The Commons: Whatever he meant, Tony Clement stands by what he said

Irrelevance and sloppiness are his best explanations for the contested G8 spending


The Scene. Tony Clement would not stand for this. Or rather, he would stand. Indeed, here is where he would take his stand.

For months he has been the subject of indignation and accusation. He is said by his opponents to have frivolously and flagrantly spent public funds, drawn from an account approved by Parliament for entirely unrelated reasons, on various trinkets And he is said to have subsequently avoided taking responsibility for himself, remaining in his seat while others were sent up to explain his actions away.

But now he stands accused of intervening to have the word “sure” removed from the official record of his testimony before a parliamentary committee. And so he stood, rising immediately after Question Period to solemnly proclaim his innocence on this count and to call on the Speaker to investigate.

“These baseless and outrageous allegations form a serious breach of my privilege,” he declared, “which is impeding my work as a member of this House and as a minister of the Crown.”

Mr. Clement stopped just short of demanding a full public inquiry with subpoena powers, but a police raid of the Hansard office seems in order.

Of course, even if the Speaker’s investigation explains by whose hand the word came to be excluded from the official record, it will still be for Mr. Clement to explain what he meant when he said so. That he said “sure” is not in dispute: a recording of the hearings makes that clear. But whether he intended to convey affirmative answers to the questions asked—or whether he simply has an odd habit of trying to seem agreeable when confronted—is almost certainly the crux of this particular matter, by whoever and however the four-letter word came to disappear. In both cases, he was asked to produce documentation for the benefit of the committee. In both cases, he began his answers with the disputed suggestion of agreement.

So to all else, you can add “Mr. Clement’s ability to clearly convey sentiment using the English language” to the list of matters now in dispute. And rest assured, everything here remains very disputed.

“Mr. Speaker, the President of the Treasury Board claimed he was not involved in picking projects for the legacy slush fund. Documents the NDP has now obtained show this is simply not true. According to his own office, he was personally involved in selecting projects,” the NDP’s Alexandre Boulerice charged this afternoon, the bearded boy wonder of the opposition’s frontbench projecting his voice to the gold-trimmed ceiling of the chamber. “We asked the minister at committee if he would table the documents that were sent to his office. At committee, the minister said ‘sure.’ He said it. Will he table the documents now?”

Here Mr. Clement, not any of his various stands-in, rose to respond. The opposition jeered with the sort of “wooo!” noise usually reserved for high school boys when one of their peers indicates some degree of affection for a member of the opposite sex. In response, precisely three Conservative backbenchers stood to enthusiastically applaud the minister’s willingness.

“Mr. Speaker, indeed, I answered a total of 75 questions at both the government operations committee and the public accounts committee of the chamber,” Mr. Clement said, his hands folded neatly in front of him. “I answered all of those questions fully and completely and to the best of my ability. The record is very clear that I had no determinative role. I had a recommendation role as a local member of Parliament, but the decisions were made by the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities.”

One can drive themselves to distraction, but for the sake of keepings things “very clear,” even the phrase “recommendation role” requires explanation. At the outset of that committee hearing three weeks ago, Mr. Clement said that he had played a “coordination role” between the communities in his riding and the federal government. He later said that he “recommended” a list of projects to the government, but he also explained that he had nothing to do with identifying those projects for which funds would be requested. “Recommendation” then, at least as it was explained three weeks ago, is not meant to imply any kind of judgment on Mr. Clement’s part. As the deputy minister of Transport explained at committee, Mr. Clement’s involvement, despite being the “recommending minister” was, from her perspective, “symbolic.”

A combination of irrelevance and sloppiness is probably Mr. Clement’s best explanation. But even the former is complicated by the latest round of emails, one of which uses the phrase “on the advice of Mr. Clement” to describe the removal of one project from the fund, another of which has his office notifying a community of a project’s rejection. (Mr. Clement has said that such notices were sent out only for the sake of being “polite.”)

On those counts, Mr. Boulerice stood and once more claimed outrage. A parliamentary inquiry, he thus declared, was in order. Mr. Clement was unmoved.

“Mr. Speaker, as I indicated at committee, and as was backed up by various government officials at Transportation and Infrastructure and at Industry Canada, the documentation that was in my purview was forwarded to the Auditor General, who had access to all documentation,” he explained. “The officials indicated where there was documentation and where there was not. All of those questions have been answered at committee and I stand by my responses.”

So whatever he meant, Mr. Clement stands behind what he said. If nothing else, it is good that he managed to stand to say so.


The Commons: Whatever he meant, Tony Clement stands by what he said

  1. A moronic and easily manipulated electorate.

    A castrated media.

    And the result is the criminal Con government.

  2. Tony tells me that if one reorders the letters in “Sure” one gets “Ruse”.

    • “sure, sure”

       “ruse user”

  3. This issue, like most others involving the Harper party, represents what happens when the press and the opposition parties try to apply logic and reason to the vagaries of S. Harper’s management style – FUBAR.  He controls everything that happens but makes it appear that his (‘his’ in every sense of the word) MPs have the capacity and authority to make their own decisions.  The result is that the press, along with the opposition parties, spin their wheels asking the right questions of the wrong person.  Eventually everybody gives up and Harper chalks up another ‘victory’.

    • Paranoid much ?

      • You seem not to recognize the distinction between paranoid and perceptive.

      • Clement – for sure, he thinks somebody would alter Hansard in order to frame him. 

  4. “. . . solemnly proclaim his innocence on this count and to call on the Speaker to investigate.”

    Why bother asking the speaker?  Surely Mr Clement must know that his boss counts amongst his accomplishments that of being an investigator.  Surely we all recall that Mr Harper ‘looked into’ reports that Conservative Party officials attempted to bribe Chuck Cadman in 2005, and he found nothing.  Surely Mr Harper will once again leave no stone unturned and find Mr Clement innocent of absconding with two ‘Sures’.

  5. IF I spent misappropriated $50M of someone else’s money I would probably go to jail. So should Mr. Clement. But our system protects him and not me. Another reason Rome crashed and burned?

  6. In what world is “sure”, used in that context as a
    response to a formal query, not intended as an “affirmative” or
    “positive” response, signifying clear acceptance??


    Not in Tony’s slimy dark world i suppose.


    Tony is one of the disinformation police of Canada’s
    dark era… history will remember him and the rest of the Harper regime as the
    architects of destruction by deceit…


    What he has done and what he is doing is DECEIT… he
    continues his deceit by demanding apology as acknowledgement of his innocence,
    like the murderous husband would weep for his beloved dead wife….


    Tony, and the rest of the disinformation police are used as
    cannon fodder to choke up communication and lay a smoke screen of conflicting
    disinformation, everyone that is part of the political system is complicit
    either actively, or passively as a bureaucratic cog-in-the-machine that must
    respond with the anticipated response when tapped with the expected stimulus…
    (ie: any NDP ‘apology’, the speaker’s acceptance of the findings, and Hansard’s


    Harper is deconstructing Canada,
    and lying every step of the way, because what real Canadian would truly allow
    that to occur? You see, the Harper regime thinks of Canadians like frogs in a
    pot of water over a fire… if they just throw us in the boiling water we might
    jump out, and we’ll definitely be angry… BUT if they place us in a pot of
    cold water and bring it up slowly to a boil, we will sit there and get cooked…


    Are we gonna let these double talking, deceitful, anarchists
    cook Canada and
    Canadians?  So far Canadians are allowing

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