A test of our democracy - Macleans.ca

A test of our democracy

Andrew Coyne on why we should be wondering whether this government can be held to basic norms of civilized behaviour


Doctored documents a ‘test of democracy’ says Ignatieff – Toronto Star.

That’s about the size of it. This is about much more than Bev Oda, Minister of International Cooperation. This is about whether this government can be held to basic norms of civilized democratic behaviour.

Or, for that matter, logic. There is, after all, nothing to be debated here. There isn’t any doubt that the minister initially claimed, or at least implied, that the decision to defund Kairos was made by CIDA officials. There isn’t any doubt that those same CIDA officials in fact recommended funding be continued. There isn’t any doubt that the document they signed recommending that she approve funding for Kairos was later altered, comically, by the handwritten addition of the word “not,” to suggest the opposite.

And there isn’t any doubt that Oda lied to Parliament about this addition: the only question is when. Did she lie in December when she told the Commons foreign affairs committee she had no idea who altered the document, or was she lying on Monday when she told the Commons that in fact it was done at her behest? (Or will she claim that, although she directed it be altered, she did not know, as of December, who did it? Is that the Clintonian reed to which she will cling?)

To sum up: She misrepresented what CIDA officials told her, to evade responsibility for what was plainly a political decision. She altered a document, or caused it to be altered, so as to support that lie, that is by falsifying the intent of the signatories (though to what end is unclear: how it could be imagined a handwritten addition to a typescript document would fool anybody?). And she dissembled about her role in that, too: a lie about a lie about a lie.

In times past — not under the last government, but in any previous — a minister who lied to Parliament, even once, would be gone, immediately: if not out of any genuine sense of shame or remorse on the part of the government, then certainly out of a sense that it could not afford to be publicly associated with such deceitful behaviour. But this government, and this Prime Minister, seem instead to be bent on riding this out. They do not deny that she lied. But neither do they acknowledge that she did. They simply do not address the issue at all. Instead they make another point altogether: that the minister was within her rights to overrule her bureaucrats.

Yes, of course she was. She may even have been right to do so, though that is something that can be debated. What cannot be debated, what she had absolutely no right to do, was to misrepresent her bureaucrats’ views, alter documents, and lie to Parliament.

WHICH IS to say: it is the government’s defense of her, more even than the minister’s misconduct, that is now the issue. Ministers in any government will screw up from time to time. Some will even lie. That is fallible humanity. But when they are caught, when the jig is up, when there are no longer any lies to be told, it is to be expected — it has always been expected — that consequences should follow. At the least, one could expect the government to acknowledge that what she did was wrong — or at the very least, to acknowledge that she did it.

If it then tried to keep her on, arguing that the sin was not so great as to warrant a resignation, that would be objectionable enough, and a denial of all previous precedent. But it would at least be a tacit concession that ministers should not lie to Parliament. If it had tried to pretend there were some doubt about what she had done, that would be graver still, since it would be to deny facts that were not capable of dispute, and thus to cast into doubt the very possibility of fact and evidence as guides to public debate. But just to ignore the charge altogether, to carry on as if nothing had happened, takes us into the kingdom of dada.

Moreover, all of this assumes that in fact Oda was acting on her own here: that it was her decision to deny funding to Kairos, her decision to misrepresent her bureaucrats’ advice, her decision to alter the document, her decision to lie about it in committee, and her decision to confess now. But there is an alternate theory, that will strike many as much more plausible: that in fact she approved funding Kairos, that she accepted her bureaucrats’ advice, that she signed the document in its unadulterated form — and that it was someone higher up who ordered her, not only to alter her decision, but to pretend to have done so on CIDA’s advice, with whatever subsequent acts of deception were required — including taking the blame, undeservedly, for having altered the document, with the corollary necessity of admitting, falsely, to having lied to the committee. In other words, the only lie of which she is guilty may be the lie she is telling now.

It would certainly fit a pattern. The ingredients of the Oda affair — secrecy, deception, stonewalling, contempt for Parliament, bureaucrats as fall guys and ministers as pawns — are evident throughout this government. And all stem from the same source: a refusal to deal openly with the public, to explain the reasons for its actions and take responsibility for them — because to do so would require the government to concede that its actions have reasons, an underlying intent, a purpose, a philosophy, an ideology. And the Harper government’s whole philosophy is to have no philosophy, or none that it acknowledges.

If they had simply declared, we do not wish to fund Kairos any more, because we disagree with its aims and methods — because of its hostility to market economics and unbalanced criticism of Israel — that would have caused controversy, but nothing like the mess they now find themselves in. But that, it seems, is a lesson they never learn.  It was, after all, the same government that pretended, falsely, to have had the support of Statistics Canada officials in its decision to corrupt the long-form census.

So, too, in the matter of the Globalive wireless phone application, rather than state openly that it wishes to allow foreign competition in telecoms, and change the law — or attempt to — to allow it, as any normal government would, this government simply declares that Globalive is a Canadian company, in plain contradiction, as a Federal Court judge has lately found, to the facts. The result? Far from convincing the public that it has no ideology, it simply confirms them in the impression that it is both ideological and devious. And since its stratagems and deceptions are invariably found out, we should perhaps add to the list: ideological, devious, and incompetent.

BUT NOW we are beyond the minister, and beyond even this government. Because if this sort of conduct is allowed to stand — the minister’s first, and then the government’s in its backing of her — then it is not only this government that becomes a moral farce, but also Parliament, since it is Parliament’s job to police such things. And if the Parliament we elect can be so effortlessly mocked and defiled, then it is really us who have been as well.

So yes, Michael Ignatieff, this is a test of our democracy. I know what the minister should do. And I know what the government should do. The question is: what are you going to do?


A test of our democracy

  1. Okay. What say you Cats, Chet, Blue? Who else am I missing?

    • I'll venture a guess…

      Cats will ignore the content of the article, post a recent poll, then follow up with " (blank) Cats !!!"

      chiff will use the word "progressive" many times in throughout a post with very odd spacing and line breaks, and with a writing style vaguely reminiscent of Soviet propaganda.

      I don't think it's fair to lump Blue in with the others. I disagree with him on much, but at least he can form complete sentences and use proper grammar.

      • Who cares ?

        We're ahead in all the polls right now. Harper is the most beloved politician in Ottawa by far. Ignatieff one of the most hated.

        Oh no!! She made a mistake with her paper work !!! She didn't file a form properly !!

        (This is the stuff you guys talk about: office procedures.)

        Harper talks about things that actually matter to Canadians. That's why he wins.

        Victory Tim Hortons Cats !!!!

    • blah blah..Kairos are lefities…blah blah…ends justify the means…blah blah Sponsorship scandal…

      • right on!!

  2. Why are you addressing Ignatieff? They were already voting against the budget, this just adds ammo.

    • Go easy on Andrew Coyne, he was directed to put in that Ignatieff sentence when the PMO reviewed the article for release :-)

  3. Excellent summary of the whole mess.

  4. Amen

  5. Yeah, go ahead and force an election over this tremendously boring, inside-the-Queensway procedural microscandal. You're not going to like the outcome.

    • Good call, the Conservatives don't have to obey any of our laws.

      • They don't have to show any stinkin' badges either!

    • Of course, while likely true, that fact is even MORE depressing. That the government can hold Parliament, and by extension all of us in such contempt, and the majority of us just shrug and move on is PROFOUNDLY depressing.

      • If Harper's poll numbers don't go down after this, I give up. We're hooped.

        • You're right. I was baffled by a couple of things in the last twenty years: 1) How could the citizens of Ontario elect Mike Harris TWICE? and, 2) How could the citizens of the United States elect George Bush TWICE?

          Now, I'm baffled at how the polls for Stephen Harper go up whenever his behaviour goes down? AND how can Canada elect him twice (or is it more?)

          • To be fair, there still remains doubt that it was the citizens of the United States who elected George Bush even once.

          • I forgot that bit.

          • This is precisely the problem.

          • Oh, my God! I'm one of the short-term-political-memories!! Mea Culpa!

          • Well, insofar as they elect any president, they certainly elected him in 2004.

          • Diebold might disagree with you.

          • You should add one to that list: how the Liberal Party of Canada even exists anymore after outright stealing from the taxpayer. The fact that they received a single vote after that scandal boggles the mind.

          • But what do you have to say about the current issue of this article and thread?

          • Meh. I think this is being blown completely out of proportion. The document wasn't "doctored", as is being alleged, there was no attempt to conceal the fact that it was altered.

            Even if Iggy did have the stones to force an election over this, I don't think it would be a campaign theme, except in Oda's riding. But it does give the media something to get excited about, so good for them I suppose.

          • She lied about CIDA's support for funding KAIROS, in the House. That's the problem. Certainly it was within her rights to de-fund KAIROS, but not to lie about the intentions of CIDA.

          • Remember, the party didn't steal money – certain people in the party did, and the party did the right thing by investigating it.

            But you KNEW that.

          • Well, they do barely exist, don't they? However, I can't vote for a party, nor a prime minister. I can only vote for my local member of parliament, and I rather like Bob Rae. I know he's hated from his time as Premier, but I met him in those days, and I genuinely liked him. I think he's had a bad rap. The unions turned against him and gave us Mike Hatred … er … Harris.

          • I understood the pollsters had just come out with a consensus view that all their polls are basically crap anyway and with some pretty compelling arguments.

            If you look at the last EKOS, there was an undecided vote of around 17%. Telephone polling reliably elicits the views of mainly elderly, rural and uneducated people. So even with the 2-digit lead, less than half of 83% of the ignorant old bumpkin vote is solidly behind Harper.

            Feel better?

        • You're hooped anyways. There will never be a Harper majority.

      • Government did not hold Parliament in contempt. The problem is that in the current minority government situation, Parliament is defined by adversarial relationships. The government must report to Parliament and respond (as candidly as possible) to questions, but the questions are being asked by a cohort of people bent on bringing the government down. (It is not unlike "When did you stop beating your wife.) The upshot is that the government must walk a fine line — not allowing their adversaries to get an edge — while, of course, respecting the institution. Sometimes saying as little as possible is the only reasonable avenue. I believe that Oda was accurate in her statements and that she has not contradicted herself based on the actual words she spoke, but the Opposition has been successful in making it look like she lied. The government, in my view, is no more "contemptuous" of Parliament than the Opposition — who regularly use the institution itself (especially the Committee process) to tarnish the government and further their own interests.

        • There is the matter of forging the document.

          • Yeah, but it is a small matter and best ignored if you are trying to defend the government here.

          • Oh jeeze. If that's forging a document, every paper I wrote in highschool was "forged" by my teachers.

          • You still don't quite 'get' what was going on in high school, do you?

          • Oh, I get it. It's you who doesn't understand the meaning of the word "forged".

          • Do you understand the word lie. That is what I am having a hard time with. Oda lied. Are you ok with that? Does the end justify the means for you?

          • As Coyne wrote, this is all very Clintonian…

          • A "not" on a piece of paper is not the same as oral sex.

          • You deliberately misunderstand, or more likely, didn't read Coyne's piece. He refers to Clinton's semantics.

          • No, you're the one who misunderstood, obviously. Gawd, do you live in a cave? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j4XT-l-_3y0

            I mean, unless you've been living in a cave, you know what he was talking about.

            If you want to compare, then compare.

            Please explain to me how obfuscating about oral sex in the oval office is similar to obfuscating about a "not" scrawled on a piece of paper about a group nobody has ever heard of (that might give me a good laugh).

          • Actually, she didn't forge the document – she changed it after it was signed, thereby misrepresenting the intent of the signatories.

          • Sure – if your teachers were changing your right answers to wrong ones and then subtracting marks.

          • You're assuming that defunding Kairos was the "wrong answer", which is up for debate.

