There must be some misunderstanding

COLBY COSH on why we might all want to examine this merger document a little more closely


Pardon me for interrupting all the clamour about Liberal-NDP cooperation negotiations, but can I just point out that Warren Kinsella chose consciously to introduce testimony in the form of a sworn legal document here? We should probably take the hint and subject this document to unusually careful reading before we characterize it and riff on it as commentators.

Colleague Geddes refers to it as “an affidavit in which Kinsella says Alfred Apps, the Liberal party president, told him last month about ‘many conversations at a high level’ between Liberals and New Democrats on the possibility of their parties merging.” I beg Geddes’ pardon, but whatever Mr. Kinsella may say elsewhere, his affidavit does not mention any Liberal-New Democrat discussions per se. Apps is quoted as saying “There is a lot of interest in merger in the NDP” and that “There have been many discussions at a high level…involving the NDP saints [whom he described as Broadbent, Romanow].” Apps then goes on to describe the difficult conditions the NDP would have to meet in order for a hypothetical merger to happen: these include renouncing socialism (as opposed to the recent policy of keeping it chained up in the attic like Mrs. Rochester) and stripping the unions of their constitutional power over the New Democrats.

Here are some other things the Kinsella affidavit does not claim: that Apps was the one who brought up the whole merger/cooperation idea to Kinsella in the first place; that Apps was even the one who placed the call to Kinsella; that Apps ordered him to take notes on the conversation (though he reports that he took them); or that Apps thought merger or cooperation were good ideas overall (in Kinsella’s account Apps describes merger as a “profoundly democratic act”, but not necessarily a realistic or desirable one). Nothing factual in the affidavit actually appears to contradict Apps’s statement that he thinks “an ‘opposition coalition’ [is] a crazy idea”.

Apps has also said that “Everything in the affidavit that [Kinsella] describes as cornerstones of a [merger] ‘plan’ were, in fact, reasons my view as to reasons why a merger would and could never occur.” Based on the language of the affidavit as such, that could easily be the case. Especially since those “cornerstones” are, in fact, pretty good reasons such a merger could probably never occur!

Is it possible the whole thing is just the result of a simple disagreement over interpretations of a phone chat? I am not seeing any necessary basis at all for declaring either man a prevaricator. Surely a neutral observer ought to search for the most generous possible explanation for their dispute?


There must be some misunderstanding

  1. An explanation for this dispute?

    Liberal-friendly columnist James Travers of the Toronto Star pretty well nails it in his column today:

    "…much of the buzz about an ill-defined union with the NDP is cover for the apparently endless Liberal leadership struggle. It began when Jean Chrétien undermined John Turner, grew into a family feud when Paul Martin effectively stole the party from his predecessor and has continued since the 2006 Montreal convention, when delegates ducked a tough choice between Michael Ignatieff and Bob Rae by defaulting to the inept Stéphane Dion."

    And Travers continues:

    "Liberals are now standing in that smoldering ruin. Ignatieff, anointed in the panicked aftermath of the 2008 Christmas coalition crisis, is now so weakened he may never lead the party in an election. Chrétien, with no mandate from the current leader or from rank-and-file Liberals, is manipulating an NDP partnership that recognizes changed realities while ignoring potentially irreconcilable differences."

    • I thought Chantal Hébert's Wednesday column was excellent.

  2. People who file affidavits carefully parsing a casual phone conversation cannot be that far from adopting tinfoil as headgear.

    • The thing of it is, Kinsella has always been – not an abuser, exactly, but certainly what you could call a calculated user – of the trappings of the legal system, to carry out his personal goals. It's of a part with an ordinary predilection for litigiousness; it just stands out because of the strange backroom-politics angle, and the contradiction from everyone else involved.

      In any event, I certainly hope his self-proclaimed Wile E. Coyote, Super-Genius™ reputation is put to rest by all this.

      • After harper's cutesy little libel stunt and Ezra levant's constant misrepresentations about the sytem itself, I'd say he's head and shoulders above a lot of the bad guys. (Actually, didn't Kinsella take down Levant pretty cleanly a little while ago? Or is that what the cons think of as "abuse"?)

    • Two lawyers are involved here.

      One's writing affidavits, the other isn't.

      Probably safer to believe the former than the latter — but if the latter writes his own, _then_ it gets interesting.

  3. Horse-race media starts a story spun by peripheral characters… many anonymous. Central characters says it aint so. Horse-race media switches gears to stories about confusion and descent among the characters. Central characters come out and in no uncertain terms say the story is bunk. Media turns to peripheral character, who double-secret pledges that he really, really did talk to someone once. That someone says the peripheral dude is grossly misrepresenting what happened. Horse-race media switches gears and talks about the turmoil amongst the central characters and speculates about their leadership's future.

    Horse-race media are like stock brokers. They get paid when you buy or sell. They don't care about profits, they need volume and volatility … whether they have to make it up or not.

