The Commons: ‘Whoops!’

This is what happens when you do the “honest, ethical and transparent thing”

The Scene. Dominic LeBlanc stood and did as so many great rhetoricians have done before him. In this moment, he stood and sought solace in a complicated law that governs the professional behaviour of elected officials.

“Mr. Speaker, the Conflict of Interest Act specifically states that a public office holder is in a conflict of interest when he or she exercises an official power, duty or function that provides an opportunity to further the private interests of their friends,” Mr. LeBlanc stated.

And so the echoes were sufficiently stirred.

Funny thing about this Gaffer Affair, the longer it remains with us, the more substantive it becomes. What once was a simple tale of well-endowed prostitutes and illicit narcotics is now something to do with the Conflict of Interest Act, a 13-page code of conduct that is understood by perhaps one person in the capital. This is progress.

“Will the Prime Minister admit,” Mr. LeBlanc continued, “that his ministers contravened this Act when they granted privileged access to their friend, Rahim Jaffer, allowing him to waltz from one ministry to the next where they expedited his applications and they simply called him Rahim?”

“Get over it!” moaned a Conservative.

But still. What has happened to our manners? When did it become acceptable to refer to each other by given name? Whatever became of “good day, sir” and “good afternoon, m’lady?”

The Prime Minister stood with what passes for bemusement from him. ”On the contrary, Mr. Speaker, the Liberal Party gets more and more ridiculous in the reaches it makes on this question,” he offered. “The fact of the matter of course is that Mr. Jaffer received no contracts from the government. The fact of the matter is that it has been ministers and the government who have revealed virtually all of the information that is available here because it has been turned over to the Lobbyist Commissioner.

“This government has acted absolutely correctly and quite frankly the Liberal Party can take some lessons.”

Mr. LeBlanc continued undaunted.

“The Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, Minister of Public Works and Government Services, Minister of the Environment and others shepherded government funding applications through privileged channels all for their buddy, Rahim Jaffer,” he ventured. “The question is simple. Why can the Prime Minister not admit that this is illegal?”

Conservative Gary Goodyear loudly inquired from across the way whether Mr. LeBlanc’s fishing license was up to date.

Alas, however simple the question, Mr. Harper was done humouring this line of inquiry. John Baird stood in his place—to a sad cry of disappointment from the Liberal side—and restated the government’s commitment to upholding the laws of lobbying and whatnot.

It was next Siobhan Coady’s turn, the promising Liberal rookie up to raise the matter of an even more obscure document. “In addition to the Conflict of Interest Act the Prime Minister’s own 2008 guide for ministers gives the rules by which members of cabinet must adhere, including ensuring the integrity of those with whom they are dealing. Ministers’ offices clearly flouted those rules when they conducted business with Mr. Jaffer,” she contended. “Given that compliance with the guidelines are a condition of appointment, will the Prime Minister explain the consequences for the members of cabinet, up to seven and counting, who were in violation of those rules?”

“Nonsense!” cried Mr. Goodyear.

Over again to Mr. Baird who stood to pump his fist and assuredly mouth platitudes and scorn.

It was then Gilles Duceppe’s duty to wonder aloud about what, after all this, could be said to explain Helena Guergis’s resignation from cabinet. And it was then Mr. Harper’s obligation to stand and say what hadn’t led to her resignation—namely anything to do with government business.

Liberal David McGuinty stood and asked the government opposite to explain who had written the words “For Rahim” atop one of the documents now in question—a question the official opposition has asked, by a rough calculation, approximately 403 times already. For the 404th time, Mr. Baird stood and seemed not to notice.

To finish the Liberal prosecution, it was Mark Holland to pursue the Minister of Natural Resources and then wonder whether other members of cabinet might appear before committee hearings. And here Mr. Baird returned to a claim of righteousness.

“Mr. Speaker,” he offered, “we are only having this type of detailed discussion on the floor of the House of Commons with respect to these types of contacts because this government did the honest, ethical and transparent thing and made all these documents public.”