          • You don't actually understand the difference between telling lies and telling the truth, do you? Didn't anyone ever teach you right from wrong?

        • It is very much UNlike "when did you stop beating your wife?"! The questions aren't being asked by "a cohort of people", they're being asked by the official Opposition and it is their job to ask them. It's not about the Opposition making it "look like" Oda lied – all her comments are on record for us to see, and she clearly changes her response to the question. The issue is not whether or not she lied, it's what is Stephen Harper going to do about it?

    • Could we avoid such obvious American imports as 'inside the Queensway' please…

      We don't have either a 'Queensway' or a 'Beltway'

      Or a 'First Lady'

      • Zuh?

        The Queensway is the major freeway in Ottawa. Most government buildings in Ottawa lie inside it towards downtown.

        I don't see what's American about that at all.

        • I know that….but the phrase is an attempt to imitate the Americans with their stupid 'inside the Beltway'

          It's just Parliament….in Ottawa.

          The mention of roadways isn't necessary.

          We have a parliament, the US has a congress…let's leave it that way

          • I wasn't really contemplating your larger point… just:

            "We don't have either a 'Queensway'"

            Yes, we do.

          • Matlock…no tangents please.

            It's the phrase that's the copy of the American one.

          • You ask for no tangents after going off on a tangent about the Queensway in a post about Bev Oda?

            I'm done now.

          • Good. Write when you get work.

          • Emil makes another damaging error.

            Apparently calling her out of on is going off on a tangent.

            My sadness for you is now epic Emily. These errors would put anyone to shame!

            Fact Check Cats.

          • It's the perfect shorthand for "Issue that is of immense importance to career politicians, bureaucrats, journalists and hobbyists, but has zero relevance to anyone else." It was the name of Kady O'Malley's blog here before she moved to CBC. Calm down, your bitter crank bona fides are safe without having to make a show of complaining about harmless slang.

          • I'm tired of Cons imitating the US.

            Your post has zero relevance to me

          • But Canada is a derivative society.

          • From the UK…not the US.

          • I rather thought both. Aren't we sort of mid-Atlantic? Maybe less than when I first came here, though.

          • We are nothing like the Americans, and never have been.

            We started as a British colony, and we haven't moved much beyond that.

          • I hate to tell you … we are more like the Americans than the British. When I came it was more even, but now …

          • LOL I dunno where you live, but the Americans aren't remotely a factor.

            But you could always check the fiver in your pocket

          • Lotsa quarters though.

            The Americans are not a factor is this debate, I agree. However, I was responding to your comment, "We are nothing like the Americans." I actually always thought that Canadians were kinda like the best of the Brits and the Yanks combined. Not so much now. Though maybe I've become more Canadian now? I left the UK while Margaret Thatcher was Minister of Education and I was a high school teacher. Maybe that sheds light on my perspective?

            We are seriously off-topic here, Emily. I think I'm sorry I brought this up.

          • You should be sorry with our dear Emily you will never win, she always has to have the last word : )

          • I wasn't really trying to "win" only clarify. I've always rather enjoyed Emily's comments.

          • Er… leaving the issue of the Native people aside, we started as a French colony…

          • Have you heard of France?

          • "I'm tired of Cons imitating the US"

            Since when is Kady O'Malley a Con?

          • Since she left Macleans for those right-wing nuts at the CBC.

          • She's not. Mostly she's a 'colour commentator' that never quite gets the actual news story…but she's cute.

          • Cute she is.

          • You can accuse O'Malley of a lot of things, but I'll be damned if I'll stand by silently while you accuse that woman of being cute. Her mirror and I will not endure these kinds of damnable lies.

          • The initial act of cutting off Kairos isn't the problem. Nor is a snafu about internal memoing. The problem, and this extends beyond politicians and journalists (who you unfairly impugn), is that Oda lied to parliament at least twice. In court it's called perjury. In parliament it's called a disgrace, unworthy of an "honourable" member.

          • The expression is a useful one. The point is to suggest that the issue does not go much beyond Ottawa and the bureaucrats political junkies who live there. I don't think the either the word "Parliament" or "Ottawa" communicates the point in quite the same way. So I like it, but then, I am "inside the Queensway."

          • Or at least call it "North of the Queensway," since, unlike the Beltway, it doesn't actually loop around any of our parliamentary infrastructure. There's nothing being discussed or debated "inside" the Queensway, unless you overheard a discussion between some City of Ottawa maintenance workers.

      • I half agree with Emily, but for different reasons, and mine are probably even more pedantic.

        My reason for not being a fan of "inside the Queensway", is that having lived in Ottawa, on either side of the Queensway, most of "inside the Queensway" is not 'governmenty' at all. Really, the tonal change happens around Laurier street or so, which is less than a fifth of the way out to the Queensway. You can't tell me that even, say, at Gladstone you'd expect to hear many acronyms or much French (not that either is necessarily good or bad, but if you've lived in Ottawa you know what I mean by this cultural shorthand; if you aren't hearing a critical mass of either, your crowd isn't a government crowd).

        So, when people say "inside the Queensway", it basically sounds to me like they don't know what they are talking about. At all. Frankly, thinking about it, I think it's telling that I've never, ever, heard an Ottawan use it.

        • I rather took "inside the Queensway" to mean, "the Chattering Class."

          • Yeah, that's probably better put. I do know that I sound ridiculous.

            I just really find it grating because it's clearly a non-Ottawan way of understanding Ottawa and what happens there. I works well with the Porter Airlines set, as a way of indicating casual familiarity, but it's totally strange and off-putting to people who actually live and work in Ottawa. This isn't because it's a bit aggressive and dismissive, as nicknames usually are, but rather because it simply doesn't work as a metaphor – it's like describing Toronto's financial scuttlebut as "inside the 401".

            Anywho, I do think you put it better than I did. Ok, deep breath, crankiness over :)

          • Not my phrase, but thanks. It was from Andy Barrie, previous host of Metro Morning. I do understand your irritation with it. Much like my irritation with the, "Toronto lefty elites," often mentioned in these commentaries, especially the Globe and Mail. Wish I was an elite, might have more money. I think the "financial" derogation would be, "Bay Street elites."

      • And I do so very much miss the blog. Kady has been out in the CBC commenting wilderness long enough, hasn't she? Can't you forgive all and take her back? And by "you" I mean Macleans. Sorry, Emily.

        • Only if she gets serious

        • I miss her too, she makes it fun, she should get back!!

    • avr you are being remarkably short-sighted. Because some day– it may be years, perhaps more than a decade into the future– but some day a party to which you are ideologically opposed will be back in power. And this whole "nothing to see here" attitude means that in future, should a party you dislike try to pull a stunt like this, you will be morally bankrupt in your future outrage. If the ends always justify the means, then the actual policy will always be beside the point. Future outrage on your part can be assumed when another party eventually gains power, and therefore future extreme hypocrisy detected as well.

    • I would be – I am- deeply concerned by the fact that any significant number of people would call this is an inside-the-Queensway procedural microscandal. Yes, I disagree with much of Harper's ideology and many of his decisions, but this is a serious attack on governance. Andrew is absolutely right: if this is allowed to stand, I would not blame Oda or Harper for it; I would blame Canadians and worry that I am going to get the government they deserve.

      • If this is allowed to stand, I will blame the cowardice of the Opposition. The Speaker will almost certainly rule that Oda was in breach and it will be handed off to the Opposition to go all the way. If Iggy wants my vote in the next election, he'll take the Tories to the wall. If he does that, if he forces Oda into contempt of Parliament, then he's got my vote. Not because I agree with many Liberal policies, but because more important to me is the fundamental principal that Parliament is supreme over the Crown, that the Government at the end of the day is answerable to Parliament, and thus ultimately to the people.

    • What amazes me most out of this pattern of contempt for Parliament that the Tories clearly have is the sheer contempt that Tory supporters have. This is a democracy, and in a democracy the government is to be held to account, not propped up by mindless ideologues who seem willing to sell every aspect of the hard-won rights of Parliament down the river out of some pathetic partisan display.

    • Avr, I guess you support lying.

      You support lying Conservatives.

      You support lying Conservatives that do not have the ethics to tell the truth.

    • I can't remember the last time I saw a comment get more than negative 100.


  6. The question is: what are you going to do?

    I'll hope Iggy puts Parliament before self and party. But, based on his last test of this sort, I'll not have too much hope.

    Perhaps even more alarming, it strikes that once behaviour of this egregious sort becomes established — as it now clearly has — it is going to stick to our democracy like a bad smell for decades. PMSH's legacy anyone?

    • Harper did not start minority governments (a big reason why there is such rancor in Parliament), and Chretien was equally heavy handed at running the show — worse, actually.

      • Agreed!!

      • I'm not actually convinced Chretien was worse. At the very least, if he's behind, Harper's catching up rapidly.

        Plus, give him time! It's only been 5 years and he doesn't even have a majority!.

    • This is the big picture many conservatives simply refuse to acknowledge: if you can rationalize behaviour like this, what do you think a future non-Tory govt is likely to conclude works – imitation being the sincerest form of flattery and all that. They're like greedy little pigs at the trough. They've been out of power and poltically malnourished for so long now, that feel they just can't stuff it in fast enough; some nasty little man might come along and take it all away at any moment.
      Let's not even broach the concept of vitue being its own reward. My god! That's just a bridge too far for our ambitious minority parliamentarians.

    • I'll hope Iggy puts Parliament before self and party. But, based on his last test of this sort, I'll not have too much hope.

      If he puts Parliament before party, doesn't that imply that he should be willing to risk a Conservative majority in order to try to preserve the legitimacy of Parliament? I'm not sure what you mean here.

      Perhaps even more alarming, it strikes that once behaviour of this egregious sort becomes established — as it now clearly has — it is going to stick to our democracy like a bad smell for decades.

      If the Conservatives win a majority, democracy as we know it in Canada will effectively disappear.

      Sure, we'll still have the formal trappings of democracy. There will be regular elections – though (ideally from a Conservative perspective) there will only be one significant party to vote for. There will be members of Parliament, but they will all do what the PM or the PMO tell them to do. And, above all, the actual task of governing the country will be subordinated to the goal of ensuring that the Conservative party is entrenched in power forever.

      Actually, it may already be too late. Harper and his henchmen have turned the Senate into a partisan political body. If a Liberal or NDP government controls the House, I (sadly) expect a Conservative-dominated Senate to block all legislation it doesn't like, out of spite.

    • the problem is your belief that you have some kind of democracy. this is a prevalent in english-speaking nations, a veritable 'emperor's new clothes' phenomenon. no amount of persuasion will shake a psychosis so i won't try, but the power of the government to ignore popular opinion in the management of public affairs should create more than mere unease: you are confronted with an objective demonstration of reality but still can't draw a rational conclusion.

  7. This comment was deleted.

    • Explain to me then. why she said for months, that the funding was rejected by CIDA – that it didn't meet their criteria? Why from the get go, didn't she say that the government had decided not to approve the funding? And why, even now won't she or Harper explain why the funding was rejected?

    • Agreed, Tom Flanagan said maybe the PM is just letting it go on so the Opposition gets off message.

    • Impressive how someone urging us all to get our facts straight manages to get virtually every one of them wrong. But then again, this is a very Harper kind of tactic, the big lie. If you keep repeating the lies, and loud enough, you confuse the issue so much that the conversation becomes pointless. Or at least the conversation with you…

    • Must be Soudas on a rant, defending the PMSH.

    • This is classically Clintonesque: "I did not have sex with that woman!" He meant he did not have sexual intercourse in the missionary position. He was counting on the supposition that a blow job was not "real sex."

      We really do have to pay attention and carefully analyze the exact wording of anything any politician says.

