Second Thots

Sometimes one has to step back, take pause, and have some "second thots"

Friday, April 01, 2005


New Gomery testimony may force an election!


Election chatter grows amid talk of devastating Gomery testimony.

UPDATE (7:08pm): If we already know this much about the testimony, that it is damning enough to cause an election, then it won't be too long before we get a better idea of what it might actually be about. The public ban prevents any direct discussion of it. But I'm sure the whisper campaign has already started. The Martin people have begun to distance themselves from its implications, ie) the cat is out of the bag.

ANOTHER UPDATE (Sat. April 12. 12:20am): CTV's Robert Fife delivers a profound assessment of the implications of the rumored testimony (go to this page, and click on the video link provided on the right-hand side of the page). In a soon-to-be-held election, he believes the Bloc will sweep Quebec and the Conservatives will make huge gains in Ontario and Atlantic Canada to form a minority government. Not tomorrow, but soon. Stunning material. Just what in the world is this testimony about? As I mentioned earlier, I think we'll know soon enough.

UPDATE III (Sat. 7pm): Since Fife wasn't able to include it in his snap analysis, I thought I would: the NDP.

I have always been of the belief that the NDP is almost entirely dependent on the prospects of a Liberal collapse in order to make significant electoral gains.

That's what happened during the Mulroney years. That's what happened during the Rae days in Ontario.

Once one of the basic appeals of the Liberal Party vanishes, the prospect of power, all bets are off. What that means on the left is that people who have avoided voting with their hearts in order to vote with their pocket books can feel more assured in doing the former.

When Liberals falter, the NDP can move in and provide a more conscientious progressive voice for many Canadian voters - but only if Jack provides them with that voice. If he can't do it when the Liberals are down, he never will.

My personal reservation is that he is still far too left and far too ideological for mainstream voters. And I don't know if there are enough ideological ones to help him out. Indeed, I can envision an election campaign where, if Paul Martin senses a Liberal slide, he will spend most of his time trying to depict Jack Layton as the scary one, not Stephen Harper.

Should be interesting, IF this Gomery testimony lives up to billing. We'll see.

UPDATE (Sun. April 3 10:09am): Well, the cat's out of the bag. That was fast. I did have the intention of flirting with the speech cops on this one. However, since everyone with a keyboard seems to have already posted the link, I'm going to hide behind the crowd and do what they did. I'm a real hero. Here's the link: CENSORED. It's an American site, so they're protected from our speech cops.

On second thought, I'm not posting the link to the reported testimony. My analysis of the issue leads me to believe it is a violation of the publication ban - like it or not. The Americans might be protected from our speech cops. We're not.

I'm also not going to use the crowd as an excuse to violate the ban myself.

Of course I side with the principle of free speech. If I had my way I would prefer a ban not be in place. But I don't have my way. The speech cops do - for now. Sorry.

I'll have more to say later.

A not so hush-hush UPDATE (Sunday 11:05am): Norman Spector has added more than his own two cents worth on this - without an outright violation of the ban. He suggests the material on CENSORED may be exaggerated for effect, but still informative. He also uses an interesting trick: posting links to two of his previous columns which verify some of the content of the now much talked about Brault testimony. Again, I'll have more to say on this later.

UPDATE TO THE LAST UPDATE (11:48am): I just finished reading the two articles written by Norman Spector I mentioned in the last update. They suggest the following:

- Because Liberal-friendly firms provided dirt-cheap advertising to the Liberals during election campaigns, the favour would eventually be returned in kind.

- The sponsorship program was a slush fund which had to be used for political gain during the 1997 and 2000 election campaigns.

Thank you, Mr. Spector. You make good copy.

Note: I just caught a glimpse of this page before posting this update. While downplaying the testimony in his own blog, he's 'up-playing' it over at Andrew Coyne's website. Go figure.


I have made the rounds on the Internet regarding the Brault testimony. There are differing interpretations of what it might mean electorally. Here's my two cents worth.

It all depends on how deeply it tars the entire Liberal Party. Nothing about what I have read on the testimony suggests to me Paul Martin must resign as a result of anything said. If that's so, then the case for forcing an election is far from a slam dunk.

Of course, we have to wait until the actual facts are in. The Tories and NDP are already backing away from talk of a pending election.

