Autonomous Source

May 22, 2005

Dissent being stifled...

Andrew Coyne is being sued by the Prime Minister's Chief of Staff Tim Murphy for libel. There's no other details on exactly what Coyne wrote that was so libelous, but I'm guessing it's his column in the National Post that mused on the legal nature of what Murphy may have done. Coyne has not put the column up on his site as he usually does, and his site has shut down comments and has had no new content added for a couple of days. Something's happened; it may be the thuggish hand of the Liberal Party, or it may be a bad case of stomach flu.

Debbye Stratigacos of Being American in T.O. and I feel that the Prime Minister's office should not be able to shut down the questioning of their ethics with legal threats and have decided to post the column. Because of copyright issues, we'll both post just half of it. If Andrew Coyne requests we take it down, we will, but for now, here's the first part of the offending column.

A majority lost, then found

OTTAWA - And then we all went off to Hy's. The last vote had been bought and paid for, the government had staved off defeat by the margin of heiress, and all of Ottawa, it seemed, was young and in love.

But me, I couldn't get this song out of my head, the soundtrack to the day's events. Do you know it? It goes like this:

"I don't think it's good if anybody lies, or if anybody is asked the question, 'Well is there a deal?' and you say, 'No.' Well you want that to be the truth."
Well, you'd have to listen to it. It's Paul Martin's chief of staff, Tim Murphy, in a rare bootleg edition of what I gather is his signature tune. In this case, his duet partner is Gurmant Grewal, Member of Parliament -- a position of some honour in this country, I am told -- and Tim is explaining to him how Gurmant could abstain from voting against the government, and the government might sometime later make Gurmant a Senator or some such, but there wouldn't be anything sordid or dirty or, you know, illegal about it, as there would be if there were "an explicit trade" of one for the other. That's what Tim says elsewhere on the tape: It's a "bad idea" to have "any kind of commitment that involves an explicit trade." Rather, you want to arrange things in such a way that if somebody asks "is there a deal?" you could say no, and it would literally be true. Because "you want that to be the truth."

Because "I don't think it's good if anybody lies."

A reminder: This is the chief of staff to the Prime Minister of Canada talking.

So: you want to be able to truthfully say there's no deal. That would seem simple enough, if in fact there is no deal. So why would you need to spend eight minutes discussing how to say it? Why would you even need to discuss whether anybody should lie?

"That can be done on the basis, those members can do it on the basis, 'Well look, my riding doesn't want an election, doesn't want one now.'"
That tape will forever serve as the background music, the theme song if you will, for yesterday's vote. A government that had lost its majority spent nine days pretending it had a majority in order that it might obtain a majority. It used powers of state to which it was no longer entitled for the sole end of establishing its claim to the powers of state. And it used those powers in the most tawdry possible ways.

There is no other way to interpret that tape. It is incriminating by virtue of its very ambiguity: it is deliberate ambiguity, calculated ambiguity, in the discussion of matters that should brook no ambiguity.

"If someone abstains in that environment who has exercised a decision based on principle, [it] still gives him the freedom to have some negotiating room on both sides. Then the freedom to have discussions is increased."
Continued at Being American in T.O.

Posted by Bruce Gottfred at May 22, 2005 08:50 AM | TrackBack
Comments

I can't believe the lengths Canada's media are taking to avoid covering this story. Thanks for your efforts Bruce....andrew

Posted by: Andrew Barden at May 22, 2005 10:06 AM

The truth hurts.

Posted by: R.Lake at May 22, 2005 12:00 PM

Thanks for picking up the gauntlet. This issue is a very serious one.

Posted by: Candace at May 22, 2005 03:01 PM

AC is being sued by Paul Martin's chief of staff for being a good journalist. Is it now actionable to comment on unethical behavior in government?

Posted by: E.B.Dresen at May 22, 2005 03:30 PM

How can we support?

Posted by: Maybe at May 22, 2005 08:30 PM

This is just the tip of the iceberg.
When this government is not dealing with someone they can ridicule, discredit or dismiss, they resort to intimidation. Andrew Coyne is the perfect person to silence on this -- he is credible and respected (for now).
By launching a lawsuit, however specious, Murphy is ensuring that nothing more can be printed on this because it is 'before the courts' and he'll have the double joy of having smeared a respected voice of conservatism.

Posted by: canadianna at May 23, 2005 01:51 AM

More Tim Murphy shenanigans & Liberal Party corruption

NOW On / Newsfront / News / Sep 21 - 27, 2000

Forgery charges dog Grit
A former Liberal youth wing president fights charges he bilked the party of thousands

By Enzo Di Matteo

Accompanied by his father, Jesse Davidson, the fresh-faced, 20-something former president of the Ontario Young Liberals, looked oddly out of place among the assorted toughs in a College Park courtroom Monday.