    • If Oda is guilty of anything, it's misleading Parliament about a political decision she didn't have the courage to defend openly or honestly. And when she misleads Parliament as a cabinet minister, it means I and other taxpayers are paying her to lie to the Crown, the public and the Parliament. Which effectively means she's lying to her employers about the discharge of her duties while under formal review. Imagine if you lied to your boss in a performance review…?

      Any truly conservative view of parliamentary behavior would result in the conclusion that she must resign, or be fired.

      Which is precisely why neither is likely under Stephen Harper, Canada's finest Liberal Prime Minister, ever.

    • Yes, yes yes. This is my view. Unfortunately there has been such a spontaneous outcry from the Opposition and the press that no one is paying any attention to whether or not there are reasonable explanations for Oda's handling of this. I don not believe she lied or mislead anyone. Rather, her remarks were deliberately misconstrued to fit the narrative of the Opposition. I also agree that Oda's major failing is in appearing weak and not assertive enough in countering the Opposition's accusations. She makes an easy target.

      • B.S.

      • Oda's major failing is that she lied……period

      • I thought the Conservatives believed in openness, transparency and accountablity or isn't this true any longer?

        "Ms. Oda's spokeswoman would not say who made the change."

    • If I sign a document, and then someone else changes the document and adds their signature, my signature is now attached to a document I didn't support. This is clearly improper, and likely illegal in many instances. What if my good wife signs a mortgage document, then I alter it without her agreement and add my signature, presenting it as if we were in agreement — is that not fraud?

  8. What is wrong with the rest of the Conservative cabinet?. Is there not a pair of balls amongst the lot of them? This could be any one of them going through this just to protect Harper. I have never seen such a group of cowards pretending to be a government. I do hope their enjoying the perks because it can't be long before they're back looking for real work.

    • I'd love to see one Conservative MP — it doesn't even have to be a cabinet minister, ONE MP, just ONE MP — to stand up and call this crap for what it is. That alone would make things very difficult for Harper. Having to kick an MP out of caucus for standing up for their principles? Yowch. Actually, the fact that not one person out of their one-hundred-and-whatever MPs hasn't stood up for what's right is quite amazing.

      • Michael Chong, where are you?

        • Now would be a fine opportunity for Bernier to prove that his parallel campaign is not a phoney and that he is really out there saying what he feels/believes.

      • This si Harper on a power trip, yet again.

      • I am assuming that anyone who speaks out against Harper will be summarily booted from the party. And I'm also assuming that if he's feeling exceptionally cranky or vindictive that day, he'll sic the law on them and/or use all available resources to destroy the unfortunate maverick's career.

        Sadly, the Conservative government seems to be turning into an array of courtiers desperately trying to please their monarch.

    • There is a wartime ditty to the tune of Colonel Bogey, referring to those particular globular appendages, that is particularly apt in relation to our government members. Ladies excused of course. Mind you Maggie Thatcher did have stainless steel ones.

  9. For a party that says it eschews moral relativism its actions suggest otherwise.

  10. If this is a 'test of our democracy'….we are already sitting in the corner with the Dunce Cap on.

    • And Harper has the nerve to lecture Egypt about what he expects of their attempts at democracy.

  11. At the very same meeting at which Oda testified , President of CIDA Margaret Biggs, who signed the Kairos document, also testified before the parliamentary committee in December, Oda did nothing wrong and used her ministerial discretion and judgment to deny approval of the funding.

    “I think as the minister said, the agency did recommend the project to the minister. She has indicated that. But it was her decision, after due consideration, to not accept the department's advice. This is quite normal, and I certainly was aware of her decision. The inclusion of the word “not” is just a simple reflection of what her decision was, and she has been clear. So that's quite normal,” she told the foreign affairs committee.”

    • The problem is that after Oda rejected the funding – which is her perogative – she went on to claim that it was CIDA that rejected Kairos. I feel very sorry for the people working at CIDA, they're in the same position as those working at Statscan. It's either go along or end your career.

      • Oda did not claim it was CIDA who rejected Karios — that is an interpretation that the opposition put on her statements.

        • She clearly did leave that impression.

          • Oda said it and Jim Abbott, her parliamentary secretary said it. He has already apologized for misleading the house…

      • It's called Ministerial responsibility Jan.
        Once Minister Oda decided to reject KAIRO funding,
        it WAS a CIDA decision.

        Bureaucrats do NOT represent the department.

        • That doesn't even make any sense, wilson. Fail.

          • "Ministerial responsibility"

            Please stop using that phrase, Wilson. It no longer means anything.

          • There are two ways to interpret her remarks — I agree with Wilson. And if Oda's interrogator's inferred from her remarks something that she did not in fact say, then Oda is not to be blamed. Oda's decision is CIDA's decision and Oda was speaking for CIDA.

          • That makes no sense…why do we have policies and procedures, and we are sold on the value of an impartial bureaucracy then. MPs create laws and policies, bureaucrats make sure they are implemented. MPs do not have the right to overrule them on a whim, otherwise we are a short walk from rule by decree or what I felt like today or if you do me favours.

        • Are you still trying to sell this one?

          I find it amusing how so many con supporters twist themselves into a pretzel to find a rational explanation for their party's actions, when the party itself never offers such an explanation. No, Harper and his minions are simply saying the same thing over and over again in the desperate hope that it sticks. Wilson here is too smart to believe what Harper is trying to sell so she resorts to creating some other argument to justify her continued faith.

        • Sure, once the minister makes a decision – whether that decision follows or goes against the recommendation from the bureaucracy – it becomes a decision that the bureaucracy is obliged to support and implement. And support probably also extends as far as declining to talk about the original recommendation and whether it differs from the final decision.

          But that in no way eliminates the fact that the original recommendation may have been the exact opposite of the final decision, and in no way obliges the bureaucracy to pretend the opposite of the truth.

          You are conflating implement and support with recommend. I suspect that you are conflating those two ideas intentionally.

    • What do you think she was she supposed to do? As a civil servant her role is to advise her boss. She was answering the question she could answer, which is that the Minister was within her right to make a funding decision. She was not asked Do you think it is civil, democratic, legal, honest, accountable, transparent, honourable for an official document that you signed to be changed after the fact and have your Minister sit here and lie about it?

      She only answers that question to her husband, at night, in whispers, with no one else around.

    • THe operative words are " I think "… that is in no way proof that they are in agreement.

  12. Best summary of the situation that faces us that I've read. However, Stephen Harper has already gone past the point of no return on this one. To send Oda packing (either by her resignation or her firing) is not only to admit defeat, it's to acknowledge that he and his party were wrong, and to acknowledge that it was the opposition that had to FORCE Oda/Harper to do the right thing. It would involve having to visibly say "Liberals et al, you were right, we were wrong." They're not going to admit a minor mistake, can you seriously imagine them admit a serious error like this, one that chips away at the Conservatives 'principled' veneer? No way! In hindsight, I'm sure Harper would have had Oda resign much earlier — that way he could stay in front of the crisis, he could "do the right thing" and get credit for doing so. He'll get no such credit now. Nope, for Harper, it's safer to stick to his guns and let this storm pass… and it will pass. Most Canadians, sadly, just don't care (even though they should). The fact that he's throwing the credibility of parliament under the bus is of little or no consequence.

    • Gottatellya no. Harper did not want to be out in front of this one. This was one of those perfect opportunities to let Harper's Hyde out of the closet. avr is absolutely correct in his assessment that this will not be a winning issue for the opposition in the next election. Harper made that assessment at the point when he ordered the funding the Kairos cut (probably on Kenney's advice). Once he had made the decision that the political costs of bad behavior are within acceptable limits, he revels in it. So I don't think Harper wanted to be in front of this, because for Harper tormenting and hopefully demoralizing the opposition is a very high priority and trumps doing the right thing on small issues.

      It is perhaps a good thing Harper has this big streak of disfunctional nasty in him, otherwise he would already have his majority.

      • Maybe so… though it sounds like we agree on the fundamental point: Harper isn't going to budge on this one, and Oda isn't going anywhere.

        • And I think Andrew Coyne's imagination may be close enough to reality to adequately explain why:

          But there is an alternate theory, that will strike many as much more plausible: that in fact she approved funding Kairos, that she accepted her bureaucrats' advice, that she signed the document in its unadulterated form — and that it was someone higher up who ordered her, not only to alter her decision, but to pretend to have done so on CIDA's advice, with whatever subsequent acts of deception were required — including taking the blame, undeservedly, for having altered the document, with the corollary necessity of admitting, falsely, to having lied to the committee.

          • Bingo. Ding ding ding, flashing lights, jackpot. The PM now has zero moral authority regarding anything.

          • You're dreaming if you think this can stick. On the night that the NOT was writ, SH was alone working late in his office. Fortunately for him, there is extensive video evidence that he was there.
            You think these things happen by chance? NOT.

    • that is the problem with this Country. We are entering uncharted waters here and unless people in this Country wake up to what this Govt. is doing to the country, we will all have ourselves to blame. This kind of things happen in a third world country not Canada. Wake up people and take your Country back.

  13. So yes, Michael Ignatieff, this is a test of our democracy. I know what the minister should do. And I know what the government should do. The question is: what are you going to do?+++++++++++++++++++++++ Stunning, Mr Coyne, is to ask what Mr Ignatieff is going to do!!! good grief, in our present system he is doing what he is able to do….expose it, ask the questions, what can else can he do? You cannot force the great fat one to answer or do the right thing.

  14. Oh, but oh, it is SO refreshing to hear journalist after journalist these days calling PM Harper to the carpet for his many (many, many, many) misdeeds. Andrew Coyne has got it so right, in his analysis of the present govt.

    I agree, the Harper govt does not meet the test of "basic norms of civilized democratic behaviour" and I'd go further to say that it likely never, ever did.

    PM Harper has utter contempt for Parliament, for the Canadian people and for Canada the country.

    I'll be so glad to see the back end of him as he is booed out of Ottawa!

    • The back end of him…. uggghhhh what a terrible visual.

      • LOL!

  15. People seems to be missing the point about Harper and his CONS. The only thing that will shake the foundation of these guys is when they are trashed in an election like they did during the Kim Campbell era with two seats. As the saying goes, Absolute power corrupt, Absolutely.

  16. I'm along with the entirety of this piece until Coyne places the ball in Ignatieff's court instead of Stephen Harper's.

    Honestly, Andrew (I'll forgo the Mr. Coyne just for niggling, irritant's sake) I would have expected more from you. Within the parameters of responsible government, I'd well say that Mr. Ignatieff has done everything within his capacity to expose, delineate and expound upon the situation unfolding from Ottawa – aside from calling a vote of non-confidence in the Prime Minister and his cabinet.

    If there is more to be done, and he has not done such things, why not help by pointing out how he, as leader of the Official Opposition, can help force the resignation of Bev Oda from Cabinet? Is there any precedent he could cite? Any legislation? Anything!? Must there be a dissolution of the entire government over a single Minister's inability to just say, in a forthcoming manner, the intentions of her actions!? I believe such an ability rests within the hands of our Prime Minister – he can dismiss a Minister without the dissolution of an entire government.

    So yes, Andrew Coyne, this is a test of our democracy. I know what the minister should do. And I know what the government should do. The question is: are you going to ask the right person to help?

    • This is a minority government. If the governing party fails to adequately sanction one of its own for misconduct, the opposition parties have a remedy available to them.

      • That would BE the dissolution of an entire government. Boy, I wish people would read what they're responding to.

        • MYL is, I'm very sure, well aware of that. And what's wrong with that? The government's actions, not Oda's, have taken us to this point. If the utter contempt shown by the Government to Parliament and therefore the Canadian people isn't a reason to motion non-confidence, what is? Why wait until the budget? DO IT NOW!

