Thursday, June 12, 2008

Changing the channel

Think this news will get stories of Pierre Poilievre's unacceptable and shameful behaviour off the front pages? I suspect so...

Manitoba judge Jeffrey Oliphant will head the public inquiry into the Mulroney-Schreiber affair, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Thursday.

Judge Oliphant, 64, is associate chief justice of Manitoba's Court of Queen's Bench.

The announcement came seven months after Mr. Harper first promised a formal investigation into former prime minister Brian Mulroney's controversial financial dealings with arms lobbyist Karlheinz Schreiber.

“The government is acting on its commitment to establish a public inquiry into this matter,” Mr. Harper said in a statement. “A number of questions remain unanswered and it is in the public interest to investigate further and to find answers.”

If you believe the timing of this announcement is coincidental, then I've got a bridge in New York to sell you. Stephen must be really pissed at Pierre for ruining his news cycle, giving Harper a scant few hours of glow from what should have been a great day for the Conservatives, and for Canada, yesterday.

So instead of enjoying a few further days of positive media coverage, Harper is forced to announce the appointment of a judge to reside over the Mulroney-Schrieber inquiry to deflect from Pierre's embarrassment, an announcement I'm sure he would have prefered to dump and bury some sleepy Friday afternoon instead.

If there's a cabinet shuffle upcoming, expect Pierre to be relegated to the backbenches where he belongs.

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Ian said...

Ya, a judge appointed by Mulroney:

Harper is such a slime.

Gayle said...

It does not matter who appointed him. We do not have politicized courts like they do in the US. He will do his job.

Greg said...

I suspect Pierre will have to have a time out, but let's face it, he is the future of Conservatism in this country.

Mike514 said...

Ya, a judge appointed by Mulroney... Harper is such a slime.

Harper's decision might have a bit of strategy to it.

Liberals have always defended the judiciary process as independent and apolitical. If the Liberals start accusing the Conservatives of choosing a Tory partisan judge (conflict of interest, etc), can they continue to defend judicial selections as apolitical? I doubt it. On the contrary: then we can suspect that Liberal-appointed judges are Liberal biased and not apolitical.

I'm willing to bet the Liberals keep quiet about this. Maybe the NDP or Bloc will raise a stink, but only because they never choose judges.

Any thoughts on what the Libs might do, Jeff? Will they cry 'conflict of interest' like /dev/null, or let it go?

Jeff said...

Mike, you never can tell with these guys (the Liberals). I mean, on the surface, the fact that the guy was appointed by Mulroney isn't positive, if Harper wanted to avoid any trouble he wouldn't have chosen a Mulroney appointee. He could be baiting us. But we do have an independent judiciary. I don't know anything of this guy's bio, but as long as he does have an independent legal background and wasn't a Tory patronage appointee (a loa possibly Vic Toews) then I wouldn't make a stink about it.

Barcs said...

"And the courts? Let's just review, shall we? 89% of all political donations made by federal judicial appointees in Ontario since 1993 went to the Liberal Party of Canada. 92% of all political donations by federal judicial appointees in Quebec went to the Liberal Party of Canada. More than 60% of all federal judicial appointees in Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba since 2000 donated exclusively to the Liberal Party of Canada in the three to five years before their appointment. Notice a pattern? (UPDATE: "Would you be surprised to find that almost all federal judges appointed from Saskatchewan are Liberal Party donors?"

From Andrew Coyne's blog Jan 2006:

I know I know... its only the conservative partisan appointments that are patronage types and dangerous.... They aren't independent from the partisan leanings like those non-partisan partisan liberal donor judges....... Evil Conservatives.

This is an interesting study, in the tables nearer the end it shows that Mulroney and Chretien were about equal when they made appointments.... With around 1/3 of judges they appointed donating to the party that appointed them.

In the end, I'm with Mike... Harper is baiting the Liberals again. And I am betting he has all that data above and truckloads more with the partisan spin attached should Liberals and the media start publicizing that little fact that it was a Mulroney appointment.