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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Is the Ethics Committee Lobbying Schreiber?

I watched the Ethics Committee meeting last night on CPAC. My observations are that the committee members are in effect lobbying Mr. Schreiber looking for answers that fit their preconceived theories or their preferred outcomes of what went on between himself and Mr. Mulroney.

The weakest contributions were from the Bloc. They are ill prepared and only want to link Charest in some way. They are playing for the home crowd politically in Quebec and not really concerned about the larger issues here.

The Liberals are at sea, not sure what they want to ask and although Mr. Goodale was more focused and capable than most yesterday. He even gave the media the document reference from a 1985 policy on what politicians could or could not do after leaving office. Smart move!

The Cons are all about damage control and narrowing the focus of the process to keep the story short and away from Mr. Harper. They are trying avoid anyone using a “sniff” test to measure the appropriateness of these goings-on. They are single-mindedly out to distance Harper from Mulroney.

In fact Mr. Tilson, a Con on the committee, has already declared Mr. Mulroney exonerated based solely on one day of testimony in the disjointed and restricted questioning the committee process. And he has not even read the documents yet but is trying to convince us Mulroney is already off the hook. The Cons in committee are about damage control, sticking to the message and spin to innoculate thier leader from any infection Mulroney might bring. Expect them to be focused on being narrow and shallow and misdirecting attention to the bigger picture.

The NDP is doing the best job. Mr. Martin’s seething anger is genuine but not helpful at this stage of the proceedings. He wants to nail anyone and everyone involved and his rhetoric is getting away on him. I appreciate his zeal but it may let his quarry off the hook if he does not use a more calculated and less emotional approach.

The NDP’s Mr. Mulcair is new to the House of Commons, winning a recent by-election. He is also new the federal committee processes and rules but is by far the best and most effective interrogators so far. Finding out yesterday that the RCMP did not even contact Mr. Schreiber over Airbus and when the settlement of the defamation action with Mr. Mulroney was negotiated is astounding. That critical piece of evidence is thanks to Mr. Mulcair. I wonder where that will lead especially given all the other troubling incidences we have seen from the RCMP of late.

Finally the best performance by a country mile is the Chair, Mr. Paul Szabo. Fair-minded, respectful, tempered and generous of spirit, he is doing an excellent job. Reading the apology into the record yesterday over the shabby and disgraceful treatment Mr. Schreiber received is the measure of Mr. Szabo. He took the time to carefully detail the disgraceful treatment Mr. Schreiber suffered while going to his home to retrieve documents he remained handcuffed, surrounded by police and was not given his belt back. Those circumstances caused a affront to Mr. Schreiber’s personal dignity on national television. The apology by Mr. Szabo to Mr. Schreiber for that embarrassing and humiliating incident on behalf of all Canadians was appropriate and necessary.