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?