour of Art Hanger, chair of the Justice Committee, when he walked out of the meeting rather than hold a vote on whether or not to uphold his ruling.

Well, there is an interesting article today in the Chronicle Herald that mentions Hanger's behaviour, while introducing us to some new players and old colleagues of his, into this affair.

The journalist Stephen Maher, explains how he ran into Dan Wallace after a committee meeting last week. (If you've forgotten, Mr. Wallace was Chuck Cadman's executive assistant and while he wasn't in the actual office when the alleged offer was made to Cadman, he was there, presumably outside the office.) Maher tried to speak to Wallace, but his article points out that Wallace did everything except run out of the building to avoid him.

After the meeting, I approached him in the hallway outside the committee room where he and another man were waiting for an elevator.

"Mr. Wallace," I said.

He appeared not to hear me. "Dan Wallace?"

He moved to go down the stairs, without ever looking at me, and I followed him.

"Mr. Wallace, can I ask you a question?"

The elevator arrived. He got on and I followed him.

He got off the elevator.

"No, you can’t ask me a question," he said and made to go down the stairs.

I made to follow him, at which point he got on the elevator again.
I stepped on.

"I’m going up anyway," I said, at which point he got off and I decided to leave him alone.

Bizarre, but as Maher says, it's likely that Harper's team has put the fear of God in him.

Maher goes on to say that Hanger, who is a big law and order guy is obviously not interested in looking into this matter. It begs the question, is he too being pressured to take this out of the public eye? Hanger doesn't strike me as a man who could be intimidated, so I guess that question will just hang out there for a while.

Here's the interesting part though. Two of Hanger's former colleagues who are no longer beholding to this government are speaking as if the offer did occur.

Some of Mr. Hanger’s old colleagues from the Reform days — former MPs who knew Mr. Cadman well — believe that someone offered Mr. Cadman something, and that the powers that be in the Conservative party will try to prevent anyone from finding out what.
Randy White and Val Meredith are so confident in the integrity of the Cadmans that they speak about the million-dollar offer as if it were fact.
"It doesn’t surprise me that an attempt was made," Ms. Meredith said in a telephone interview.

Not only do White and Meredith believe that an offer was made, White reinforces the claim by saying:

"I hear there was an offer made in Ottawa once with regard to the mayor, and somebody was involved in that," he said, laughing. "I don’t know who that was, but you might want to check it."

Last year, Ottawa mayoral candidate Larry O’Brien met with fellow candidate Terry Kilrea to persuade him to give up his candidacy. Mr. Kilrea says Mr. O’Brien, who has been charged with bribery, promised to talk to B.C. Tory MP John Reynolds to arrange a federal appointment for him.

It's difficult to tell from that passage whether or not White is serious or not, but it does bring Mr. fix-it Reynolds back into the picture.

Ron Wood, a Parliament Hill veteran who worked for Mr. Reynolds, says his guy wouldn’t have done it, but someone else likely offered something to Mr. Cadman.
"I don’t think that either Chuck or Dona would have invented this thing," he said. "It’s possible there were other conversations that went on."

It's one thing when the opposition parties are going after the Con's on these issues, but when ex-party members and staffers see Cadman's story as not only credible but likely, I'd say the Con's have more trouble on their hands than they anticipated .

It's difficult to tell what Hanger's real motivation is here, but it does shine a bit more light on it. What is apparent though is that the Con's seem to be going to extreme lengths to keep this thing buried.

Suing the Lib's, keeping Wallace quiet, speaking of only one meeting, blocking procedure at committee, writing statements for both Dona Cadman and Wallace (allegedly) and offering no credible alternative explanation.

This government is not just looking bad, it's looking scary. Something tells me we are going to see more cracks in something that they've done their best to keep impenetrable.


Anonymous said...

That is quite a read. I also read what Mr Hamger sent a letter to other MPs to get on his side and try to stop the sale of the firm that made our Canada arm. He wants them to talk to Prentice

Anonymous said...

anon, how are these two events connected?

Karen said...

clh, lol, they aren't of course, but perhaps our friend is trying to put in a good word for Mr. Hanger.

I'm already on record in a previous post for commending him for that stance.

If I had to make a link though, it's this. Hanger doesn't seem to be the type to be intimidated. So it beg's the question, why is he behaving so oddly. If he really believes in his ruling and isn't just getting the issue off the table, why doesn't he take a vote and if need be step down? He keeps saying he won't be a party to witch hunts, etc. He's not running again and I doubt parliament is going to last much longer, so why doesn't he just walk away?

There is something there, but I just haven't found it.

