If the NDP is trying to soften-up the Liberal left flank and convince some its members to lend them their votes, or lease them outright, its apparent strategy on the scandalous Cadman allegations is only going to hurt them.
Their strategy has been most curious.
It seems to many, myself included, like they’ve been trying to downplay it. Why? The answer to that is readily apparent. The Liberals have been out in front on this, it’s quite possible the NDP fears that if this thing takes off in the public consciousness the Liberals will gain support. Of course, the Conservative will lose support, but the NDP aren’t going to gain support from the Conservatives. Any gain in Liberal support is bad for the NDP. It’s just politics.
Now, the NDP and its supporters will insist that this isn’t about politics at all. Frankly, every party plays politics, the NDP included, yet only they insist they don’t. Not sure who they think they’re fooling. But anyway, they’ll also insist that they do think these allegations are very serious and should be investigated fully.
They’ll point to their support of an RCMP investigation and one by the special prosecutor to support that claim. Pat Martin’s prior professed lack of faith in the RCMP aside, and his apparently not knowing what the special prosecutor actually does, I’m willing to grant most NDPers some ground here.
They lose me though on their lack of support for an investigation by the parliamentary ethics committee. I don’t find their reasoning here as having merit, nor do I Paul Szabo’s for that matter. They say concurrent hearings could impede any RCMP investigation. That’s just not true. And even if it did, that didn’t stop the NDP from supporting committee hearings into Adscam, or Mulroney/Schreiber.
Let’s say though that the NDP truly want this issue investigated, and believe committee hearings would hamper the RCMP. That line of reasoning becomes hard to swallow when your star MP makes comments like these:
"At the end of the day, we have a Liberal opposition that's not there in the House of Commons"
"What's that have to do with, with all due respect, financial considerations in a tape recording from 2005?"
"Don, it's got everything to do with what there up to. They're trying to pound the table over an issue where the only person who actually knows what went on, who's unfortunately no longer with us, said there is no offer."
Was Muclair betraying the NDP’s true feelings on the Cadman scandal, minimize and keep attacking the Liberals, or was he freelancing and out of bounds? If it is the latter and not the former Jack Layton should smack him down or make him issue a clarification. Because otherwise, the impression he leaves about the NDP’s motives on the Cadman mess are clear.
The Globe’s Adam Radwanski is perplexed:
The NDP has an opportunity to pain itself as the only national party willing to stand up to the Conservatives. But they're so busy explaining that the Liberals aren't standing up to the Conservatives that they're forgetting to do so themselves. And so when he took to the airwaves today, the New Democrats' leader-in-waiting accidentally backed himself into the Tories' position on the Cadman mess - dismissing the entirely relevant questions about what the Prime Minister was talking about in '05 as irrelevant.
… But the Liberals aren't in government; the Tories are. If you forget that, you become a pretty lousy opposition party - which helps explain why, amid all of Stephane Dion's woes leading the Liberals, the NDP has managed to lose public support since the last election.
The Toronto Star’s editorial board is too:
's apparent rationale – that the RCMP should be left to do the job – is unpersuasive. Yesterday Layton slammed Harper over the Cadman affair. "We get half truths, half the time," he said. Shouldn't the NDP then be pressing for full answers? Or is Layton more concerned about preventing the rival Liberals from profiting politically from the Tories' embarrassment? Layton
…The reason offered by NDP panel member Pat Martin for objecting to a parliamentary probe is risible. "We don't need a parliamentary committee to tell us whether it is right or wrong to bribe a Member of Parliament," he said. By that skewed logic the NDP could just as easily have objected to looking into the controversial business dealings between Brian Mulroney and Karlheinz Schreiber. In fact, Martin and the NDP played a big role in those hearings.
The fact is, Canadians want answers on this Cadscam. And they’re going to look pretty unfavourably, to say the least, on the NDP if it stands in the way because it won’t hurt the Liberals. If they insist on looking at is strategically, then they should consider how a lefty Liberal voter on the fence will react to their downplaying allegations the Conservatives tried to buy off an MP. Not favourably.
Bottom lining it
I think we need an ethics committee investigation because, frankly, it’s the best way we have of potentially getting to the truth here, and getting the facts to the Canadian people.
The RCMP should investigate. As I said, committee hearings won’t hamper that work at all. I think it’s pretty likely no criminal charges will ever result though. There is insufficient admissible evidence to meet a legal burden of proof. Chuck Cadman isn’t with us, the Cadman family’s accounts are pretty much hearsay, and if there ever was a paper trail it’s long gone. The RCMP may get lucky, and it should do its work. But I’m not holding my breath. It also does its work in private, and on its own schedule., as it should frankly.
But Canadians deserve to have the facts on this scandal, as much as is possible, before the next election. The only way to do that is with immediate ethics committee hearings. These aren’t legal proceedings. All the facts will be presented, testimony will be given under oath, and then the jury will be the Canadian people, at the ballot box. The NDP shouldn’t deny them the right to have all the information possible before they make their decision.
PS: Just to balance things out, this motion from the Liberals is really very stupid, and embarrassing. Recommend this Post on Progressive Bloggers