The Conservative party has reached an out-of-court settlement with Alan Riddell in the Ottawa lawyer's libel suit against Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the party's president, a party statement says.
The one-paragraph statement says nothing about the terms of the settlement and does not name Mr. Harper or party president Don Plett.
"The Conservative Party of Canada and Alan Riddell announce that they have mutually settled all legal proceedings brought by Mr. Riddell against the Conservative Party of Canada and Conservative Party officials," says the statement, sent to a reporter yesterday by the communications director Ryan Sparrow.
I’ll leave you to the Citizen story and the past posts to get all the background and nitty-gritty details. It would appear this is likely the end of the story though, certainly from a legal and most likely from a media point of view as well.
It certainly should not be though as there is one remaining unanswered question. It’s a very important question, its one Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party needs to answer and its one Canadians deserve an answer to.
I’ve asked this question before, and not having seen an answer yet, I’ll ask again. With the settlement, while they initially denied it it’s now abundantly clear the CPC had a deal with Riddell. Which begs the question why, during the last election campaign, did Harper make this statement:
"The party does not have an agreement to pay Mr. Riddell these expenses, and Mr. Riddell has not been paid anything to date," he said, explaining that the party's national council had decided Riddell was not an "acceptable'' candidate.
And yet, as we now know, they sure did have a deal. When the legal process began they admitted that, their only point of contention was not the existence of a deal, but whether or not Riddell’s going public negated the deal.
With the Cons running sponsorship whistleblower Allan Cutler in Ottawa-South, admitting they’d bought-off Riddell wouldn’t have exactly fit with their cleaning-up government messaging at that point of the campaign.
Harper may have settled with Riddell, but he hasn’t settled with Canadians. Given his election statement, and what his party has now admitted in court, Harper and the CPC need to come clean with Canadians. Did Stephen Harper lie about the existence of a deal with Riddell, when asked point-blank, in order to win an election campaign, or did party officials deliberately keep their leader in the dark and send him out onto the podium to mislead Canadians?
Neither scenario is particularly palatable. It’s time, however, for answers.Recommend this Post on Progressive Bloggers