    • Ha, well said (and applies to colours, I think)

      • (applies to ALL colours)

  4. "I am not seeing any necessary basis at all for declaring either man a prevaricator. Surely a neutral observer ought to search for the most generous possible explanation for their dispute?"

    I think Kinsella swearing out a statement trying to make life uncomfortable for the President of the Liberal Party is provocative.

    I don't know enough about the players to agree, or disagree, with Hébert and her idea that this is " ….. endless Liberal leadership struggle." but I have noticed that many Liberals who should actually be in the NDP are the ones angling for the merger or coalition.

    • I agree, these individuals are all on the left side of the Liberal spectrum. So of course the concept of merger does not bother them a whit. They have no concern for the fact that the right flank of the party might not go with them. In fact, this may their way of sticking it to the right flank of the party, which includes Iggy.

      • Whatever the agenda, and whoever the players, if a temporary coalition amongst the left and right leaning Liberals as well as the party-less red tories and the NDP is all that is needed to get Harper and the CPC out of government, that is all that matters.

        And the condition that will make the CPC implode (in addition to the simple fact of Harper being the suck that he is) back to its backwater Reform roots is the re-creation of the old Liberal and PC parties from that coalition with the NDP (with the participation of the Bloc) after they have taken government.

        How can this scenario not be appealing to all the red tories who lost their voice when it was usurped by Harper and MacKay and who have had to hold their noses from this stench that pretends to call itself "conservative"?

        How can this scenario not be appealing to the majority of Canadians?

        • austinso……that's the problem with Liberals and their anti Harper supporters. They think everybody hates Harper as much as they do. Its not true and that is partly the reason Canadians are rejecting the Liberals. They look like a bunch of nuts with their attempt to create scandals of the day, their failure to put forward policies that appeal to the vast majority of Canadians and to be put forward a leader who knows Canada and is not considered to be a Russian Count.

          • Gee…the same old effete BS from you…what a surprise…

          • substantive reply there, good work!

        • Idiots like you should never be given the responsibility to vote. You belong in a home where they give you your meds every three hours.

        • Spen's wrong. You need meds more often. I'd say hourly, at least.

  5. Surely a neutral observer ought to search for the most generous possible explanation for their dispute?

    That makes sense. Now tell me, what ought a unicorn to do?

    • My advice to unicorns is always "Charge!"

      • and keep your head down!

  6. I Warren Kinsella a member of the Liberal Party?

    I'm starting to think that this whole sideshow might not even be worth watching until something REAL starts to happen, but still. If I were a member of a political party, I think I'd expect some consequences to befall me were I to swear out an affidavit publicly describing a private conversation I had with the Party's President on a sensitive topic. Particularly if the affidavit were worded in such a way as to be easily torqued by the media (I don't mean intentionally necessarily) to suggest that the implications of the conversation were different than they were. At the very least, were I a Liberal, from this point forward I wouldn't have any phone conversations with Warren Kinsella about anything to do with politics. Of course, there are probably those who would suggest that that one could have come to that decision vis a vis Kinsella long before this latest incident.

    If we've learned one thing from all of this it's that you should never say anything to Warren Kinsella that you're not comfortable reading about in court documents and/or a newspaper. Though, again, some might consider that a lesson that should have been learned long ago.

    • Lord Kitchener's Own…….I agree with you fully. You will recall that Kinsella also supported Harper when Paul Martin was running the party and was PM. Obviously he was not happy with the Martin crowd including Scott Reid who mistreated his friend Jean Chretien.

      I suspect that Ignatieff will want to put this whole thing to bed and will kick Kinsella out of the Liberal party. If he does he will be in for a world of hurt. Kinsella has a way of evening up the score. What's the old expression…keep your friends close but your enemies closer?

    • I think I'd expect some consequences to befall me were I to swear out an affidavit publicly describing a private conversation I had with the Party's President on a sensitive topic.

      I'm pretty sure that Kinsella officially has "party outsider" status now. As long as Iggy's in, Kinsella will be out.

      Which reminds me: Kinsella wrote a very nasty screed about Ignatieff on March 27, 2006. Kinsella pulled it off his website last year, but not before it was picked up by a few blogs:

  7. Surely a neutral observer ought to search for the most generous possible explanation for their dispute?

    That it's all Much Ado About Nothing.

    Instead of gossipping about what Apps may or may not have said in a backalley to an advisor who is no longer in the war room, how about we engage in something more substantive? Like a health care debate?


    • LynnTo…….of course we must ignore anything that negatively affects the Liberal party. Afterall it is the Conservatives that are Attila the Huns who we need to barricade the country from (sarcasm intended).

      • Hey, if you'd prefer to gossip over having a substantive policy discussion, thumbs-down my post. Go for it.

        In the meantime, speak for yourself and stop putting words in my mouth.