But I think it's dangerous to proceed on the basis that sensationalism alone will help you win support from voters. Once the dust settles, and cooler heads prevail, there better be something there that justifies the toppling of a government only a year after the last election. A thirty day election campaign is a long time. Unless your trap is full-proof, it gives the cornered rat a chance to escape. That's exactly what we saw in that last election.

(Monday April 4th 6:55pm): The most recent developments:

The Liberal Party has issued a public statement regarding the latest at the Gomery inquiry. They have been granted full standing at the proceedings in order to defend their interests there. Given what has happened, that's very understandable.

They have also called on the RCMP to investigate some of these allegations further. The opposition is not impressed with the Liberal Party's attempt to portray itself as a victim.

Liberal attack-dog Warren Kinsella is blaming it all on a vast right-wing conspiracy (his April 4th entry).

I also just finished watching a report by the CTV's Mike Duffy. The 'we're the victims' line being used by the Liberals doesn't seem to be going down very well.

More to come, I'm sure.

(7:57pm): Paul Martin repeated a line of defence in Question Period today which the Liberals have been using over the last couple of days. He seems intent on avoiding an election until the Gomery inquiry has made its findings.

Question: Why didn't the Prime Minister possess this same thirst for the facts before calling an election last year?

Liberals seem to be very selective about when they want their conduct to be beyond reproach, which is exactly why their conduct is anything but beyond reproach.

(10:51 pm): Many people seem to be drooling over what Brault has said thus far during his initial testimony at the inquiry. I think what people need to remember is: a) he is someone under criminal investigation; b) he is yet to be cross-examined.

As far as I can tell, these are hardly circumstances under which you have an election for the purpose of cleaning up government. If the current guys didn't act responsibly, why should voters replace them with opposition members who aren't acting responsibly either?

(Tue. April 5, 8:09pm): Guess what I found as I was looking at my site statistics? Someone from the Department of Justice visited my website. How did they find it? They performed this search, CENSORED, over at Google. It looks like we have a fed scouring the internet for websites that have mentioned the now infamous American blog in conjunction with the Brault testimony. I had already taken the link off my website. I later removed a reference to the American blog which I had forgotten about. But why do I still feel like I'm being hunted by the speech cops? Bloggers in Canada beware. You may be next.

(Wed. April 6, 7:57am): About a week ago the Liberals were very willing to have an election over the Kyoto provisions in the budget. Not now. I wonder what could have changed their minds?

In the same article, EKOS pollster Frank Graves thinks Canadians might well ignore any revelations coming from the Gomery inquiry. He also thinks Canadians might well ignore the CN Tower being blown up by terrorists.

Chantal Hebert is not so dismissive. She thinks Martin's minority government could be in jeopardy. It's up to Harper if he thinks so too.

(4:19pm): A Quebec judge made it less likely Gomery will lift the publication ban today. We'll know for certain soon enough.

Opposition Leader Stephen Harper decides to proceed cautiously regarding the testimony, countering some of the sentiment of his own supporters. I think that's a wise move. It may have something to do with the next item, which allows Harper to look like the angel in all of this.

The Liberals are now making decisions for the Bloc, based partly on new revelations Quebec separatists might also be involved in the scandal.

(5:42pm): Judge Gomery won't make a ruling on the publication ban until Thursday. Wednesday's cross-examination of Brault went longer than expected. Don't be surprised if that now gets leaked too. If it's not the Liberals doing the leaking you know they're in trouble.

(11:45pm): According to CTV's Robert Fife, Justice Gomery may lift the publication ban on parts of the testimony provided by Jean Brault. Details regarding his own involvement in the scandal are to remain under seal. Segments related to Liberal Party involvement might be released as early as Thursday.

Given that no details of the Brault cross-examination appear to have been leaked, it may not have been a good day for the Liberals after all.

(Thur. April 7, 4:30pm): The publication ban has been lifted on much of the Brault testimony. You can read a summary of it here. Video is also provided. I'll have much more to write as I filter through all the reports.

In the meantime, you can read James Travers' devastating assessment of Liberal electoral fortunes here. Travers is certainly no foe of the Liberal Party yet he believes only a miracle can save them now.

It's yet to be determined if the testimony will have that kind of impact on the Canadian public. Ultimately, they will decide what to make of this. It certainly can't be positive. But just how negative will their reaction be? Stay tuned.

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