UPDATED: Tale of the Tape redux: Keeping the stories straight


Okay, so I wish I could say that, after typing up the various eyewitness accounts of that fateful September afternoon encounter between Stephen Harper and Tom Zytaruk, I’m a little less confused over what, exactly, happened, but sadly, that’s not the case. Oh well, it was worth a shot — and who knows, maybe someone else will be able to tie this mess of loose ends into a pert little bow.

First, though, a few thoughts and observations, in no particular order:

From what I can see, as far as the infamous driveway/walkway/doorstep interview itself, there is only one major contradiction between what Zytaruk says took place before, during and after the interview, and the affadavits from Harper, Ray Novak and Carolyn Stewart Olsen — which I’m going to call the Harper version, just for convenience of typing), and that is Carolyn Stewart Olsen herself — more specifically, what she did between the time that Harper left the Cadman residence, and when he was introduced to Zytaruk.

According to the Harper version, she spoke with Zytaruk outside the house while Harper was inside, meeting privately with Dona Cadman. He introduced himself, told her he was writing a book on Chuck Cadman, and asked if it would be possible to interview Harper. As Harper was leaving the house, she asked if it would be possible for Zytaruk to get some quotes for the book, and he agreed to talk to Zytaruk, at which point she claims that she introduced Zytaruk to the Prime Minister. Zytaruk’s account makes no mention of Carolyn Stewart Olsen being present at all – although it doesn’t necessarily exclude the possibility; nor does the May 2008 affidavit from Dona Cadman.

As for the contradiction over whether the meeting took place inside the house (which, as far as I know, Cadman has never claimed was the case) or on the driveway outside, it may come down to whether or not Zytaruk considered Dona Cadman’s doorstep to be inside or out.

Finally, the lawyers were apparently in such a hurry to put this package together that poor Carolyn Stewart Olsen’s name is misspelled as “Caroline” throughout the Harper affidavit, although it appears correctly in the other two documents.

I’ll probably have more to add later, but that’s probably enough for now. Hit the jump for the meat of the post.

Note: The affidavits that dealt with the driveway/doorstep meeting, as well as the excerpts from various media reports, were all transcribed directly from the motion filed by the Conservative Party of Canada, which is available here, courtesy of Stephen Taylor.

Stephen Harper (June 2, 2008):

On September 9, 2005 at approximately noon, I made a private and personal visit to Dona Cadman, the widow of Chuck Cadman, in her home located in Surrey, British Columbia. My Executive Assistant Ray Novak and my Press Secretary Caroline [sic] Stewart-Olsen drove with me to Dona’s residence but did not come insider her house with me. We were driven by Denis Gagnon. My visit with Dona lasted approximately 25 minutes and nobody else was present.

During my private meeting with Dona, she asked me if I was aware that people from the Conservative Party had offered some kind of insurance policy to her late husband prior to the May 19, 2005 non-confidence vote. I told DOna that I had no knowledge of any such offer.

When I left Dona Cadman’s house, my Press Secretary (Caroline Stewart-Olseon) informed me that Tom Zytaruk was a friend of the Cadman family who was writing a book about Chuck Cadman. I was told that Mr. Zytaruk wanted some quotes from me for his book about Chuck Cadman’s life and my relationship with Chuck. This was not a scheduled interview but I agreed to be interviewed by Mr. Zytaruk for his book becasue Chuck Cadman was a friend who had supported me in two Leadership campaigns.

Prior to the day of the interview, I had never met Tom Zytaruk, never spoke to Tom Zytaruk and never heard of Tom Zytaruk.

[NOTE – I’m leaving out the section in which the PM alleges various inaccuracies/oddities in the taped version of the interview because I’m trying to stick to the narrative of the meeting itself. The full affidavit can be found here.]

Mr. Zytaruk has been reported to have said that this gap in the audiotape occured because I went to my car and then returned to add a comment. This is categorically false. The only time I went to my vehicle during my interview with Mr. Zytaruk was after the interview was entirely completed. The interview was continuous from start to finish — I never returned from my vehicle to add a comment. When I went to our vehicle, I got in it and we drove to our next event.

Dona Cadman (May 23, 2008):

After my meeting with Mr. Harper concluded, Mr. Tom Zytaruk interviewed Mr. Harper for approximately 10 minutes in my driveway. When that interview concluded Mr. Zytaruk came into my house and I told him that Mr. Harper told me that he had no knowledge about a $1 million insurance policy made to my husband by Conservative Party representatives. Shortly after that conversation, Mr. Zytaruk and I left my house and drove to attend a Conservative Party Task Force Meeting on “Safe Streets and Healthy Communities” at the WHalley Library in Surrey.