          • I don't think bringing down the government over this issue would fly for the opposition.

            What would the election question be for the opposition, one that resonates with a large number of Canadians since they are not fully versed with this complicated and still unresolved issue, in 100 words or less?

            And what would the government's response be – that they were brought down over confusion relating to a relatively minor $7 million dollar CIDA contract?

            Pick the side that's easiest to understand and defend.

          • "And what would the government's response be – that they were brought down over confusion relating to a relatively minor $7 million dollar CIDA contract?"

            No, the line would be that the opposition brought down the government over the relatively MAJOR issue of a Minister lying to a Parliamentary Committee and earning a rebuke from the Speaker for misleading the House as a whole, and said government refusing to call the Minister to account. Other Ministers, namely Kenney, have added to the deception.

            At some point, Canadians will reawaken to the fact that it is their Parliament, made of of their MPs, and that the PM and Cabinet are just a subset of the House charged with running things for so long as the House approves. The conduct of MPs is a matter for the House itself to manage (see the earlier detainee documents business), and Harper's legal mandate does not extend beyond the boundaries of Calgary SW.

          • My contention was that the opposition's perspective as it is today would be difficult to explain it in 100 words or less.

            You went way over that limit.

            Now, can you make your position pithy, relevant to the average voter, and easy to understand?

          • "The opposition brought down the government over the relatively MAJOR issue of a Minister lying to a Parliamentary Committee and earning a rebuke from the Speaker for misleading the House as a whole, and said government refusing to call the Minister to account. Other Ministers, namely Kenney, have added to the deception."

            A lot fewer than 100 words. Even shorter:

            She lied and Harper is OK with that.

          • Bev Oda lied to Parliament and Prime Minister Harper failed to hold her to account. The Conservative government lies to Canadians: .Jason Kenney lied about the funding to Kairos; Tony Clement lied about the census. Canadians cannot trust the Harper government.

            Lawyers should not write political ads, they use the passive voice too much. Be clear and concise.

          • Mr. Harper appoints liars to his cabinet, and protects them when they're found out. This is not accountable, this is not transparent, and this is certainly not the government Canadians want or deserve.

          • You elected a government to be open, transparent, and accountable. You got a government more secretive, opaque and unanswering than any in our history. Now, they are okay with lying to your Parliament. As the world hungers for democracy, choose to keep the one you've got! Vote Liberal!
            (or NDP, or Green or whatever)

          • How about a jingle that Liberals can first ponder, and Canadians can then remember if the coalition overthrows the government on this 'issue':

            Iggy tried
            with "Oda lied!"
            to get what he was promised.
            But the voters frowned
            so the Grits went down
            and back he ran to Harvard.

            (with my sincerest apologies if any Liberal intelligentsia were offended by this.)

          • It's a shame you cannot tell right from wrong. Didn't anyone ever teach you that lying is wrong?

          • Your comment if way off base, since I made no statements about right and wrong.

            My poem was simply making a prediction.

            Here's a tip for you:

            Don't jump to conclusions, lest they lead you off a cliff.

          • That's really good! To what song should I sing it?

            Much better, IMO, than the ad they've got running now, which to my mind is more an ad FOR the Liberals–"I wish my country were a little better." Isn't that exactly what a candidate for Prime Minister should wish? I mean otherwise wouldn't you be saying "I want to be Prime Minister because my country is currently absolutely perfect. There'd be nothing to do!"

          • rhymes with the tune/poem

            "Jack and Jill
            went up the hill
            to fetch a pail of water
            Jack fell down
            and brock his crown
            and Jill came tumbling after"


        • Why dissolution? Oda can be held in contempt without a confidence motion.

    • Perhaps Coyne meant that if ignatieff had a back bone and principles,
      he would bring in a non-confidence vote.
      When is the next Lib opposition day?

      • No, Ignatieff and the opposition have done what they can, which is to send the matter to the Speaker for a ruling on the Minister being in contempt of Parliament. I believe that's it for now. Of course, the Harper cabal has contempt for Parliament anyway, so they will probably treat any ruling of contempt with contempt. Contemptuous, innit? The government should be defeated, but it will be a short-lived victory if the Canadian Public – blessed be their name – simply reward them with their much-longed-for majority.

        • Are you suggesting that the opposition should not "go all the way" (non-confidence motion) because that action is too likely to hand Harper a majority?

          You may or may not agree with that outcome, but if that's the government that the citizens choose for the next four years, then so be it.

          • Precisely. If it is ours to wear, let us wear it.

          • And let's wear it well!!

          • I'm not suggesting that at all, merely expressing my despair that Harper seems to go up in the polls as my opinion of him goes down. I would have advocated bringing the government down at the earliest opportunity back then with Dion. In fact I would have suggested that the "coalition" keep their pact secret until after the election and then put the matter to the GG if the Liberals had won the tiniest minority, or if the Conservatives won a tiny minority and then fell again at the Budget. I certainly would NOT have advertised the pact in advance of Prorogation – that simply gave Harper the warning to to avoid the confidence vote.

          • Try to talk to some people away from Toronto Center. There`s a whole country out here that thinks totally different than you.

          • I wonder why you think I don't talk to people all over the country? Do you mean that to hear other points of view, I must inevitably change mine? Well, I do hear other points of view, and my point of view is what it is, not because I hear nothing else, but because I have come to the conclusions I have come to as a result of discussion and reading. My point of view is also not cast in stone, but continues to evolve.

            I also do not accept that "the whole country" thinks totally differently than I.

            By the way, what is the "Toronto Centre?" Do you mean the centre of Toronto? That's a pretty diverse group, you know. Do you mean Toronto is the centre of the country? Do you see Toronto "Centre" as some kind of entity? I know very few people who were born in Toronto. Most of my circle are from all over Canada and all over the world. All of my friends are hard-working ordinary people just trying to get by. They don't necessarily think as I do.

            To get back to the topic at hand, I have spent my entire working life trying to be honest and do good. I don't see that reflected in politicians of any stripe, as a matter of fact. I see dishonesty and deception being elevated to high art in this conservative government. I don't see why I should like it.

          • Richard—You mentioned above that you had great admiration for your MP Bob Rae from Toronto Center.
            You also mentioned that you were confused about why Harper`s popularity seems to be going up.

            By suggesting that you talk to folks away from Toronto Center, I am merely attempting to alleviate your confusion.

          • Thank you. I confess to being inadequately alleviated. It's just that I don't see much virtue in this government. I've never been able to get my head around "conservatism" especially that of the social kind. It always seems so heartless and uncaring to me. And yet, there are perfectly nice people who vote that way. I'm a bit like Jack Nicholson's character in the Witches of Eastwick: "Why can't we all just get along?"

          • Blue, could you do me a favour and remember that Canadians spell centre with the e and the r reversed? Thanks much, it's just one of those little things that makes me want to stick my hand in the computer monitor and RIP YOUR HEART OUT. And I do like to maintain a calm demeanour.

          • Good heavens, Jenn. We all have our pet peeves, but I never would have guessed that American spellings are the triggers that unleash your homicidal rage! ;-)

          • Not everyone in B.C. thinks like you do, blue – hate to break it to you? And some of us actually have friends and family strung out across the country.

          • Ah yes, so you are (just expressing your despair)…fair enough.

            Regarding Harper and avoidance of the confidence motion via the prorogation and so on….the opposition parties must have had some opportunities since that time to move for a non-confidence vote – so whether you support the prorogation or not, at best all Harper could guarantee by that maneuver was the delay of a non-confidence motion by a matter of weeks or months. After that the ball was back in the opposition's court, and they were free to "serve up" the motion "again" if they wanted to do that – they chose not to do that.

          • I am only too painfully aware of that. Nor do I have any confidence in the Liberals to be courageous in bringing the government down in the near future either.

          • Ahhh, so the pain will continue for a while yet….my condolences! ;-)

          • Thank you, I appreciate that.

        • I think Coyne is asking what Iggy will do after the PM refuses to fire Oda. Which is a fair question to ask of him, Layton, and Duceppe.

  17. Excellent essay, unfortunately.

    He might have added that beyond the Minister, and the Government and the Parliament, it is the responsibility of Canadians to elect the MPs who reflect their values. That so many Canadians are willing to vote for representatives who are content, even eager, to show disdain for previously accepted laws and morals speaks very poorly of the Canadian people.

    In short, you get the government you deserve.

    • We don't get all that much choice. If we pushed for proportional representation, our votes might count for more.

    • not quite. rather, you get the government on offer. it's a patisserie with two raddled cupcakes and fly-specked shelves.

      ango-phones talk endlessly about 'our' democracy, 'representative' democracy, 'parliamentary' democracy, but democracy modified is usually no democracy at all. if no one mentions it, there is no shame in being serfs still. the euphemisms paper over the reality, allowing simulated discussion among faux citizens.

  18. Andrew, it wouldn't surprise me if Macleans suddenly gets a request for your performance reviews …. just bury those skeletons well, eh?

    But seriously, aren't you a bit late with suggesting that if we allow Harper to get away with this, then it is our fault (or that of Parliament). The guy prorogued Parliament to escape a looming vote of no confidence and actually received praise from some in the media because he was fighting the evil coalition. Remember that one, Andrew?

    • I think one of Coyne's essays inspired the protests.

      • Actually Coyne was unclear about that particular prorogation, as far as I recall. He justified it by suggeting that he was uneasy with a coalition led by the unpopular Dion (see: http://www2.macleans.ca/2010/10/12/how-to-handle-….

        My point was that our democratic tradition/principles allowed a coalition of opposition parties to attempt to form the government after a vote of no confidence in the government, even one led by an apparently unpopular Dion, no?

  19. Don't you mean what are we going to do?

    • Yell "Liar" every time we see Harper or any cabinet minister? Throw our shoes at them? Put some of Harper's favourite photos of himself on punchbags and let people line up to have a go? Paint "LIARS" across every Economic Action Plan sign in the country?

      Be creative.

    • Unfortunately, there's not much we can do, if we live in a riding that is already steadfastly non-Conservative.

      What else is there? March in the streets? We've tried that already, you may recall.

      Because the Conservatives have a strong regional base, any attempt by the Liberals to attempt to win over the hearts and minds of Conservative-voting Albertans will likely be seen as an attempt by Eastern elitists to impose their will on the nation.

      The only hope for change is if the Conservatives' core voting base becomes disenchanted with the Conservatives. And that won't happen until the actions of this government or the state of the economy directly affect the daily lives of this core base.

  20. So we have a government that is characterized by lies, obfuscation and deceit. There is an absolute contempt of Parliament and parliamentary conventions. This government is led by a man who has been reputed to be an evangelical Christian. Where is the moral grounding in a spiritual dimension? Where is there any compassion for those who are hungry, poor or in prison? Where is there a vision of a country where the care of my neighbour is visible?

    I don't get it.I didn't get is with George Bush either. The Ultra-Christian Evangelical Right is an oxymoron. It is astounding to me that the most hateful political discourse emanates from the so-called evangelical right in the United States, and that the Harper cabal is their Canadian branch plant.

      • You're right. Now I'm thoroughly depressed. Think I'll go to sleep now, but I don't expect sleep to come easy.

      • Hmmmm…

        Thanks, Jenn, very interesting to listen to unusual viewpoints.

  21. The document wasn't "doctored" as the raving media have been dutifully and dishonestly parroting.

    Doctoring means you change something with the attempt of no one knowing it. The hallmark of a doctored photo or document, is the obvious attempt to purport it to be the original unchanged form.

    Teachers don't "doctor" student's papers with a red pen.

    Student's don't "doctor" a handout when they right notes on it.

    And a Minister doesn't "doctor" a document when the mark it up by hand.

