Thursday, February 09, 2006

Did Emerson and the PMO block a softwood deal?

Well, things just keep getting more and more interesting. The Toronto Star reports this morning that, in a nut shell, there was a deal to be had with the U.S. to settle the softwood dispute before the election but David Emerson and the Paul Martin PMO put it on hold for political reasons.

Wow. I don't know where to start with this. I'll proceed on the basis this report is true. If so, no one comes out of this looking good.

...Emerson was instrumental in delaying a breakthrough in the decades-old … the former Liberal industry minister worried that a pre-election announcement would damage Liberal prospects in key British Columbia ridings.

So, I guess the line that Emerson was an independent, non-partisan kind of a guy doesn't quite hold water, now does it?

They say the B.C. government and its powerful forestry industry only lost interest in the plan after meetings with Emerson.

Paging Gordon Campbell to the white courtesy phone, Gordon Campbell. Gordo, you got some 'splainnin to do.

...along with concerns in Paul Martin's office that a pre-election deal would stop the then-prime minister from using George W. Bush as a campaign punching bag, convinced Liberals to delay formal negotiations at least until after the January election.

Oh that's just freaking genius guys. Whose bright idea was this? Marrisen? Cunningham? Beaton? Yeah, let's put off settling a dispute that has cost thousands of jobs and devastated coastal B.C. so Martin could paint the Americans as bogeymen. Morons.

But for reasons Liberals now blame on Emerson, it stepped back from a deal that now falls into Stephen Harper's lap.

Emerson comes out of this looking like shit, and I'm far from letting him off the hook. But I am more pissed-off with Paul Martin, his PMO, and whomever else in the Vancouver MRO that went along with this asinine decision.

According to the sources, Emerson, a former top lumber executive, also warned that some companies could object to the higher stumpage fees.

This puts the conflict of interest allegations around his letter of recusal into a new light. He shouldn't have been involvd in this. One of those forest companies that could object? Canfor. The company Emerson was supposed to be recused from issues involving? Canfor. The company he's the former president and CEO of? Canfor. The company with a direct financial interest in the stumpage fee question? Canfor. The company Emerson still has financial links to, which is why he had recused himself? Canfor.

It's not clear if or when Conservatives learned about the advanced softwood talks. What is known is that the small circle of those aware of the backroom discussions expanded during the final campaign weeks…So less than 24 hours after the election, Emerson and Conservative campaign co-chairman John Reynolds were discussing the defection…

Wow, what a story. Emerson comes out of this with his credibility and integrity torn to shreds. Mr. Non-partisan held-up a settlement for a) political considerations, and because b) his old friends at Canfor might not like it. It's a file he publicly recused himself from. And when exactly did he start talking about moving to the Conservatives, and what role did his holding-up the deal play?

I also find it amazing/surprising the Liberals would leak this as some kind of smoking gun, because they come out of this looking like absolute idiots, buffoons and worse. As I said, they held up a vitally important trade deal to settle a dispute that has devastated coastal B.C., and also impacted Northern Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritimes so they could play the U.S. bogeyman card for votes in Ontario (Toronto).

As you can guess I'm a British Columbian, from an area economically impacted by this dispute, and this pisses me off big time. I want names. Who was involved? Are they still working in Ottawa? This is bullshit. Politics is politics, but when you're in government that's a trust with the people of Canada. They've betrayed that trust.

Emerson blocked deal on softwood: Liberals
Feb. 9, 2006. 04:52 AM

OTTAWA—Here's the plot of a real-life political thriller: David Emerson defected to the Conservatives this week carrying a multi-billion dollar softwood lumber deal that Liberals, for political reasons, didn't finalize before the federal election.

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Anonymous said...

Ah, the sickeningly sweet stench of corruption. Gangrene has set in.
Martin was a foolish vainglorious man, trusting those idiots in his PMO was his worst mistake - he lost touch with his supporters and the country. Emerson is a venal self serving slime. Harper, well he's a santimonious liar, hypocrite, power at any cost Straussian. What next?
I recognize that there are many decent men and women who devote their time and energies to their country, and appreciate their efforts. Unfortunately, this crap reflects badly on all of them.

