Monday, November 12, 2007

Alan Riddell saga ends not with a bang, but with a whimper; questions remain however

And so, in all likelihood, ends the saga of the Conservative Party and Alan Riddell, which I’ve chronicled at length since the last election:

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.

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Ken Chapman said...

At the end of the day political parties are private clubs and without a law, they have no obligation to disclose such information.

Too bad this matter did not go to trial. Because we will never know how the leadership of this political party handles the inside stuff. It would tells us volumes about the character and qualities they would bring to governance...espeically if they had an unfettered majority government control.

The CPC was squandered any benefit of the doubt about how they would behave with absolute power given such a non-informative notice of how this matter "ended."

But that is all they are required to do in such a "private" matter.

900 ft Jesus said...

"Harper may have settled with Riddell, but he hasn’t settled with Canadians."

Right! A pay-off doesn't clean the act. Good post. With so much else going on, there's danger this might slide into oblivion, but it should not. I don't recall this level of corruption under the Libs. Or this many cover-ups.