Ray Novak (June 2, 2008):

On September 9, 2005, I drove with Mr. Harper along with his Press Secretary, Carolyn Stewart-Olsen, to Dona Cadman’s house in Surrey, British Columbia. We arrived at Dona Cadman’s home at about noon hour. Mr. Harper and Mrs. Cadman met alone and Carolyn and I stayed outside. Our vehicle was parked in Mrs. Cadman’s driveway and did not move until we went to our next event.

While we were waiting for Mr. Harper, Tom Zytaruk arrived and had a discussion with Carolyn in Mrs. Cadman’s driveway. When Mr. Harper came outside, he had a brief discussion with Carolyn, was introduced to Mr. ZYtaruk and did an interview for about 5-10 minutes. Carolyn was standing beside Mr. harper during that interview. I did not hear what was said during the interview. I was either sitting in our vehcile or standing beside it during the entire interview. At no time did MR. Harper come to the vehicle and then return to Mr. Zytaruk to continue the interview. Once Mr. Harper completed this interview, he got in our vehicle and we drove to our next scheduled event.

Carolyn Stewart-Olsen (June 2, 2008):

On September 9, 2005, I drove with Mr. Harper along with his Executive Assistant, Ray Novak, to Dona Cadman’s house in Surrey, British Columbia. We arrived at Dona Cadman’s house at about noon hour. Mr. Harper had a private visit with Mrs. Cadman. Our vehicle was parked in Mrs. Cadman’s driveway and it did not move until we left for our next engagement.

While I was waiting outside Mrs. Cadman’s house, Mr. Zytaruk introduced himself to me. Mr. Zytaruk told me he was a close friend of the Cadmans, that he was writing a book about Chuck Cadman and that he would really like to include some quotes from Mr. Harper in the book about Mr. Harper’s relationship with Mr. Cadman. When Mr. Harper came out of Mrs. Cadman’s house, I informed him that Mr. Zytaruk was a friend of the Cadman family and was writing a book about Chuck Cadman and wanted some quotes from Mr. Harper about their relationship. Mr. Harper agreed to be interiewed by Mr. Zytaruk for his book. I brought Mr. Harper over to Mr. Zytaruk who was waiting on the side of the driveway on the lawn. Mr. Zytaruk tape recorded his interview of Mr. Harper.

Mr. Zytaruk’s interview commenced by me introducing Mr. Harper to Mr. Zytaruk and they exchanged pleasantries. I was present beside Mr. Harper during the entire interview which lasted about 5-10 minutes. When the interview was finished, Mr. Harper and I walked to our vehicle, got in and drove to our next scheduled event. Mr. Harper never walked to our vehicle and then walked back to where Mr. Zytaruk was standing to add further comments.

From the Ottawa Citizen (March 1, 2008):

“… There is a break in the tape because Mr. Harper went to his car and then returned to add a comment, said Mr. Zytaruk, who interviewed Mr. Harper in Mr. Cadman’s driveway.”

Goldhawk Live (March 2, 2008):

Tom Zytaruk:  […]”Well, Dale, I’m sure that you and your listeners would agree that I’d have to be completely insane to do something like that, considering the subject matter we’re dealing with here. Of course, it’s not doctored, it’s not edited. It’s the tape in its entirety. It was a short interview on the doorsteps, or the doorstep of Donna’s [sic] house and it’s not like Stephen Harper had invited me to go out for coffee and talked with him at length about it.

Dale Goldhawk: Right.

Tom Zytaruk: He said what he said. It’s there in the entirety. And there you have it.

Dale Goldhawk: So you were waiting and caught him on the way into the Cadman house?

Tom Zytaruk: Out of it.

Dale Goldhawk: Coming out of the… and where did he go after he was through with you? He got in the car and left?

Tom ZYtaruk: Well, actually I came there when he was on the stairs, at the top of the stairs. He was in the middle of the stairs and Donna was at the top and I was on the bottom, on the landing there.

Dale Goldhawk: Right.

Tom Zytaruk: And he said he had to leave, and he passed me by and then I went out and I talked to him on the steps there.

Dale Goldhawk: yes.

Tom ZYtaruk: And partway through our interview, you can hear the Suburban there staring [sic] up and…

Dale Goldhawk: His vehicle, yes.

Tom Zytaruk: THat’s right, and then he… after we were talking, he went back down the driveway to get into his car there with his people and then he turned around and added that it was his understanding that what they were talking about — and I’m just paraphrasing here because I don’t have the…

Dale Goldhawk: Yes, the tape in front of you, yes.