Anonymous said...

knb, isn't it that hangar is doing harper's bidding? if this thing sticks to harper the CPC is dead for the time being. Harper and CPC have become one and the same. My read is that Harper will do ANYTHING to distance himself from the Cadman affair and to not have to explain the tape. Is it surprising that he would be able to convince a CPC MP (even one retiring) to do something? I don't know Hanger in particular, is it really surprising?

Karen said...

I agree clh, that Harper will do anything. It's the anything that I want to know.

Hanger is pretty hard core Reform. He's never been too quiet. He thought flogging should be brought to prisons a few years ago. Somehow Harper has managed to shut those up who could cause him harm.

What sway he holds with all the different factions of his party is tough to figure out.

My thought at this point is he's telling each faction what they need to hear and topping it off with staying in power, gaining a majority and finally shaping this country in whomever's image he is addressing.

The bad news is they buy it and fail to realise the power he craves is for himself and his ideology alone.

I'm not being melo-dramatic when I say they are scary, he is scary. I know the Con's laugh at such phrases, but I notice that most of them seem to know less about his history than most Lib's.

At this point, conservatives by any stripe are delighted that they are in power and they seem not to care what needs to be done to stay there.

Personally, I think it's to their peril, because if/when they are ousted, I suspect their time in the wilderness will be much longer than previously seen.

The song and dance to the right that hit the globe a while back, has ended. These guys just got to the dance floor and they are dancing the waltz to rap.

Time is on the side of the present.

Anonymous said...

Well you know I really hope you are right. Bush and Mike Harris both got reelected, and the formula they use seems to work. I really don't think it is going to be easy dislodging them. As to how Harper controls his crew, yes that is an interesting question. However, if you go on some of the blogging Tory sites, you see he has a following which doesn't even require control. They want what they think Harper is and will be delivering. They like his style. Bush had this and it took years to dwindle.

Karen said...

Thankfully, we have idiot, tortuous, Bush (figuratively and literally), that leads this con party by example.

It's true we have no Obama or Clinton to counter the mood, but nor are we American. That's not a dig, I just don't think Canadians require the same amount of contrast.

America has become a black and white, (I'm not speaking to race here. As an artist I'm speaking to non colour), society. It's become this or that. Discourse in between and logic seem to have been discarded. It's the conversation of extremes.

The grey, the subtlety that informs us, has been lost somewhere along the line though I think Canadians still possess the ability to look at that.

The Con's have their eraser out, but as I recall, erasing black to create white, only creates grey. That's good.

ottlib said...

"This government is not just looking bad, it's looking scary."

Actually, knb, this government is looking scared. You can see it in their body language and in their manner.

They are desperately going to extraordinary lengths to bury this story and they are not succeeding. Every action they take to get out from under this just makes it worse.

They know that these kinds of scandals combined with such things as the Linda Keen fiasco are government killers.

As well, chl is correct. There is a great danger that this scandal could directly touch Mr. Harper and if that happens the Conservatives lose and they lose big. If he becomes THE liability to the Conservatives re-election bid then the Conservatives have no hope of winning because their strategy is centralized around him. They have no team to back him up and as Mr. Flanagan has pointed out they know they do not have policies that will be supported by enough Canadians to win them the government.

That is why Mr. Hanger is doing what he is doing. He is one of the true believers in the Conservative caucus. He knows that a Conservative loss in the next election means at least another 2 years of Liberal governance and maybe more.

As well, like most of the true believers he is convinced that if only Mr. Harper can win another term, preferably a majority, he will finally address many of the issues that the true believers want addressed.

Bottom line, there is slim chance of their issues being addressed by Mr. Harper but no chance by Mr. Dion. So, supporting Mr. Harper's government trumps all other considerations.

Which makes me wonder about the statements of Mr. White. He is a true believer as well so I am surprised by his statements. As I stated at Steve's place I wonder if he did this because of his regard for Mr. Cadman. Or, did he do it because he realizes that Mr. Harper will never live up to his promise of addressing these old Reformers' concerns?

Could the Herald story be the first indications of the fissures in the CPC opening up a bit?

Answer: Probably not (yet) but stay tuned.

Karen said...

ottlib, fissures in a party seem only to be reported on as it relates to the Lib's.

I think what is being missed and what Maher picked up on, is those who are no longer vested, or at least do not believe that Harper is the one to bring their dream to Canadians, will speak their minds.

As for Mr. Hanger, I'm not convinced that ideology beats integrity with this man. He's a nut that needs to be cracked. Pardon the unintentional pun.

You ask if this could be the beginning of a fissure in the CPC. I agree that at this point it could be a stretch, but if you look at who is there, one misstep is all it will take.

Duct tape is often referred to as the 'be all to end all'.

Me thinks not.