    Andrew uses the term "comical" in an attempt to suggest with was just a really bad attempt at doctoring, as if she thought a reader couldn't tell the difference between official type and a red pen with writing with a circle around it.

    • Your remote control isn't working anymore, is it?

    • "Doctoring" means changing the original intent of a document, and therefore once others see it (ie "know it"), carry out the actionable items of the document in a new way. Whether it's found out that the document has been doctored or who did the doctoring, does not pertain to the definition of "doctoring" itself.

    • I think the red circle was actually added by newspapers to highlight the word for readers. I don't believe it's in the original.

      Also, the time for adding uininitialled, undated, and hand- printed changes to documents is BEFORE the signatures are affixed, not after. It would be silly to think anyone would be fooled in to assuming that the word was there when the signatures were written, but without a date or initials next to the insertion we can only conclude that either 1) the signers signed the document with the intent of endorsing it's original intent, and some unauthorized party added the "not" afterwards or 2) that they all intended to endorse the MODIFIED position, and just completely bungled the insertion by leaving it undated and uninitialized.. As it turns out, the reality (we are now led to believe by the Minister) is a third option. Two of the signatures were placed there before the insertion with the intent of endorsing the original position. The third signature, we're now told, was ALSO placed there before the insertion was added but, somehow, nonetheless, with the intention of endorsing the OPPOSITE position to the one typed on the page. The insertion was then added sometime later on the Minister's orders, though by whom she does not know.

      A document that begins it's life as a document signed by two people endorsing position X, and ends up appearing to be a document signed by 3 people endorsing position "not X" has been doctored, by definition. The fact that there was no reason to doctor it, and the fact that no one would possibly believe upon seeing that document for the first time that the word "not" was there when it was signed are evidence that the doctoring was comical (and comically unnecessary) but it's not evidence that the document wasn't doctored.

      If I sign a document making a declaration, and then someone adds something to that document after I signed, especially without making it clear that the insertion was made after I signed, that person has doctored the document I signed. Period.

      • bingo! Initialling and dating handwritten changes is standard procedure; altering after the fact without dating and initialling is dumb; is doctoring; is probably illegal.

        Oda has to go. The fact that it hasn't already happened makes me think she has proof she did it under order of the PMO – and she is promising to take the Big Guy down with her if she goes.

        • "and she is promising to take the Big Guy down with her if she goes."

          What a wonderful thought. Imagine if one Conservative MP, just one, had the balls to whistleblow, wouldn't that be something? That being said, knowing Harper and his band of megatwisters, if this were the case they would undoubtedly discredit the MP in question undermining his of her credibility, make it look like the MP is uttering falsehoods, just like they did with Colvin.

    • After all the links showing the actual document in question, why do you guys keep insisting the NOT was circled? Are you afraid to follow links from non-Conservative sources? Do you ever ask yourself why you are afraid?

      • To be fair, some newspapers photoshopped in a red circle to emphasize for readers where the insertion was (like when you have a photo of three people and you circle the one who is the subject of the story). I think it's possible that someone could see that and think that the red circle was in the original document, which it isn't.

        A little stranger are people who claim the "not" was in red ink. I'm almost certain that it wasn't, but I'm also pretty sure that the PDF of the document is a black and white PDF, so even if the ink WAS red, I don't think anyone commenting here could know that.

    • President of CIDA Margaret Biggs, who signed the Kairos document, also testified before the parliamentary committee in December, Oda did nothing wrong and used her ministerial discretion and judgment to deny approval of the funding.

      “I think as the minister said, the agency did recommend the project to the minister. She has indicated that. But it was her decision, after due consideration, to not accept the department's advice. This is quite normal, and I certainly was aware of her decision. The inclusion of the word “not” is just a simple reflection of what her decision was, and she has been clear. So that's quite normal,” she told the foreign affairs committee.”

      • Ok this is sad, now you're just copying and pasting your own posts from further down the thread to higher up. So I'll just post my exact same reply:

        Oda is in the wrong, because Biggs meant that of course Oda was within her rights to deny the funding– but not within her rights to alter the wording of a document so as to imply that the other signatories meant the opposite of what they did when they first signed it in good faith. It's fraud chet, fraud.

    • "Student's don't "doctor" a handout when they right notes on it. "

      If a student hands in a paper to a prof, gets it back marked, and then changes the wording around and takes it back to the prof asking to get it remarked…

      Yeah, that's definitely doctoring. And is quite akin to what Oda did.

    • Got the children class room correct and Teacher but you forgot about -do not lie.

    • Thanks for that . It was a real pleasure to give it the thumbs down! Wow!

  22. Oda's notation wasn't "comical" as Mr. "the sky if falling yet again" Coyne suggests.

    What's comical is the dishonsty by those wagging the finger, tut-tutting oda's purported dishonesty.

    • At Chet's house:

      "Honey, can you get me some more batteries? I keep pressing the buttons, but the channel won't change!"

    • Your comments do not relate to the discussion. Fail.

    • Oh Philanthropist Observant, do try harder.

    • Actually, neither is comical.

  23. Is there an opposition day between now and the budget?
    Iggy can't back down on the budget now, he'll have to endure another year of infighting and backbiting in his party. So I think he has to want to just get an election over with and get on with life, whatever happens.
    This gives him a hill to die on. With his numbers, if he fights an election over the budget he'll lose. But if he fights an election over this… well, he'll probably still lose, but he'll feel better about himself.

  24. In the real world,

    a mistake is not proof positive of the intent to mislead. Someone who comes accross hundreds of documents a week in one's job, may, just may, not be able to immediatly identify every tiny one word scribble they make.

    But, in the real world, wordsmiths, such as writers in the media, know very well what "doctored" means.

    As such the evidence is much stronger that the media, and not Oda is dishonest.

    Nor are the two unrelated. If the "dishonesty" of Oda was so obvious, it wouldn't require the corresponding dishonest license by the media. It would speak for itself.

    But the media doesn't want to trust the public with just the plain facts.

    • You're running on empty now, chet.

  25. This comment was deleted.

    • You are urinating in a breeze.

    • So your argument is she's so incompetent that when summoned by committee to speak on this issue, she didn't bother to check the basic documents?

      Personally, I think Coyne's interpretation is far less insulting.

    • Put some snow tires on Chet, your spinnin' in place.

    • On that one simple slip of the wrist hung seven million dollars. It says something about a person who can be so cavalier with taxpayers money, when the lives and careers of persons at home and abroad who depend on that money is at stake. Glad she's not the Minister of Pensions.

    • Is she or is she not being paid considerable sums of money to do just that? Correctly annotate, decide, and approve documents according to government policies. Could you imagine this defense by a lawyer, or doctor, or engineer. Sorry, but I have so many pieces of paper you can't expect me to keep track of what I write on all of them. Fair enough, if she was…gulp…mistaken, isn't that even more a sign of serious misconduct. She then is saying that she is actually unable to do her job.

  26. Excellent analysis and further reasons why Canadians should never give Harper a majority government.

  27. So I was looking up some apposite quotes and I discovered the secret of Stephen Harper:

    "Sure I am of this, that you have only to endure to conquer."
    Winston Churchill

    … and then the secret of his success with the electorate:

    "The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter."
    Winston Churchill

    • It's depressing, isn't it?

  28. As for the optics of a bunch of angry men yelling at this poor woman, catcalling her,

    the media openly mocking her appearance because she's an older women?

    That'll go over well in "fly over country", where most folks have a basic sense of decency and where the Sun doesn't rise and set on the partisan political hatred which consumes our "tolerant progressive left".

      • 67 is really "young"

        writing an obvious note on a document is "doctoring"

        and if we don't raise our taxes we'll die in a heatfilled blaze caused by global warming.

        Welcome to the tolerant progressive left, where the truth is whatever you need it to be to advance the 'correct' agenda.

        • When you have to drag in global warming, chet, you haven't just lost, you have throughly embarrassed yourself.
          Harper just isn't worth losing your dignity over.

          • But I have to love him for saying 67 is young.

          • Actually there have been a couple of recent blowups by the denialists working to smear climate scientists and committing dishonorable acts, and trying to spin the situation to portray themselves as the victims. Same techniques except they throw in some statistics. The ones that are too dumb to learn the math have to stick to the political blogs instead.

    • By "the Sun", do you mean the "newspaper" with the bathing suit girls?

    • If a sense of decency means it's okay to lie, then lie about the lie, then lie about that lie, then fly over country deserves to be duped repeatedly. And I thought you were someone else chet, but you let slip with your "tolerant progressive left" schtick. Go back to SDA.

  29. So I was looking up some apposite quotes and I discovered the secret of Stephen Harper:

    "Sure I am of this, that you have only to endure to conquer."
    Winston Churchill

    … and then the secret of our electorate:

    "The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter."
    Winston Churchill

  30. Oh no! The Minister 'implied'! The word 'Not' was written on a document! It's the downfall of Western Civilization! OMG! — LOL!

    You guys are too much! Very funny stuff!

    • I'm going to write "NOT" overtop of my tax return this spring, it'll be a laugh riot!

    • So deceit and chicanery is wrong when Libs do it but just fine as SOP for the Cons?

      • "Oh no! The Minister 'implied'"

        Let's remove the "imp" from that sentence.

  31. Wow. Interesting. Coyne posts his first blog piece since September.

    • Look under Opinion to find his.

  32. I wanted to question something Andrew said. He said that Bev Oda falsified the intent of the signatories and further that she had no right to alter the document. Yet Bev Oda was one of the signatories so in actuality she did have a right to alter the document but she should have initialled the handwritten change to indicate that it was only she who disagreed with the funding – not the other two signatories. In fact, with the way the document was worded, she should have withheld her signature to show that she disagreed with the funding.

    • Which raises the question, why didn't she simply withhold her signature? Why sign it with it's original meaning and THEN write "NOT"?

    • Withhold her signature. This is a point that I can't get past. I know you can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but who gets fooled by, "she signed her name on the line to indicate her acceptance, to indicate she did not accept it" A grade 3 class would howl at this.

      • Which is why people are guessing that maybe she originally signed to approve the funding, and then was ordered by somebody further up the food chaim (PMO?) to change it.

  33. President of CIDA Margaret Biggs, who signed the Kairos document, also testified before the parliamentary committee in December, Oda did nothing wrong and used her ministerial discretion and judgment to deny approval of the funding.

    “I think as the minister said, the agency did recommend the project to the minister. She has indicated that. But it was her decision, after due consideration, to not accept the department's advice. This is quite normal, and I certainly was aware of her decision. The inclusion of the word “not” is just a simple reflection of what her decision was, and she has been clear. So that's quite normal,” she told the foreign affairs committee.”

    How's that?

    Is that "changing the channel"?

    • It is, because Biggs meant that of course Oda was within her rights to deny the funding– but not within her rights to alter the wording of a document so as to imply that the other signatories meant the opposite of what they did. It's fraud chet, fraud.

      • "Is that "changing the channel"?"

        Mostly, it's just you trying. It's actually painful to watch, now.

        • I'm going to assume you were replying to Chet? :^)

          • Indeed. Clumsily, it seems.

  34. Yet more tedious "Parliament Will Fight!" nonsense.

    Tahrir Square was about democracy. This is not. Ben Ali and Mubarak were despots. PM Harper is not. The over-the-top hysterical journalistic hyperbole is boring. Some people in Ottawa really, really have to get out into the world more.

    And here I thought Ignatieff was the worldly, internationalist, public intellectual? You would think so listening to his talk on "the Rights Revolution" on the CBC Massey Lectures. His over-the-top baying at yet another stupid non-scandal, egged on by our increasingly bizarro media, is tawdry, undignified and must be very humiliating to him. Why he puts up with the trite insignificance of Canadian federal politics is beyond me. If he wants any chance of political success he has to pick his fights better. No way Harper is going to sack Oda. Keeping her in cabinet makes Ignatieff and the opposition appear weak and ineffectual, which they are.