Koby said...

The Liberals need to purge everything Martin from the party. The guy and everyone associated with him is utterly clueless.

I can tell you why the Liberals leaked this; they want some credit for it when the deal actually gets done and they do not want the Consevatives to get to much credit. It is not going to work. Everyone is going to come off looking bad.

Koby said...

I forgot to add, this shows that the beer and popcorn boys pretty darn confident they were going to win the election. They were going to play up the American angle during the election and reep the rewards of the annoucment after the election.

Budd Campbell said...

For one thing, there won't be any fully satisfactory settlement of the softwood dispute as long as George Bush is in the White House. Come January of 2009, unless he is succeeded by another Republican that is equally irrational, there will likely be a satisfactory settlement within months.

Whatever proposal was being considered last fall must have made little impression on either the industry or the provincial governments or they would not have kept it secret no matter what Emerson and Martin wanted. If they thought it was a good deal that was being stalled, they would have been into the media immediately.

Zorpheous said...

Wait, It gets better, the actual deal was a complete arse f*** for Canada.

Bush forces us to increase BC stump fees

Bush gets to impose quotas on Ontario and Quebec

Bush get to keep 1.25 billion of Canadian monies.

We won the brinding arbritartion not, once, not twice, not three time,... no FIVE times. So why were the Liberals bending over for Bush.

Harper had better kill this deal, or all the shit he spouted about "Standing Up For Canada" was nothing more than pure BS!

It's a very good thing that Martin lost the election, but we will also get see just what Mr. Harper is made of too now.

Anonymous said...

The analogy of the Groom walking away from the Bride at the alter was used by one of the Political science profs on the crossing of David Emerson.
The shock and awe continues with the revelation of what might have been but for political expediency aka wedding night delight.
Political reform, recall, referendum, proportional representation the case for change grows.
Voters hate knowing how manipulated they have been.
What's more telling is how much Voters hate knowing they forget they are manipulated during Election time.
What will we remember in 2 years time when we have to make a decision on "corruption".

Mark Richard Francis said...

I'm astounded. Martin looks really bad here. Emerson was completely in the know.

As a leak ploy, it does paint theLiberal poorly, but does ascribe the legwork to them. Also, it really damages Emerson further. Will Harper keep the slimeball around?

How could anyone play with people's jobs like this?

Anonymous said...

Someone somewhere has got to write a book....if this is anything close to true, a book on what should have been an easy election to win, and how it has turned into this!!! Holy Crap. No really...Holy Crap.

Jeff said...

That's exactly right Koby. As I've said before I don't favour purging anyone, but I don't want these guys involved not because they're Martninites, but because they're just plain stupid.

You're bang-on Gary. I didn't get into that angle but that's exactly right, the article does say the Cons knew before e-day and decided not to blow the whistle for political reasons. It exposes him for the coniving unprincipled guy that he is, but it wasn't a dumb political decison (if it hadn't gotten out). Now that he has and he's embraced a shit-covered Emerson, he's got some decisions to make.

Unlike Martin, Harper has proven himself willing to cut problem people loose when the going gets tough. It will be interesting to see what he does.

Budd Campbell said...

Jeff, your degree of concern about the softwood issue is obvious. It's zero.

The only thing that animates you is the political plays and games surrounding the issue, what political player extracts enhanced status and prestige and more votes and more campaign funds, to pay hacks and bloggers their stipends, naturally, and what player loses ground and therefore has to reduce the salaries paid to online mouthpieces. It's all just pure raw unadulterated political gamesmanship for guys like you.

Red Tory said...

Perhaps it would have been better to have announced that a potential resolution of the dispute was in the works (it was far from a done deal) rather than playing the bogeyman card. It may have garnered more positive spin. Or perhaps the Liberals felt it would have been perceived as a cynical election ploy given the political climate at the time. Sometimes you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

Anonymous said...

The only problem with this Liberal leak is that you assume they are telling the truth. Is it possible the Liberals are motivated by something other than the public good in this leak? Do you always take an axe-grinder's words at face value?

Jeff said...

Budd, kiss my ass.