“Whoops!” cried a Conservative voice.

It was unclear to which mistake this voice referred.

The Stats. Helena Guergis, 13 questions. The oil industry, seven questions. Access to information, Afghanistan, abortion, fisheries and product safety, two questions each. Forestry, science, firearms, government spending, firefighters, agriculture, the Supreme Court, the arts, pensions, Quebec City, Aboriginal affairs and foreign aid, one question each.

John Baird, 13 answers. Stephen Harper, six answers. Josee Verner, three answers. Stockwell Day, David Anderson, Daniel Petit, Vic Toews, Gary Goodyear, James Moore, Gail Shea and Leona Aglukkaq, two answers each. Peter MacKay, Denis Lebel, Gerry Ritz and Bev Oda, one answer each.

The Commons: ‘Whoops!’

  1. Hahahaha. I agree with Baird. Situations are always better when all the documents are released.

  2. The well has dry in QP for Jaffer. Move on. Let it play out in Committee and elsewhere.

    • Very dry.I don't see The liberal star doing its usual smear job

  3. "The fact of the matter is that it has been ministers and the government who have revealed virtually all of the information that is available here because it has been turned over to the Lobbyist Commissioner."

    Yes, while that is technically true, Mr. Harper, it is only true because the Canadian media and the Opposition parties have dragged every last piece of paper kicking and screaming from the offices of your Ministers. Were it not for these 2 parties, those emails and memos would never have seen the light of day. It's most interesting to see that the dates on some of the emails released last week show that they have been held by the Ministers for 8 months. So much for voluntarily revealing the information in a meaningful and timely fashion!

    I'm pleased to see more coverage of Mr. LeBlanc. He might as well start getting coverage now as a warm-up to becoming the next Liberal leader.

    http://viableopposition.blogspot.com/

  4. More and more this Harper government reminds me of the Devine government in Saskatchewan. I wonder how many will face criminal charges once somebody else gets hold of the books?

  5. I would love, just once, for a moth or fly to be in the House and fly into Baird's flared nostrils or in his protruding mouth.

  6. "I'm pleased to see more coverage of Mr. LeBlanc. He might as well start getting coverage now as a warm-up to becoming the next Liberal leader."

    That would be a good move by the Libs.

  7. And yet nobody noticed when Harper arrogated to his office the right to borrow unlimited funds without permission from Parliament. He just tacked it onto an omnibus bill and nobody noticed. No wonder these guys want to keep the Jaffer questioning going. It's harmless. The real questions, when asked the last time, cost an English king his head.

  8. I don't understand why there even is a need for an “ Accountability Act” when a good moral compass would do. Clearly Jaffer conducted his business through the office of his wife. Clearly he used resources that were provided only to elected MPs for the purposes of improving the quality of life of their constituents. Helena's travel expense and phone expenses were among the highest of any MP, and one has to assume that carrying the load of Jaffer's seemingly unsuccessful business ventures was a significant but hidden part of her budget. To me it matters not that his lobbying efforts were unsuccessful. Most people with any sense of moral duty would realize that it's wrong to freeload off the taxpayer in this way. However, this couple has a huge sense of entitlement and they felt accountable to no one. They certainly didn't act accountable, and they still are not acting accountable. And clearly many of the conservative government feel exactly the same way, because they allowed this sleazy man and his scheming wheeling and dealing to take priority over the jobs they were meant to be doing on behalf of the Canadian people.

  9. C'mon can't anybody read polls – the folks are done with this – only the political junkies care. The opposition continues to shoot themselves in the foot on national tv. and the press aren't that much better.
    Move on folks – nothing to see here – but still lots to do affecting the nation's biz if the opposition really wanted to do a proper job.

  10. So the PM offers a private opportunity for Iggy to constructively participate in this appointment and he blabs it to the whole world, in a bid to score some political points. So all you Liberals out there, why should we trust this man and his party with top secret info on Afghanistan when he cant even keep a private request a secret? Taliban Jack did, why not Iggy? Because he does not have an ounce of political sense that's why. But you Libbies just love him don't you. You people would vote for a literal jack ass if it were on the ballot under Liberal.