    In the meantime, just when Ignatieff was starting to get some traction with the Canadian people with his fight against corporate tax credits suddenly he starts veers away and starts going on about this inconsequential fluff. Meanwhile Conservatives pass their tough-on-criminals legislation helped by the Bloc Quebecois.

    Ignatieff will be long gone before Oda ever goes.

    • He may ^NOT be a despot, but he's our ^NOT a despot.

    • Orval? – God, they've got the whole team out tonight. You guys are hilarious.

    • well i disagree, harper is a despot.

    • The thing that keeps our democracy from becoming Egyptian or Tunisian is the role of Parliament and its supremacy in matters of lawmaking and oversight. The constant increases in secrecy and contempt of parliament under the current PM might not be Mubarakesque, but every incident of it that goes unchallenged makes the potential for authoritarian decisions more likely in future. And I know that's true, because if it was 2004 and Harper was leader of the opposition, he'd have said the same thing, ditto his colleagues on the front bench.

  35. And the Harper government's whole philosophy is to have no philosophy, or none that it acknowledges.

    Uh oh…..hidden agenda……..dun, dun, dunnnnnnnn.

  36. Wonderful insight and perspective Andrew, always a pleasure to read your comments.

  37. Don't be writing chet's "optics" angle off just yet. It appeals to "the base", you know the grey-haired sheep and stay-at-home moms, lol.

    Big strong Baird and Harper protecting the "woman" from frenzied men yelling accusations and demands with pointing fingers and red faces. Oh yeah, Russian proverbs about rotting fish.

    The PM stands loyal by his minister, supporting her even though she is alleged to have made a mistake.

    Circle those wagons, lol!!!

    • Your contempt for senior citizens and women who stay at home to raise their children is contemptible.

      • That should have read: "the grey-haired sheep and stay-at-home moms that the Liberals look down on".

  38. The easy thing to do would be toss Bev Oda under the bus and drive on. She talks funny, she`s slow, she`s relatively old, she allowed this mess to happen by not doing the proper paper work and then getting rattled by the Committee interrogators, and then we even have Fes belittling her looks by having a contest to see if she looked like a dead rocker.

    At the beginning of these comments someone thought that anyone who would defend Oda should now change their mind because Coyne said so. Well, I certainly don`t need the validation of Coyne or anyone to feel my actions are right. Coyne may have certain ideas I agree with but he is sometimes prone to over-statement and doesn`t seem to have a good feel to what the ordinary Joe is thinking.

    Let me explain: Coyne agrees with Iggy that this is a test for our democracy. They are both out of touch.
    The average Joe and Jo think it`s a test to their democracy when he has to get up at 5 in the morning to get an 8 hour shift in so he can be home by 7 in the evening to see his kids, to pay his mortgage, to hope he keeps his job, to hope there is enough left from the taxman to pay for his kids schooling,forget about a vacation, can`t think about retirement and hope He doesn`t get sick.
    Maybe Joe thinks it`s a crime that Parliament has decided that it is OK to make him pay half his salary to them so they can distribute millions to questionable groups like Kairos year after year. Maybe he has more important things to worry about then what Iggy and Coyne in their ivory towers determine what is the proper protocol to refuse funding for Kairos. Maybe he is waiting for an opportunity to let some of the game-players in Ottawa know that without his forced contributions, Kairos, and CIDA, and Iggy and various pundits don`t exist.

    • I don't have a problem with defunding Kairos, frankly.

      I do have a problem with conservatives who are so weak and anti-democratic that they can't even be bothered to be honest about defunding Kairos when they're asked about it on the record. I elected a conservative MP in part because I wanted a government that would cut waste openly and honestly instead of excusing a $50b deficit. Is cutting waste so shameful to these guys that they can only do it in secret, hiding behind $200k bureaucrats and memos edited with block letters under cover of darkness?

      Who's the one in the ivory tower, *really*? Real conservatives wouldn't have hidden the cut from Parliament; real conservatives would have bragged about it.

      • Most sensible Canadians would agree with your desire to have a government with enough courage to cut waste.
        I just don`t think we understand what a massive job it is to turn around that large ship of government and bureaucracy spending. It is so ingrained in Ottawa life that —everyone is dependent in the never-ending flow they receive year after year.
        it makes me sick to think that the $200k bureaucrat at CIDA knows that the only way he can justify his salary is to ensure the $100k bureaucrat keeps his funding.
        I don`t think it is impossible for a gov`t to have the courage to cut out the waste—-but it will probably take a majority one to be any good at it.

        • You seem to be blaming the bureaucrats for this foul-up.

          But in reality it seems that as soon as Oda (or designate) overruled the recommended course of action, the bureaucrats actually took up their new orders without any squabbling.

          Whatever troubles actually exist around this issue seem to be self-induced by the politicians and their staff, not the bureaucrats.

          • I am not really blaming the bureaucrats for this flare-up as much as blaming a bureaucratical system that requires the continued shifting of public funds to thousands of organizations like Kairos.

            The taxpayer is fed up with it. He doesn`t care how it was that Kairos did not get it`s funding this year. And he certainly doesn`t think it is a test to our democracy because somebody, if not CIDA or Oda, had the courage to say NOT to at least one of these entitled groups.

          • …had the courage to say NOT to at least one of these entitled groups.

            That's not really the issue that AC was on about, is it.

    • What does the way she talks, her speed and her age have to do with anything?

      • I don`t have any problem with her speech, her speed, or her age.
        You can ask Feschuk and the 59 folks who responded to his contest if they have a problem with her appearance.

        • Wow. 60 people said something like that and you are now writing as if that is the reason the opposition want her fired.

          That is quite the leap of logic.

    • she allowed this mess to happen by not doing the proper paper work

      Funny enough, I'm not convinced that's what happened. I think she used her Ministerial discretion to approve the funding. Then, either Kenney or Harper freaked out for some reason, and either changed the document, or ordered Oda to have it changed after everybody had already signed off. I think she still has to go, because the story she's telling is CLEARLY resignation worthy, and we have to decide if she stays or goes based on her latest story, but I'm not convinced her current story is AT ALL what really happened.

      I really do think she's probably just the patsy.

  39. Remember Tony Clements' weasling defence when the decision on the census became public knowledge? First it was a consensual decision, SC's input said it could be done etc. The only thing different is that Clements didn't try to pitch that first lie before parliament or a parliamentary committee, and he proved to be just a bit more adept at the soft-shoe… possibly because he still has leadership ambitions.
    Those who say this has nothing to do with Harper aren't paying attention to the track record. Lowly MP Grewal 'decides' to tape record faux floor-crossing discussions with Grits; Harper admits he gave blessing to an 'offer' to independent MP in exchange for his vote; Harper defends minister's absent-mindedness with a biker chick that compromises Canadian foreign relations; Harper signs-off and is congratulated for ripping good speech on Canada's decision on Iraq — and didn't know that it was a rip-off of some dude named John Howard's speech? There is some serious ethical flaws at the top of this party but a weak if not abiding media has let it go without much fanfare… Oda's just the latest marionette that he's using.

    • I'm amazed that people continue to be surprised or astonished by the moral bankruptcy of Stephen Harper. We have no reason to expect otherwise.

    • I think the Clement lesson is that it's always better to Tweet your stories that make no sense whatsoever, as opposed to presenting them as testimony before a Parliamentary committee.

  40. I hope Canadians finally break out our typical passivity and get off our backsides and finally go out and vote down Stephen Harper in the next election.

  41. As speciously contrived and co-ordinated as this witch hunt is (Odagate) with it's rabid hysterical over the top narrative (a test of our democracy ?) I have to admit it is indeed comical to witness the lynch mob tactics and over blown rhetoric of coalition supporters and their media pied pipers. Weird, funny stuff. Sloppy paper work and ones inability to clarify their position succinctly is suddenly and inexplicably (a test of our democracy?) That, is hilarious! Describing "Odagate" as a tempest in a teapot, would be seriously overblown hysteria.

    • If only it were what you are desperately trying to claim it is. How about forging documents and lying to Parliament about it?

      • You sound like a cultist. Try thinking for yourself, instead of having the "Liberal"/Separatists coalition and their media think for you. Although it is funny that you think you know anything on this file, other than what you've heard from the "Liberal" whores in the media.

        • Ha ha ha

          I see. Because I do not buy the "coordinated witch hunt, rabid hysteria, lynch mob, coalition pied pipers" theory, I am a cultist. The sum total of your argument is "agree with me or I will call you names".

          I gotta say, I am not convinced. Maybe try again.

          • Come on Gay, I didn't say you were a cultist, I implied that you're rabidly, unhinged, unquestioning, acceptance of an obviously contrived, coalition/media smear job makes you sound like a cultist. I suppose I could have said that you're regurgitating of the Liberal/Media coalition narrative as fact, illustrates a superficiality and shallowness in you're indignant affirmations. I'm convinced that you're incapable of thinking for yourself, and that you're partisan nature makes your regurgitated assertions, irrelevant. Sorry for the confusion.

          • Sad son. Very sad.

            Maybe try dealing with the comment instead of me.

  42. Why are you pulling your punches there Andrew – go ahead and really let em have it, why don't ya?

    I see AC has stolen many of our best lines and scenarios, but that 's ok, cuz he's right; as he nearly always is on matters of political morality and its consequences for our democracy.
    This is what makes AC a great poltical pundit,[ at least from time to time] – his moral outrage; we should all share it.
    Nice finish too – the ball is very firmly in Mr Ignatieff's court. The last time it was, he muffed it very badly indeed. Almost a year later we are still waiting for those documents Parliament ordered to be delivered. Meanwhile Parliamentary Privilege patiently awaits her due.

  43. Something Canadians are loathe to do at times, is to look far down the road ahead. The seductive Nike chant of "do it now" has become a mantra for a disinterested, self centered generation.
    My concern is that if this government continues to blur the lines between right and wrong, what the hell will the next government do? And the one after that?
    To me, Mr Coyne is saying that there are long term consequences in play here. And who is the super hero that's going to swoop in to save the day? Michael Ignatieff? He's not an ideal candidate, but he's realistically all I have (at the very least), to keep the CPC in a minority.
    So, I will donate another $25 to the Liberal Party for the next election. No, that's not something I enjoy doing, but I find it necessary.

    • Iv'e been preach'n the same line for a while now; trouble is almost no one is buying. The scary part is once the lines are blurred [ and they are already beginning to fade] will you realistically be able to get them back? It's almost like knowledge of how to build the bomb – once it's out there it's out there,and all you can do is mitigate the effects.

  44. The surge in support for Harper has ignited a firestorm of media indignation, all too much to bother reading. All you need to see is who would you sooner see go CIDA or ODA? Tis like saying should New Brunswick continue to receive billions to force french on a failed experiment and a failed Province. Exactly what benefit is the expansion of french to anyone, anywhere?

    • New Brunswick has always been a bilingual province genius; no one forced anything on them.

      • Why reply with stupidity? Too lazy to inform your uninformed brain reservoir? According to you french. every province is bilingual, french, except Quebec!
        Try to inform yourself, like the genius. And then post it! lol. Or admit your illiteracy.

        • Your an idiot. Try visiting New Brunswick.

  45. OK. Let me get this straight. Mr. Ignatieff should take some drastic action to, say, force an election on this issue knowing that opinion polls are running against him. He will then demonstrate that Canadians don't care very much about the issue, notwithstanding the fact that it is part of a series of scandals going to the heart of our democratic institutions. That's right, Mr. Coyne, as a strategist you would recommend that the Liberal opposition throw itself on the fire of apathy burning across the country as a kind of reverse honour killing of the last illusion we had of Canada as a nation of laws and good government. I don't think the question is what Ignatieff is going to do, Mr. Coyne, but what in the blazes possessed you to blame the opposition leader for the government's wrongdoing?