      • hollinm, that's complete BS. Thousands of Canadians gathered in the dead of winter to effectively tell politicians (Harper in particular) to quit the games and deal with the issues. What LynnTo has stated her has been the mantra of many for a good long time. Do try to keep up.

        And by the way, you narcissist, there should be no need to inform your reader that your sarcasm was intended. You're not so clever that your wit is beyond our understanding.

  8. I fail to see how any self-respecting person could ever vote for this disaster of a party called Liberal. NDP, Green, anything but Liberal. But then again we are talking about deaf, dumb and blind voters who will vote for anything with the name Liberal on it. I cant believe how stupid people are in this country!

    • …how stupid people are in this country? Check out the number that support Stevie Harper and the "stomach elixir and testicle rub wagon".

    • See. There is one of them now. Vote Liberal because the alternative does not measure up. Why not vote NDP then?

      • Indeed, why not NDP at this point of the whole sorry affair. Personally, I would like to see Mr. Layton take a gracious step down from leadership and have a proven Prairie-reared NDP leader such as Roy Romanow or our current ambassador to the USA Gary Doer step up. Sideline Ignatieff. And form a coalition with an NDP Prime Minister.

        I've never even voted for the NDP… but as you say, and at this rate..

  9. Warren Kinsella fancies himself to be important, so does silly things like this for attention.

    who cares?

    let's say the Liberals ever did become the government. not likely, i know, but it's possible.

    what would they do? they'll never deliver on any of their promises, and their pals will run the agencies and boards they whine about conservatives' pals running.

    big deal.

    all these machinations to run a dysfunctional, irrelevant country.

    • I always thought the Liberal campaign slogan should be, "We're not the NDP and we're less incompetent than the Conservatives."

      I'm not sure what it means that some of the higher-ups between the Libs & Dippers can exist in the same universe without spontaneous combustion, but I don't think their followers can.

      Manning & Broadbent had it right. The only way to achieve real change is to get enough votes to scare the party in charge. Once you're in power, your hands are tied.

    • Fred hopefully the Liberals would recognize that 30 and 40 year old teachers are having troubles getting jobs. The Seniors are retiring and returning back to work after receiving their pensions on the teacher's on call list. Unfortunately the Libera;ls and other parties believe that seniors should work longer. A revered councillor for 19 years and a teacher for 42 years has just passed away in Surrey and he was much revered. Working longer doesn't mean that you necessarily live longer and I am opposed to the view seniors are deposing teachers 30 and 40 plus deposing 30 and 40 year old Teacher's On Call.

  10. "… renouncing socialism (as opposed to the recent policy of keeping it chained up in the attic like Mrs. Rochester)"

    ROFLMAO. Every major federal party adheres to socialism. The NDP just happen to be the darkest shade of red.

    Socialism has been ingrained in an entire generation of Canadians, so much so that mere talk of tax cuts immediately spawns the dread thought of program cuts. A flat tax is heartless crazy talk. Zero corporate tax, a sign of insanity. Canadians are entitled to their entitlements.

    For Canada to abandon socialism, it has to run out of money. That is, the money gleaned from the pockets of hard-working value producers. God speed the day.

  11. What fascinated me about the whole "sworn affidavit" thing right from the beginning was that the only way that Canadians would be expected to believe anything that an insider in Canada's political scene would have to say is if it was "sworn". That in itself, is a pretty sad commentary on politics in Canada, but not entirely unexpected.

    The NDP give up on socialism? Never gonna happen.

  12. " Surely a neutral observer ought to search for the most generous possible explanation for their dispute?"

    Why do you think Joe Clark and Roy McMurtry are there, if not to rule on disputes between what was said and what warren thinks was said.

    You still didnt answer the ultimate question of why not just one but two people felt the need to swear affadavits and make them public on such a question. Its just another tactic in the on going war. Whether you want to evaluate the tactic and decide what it says about the state of war or the satte of either side in the war is another matter.

    And a Genesis lyric reference is bound to tick off the self styled punk who worked as a consigliere to a Prime Minister.

  13. I used to think it was inevitable that the NDP and the Liberals would merge, but after mulling over it for a few weeks I must admit I was probably wrong.
    There would be no gain for the new party since the NDP and the Liberals fight over the same seats in parliament: the seats that the CPC has won't be threatened in any way by a new left leaning party. Second it might hurt the Liberal base: the CPC is going to blasting full cylinders with the socialist accusations, and people are gullible they'll blindly believe such accusations (although they would be half truths really).
    It only makes sense in a purely ideological point view: to deafeat the unified "right" the left should also unite. However in our parliamentary system we would end up pretty much at the exact same sport.

    Besides according to some polls the CPC would lose seats if an election was called right now, so going into panick mode is definitely not what the opposition should do.
    Patience is a virtue, the LPC needs to remember that.