All morning the speculation has been will Lisa Raitt resign/be fired for leaving a binder full of secret documents on the Chalk River file at CTV, and not noticing it was missing for a week, or will the Conservatives try to blame it all on some poor staffer (who I'm sure will be rewarded with a nice private sector gig for taking the fall).
Well, unsurprisingly, with accountability being just a buzzword for the Stephen Harper Conservatives, just after lunchtime they opted for door B: let the staffer take the fall. Harper spokesperson (I'm assuming he's on the PMO payroll today) Kory Teneycke went on CTV (hey, why not them?) to break the news:
Well, let me first start by saying that this is obviously a very serious incident. Our government takes the handling of confidential documents very seriously and we have very clear and very firm procedures in place to prevent these sorts of incidents from happening. That being said, an incident obviously did occur where some documents were left at the ctv studio here in Ottawa. And as alt, the prime minister and our office have taken a very careful look at what did occur. It's our assessment that while this was a serious breach, it was not breach by the minister herself. And as such, we expect the minister to continue the good work she's doing on behalf of the government.
The minister did offer her resignation if the prime minister felt it appropriate. For her to step down. He obviously did not. And as such, she's staying on. However, I would like to point out that the staff person responsible did offer their resignation and it was accepted.
So, Raitt offered her resignation but Harper said no, some poor staffer resigned instead, and this is different from the Maxime Bernier cause because it just is so leave me alone. And with that, the Conservatives seemed content to ride this thing out.
But then, mere minutes later on that same CTV, reporter Bob Fife reports:
I can report, dan, ctv news has learned that the aide who was walking the plank for the minister is Jasmine McDonell who I think we have a picture of her going in with the minister this morning in from the back way of the house of commons. She's a young aide, press secretary. I can also report sources telling CTV that that briefing document actually was the minister's document. Now, they're going blame this aide for having it. But there's going to be a lot of questions that will be asked here, dan. The minister -- if it was the minister's briefing document, which is what I am told it is, the question would be why wasn't the minister -- why'd the minister ask, hey, where's my briefing document? Why is it missing? In and the same thing would apply to the aides. Any of these documents, they're supposed to be under lock and key because they are marked " and when they are brought out of the office they're supposed to be in a briefcase under lock and key and taken out with somebody watching. When it goes back into the evening it it is supposed to be put back into a safe in the minister's office or at a safe in the minister's home. So there's a lot of unanswered questions here. It's fine and dandy for the prime minister's office to try to have some young 26-year-old walk the plank for this, but the buck stops with the minister.
I'm getting this from sources, dan, that i believe to be reliable, who have talked to me in the last little bit. And who say that not only were -- that is the minister's briefing book, but there is essential active commercial information -- sensitive commercial information in that document which we have not reported that would be very advantageous to some of the people bidding on some of our reactors in ontario, and in fact the information that the ontario government would not be very pleased with if it got out. The issue here is the government trying to deflect the blame by blaming some young 26-year-old girl. Other issue, this is we're told the minister's document. And the other factor is sensitive commercial information which ctv has not reported that somebody has to take account for. And it certainly can't be some young kid.
The duments that the ctv had and which graham richardson reported on last night were " and they were numbered. And so they are very sensitive documents and these are the kind documents that are traceable. If they're not reported immediately, there should be an automatic trace of what happened those documents. Ctv got these documents late thursday evening. We've had them since tuesday until graham reported on the national last night. So we understand there is an investigation going on now from the privy council office, but every rule in the book was broken as far as I can see in terms of security.
Question period starts in a few minutes and its going to be a doozy. Fife's report kills any chance Teneyck's interview had of ending this thing with the staffer's resignation. This is bigger now, with the commercial aspects, and with the revelation these actually were the minister's own personal briefing books, the PMO and Raitt look like heartless, unprincipled tools for trying to blame this on some young staffer.
What's more, by releasing that Raitt offered her resignation and HARPER refused, this is now bigger than Raitt. Harper gets to wear this now. This whole sorry episode, from the firing of Linda Keen to the complete inaction on the Chalk River file over 18 months to the lack of an isotope backup plan to this pathetic attempt to save the hide of Raitt and not Bernier for the EXACT SAME OFFENSE because he likes Raitt while Bernier was an embarrassment to trying to blame it all on some young kid, it all comes back to the incompetence of this government and Stephen Harper's lack of leadership.
Lisa Raitt's resignation, which is even more necessary now that it was, will be all the more embarassing and painful for this government now because of this pathetic manuvering. Recommend this Post on Progressive Bloggers