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Monday, July 14, 2008

Facts Behind Harper's Libel Action Get Murkier

The Cadman Affair is getting murkier as Prime Minister Harper puts more pressure behind his libel action against the Liberal Party of Canada. The latest audio expert from an FBI expert who dealt with the Nixon Watergate tapes and the Linda Tripp tapes around Clinton and Lewinsky. He can’t say if the tape recording of the Prime Minister was doctored.

Two earlier experts say it was edited. Another American expert concluded "with scientific certainty that this tape has been edited and doctored to misrepresent the event as it actually occurred.” Pretty bold statement and a very dramatic conclusion I’d say.

Tom Zytaruk, the author of a book on the Cadman Affair, and the person who recorded the interview with Prime Minister Harper has provided a plausible explanation. He said the tape was not edited but the recording was turned off when he believed the Harper interview was over. According to media reports the Prime Minister then continued to comment and the tape recording was started again by Zytaruk. Hardly and editing and doctoring designed “…to misrepresent the event as it actually occurred.”

Other contradictory allegations of fact are coming from Mr. Zytaruk and Mr. Cadman’s wife. What is adding to the murkiness of the facts is Mrs. Cadman apparently wants to run as a Conservative candidate in the next election for Mr. Harper. Will that have any impact on the weight a court will give to her version of the facts?

The libel action is also interesting because it is possibly a pure political and tactic device. Could this legal action be just another media strategy in the perpetual election campaign the Harper minority government has been conducting in the two and a half years since first elected? The Harper libel action against the Liberal Party is also easy MSM news fodder. It takes the media and public attention away from the more serious, significant and complex issue surrounding the Cadman Affair. It has the potential to push out media coverage on the Bernier-Coulliard Affair, the Mulroney-Schreiber Affair, the Conservative’s In-Out Campaign Advertising Affair, the Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation process, and ongoing concerns over the Air India Inquiry, the Maher Arar Affair and the Omar Khadr Affair, just to name a few.

I believe Canadians want to know what, if anything was offered to Mr. Cadman by the Prime Minister’s emissaries and what the Prime Minister actually knew about any such offer. What are the legal implications of such an offer, if it was made? What if the courts found there were such an offer and that it determined to be an attempt to “buy” Mr. Cadman’s critical vote. If this actually happened, is it influence peddling or vote buying? Where does this all this fit in relation to the provisions of the Criminal Code about such matters? Will the civil libel action get any answers to these questions?

CORRECTION: A READER (see comment by paulstuff) NOTED THE ORIGINAL POST WAS IN ERROR. I WAS CLAIMING THAT THE HARPER GOVERNMENT WAS ASKING MR. CADMAN TO VOTE TO BRING DOWN THE HARPER GOVERNMENT. THAT IS WRONG. THE REQUEST WAS ALLEGEDLY MADE TO MR. CADMAN TO SEEK HIS SUPPORT TO DEFEAT THE MARTIN BUDGET OF MAY 2005. MR. CADMAN SUPPORTED THE MARTIN BUDGET AND PASSED AWAY IN JULY 2005. MR. HARPER'S MINORITY GOVERNMENT WAS NOT ELECTED UNTIL JANUARY 2006. A GREAT SUMMARY OF MR. CADMAN'S LIFE IS ON WIKIPEDIA http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chuck_Cadman

This libel action could go right to the personal integrity of the current Prime Minister and the integrity of the Office of the Prime Minister too. I think this all needs to be clarified for the sake of the Prime Minister’s reputation, and for the good of the country. Do we need to restore or retain the public’s confidence in the Office of the Prime Minister? Will this lawsuit afford Mr. Harper the opportunity to reassure the country of his continuing suitability to serve as our Prime Minister? I hope so.

Given the importance of these stakes to our democracy and our pubic confidence in our highest governing institutions, I welcome Mr. Harper’s libel action. I believe this libel action needs to go to court so we can determine the facts from testimony taken under oath and for a Judge to then weigh the veracity of the various parties involved. We need this libel action to be decided based on the rule of law not on the rule of raw politics or trial by media, as is currently the case.

9 comments:

  1. Anonymous10:04 am

    More importantly what does Craig Chandler have to say about this?

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  2. Thx Anon -that reminds me, I have not heard anything from or about Craig Chandler for months. Anyone know how and what he is doing?

    Same goes for the former Calgary Sun columnist Paul Jackson who was all tied up in the Chandler PC leadership intrigue. Jackson seems to have disappeared.

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  3. Anonymous11:50 am

    Too bad that Harpers and friends won't tell us what was offered to Cadman.

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  4. "What if the courts found there were such an offer and that it determined to be an attempt to “buy” Mr. Cadman’s critical vote to defeat Mr. Harper’s own government. If this happened, is it influence peddling or vote buying?"

    Might want to get your facts straight there. The Liberal's under Paul Martin were in power, not Harper. And if this offer was made, it's no more sleazy or just as sleazy as Stronach/Cabinet, Grewal/Senate, etc.

    Ya, ya, Grewal's tape was doctored, but just like Harper, Dosanjh and Murphy never denied that was their voices or words on that tape.

    Seems to me all the Lib's and Zytaruk need to do is turn over the original to put this whole thing to rest. Doctored, pay up. Not doctored, Harper pays a political price. Can't wait to see the ending.

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  5. Thx paulstuff - I will check my facts and the timing of the Conservative agents meeting with Mr. Cadman...I appreciate the feedback.

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  6. Anon @ 11:50 - given this is a civil action, and if it proceeds, I expect we will have the Prime Minister and the Conservative Party operatives who met with Mr. Cadman tell us their version of events - under oath.

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  7. Anonymous3:12 pm

    Chandler would make an excellent candidate for MP or for Wildrose Alliance leader.

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  8. Anonymous8:13 pm

    Ken, if these are the 'facts', then this issue will be decided in a court of law where the liberals should have the defence of truth.

    Unfortunately, the Liberals, including Dion, have stated that Harper had committed a criminal offence. The fact that the RCMP found no evidence so support this baseless allegation does not paint a pretty picture for the liberal party.

    I am assuming that Harper will be very happy with the massive payment once he wins the lawsuit. Thanks for the donation! I hope it is your money that goes Harper's way!

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  9. Anon@ 8:13 - you make a common mistake. The Crown, your boy Harper as government, mostly pursues criminal charges on behalf of the rest of us.

    The criminal standard of proof is very high - BEYOND A RESONABLE DOUBT. The police did not think they could prove the case to satisfy that standard of proof - and we have to trust them - just as we did in the Truscott and other botched cases.

    Harper as launched a civil action that only has to prove his libel case on the balance of probabilities. Much easier to do. BUT he has to prove his reputation is damaged by the so-called libelous statements. May not be so easy to prove in the world of free speech and fair comment...and a decline in Harper's approval numbers anyway.

    I expect the Harper message machine will be very Karl Rovarian and spin the "facts" like a top on steroids. Harper, if he wins win may by phyrric anyway because nobody believes much of what he says about any thing political anymore anyway.

    I hope Harper wins too. Because if he does not win - he should resign and that would further erode public confidence in the goverment and the PMO beyond the dmage he has done already. After all he started the law suit...he better win.

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