As a prologue to Kady’s handy timeline…
On Feb. 29, James Moore walked out of the House and into a scrum. “Before I take any questions, I just did want to make a quick statement here,” he said. “We’re deeply concerned that the author of this book is handing out for $500 a pop a bootlegged conversation, a taped conversation with Mr. Harper. We call on him and ask him to release the full version of his conversation with Mr. Harper unedited and make it available to all Canadians so that all Canadians can get the full scope of the conversation.”
The questions that followed were fairly straightforward.
Can you tell us what Mr. Harper was talking about?
“Well, until we see the full and unedited version of the interview then we’ll be able to comment.”
What was he talking about?
“I haven’t heard the full and unedited version of the conversation. That’s what’s important about this.”
Are you accusing him of releasing an edited version of that conversation?
“Well, we’ve only of course seen a segment of the conversation and we want to see a full unedited version of this conversation. I know that he’s selling them for $500 each to media outlets and we want to see a full and unedited version of this conversation.”
That was a Friday. When the House resumed on Monday, Stephane Dion, after some typically vague accusations, focused in on the tape. “Mr. Speaker, there is a tape of the Prime Minister. On that tape, the author of the book, Mr. Zytaruk, asks the Prime Minister whether he knows anything about the $1 million insurance policy. Anyone who was not aware of what had happened would have asked what Mr. Zytaruk meant and why he was talking about $1 million. But the Prime Minister answered that he was not aware of the details. The Prime Minister therefore knew that an offer had been made.”
The Prime Minister refused to respond directly.
Dion tried again. “There is a tape. The Prime Minister is on tape discussing financial considerations for Mr. Cadman.”
The Prime Minister challenged him to repeat his allegation of bribery outside the House.
On Tuesday, as they too rarely do, the Liberals got specific. “Mr. Speaker, we all heard the tape,” Dion began. “The first question: Could the Prime Minister tell Canadians whether it really is his voice on the tape, yes or no?”
The Prime Minister dodged.
Dion gave it another try. “Can the Prime Minister tell me if it is indeed his voice that we hear on the tape? Yes or no?”
The Prime Minister dodged.
The leader of the opposition gave him one more opportunity. “Do you know, Mr. Speaker, why the Prime Minister does not answer this simple question? It is because he is afraid of the truth and the consequences. However, he has no choice. He must answer. Canadians have the right to know. Once again, is it his voice on the tape, yes or no?”
Here, finally, the Prime Minister relented, offering what is, to my recollection at least, his only direct comment to date on the veracity of the infamous tape.
“Of course, Mr. Speaker, nobody suggested it is not my voice.”
That was March 4. Forty-four days later, the Prime Minister’s lawyers asked forensic expert Alan Gough to investigate.