But there he was, neck craned with the look of a kid taking in a scene at the zoo, to set a date on fraud and forgery charges related to allegations that he bilked the Liberal party of more than $10,000 while presiding over its youth wing.

There are 24 charges in all -- one count of fraud over $5,000 and 23 counts alleging that Davidson drew money from the party's bank account by forging the signature of a former treasurer.

There's the suggestion, too, from sources in the party, that higher-ups wanted to keep the whole thing quiet, all in the Liberal family, so to speak.

Real keener

Outside the court, Davidson's lawyer, William McDowell, declines to comment except to offer that Davidson plans to plead not guilty and be "completely exonerated." Davidson himself did not return a call requesting comment.

How did a super-enthusiastic keener who was barely out of junior high when he got his start as a volunteer with the party get himself into this mess?

According to documents leaked to NOW, Davidson's troubles began when Amy Young, a former vice-president of the Ontario Young Liberals (OYL), raised concerns in a letter about some 33 cheques dating back to April 98 being improperly drawn against the OYL account.

Young states in her letter that almost all the cheques in question had been made payable to Davidson or his Market 2000 Internet Marketing company, without the OYL's approval.

And, in the case of 20 of the cheques, the signature of then OYL treasurer Anthony Romanelli had been forged.

The OYL executive met in April to question Davidson. Financial records were requested of all board members, and a resolution was passed asking Davidson to step aside as president until an outside auditor could be appointed to clear up the matter.

According to the minutes of a subsequent OYL meeting, Davidson claimed that he was counselled to draw a salary of $5,000 directly from the OYL account. When the OYL asked party headquarters for confirmation, higher- ups including Liberal party financial administrator David Pretlove reported having no knowledge of anyone authorizing a salary for Davidson, according to the minutes.

Party bigwig

Davidson enlisted the legal help of former provincial party president Tim Murphy, a lawyer at McCarthy Tetrault.

Shortly thereafter, lawyer Jack Siegel, a long-time bigwig in the party, was called by federal party president Brenda Kurczak and provincial party president Greg Sorbara to conduct an internal review.

In Siegel's review, the particulars of which are contained in a 15-page report, Davidson admits to no wrongdoing.

"It is important to note that forgery is an offence that requires not only making of a false document, but also an intent that it be used to the prejudice of another person," Siegel writes in his report. "In this situation, there appears to be no prejudice resulting to anyone."

Siegel goes on to write that "in general terms... almost every one of the cheques in question appears to have a reasonable explanation." Davidson claims the cheques paid for services rendered by his Internet company to the OYL.

But "neither the OYL executive committee nor the OYL board has ever approved a budget, or any expenses that would justify the amounts of the cheques written," according to a letter by former OYL vice-president Amy Young mentioned in Siegel's review.

Siegel nevertheless recommends that the OYL not pursue criminal charges in the matter.

While Siegel concludes that Davidson "is at minimum responsible for some of the most gross errors of political and financial judgment that I have personally seen in 30 years," and chastises the former Grit president for his lavish spending on the party's expense account, his report concludes on the forgery allegations that Davidson's "errors are errors of youth and perhaps indolence."

Under wraps

But party insiders say higher-ups were trying to sweep the matter under the rug. Ontario Liberal part president Greg Sorbara denies that there was an attempt to keep the affair under wraps. And Siegel declined to comment. About all he would offer is that he has known Davidson since 1983. Both have been active in the Don Valley West riding. Davidson is scheduled to appear in court next month.

enzom@nowtoronto.com

NOW | SEP 21 - 27, 2000 | VOL. 20 NO. 3

==============================================

NOW : Newsfront : Grit love tap : Mar 15 - 21, 2001

Grit love tap

By ENZO DI MATTEO

Jesse davidson, former president of the Ontario Young Liberals, won't have to worry about a criminal record getting in the way of that law career he's supposedly pursuing. On Tuesday, the Crown attorney's office was slated to withdraw one fraud and 23 forgery charges against the young Grit.

In return, Davidson has agreed to repay some $7,000 that he withdrew from the party's bank account when he was president. It's what led to the charges.

But Davidson's lawyer, William McDowell, says the payment Davidson's making as restitution should in no way be viewed as an admission of guilt.

"There was no finding or admission of guilt," says McDowell.

The office of provincial Liberal leader Dalton McGuinty has apparently taken notice of the financial follies.

Word is, the leader's office is in the middle of a review of the books of all clubs associated with the Ontario Young Liberals.

"Shenanigans are going on all the time," says one Grit insider.

EDM
NOW Magazine Online Edition, VOL. 20 NO. 28
Mar 15 - 21, 2001

Posted by: anti-Liberal at July 5, 2005 03:55 PM
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