Red, maybe this is a dammed if you do, dammed if you don't kind of a situation. Obviously with any deal there will be comprimise, and not everyone will be happy. It seems (based on the article) though that the players liked the deal and held back for political reasons. Maybe they'd have taken a hit, but when jobs are at stake I say it's better to take that hit.

Anon, did you even read what I wrote? Here's a few relevant clips:

I'll proceed on the basis this report is true. If so, no one comes out of this looking good.

I also find it amazing...the Liberals would leak...because they come out of this looking like absolute idiots

Anonymous said...

And what about his role in fundraising?

Minister Emerson Must Clarify His Role About Fundraising: Liberal Party of
Canada BC President Says


This morning, on CBC radio, David Emerson said that he raised a "tremendous"
amount of money for the Liberal Party of Canada in BC.

"David Emerson must be confused. He did not personally raise any money for
the Liberal Party," says Jamie Elmhirst, President of the Liberal Party of
Canada (British Columbia). "It would be against the Ethics Code for him to
do so."

"Minister Emerson, prior to losing his credibility by becoming a turn-coat
Harper supporter, was a popular Liberal minister. He was the speaker at a
number of party fundraising events, like many other Liberal cabinet
ministers. These events were organized by grassroots Liberal members and
fundraisers. But we doubt very much that he picked up the phone and
personally asked anyone for money, because if that were the case, he would
be compelled to resign," Elmhirst concluded.

The Conflict of Interest and Post Employment Code for Public Office Holders
states on page 16:

Prohibited Activities

(16) Subject to section 17, public office holders shall not, outside their
official duties and responsibilities:

(g) personally solicit funds except for participation in fundraising
campaigns sponsored by the federal government and participation in
discussions of a strategic nature for charitable campaigns


For further information, contact:

Jamie Elmhirst


Liberal Party of Canada in BC

(250) 360-7537

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I think Emerson's weak on his argumentation line with the fundraising issue too. Because he was at a few Liberal fundraisers and shook some hands, that suddenly makes it okay to essentially take Liberal Vancouver Kingsway campaign donations to be a Tory cabinet minister? Not so much. I don't see why he's letting this drag out in the media? He should just give back the money and move on. It's no skin off his back, especially with the salary bump he gets jumping from the backbench to the front.

Jeff said...

Re: fundraising, the new rules are very strict on what role Ministers can play. For example, tickets can't be sold while the Minister is in the room.

People do buy the tickets to a fundraiser to see/meet the Minister, so he's correct in that sense.

But they weren't going to see/meet David Emerson, ex-Canfor exec, they were going to see/meet the Minister of International Trade. The Liberal Minister of Internal Trade.

Big difference, but one David doesn't seem to grasp.

Koby said...

I wonder whether the timing of the election had anything to do with the deal. I presume the opposition parties knew about the deal. This is way too big to keep secret.

While, Travers said the Liberals sat on it because they wanted to use Bush as a foil, I think there is more to it than that. It was probably a combination of two things, viz., the Conservatives would take the Liberals to task for the timing of the annoucement and the Liberals would not have been able to use Bush as foil. If there was no election, I am not sure the Liberals would have sat on this.

Anonymous said...


I definitely disagree with how you and most Liberals talk about Emerson. He is a man who entered politics for a specific reason - to serve his public. He was fending for the Liberals because he wanted to continue in government. That's it. Not because he was political.

It really bothers me and speaks volumes that so many Liberals would all him an opportunist. After accepting Stronach and Brison, your cries are hollow. Do you honestly expect pity?

I'm glad Emerson defected. All in all, he's good for Vancouver and good for BC.

On another point, I would like to say I am soooo disappointed with the Liberals delaying the move. Yes Emerson was involved, but who knows to what extent. Perhaps it was the PM or Marissen. But nevertheless, I agree with you a hundred percent. This is just shit.

I know Marissen and his wife quite well, however, I must say I don't like them much. Marissen especially. He's a pig. He hits on girls in university, smokes weed with teenagers, drinks and acts obnoxious. He is so juvenile and I hope the end of his career is nearing. He makes me absolutely sick and I guarantee you he was one of the main ones behind all this.

All in all, I disagree with you in some parts and totally agree with you in others. Nevertheless, good coverage!