The Calgary Grit has posted a portion of the transcript from the court hearings in Halifax last month, where former Conservative staffer Jasmine MacDonnell went to court to unsuccessfully try to block Stephen Maher and the Halifax Chronicle Herald from publishing the contents of the infamous Lisa Raitt tape.
This is the tape, you'll remember, where Raitt, the Natural Resources minister, said that cancer and radiation leaks are the new sexy and questioned the competency of the health minister. It's a position Harper and Raitt doggedly defended in question period before she finally apologized, a day later.
But back to the transcript. You'll remember the first faux pas (that we learned of) of Raitt and her then staffer, MacDonnell, was the binder of isotope related files, some of which were stamped "secret" that was left at CTV's Ottawa studio.
After some "investigation" by the Prime Minister's Office, we were assured this wasn't Raitt's personal binder, and so she shouldn't have to quit, because that makes this different from the Maxine Bernier affair. The binder was left by a staffer, and so MacDonnell, the communications director, was made to walk the plank.
Said Stephen Harper:
"(Raitt) was undertaking ministerial activity in the company of her staff, who were responsible for these documents, certainly for accounting for these documents later . . . and she had a reasonable expectation that that would be done."Said Raitt herself:
"The procedures in place were clearly not followed. Corrective action has been taken. And I have accepted the resignation of the individual who is responsible for the documents."Said PMO spokesperson Kory Teneycke:
Teneycke said that ultimately the staffer was individually responsible for the secret documents and would only say the "government is globally responsible" for the system's failure in this case.So, from their comments it would seem pretty clear the Conservatives were telling us that MacDonnell was reponsible for the binder, she misplaced it, so she offered to resign and it was accepted. Don't blame Raitt, blame the staffer.
So with the binder, and then the tape recorder that MacDonnell left in a press gallery bathroom and then failed to pick-up from Maher for months, Maher and the Chronicle Herald argued there was a pattern of forgetfulness demonstrated by MacDonnell.
It was an assertion, thouugh, that the transcript from the court hearings shows MacDonnell's lawyer was determined to discredit:
AWAD: “My friend also mentioned that, I guess Mr. Maher, in his draft article, has characterized Ms. MacDonnell as careless, the Minister’s judgment may be questionable in that she promoted Ms. MacDonnell. That’s how they want to spin this story my lord. It’s not about medical isotopes. The Chalk River shutdown was in May – the conversation that was recorded inadvertently was in January. This isn’t about last week or the last two weeks medical isotope issue, this is about a private conversation. Not a confidentiality question, a privacy question, and the rights exist, in my submission, in this country. Mr. Grant suggested that the binder that was left at CTV was Ms. MacDonnell’s; there’s no evidence of that before your lordship, that’s never been demonstrated. Similarily that she “lost” her job, my lord the evidence is absolutely that she resigned.”Why was MacDonnell seemingly not willing to stipulate that it was her binder? That was at the crux of the Conservative spin on this: it wasn't Raitt's binder, it was the staffer, the staffer resigned, so shut up already.
If it wasn't MacDonnell's binder, whose was it? Was it actually Raitt's all along? If that's the case, why did MacDonnell quit? And if she was taking one for the team, why didn't she back it up during the hearing? Indeed, why did her lawyer make a point of essentially calling the entire CPC defence in the binder drama into question?
Also, let's not forget, MacDonnell was willing to make a deal with Maher to stop publication, or at least keep her out of it. Recommend this Post on Progressive Bloggers