UPDATE: Ryan Sparrow sent along this excerpt from Zytaruk’s June 4, 2008 appearance on “Mike Duffy Live”, which is actually pretty consistent with what he’s saying now — I still can’t help thinking that the inside/outside thing might simply be due to differing opinions on whether a porch or a set of stairs leading down from a front door constitutes the inside of the house. Otherwise, the only possibilities are a) someone is misremembering or b) someone is lying. Anyway, here’s the excerpt.

Oh, and interestingly, in this one, Zytaruk does say that Dona Cadman “introduced” him to Harper, which would seem to be an actual contradiction between their respective stories as well. (I’ve updated my original post as well, just to be thorough.):


Mike, I will just back up. Give you some context here. Donna and Chuck had asked me to write Chuck’s biography. During the process of interviews and everything Donna told me about this insurance policy business. I thought the best thing for me to do would be to speak would Stephen Harper about it, being the leader of the party. You know, head guy, so to speak. So a local conservative fellow had winked me over to the Cadmans’ place that day because they said that Stephen Harper would be showing up. So I got to Donna’s place. Parked my car across the lawn. When I got to her front door she was at the top of the stairs. This is inside the house. Stephen Harper is in the middle. And I’m at the bottom at the landing there. You know, captive audience, unfortunately, for him. And Donna introduced me, you know as the biographer of Chuck’s book and I can’t remember exactly what Mr. Harper said. He said something to the effect about Chuck being a nice guy and he deserves the — you know, he deserves that kind of thing and then he went. When he went out the door, I followed him, and I interviewed him at the top of the driveway. He had like a suburban or his people waiting at the bottom of the driveway. And I brought my tape recorder out, and I started my interview with — I mean, there was a life insurance policy for Donna, a million dollar life insurance policy for Donna, do you know anything about that or something to that effect? I don’t have the tape in front of me.

ALSO NEW AND FRESH AND WORTH CLICKING: Read Dona Cadman’s supplementary affidavit here.

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UPDATED: Tale of the Tape redux: Keeping the stories straight

  1. Walking towards the car and turning around does not necessarily equate with going to the car and then returning to where Zytaruk stood…

  2. Indeed. Was it… like… a pirouette? Did he turn on his vertical axis or his horizontal axis? Did the future Prime Minister of Canada turn somersaults in midair? Why have the Liberals failed to acknowledge Stephen Harper’s agility and flexibility? And why are their psychophants in the MSM playing along with this Lieberal propaganda!!!

  3. The friendship between the Cadman family and Tom Zytaruk must be strained.
    Harper should address his own voice on the tape.

  4. Both Stewart-Olsen and Novak make a point of saying the car never moved. Why? No one’s said that they left and came back.

    Harper: I told DOna that I had no knowledge of any such offer.

    Why didn’t he answer in that same manner when he spoke to Zytaruk?

    Finally, nothing accounts for the latest bizarre affadavit.

  5. knb: Easy, stir up enough dirt and people might lose sight of what the original problem was.

    The Conservatives are simply trying to get enough commentary about other aspects of the case going so that people stop repeating the central fact:

    The conservatives offered financial incentives to Chuck Cadman in exchange for his vote to bring down the government, and Stephen Harper, leader of the party, knew this, and has acknowledged it on audio-tape.

  6. Is the Carolyn Stewart-Olsen with perfect recall of everyone’s physical movements during an inconsequential discussion at Surrey between SH and Tom Zytaruk for an affidavit, some 2 and 3/4 years after the fact, the same Carolyn Stewart-Olsen who this year couldn’t get straight what had been discussed between SH and the Italian President regarding the vital issue of Afghanistan troop levels – mere hours after a meeting in Italy occurred ?

  7. Berlusconi doctored the tape.

  8. Plausible deniability alert:
    SH tells Ms. Cadman he was unaware of any offer, in response to her bringing it up.
    SH tells Zytaruk he was aware of something, only because Ms. Cadman had *just* brought it up minutes ago.
    Consistency checks. We’ll work around the “I told them not to bother, Chuck won’t go for that…” somehow. Call in the lawyers.

  9. Hard not to be cynical about the whole thing. Dona Cadman, running as a candidate for the CPC, is stretching the credibility test.

  10. Hi Kady,
    What exactly is public office holder in the IN & OUT SPIN.
    I’m glad they’re finally going to ask some questions.
    The Liberals think SH is going to prorogue (hope L’ve spelt it correctly) before a shot is fired in the committee.
    Doesn’t SH want to give his guys some target practice before Sept.
    I think the whole thing gets curiousier and curiousier!!!