    • Perhaps AC has a little more faith in the moral judgement of the Canadian public then you seem to. It's exactly this kind of timidity that has turned the once great liberal party into a bunch of scared sheep. Gotta stand for something sometime. If you aren't prepared to lose you'll never have what it takes to win; go look at some old Trudeau stuff, he understood that implicitly, because he had the heart of a lion. Would that we had such a man again.

      • You sound like a cultist. Trudeau had the heart of a liar, or perhaps a gay activist.

        • Oh no! Another cultist! They are everywhere!!!!

        • An admirer yes. A cultist? There are no shrines in my house. But what are you? Let me guess. Someone who's nurtured their hatred of a poltical figure they've never met, for 50 odd years. Well, i wont call you a rationalist at any rate.

  46. The Neocon philosophy that Coyne says doesn't exist:

    "Never apologise, never explain"

    BTW, why not state the obvious, the agreement was changed either by the Dear Leader or a Neocon bumboy under his direction, Oda was sandbagged. She should come clean.

    Here, I'll help you:

    "It was changed unbeknownst to me, by someone further up the chain. I am truly sorry for misleading parliament and I hearby resign effective immediately.

  47. A test of our democracy? Sure, what the hell – let's open up our own Liberation Square and protest like the Egyptians did – no wait, this is Canada. We don't do that kind of thing here, someone might see us.

  48. The Conservatives no more deserve to govern than do the Liberals (I seem to recall a scandal when they were last in office) or the NDP or the Greens. Politics is the craft of legitimizing control by deceit. What will I do about it? I will stop playing the political game. I will not condone the farce of trying to choose the lesser evil. I will not vote.

    As long as you believe that the person who gets the most Xs beside his name has a right to lie to us, steal our money and spend it on himself and his friends then you get what you deserve. Me? I'm holding out for something better.

    • No! You're cutting off your nose to spite your face. Despair is no kind of philosophy to be proud of. This country[ many democracies] has seen much darker times then this.

      • Despair is settling for whatever some would-be dictator tells you you can have. It is not despair to insist on your rights to life, liberty, and property and to stand in uncompromising opposition to any who would deny these to you. If the highwayman demands "your money or your life" you say neither and you do whatever is your power to escape or disable him. You don't pretend the choice is legitimate, mull it over for a month, tell him your decision and then celebrate the freedom you enjoy as a proud Canadian. Harper = Iggy = Layton = May. http://DontVote.ca

    • "I don't believe in the devil"
      "Good. He prefers it that way."

      Not voting is a completely useless gesture. After all, there's no minimum of votes that the system needs to work. Even if just the politicians and their families voted, do you really think they'd give up the ability to draw their wages, make laws, direct your taxes, etc? No, your vote isn't to select the winner. Your vote is to determine the losers — and to threaten the winners with it.

      The only thing that keeps them in check is the vote — the threat that they might get tossed out. If you want to change the system, start using that threat. Take an effort to talk to the candidate in power. Tell him/her what you want out of them. Let them know that you don't support any particular party, but just the candidate who best reflects your views. And then follow through.

      • Don't be so simple. Of course if the only voters were the politicians and their families they would be out of power in no time. The system most certainly does require the support of the majority in order to survive. That's in part why more overt dictatorships force their slaves to the polls in mock elections. If you think voting keeps politicians in check you either haven't been following politics very closely or you are one of those getting some of the scraps from their table.

  49. Amazing how a 'journalist' notices the lack of democracy when it is not thier guy abusing the taxpayers. Musta been living under a rock all those years the Lieberals were in power. Too busy, I gues, vying for a senate seat or a Governor Genral appointment to notice. Pathetic journalism.

    • Terrific point. Andrew went SOOOOO easy on the Liberals.

      • Well, some Liberals. I never did get to the bottom of Feschukgate.

        • And please don't. For all our sakes. Believe me no one wants to witness you get to his bottom.

    • Don't take the word of a raging lefty like Coyne… consider the fair and balanced folks at the Sun. They've come rushing to Oda's defence…


    • OoooH! It's an attack puppy! Isn't he cuuute?

    • "Lieberals"

      You do know that this particular term might need to be dropped now, right? Keep using it, and you'll get irony-itis.

  50. Excellent, Mr. Coyne. Couldn't agree more.

  51. Yes, Michael Ignatieff, what are you going to do? This is another blatant example of politicians not being answerable to the public for their actions – or lack of. I'm sure Canadians, particularly Liberal Canadians, are watching what it is the rest of parliament will do to correct this arrogance and deceit coming down the tubes of federal government. This government is out-of-control and you the opposition have the responsibility to correct it. I hope you will do more then use this scenario to further your popularity. I believe you have given them enough rope and their faces are starting to turn purple because the rope is tightening and they are strangling on their own lies. Time to cut the rope now!

  52. In asking for Oda's firing the opposition and the Canadian people need to also ask for Harper to be fired, he is the problem.

  53. wilson noted:
    "It's called Ministerial responsibility Jan.
    Once Minister Oda decided to reject KAIRO funding,
    it WAS a CIDA decision"

    I agree, wilson. And you can be sure the Liberals already know this, but it won't stop them from playing it up.

    As for the insertion of NOT……it's permissable, but does look sloppy. There is nothing forged, or fraudulent about it, though again, it won't stop the LIbs from playing it up.

    • Of course you do.

      You know who doesn't agree with this? Stephen Harper. Or at least he is not trying to sell this particular argument. I wonder why….

    • You know, after three days of unsuccessfully trying to change the channel, you might just try throwing a brick through the TV instead

    • Yeah, it won't stop the Libs, Separatists, NDP from playing it up, nor their whores in the media

      • You sound like a cultist.

  54. Stop the Pushback against the Lying Liar Cons. Really. Your playing right into Harpers hands. No Election keeps him right
    where he is, nowhere. He's hit the wall, he will never get that coveted majority, you wanna see super-size frustration, that's all it will take. It'll be worth it in the end, watch him.

  55. Stop the Pushback against the Lying Liar Cons. Really. Your playing right into Harpers hands. No Election keeps him right where he is, nowhere, he's hit the wall, he'd never see a majority. And then we'll see him act out. Give him more rope.

  56. One of the things I have to wonder is whether we need a whole new look at parlimentary procedure. It's quite clear that the drafters of these rules over the years never even thought about the likes of Harper coming to parliment.

    Over the past 5 years it amazes me how many times his group have lied, skirted on the edges of what they can and cannot do and etc….AND have gotten away with it becuase there is no other recourse. In the past, there is no doubt that we have had some shady shenanigans going on, BUT at the end of the day, they always mustered some level of integrity (whether publically influenced or not) to do the right thing…….I suppose we have never asked the question, what IF we have a government who won't do the right thing?

  57. What was the causes of uncertainty on funding Kairos

    • There has been no explanation offered up by the government.

  58. So now the story is she's was too stupid to know that inserting the "NOT", thereby changing a document others had already signed without notifying them, amounted to fraud?

    Stupid, dishonest… whatever. She has to go.

    • I think the words "fraud" and "forgery" have been thrown around as though they have a real legal meaning here when in fact there is real doubt that they do. There is no doubt that the document was altered. Ms. Oda has stated that she was responsible for the alteration. Ms Oda was a signatory. Hence she had a right to order the alteration of the the document. She did not initial the alteration to indicate that she was the one altering the document – an error for sure – but fraud – how? The other signatories are even crying fowl.
      As for "stupid" – gee, people do make mistakes…if we fired everyone who made one….

      • No, we fire her for lying about it. Telling a lie is not a mistake, it is a deliberate act of dishonesty.

        Fire her now!

        • Holly Stick, I thought you were sure she was a fall guy for the PMO. At any rate, even Bill Clinton didn't get fired for dishonesty. Sometimes people panic and lie….even good, decent people.

          • Oh, I believe Harper probably ordered her to cancel the funding, and he may have ordered her to falsify the document. But if she lied to Parliament to cover up for him, they both deserve to be turfed out now.

  59. So wait a second Andrew. A Minister lied. The Government condones the lie and your righteous anger is directed at the Opposition?

    • Yes, Anon – the journalists want an election. Andrew wants Mr. ignatieff, Mr. Layton and Mr. Duceppe to bring down the government and let Canadians show their righteous indignation over this scandal by sending the Conservatives packing. Unfortunately, there might not be enough righteous indignation to get another party besides the Conservatives elected and the opposition leaders know it.

  60. A fuller portion of your comment: And he [the taxpayer] certainly doesn`t think it is a test to our democracy because somebody, if not CIDA or Oda, had the courage to say NOT to at least one of these entitled groups.

    Actually, on that issue, AC's viewpoint is not that of "most Canadians".

  61. "(Or will she claim that, although she directed it be altered, she did not know, as of December, who did it? Is that the Clintonian reed to which she will cling?)" – Coyne

    This is exactly the line the Conservatives will take. Then the issue becomes whether weasel words – literally true but meant to deceive – are acceptable in the new Canada.

    Harper will never admit any wrongdoing by his party, as long as he feels that Canadian apathy and ignorance are working in his favour. Listening to Bob Rae on CBC radio pleading with Canadians to wake up to the situation in Ottawa was heart-breaking.

    • I feel sorry that you were so negatively affected by Mr. Rae's plea for votes. I will tell you that I have found a few situations heartbreaking over the last few years. One situation is particular comes to mind, the Karl Heinz Schreiber debacle, where the opposition members were so certain that they could tie our current prime minister to the wrong doings of a past prime minister, that they insisted on keeping a fellon in Canada instead of sending him back to his home country to be incarcerated.
      All the while, us ordinary, "ignorant and apathetic" Canadians could see he the opposition's star witness was no more than an opportunist and a pathological liar.
      The "ignorant and apathetic" ordinary Canadian might just decide that Ms. Oda, as a signatory, had the right to alter the document. That Ms. Oda as a minister had the right to refuse funding. That someone on Ms. Oda's staff actually wrote the word "NOT" and she wasn't sure which assistant did it so she didn't in fact lie. That Ms. Oda intended no malice. It is not ignorance and apathy. It is actually called common sense.

      • The ordinary Canadian does not like liars.

        • Well Holly Stick, we will see come election time just how outraged the ordinary Canadian is about Ms. Oda's mistake.

          • So we don''t care about ethics, we only care about electoral success – is that it?

  62. I don't always agree with Andrew Coyne, but this column is on the money.

    I've lived many places. I had to move to Canada to learn what life is like in a banana republic.

  63. Well I see Harper has his "trolls" out and running..quit drinking his Kool-Aide and learn what a democracy real is!

    • Wipe that "Liberal", Separatist, NDP Kool-Aid of you're chin. Since when does a cultist like you know anything about democracy.

      • Oh No! Another one?

  64. KING Harper MAKES IT UP as HE goes.

    If HE can walk away from a scheduled Opposition non confidence vote that the Opposition has already publicly announced they will defeat you on (as in Dec 2008 1st ILLEGITIMATE PROROGATION when the then PM became a KING since ONLY a KING can RUN AWAY and HIDE when HE STOLE our democracy … stole a MAJORITY from us since the Opposition non confidence vote was the ONLY mechanism we had to hold the PM accountable with the MINORITY we gave him accountable … now he can do a PROROGATION) … HE can do anything HE wants.

    Democracy was lost two years ago Andrew.

  65. If the NOT was added after the signature (meaning the Minister had approved it originally), would that NOT be theft of $7 MILLION ?

    I wouldn't be happy if someone stole $7 MILLION from me.