    • very interesting point – indeed Iggy was offered the opportunity to consult and engage in dialogue on the next GG and he immaturely through this right back into Harper's face – a most unwise move – you would think after how Dion got his ass kicked around the ring Iggy would have a little more sense but apparently not and most candains seem to have noticed his lack of political acumen as well according to all of the latest polls.

  11. So the PM offers a private opportunity for Iggy to constructively participate in this appointment and he blabs it to the whole world, in a bid to score some political points. So all you Liberals out there, why should we trust this man and his party with top secret info on Afghanistan when he cant even keep a private request a secret? Taliban Jack did, why not Iggy? Because he does not have an ounce of political sense that's why. But you Libbies just love him don't you. You people would vote for a literal jack ass if it were on the ballot under Liberal.

  12. "The well has dry in QP for Jaffer."

    Does this actually mean anything?

  13. That's quite a statement about the Canadian Electorate. They, "We" do not care about a government that rides roughshod over the values we said we hold dear – accountability, honesty in government etc etc. Blah, blah. We will get the government we deserve, not the government we want. I'm old, so I guess I don't have to live with it all that long.You guys better take note.

  14. I agree that folks don't seem to care about this. I live in the riding of Simcoe Grey, so I have a little more reason to care. Yes, there are some very big issues affecting Candians and this seems like a petty issue to some. After all, Mr Jaffer didn't manage to bilk the government out of any serious change, unlike other scandals of the past. However, it's exactly this nickel and diming that angers some ordinary Canadians, such as myself. It's obvious that Mr Jaffer was lying and that he was indeed running a business out of his wife's office. Have you priced the cost of a Blackberry? I pay for mine and I pay the costs of being self employed. I pay taxes and so, I am paying for Mr Jaffer's Blackberry. If doing the "nation's biz " means priority access and perks are given to friends and family members and we ordinary Canadians foot the bill, I think that's a huge issue.

  15. Pat B no offense but the polls don't agree with you, the opposition or the press. How much has the last 3 weeks brouhaha cost the taxpayer, not to mention all the dead trees wasted hydro power etc. And I am willing to wager – no one will be charged with anything and no one will do time.
    So let's get on with the nation's biz instead of fake scandals and gotcha journalism. It's over.

  16. Aongasha, for sure, no offense taken. I am aware, I know…..the polls do not agree with me. And I'll be danged. I think that the electorate is in a coma from which nothing seems to awaken them.

    • No, the electorate intuitively understands the difference between what's truly important (e.g., jobs, economy, actual criminal activity) and what's not (e.g., an ex-MP who appears not to have broken any actual statute, and even if he did, he didn't get a dime from the government or Canadian taxpayers).

  17. Watched about 15 minutes of QP on TV to-day. The Government's "replies" were true to form: an insult to parliamentary democracy and the intelligence of voters.

    High time to take out the garbage.

    • Balogna! What kind of parliamentary democracy went on in Chretien's dictatorship. Members were forded to vote party line or they were fired. That's a dictator in my books.

  18. I agree with that, that's what the Liberal Party needs, he is a good guy!

  19. Why do you hate Canadian flies so much?

  20. I wasn't a fan when you first posted this. But now that you have posted the exact same reply a second time, you've really persuaded me. Alas – not in the way that you'd like though. :(

  21. Ask me the same question 40 times and you might figure it out. All's well that ends well.

  22. There was an interesting little post on the Globe & Mail today that indidacted that one of Harper's former campaign people indicated that he thought what happened to the CPC in 2005 with the Gomery affair is what's happening to the LPC: too much negativity and not enough substantial evidence.

    It's pretty clear that the government did something wrong when dealing with Jaffer, but the problem is, if you're the opposition, nothing bad came from it.

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