Sunday, April 19, 2009

They Still Don't Get It

Liberals complain about cost of income trust investigation

When the Liberal party lost the 2005/06 federal election, many partisans blamed the Income Trust scandal and the RCMP investigation of it for their defeat.

To a certain extent, this is true. And while they continue to insist that the RCMP investigation was inappropriate and (allegedly) politically-motivated, they also conveniently overlook the fact that the Sponsorship Scandal had made the idea that the Liberal party would tip its friends off to a potentially advantageous taxation decision seem incredibly believable. Even likely.

So as documents obtained via the Access to Information act reveal that the RCMP spent $445,000 on the investigation it's only natural that the Liberal party would take this as an opportunity to complain again.

"Not only was the investigation inappropriate and misguided, but now we know it cost a huge bundle of money too," said Liberal MP Mark Holland. "Over $400,000 is a massive expense -- and there are a lot of questions that have to be answered."

Yet Holland overlooks the fact that an investigation into the RCMP's investigation revealed no evidence of wrongdoing on the RCMP's behalf, and that while the RCMP did not find evidence of criminal wrongdoing on the part of then-Finance Minister Ralph Goodale, it did lay charges against an official working under Goodale's supervision.

As those who remember the matter should recall, a spike in trading in Income Trusts had called attention to the potential for corruption surrounding the affair. Finance department official Serge Nadeau was charged for insider trading after purchasing stock in Income Trusts before the announcement was formally made.

Holland seems to think that the RCMP should wait to investigate suspicious activity that could affect an election until after that election is concluded.

But the RCMP has a duty to investigate suspicious activities regardless of their proximity to a federal election. To delay investigations into known suspicious behaviour until after an election provides those responsible with extra time to conceal evidence, giving them a greater opportunity to go free.

Considering that the RCMP turned up enough evidence to justify charging Nadeau it's hard to accept writing the investigation off as "inappropriate" or "misguided".

It would be inappropriate and misguided to decline to investigate such suspicious occrences. And, as NDP MP Judy Wascylycia-Leis notes, Ralph Goodale himself had plenty of opportunities to investigate the affair on his own.

"I was doing my job as an MP to get to the bottom of something many people were concerned about," said Wascylycia-Leis. "In my view, this whole chapter in our history could have been avoided -- including these costs to the RCMP investigation -- if the minister at the time, Ralph Goodale, had said these concerns were legitimate, we will investigate and get back to you ... I think he could have avoided the financial cost and the political cost."

All of this comes as the Oliphant Inquiry continues into dealings between Brian Mulroney and Karlheinz Schreiber -- a matter which continues to slide further and further into farce as revelations continue to surface that Schreiber hasn't been truthful about his dealings with Mulroney.

This inquiry was demanded by the Liberal party, and all that has been revealed thus far is how deceptive Schreiber has been in his bid to avoid extradition to Germany.

Perhaps complaining about a perfectly legitimate investigation that cost them politically out of their own negligence and lack of credibility is just the Liberal party's way of deflecting public attention away from this embarrassing debacle in which all that's really being revealed is that party's eagerness to politically capitalize on Karlheinz Schreiber's lies.

Even all this time after the Liberal party's political ouster, this party still doesn't get it. They aren't entitled to take corruption lightly and continue to govern.


  1. Admittedly the Liberals should shut up about the cost of the RCMP's Income trust investigation. The tall-forehead's in their midst should know anything that detracts voter attention away from how Harpo is (mis?)handling the present crisis is counter-productive. They should also remain Mum on the Oliphant Inquiry - just let it take its course.

    As for Oliphant- I do not (yet) share your view that it is entirely a "embarrassing debacle". Elements of farce? For sure. But until I see Mulroney testify as to the facts of the matter I will reserve judgment as to whether or not it is all JUST farce.

    Harpo, our Tory PM, made a calculated political decision to hold this inquiry. Guess all we can do now is let it take its course. If Harpo had truly believed holding an inquiry was unwarranted, he should have stood his ground and told the Lib's to go fornicate themselves. But, as in so many other cases, he failed to take a firm stand against the pressure. As such, he is as much to blame as the Lib's for this circus.

  2. I don't think Harper realistically had a choice. The Liberals called for an inquiry, and they weren't going to stop until one was called.

    They were desperate to try to find a credible scandal. Not only could Harper not allow to let it languish, but it would have been wrong to do so. Sometimes, when the opposition wants an inquiry badly enough, the best thing to do is just let them have it, and allow them to look silly when it turns up nothing.

    Just like the Oliphant Inquiry is turning up nothing, aside from what most Canadians already knew -- that Karlheinz Schreiber has nothing to offer, other than revealing just how much of a liar he's been all this time.

    One thing that kind of amuses me about the thought of Ignatieff as PM is the thought of Ignatieff sitting down for a meeting with the President of Germany and having to explain to him why, precisely, Canada refused to extradite Schreiber to Germany.


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