  66. The scandal involving Conservative Cabinet minister Bev Oda is yet another example showing the clear need for an honesty-in-federal-politics law that applies to everyone and allows for complaints by anyone to an independent, non-partisan watchdog agency such as the federal Ethics Commissioner.

    If the Conservatives had a majority of seats in the House of Commons, they would have stopped the current parliamentary process aimed at penalizing Minister Oda for her misleading statements. And the process is tainted by partisanship because a Liberal Speaker of the House will decide if Oda is guilty, and opposition MPs will decide whether she will be penalized.

    If Minister Oda made her false statements outside of Parliament, for example during an election campaign and including some false election promises, the current process would also not be happening because MPs can only penalize misleading statements made before committees or in the House.

    In fact, many ministers and MPs from all political parties, as well as their staff and government officials and lobbyists, have in the past escaped being penalized for false statements because of majority governments, or because of where they made their statements.

    Given that dishonesty in politics is the main thing turning off voters, and a main reason for the drop in voter turnout, we clearly
    need a strong, comprehensive, independently enforced honesty law people involved in federal politics will no longer get away with misleading Canadians.

    Hope this helps,
    Duff Conacher, Coordinator of Democracy Watch http://www.goodgovernment.ca http://www.CoffeeParty.ca

    • This is absurd. There is no such thing as enforced honesty, it's an orwellian, totalitarian concept. The people judging the honesty will be even more dishonest than the rest. Not only that, most of politics is about opinions and value judgements, or things that can't be proven.

    • Have you been successful with your quest to kill Canadian democracy by nullifying the 2006 election? How's that going? Will you be installing your preferred dictator soon?

      • Didn't anyone ever teach you not to lie? Didn't anyone teach you right from wrong?

        • Mr. Conacher went to court to nullify the 2006 election. Now go back to your cave.

  67. It's not particularly surprising that a small government libertarian holds parliament in contempt as Steve does, and us as well for having created / tolerated what is in his view this bloated monster. What is surprising is that he takes so little pains to hide his contempt before he gets his majority.

  68. Andrew you write;
    So yes, Michael Ignatieff, this is a test of our democracy. I know what the minister should do. And I know what the government should do. The question is: what are you going to do?

    C'mon really??? The opposition parties are doing what is permitted by the HoC rules on this issue. Asking this question is like the police asking the victim of a crime, what are you going to do, after they have called the police. It is stupid and ludicrous !
    Clearly that question should be asked of the man who hired her. Either he condones this kind of conduct or he does not. Period ! His response will reveal the fibre of which he is made. So far, and until private polling determines the impact of her conduct on his re-election chances, he is standing by her. And we Canadians have the answer to our question.

  69. "L'État, c'est moi"? Or is that "L'Agence, c'est moi"?

  70. Coyne says…

    "That's about the size of it. This is about much more than Bev Oda, Minister of International Cooperation. This is about whether this government can be held to basic norms of civilized democratic behaviour."

    Your like the Canadian version of Glen Beck..

    • Coming from you – I gather that is supposed to be a compliment.

  71. "Odagate" is the funniest thing since "Doorknobgate"… Keep the laughs coming "Liberals". You know who I blame for "Odagate" ? Wafergate, or perhaps Foreignabortiongate, no wait… I blame "Jaffergate"… LOL!!

  72. It is now Thursday night Andrew. I am about to watch "AT ISSUE"" I am hoping that you still remember all this beautiful Indignation. It is about time. I've been down on harper for exactly these character flaws for many years. Please come out swinging. I am Thanking you in advance, Kim

  73. I watch Parliament daily, not just the first 5 minutes, also the CBC Politics show. I have watched this Harper Govt. for the last five years. Unless everyone in this country wakes up and quickly, we might as well hand the keys of Parliament to the Americans… this is not about one issue. It goes to what the Harper Govt. was elected on, namely transparency, rules etc etc. In fact the very rules he espouses so vehemently are to be used on everyone but himself. It strains credulity to believe that anyone does or says anything in that Govt, without his rubber stamp! As Mr Flanagan said so eloquently. It doesn't have to be true, just plausible… that is the whole foundation of this Govt. Mr Flanagan both yesterday and today said that "the average Canadian does not care"…how very sad. Wake up Canada and show Mr Harper you do care… before it is too late!! sign the letter to Stephen HArper re the resignation of Ms. Oda…

  74. The sad fact is that the Harper Govt. counts on Canadians, being obtuse. He counts on inane answers and dissent. What he cannot stand against is truth! not once this week in Parliament has anyone from the Con party, actually answered a question in a forthright manner. They are thumbing their noses at Parliamentary procedure, the Opposition have a right to know many things that Harper will not divulge. When the disingenuous bit doesn't work, bring on the attack Ads. This is the most dysfunctional Parliament I have ever seen. Please Mr Milliken before you leave, find the Harper Govt. in contempt of Parliament…not just Ms Oda, who is merely the latest in a series of female sacrificial lambs for the same… He is after all running the show, not his puppets! Real question is, who is pulling Mr Harper's strings?

  75. Sersiously, I think Coyne and a lot of people here are completely out of touch with ordinary people, who don't give a fig about this issue.

    • Hm. Interesting theory that the people who disagree with you are not ordinary people. What are we, pray tell.

      • Anybody who is going bonkers over this issue is not ordinary.

        • I guess I'll have to find a way to live with your judgment.

          • I don't care what you do.

          • Hey, we are extraordinary. scf prefers liars.

  76. We have an altered document concerning a group nobody has ever heard of, by a person who had every right to make whatever decision she wanted anyway, and this is supposed to be a big deal?

    And the press are all pleased with themselves that they took a photo of Oda smoking a cigarette. Wow. Aren't the press grand. They saw nothing in a sponsorship scandal that lasted for 10 years. But they can snap a photo of a lady on parliament hill. Woo hoo. They're so awesome.

    • You've clearly not read the above complaints, or else are too intellectually dishonest to acknowledge them. In either case it amounts to the same thing.

      • You're funny. Are you so deluded about all things, or just politics?

        • scf doesn't understand that it is wrong to lie.

  77. Mr. Coyne has hit it right on the nail, we are on a slippery slope. Our democracy is not to be taken for granted when bullies are unleashed on our nation and it's institutions. One lie leads to another and another and another…

  78. Come on Andrew, how is the the minister or her office "doctoring" a document when it is their job to mark up documents before they are signed??? Don't buy into the opposition's version of things. They are cowards and won't vote according to their conscience when it comes down to it. They'll vote according to when they think they have a chance of winning with the Canadian public. And that, for Ignatieff, will be….never!

  79. As a Conservative, previously on the Hill from 1995 to 2006 (including the heady Reform days when Andrew was our best friend), this is all very disheartening:


  80. It says a lot about the state of our country when it's already a given that the PM and his party cannot be trusted to do the right thing so the onus for propriety and honesty gets laid at the feet of the opposition. This is how low we have sunk under the con/reform agenda. Of course Harper cannot take all the credit for the state of affairs in Canada. He had an awful lot of help from the media on this downward spiral. Present company (MacLeans) included, BIG TIME. The cheer leading for Harper from the media was like nothing I had ever seen in this country. Everyone vying to be head cheer leader, going to secret press conferences, going along with scripted conferences, mocking anybody that spoke out against Harper, etc. It truly was a spectacle to behold and the damage it has done to this country is unforgivable.

  81. To add to my previous post.
    My question to Mr. Coyne is – Knowing that you and others in the media played such a big part in getting Harper elected and for keeping him there, what are you going to do about it?

  82. When you make changes in a cheque such as the date you must
    initial it and these must agree with the signature.
    Here she made changes in wording but apparently didn’t want
    to take the responsibility.
    Nice if you can get away with it.

  83. I have always maintained that Andrew Coyne is a reliable commentator who displays sharp intelligence and acute perception. I have been dismayed at times by his right of centre approach, but acknowledge that he is someone with actual principles and is gutsy enough to stand behind his principles. His logic is most often difficult to assail. And in this case, he has nailed it.

    As someone who was once actively involved in politics and worked hard for the Progressive Conservatives to help Mr. Mulroney get elected, I am, now over the years, reduced to a feeble position as a Canadian where I conclude that I am wasting my time in voting to assist undemocratic ideologues try to achieve 33% of 50% of votes from those Canadians who actually vote in order to "win a majority government." What goes on in Ottawa today is a pathetic sham. Am I supposed to hope that the Bloc will act in a reasonable, democratic fashion to restore dignity to this nation? Additional oxymoronic behaviour.

    I have more faith these days that Egypt will honour the aspirations of its citizens rather than the Conservatives and Liberals will honour ours. What a disgrace. How do these people look each other in the eye without flinching?

    Perhaps the Speaker will restore one iota of responsible behaviour by elected officials.

    Congratulations members of Parliament. You have proven once more that we are irrelevant.

  84. Doctoring means you change something with the attempt of no one knowing it. The hallmark of a doctored photo or document, is the obvious attempt to purport it to be the original unchanged form. Go Ped

  85. a mistake is not proof positive of the intent to mislead. Someone who comes accross hundreds of documents a week in one's job, may, just may, not be able to immediatly identify every tiny one word scribble they make.Go Ped

  86. Oda sat thru the committee interrogation, answering question after question.
    After she gave the 'I don't know who' answer,
    shouldnt the next question have been
    'why don't you know?'
    Instead of John McKays stunned answer.
    The next question should have been
    'who authorized who-ever to write in NOT"…?
    Are committee members smarter than a 6th grader?

    Perhaps Minister Oda should have offered up that information,
    had she been given the chance to.
    But the very next question came from yet another MP with a different line of questioning.

    • Check the transcript.

    • Perhaps Minister Oda should have offered up that information…

      There, that's better.

    • Yeah, this is the same logic Mulroney used. He never mentioned that Schrieber gave him envelopes full of cash when asked about the nature of their relationship because no one ever asked him the explicit question "Did Schrieber ever hand you envelopes full of cash?".

      The notion that Minister Oda told the committee that the word wasn't there when she signed the document, that she didn't write the word herself, and that she had no idea who did write the word… but she couldn't get around to telling the committee that it was nevertheless HERSELF that ordered the word added, because she just ran out of time before she could get that last point out is HILARIOUS (especially since it then took her three more months to get that point out).

      • Forewarned, I get my legal "knowledge" from Law & Order…..

        The oath has three phrases….tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth – it's that middle phrase that seems to have given Mulroney and Oda some difficulty.

    • The evil chair kept cutting off the questioners time so Ms. Oda couldn't give fulsome answers, is that it? Must have been a Liberal chair, right? Or at the very least, an NDP chair?

      I'm sure it will come as a shock that the very religiously time-zealous chair was a Conservative.

      • By tomorrow they'll be claiming she was waterboarded.

      • I watch a lot (relative to anyone else I know, that is) of CPAC, especially committees.

        IIRC, witnesses are often encouraged to provide further (written) evidence/testimony after the fact when time limits force an end to verbal testimony. So in this case I believe that there was no absolute reason that Oda could not have left the committee and thought to herself "I believe that due to the intensity of the questioning and/or the time limits my testimony may not have been as fulsome and/or accurate as it could have or should have been – when I get back to the office I'll create a written note to clarify those shortcomings". But she chose not to do that.

        • Stop ruining the fun for the conbots – it's not fair to quote fact when it's perfectly clear they prefer fiction.

          • Still, I'm sure that you'll agree we should all strive to get more facts out there.

            And also important to note that, in general terms, it's not just conbots who sometimes seem to have an aversion to facts.

          • Sure, i'll agree with that.

    • Well, the speaker has been asked to investigate and rule on the matter. If he agrees with your narrative (and the Conservatives' narrative), well, the opposition and all of us howling on these boards will have egg on our face. If he doesn't, well, things will get interesting.