  11. I think this is just more stuff designed to try to frighten the Liberals into signing an out-of-court settlement on this and to forbid using the issue in the upcoming election, which as everyone has said is pretty bizarre considering the issue was basically moribund until the Conservatives revived the issue by bringing back attention to it.

    Interesting as well that Zytaruk and the publishing house are not included in this lawsuit, as asked in the other thread and which the Cons. apologists on here couldn’t answer or brushed away.

  12. James Moore is the Sec of State for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. I can’t help thinking that his handling of the Cadman file is tied into the Olympics somehow.

    Paul Wells may have inadvertently started the process of connecting the dots, or rings if you prefer, when he opines on “..Stephen Harper’s agility and flexibility”.

  13. Kick enough sand in the air and no one might
    notice you’re a 98 lb. bully.

  14. Harper is flat footed. He does not display ‘flexibility or agility.

  15. Zapruder called: he has this film…

  16. I hate to rain on some parades here but I thought that people were supposed to be presumed innocent until proven guilty in Canada. And, so far, nobody has proven anything against Harper and the Conservatives.

    I know that’s not good enough for some, but that’s why we have higher powers like the law.

  17. Oh, and by the way, why hasn’t Zytaruk gone on the offensive with the original tape? Couldn’t he produce evidence of his own that it wasn’t doctored? Why doesn’t he sue Harper?

  18. The stories don’t seem all that different to me. It seems to make sense to me that the harper interview ended, the tape was turned off, harper was walking away, and then turned around and had something to add. At which point Zytaruk would have to turn the tape back on.

    I’d like to hear the actual recording though. That would certainly clear a lot up for the general public.

  19. Hey Dennis : if you are not careful next thing you see will be a bunch of posts accusing you of being as harper robot and posting conservative talking points : but fear not as you will see that some web forums are chock full of very frustrated left wing nuts who have been driven to the very edge of their sanity becuase their parties are being continuosly outplayed and out manouvered – hey what can you say! therefore their default postion will be to claim all sorts of non sense and adjust their tin foil hats to tune in the latest pseudo-scandal which to the average canadian lasts about 1 maybe 2 weeks at most unless there is some basis to the story as in Bernier which has been dealt with so they are left with ranting on web site forums.

  20. It’s all the Liberal’s fault ™

  21. Dennis: Suing someone is not a cheap endeavour. The conservative party has a buttload of money to distract people from how Harper knew members of his party offered financial incentives to Chuck to bring down a government, so he can use that to try all sorts of tactics.

    A small book publisher and a reporter? Not so much. Besides, with the litigiousness that Harper has shown, Zytaruk probably fears that any such case he even started would lead to a counter-suit costing him millions more in legal fees. Chickenfeed to a conservative party that can offer financial incentives for a vote, but not so for an independant journalist.

  22. All these lawsuits are proof that the CPC is being advised by Americans.

  23. T. Thwim, this is all pure speculation on your part, much of it motivated by the impression that Darth Harper is almost finished building the Death Star.

  24. The Death Star analogy may be quite apt, in fact. When I first heard of harper suing the Libs, I swore I could hear Mon Mothma saying “the Empire has made a critical error”

  25. Burn the tapes, Harper, just burn the tapes.

  26. “I told them to make the case…” Stephen Harper

    What does that mean?

  27. Geez Liz, it means, ahhh, whatever.

    It was a travel case. That’s it. Chuck liked travel items, and Harper was saying “make him a case” of some sort.

    Yes. Though not the kind of case that would be seen as a benefit of some sort for voting one way or another in the House, of course. Which would be illegal, and maybe offend him.

    But the RCMP has already totally exonerated the CPC on the whole thing. So that’s the point.

    – JV

  28. Kady, please answer this question if you think it is relevant and if you have a moment to answer: Is CPC trying to cast doubt on Mr. Zytaruk’s credibility by showing that he can’t clearly recall the events surrounding his interview with Harper? For my part, I say if that is what they are doing, then what they are doing will simply be irrelevant in a court of law.

  29. Sorry to take so long to reply, Ken – I somehow missed your question. Obviously, it’s pure speculation at this point as far the purpose of the supplementary affidavit goes, but affidavits are rarely filed for no reason at all. Putting myself in the mindset of the Conservative legal team, though, I can see why they have little choice but to go after Zytaruk’s credibility at this point, given the claims they have made – and continue to make – about the tape having been ‘doctored.’ The chain of custody of the tape that was analysed by the experts leaves no possibility for anyone other than Zytaruk to have done so.

  30. Kady, thank you for the answer! My question must have seemed simple, but the whole affair is anything but easy for me to grasp!

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