Friday, March 09, 2012

What Did He Know, And When Did He Know It?

That was the question Senator Howard Baker asked as the United States Congress moved toward its decision to impeach Richard Nixon. And that is the question Lawrence Martin asks this morning. At present, we have no definitive answer:

Thus far, the evidence as to the incidence of the dirty work in the last election is mixed. No one should start jumping to any conclusions. It’s very unlikely that Stephen Harper was an architect of any widespread vote suppression campaign. Even if he were, it’s unlikely we’d ever know about it. Failproof deniability scenarios would surely have been put in place.

The real question, Martin writes, is whether Harper turned a blind eye. A review of the record would leave any unbiased observer suspicious:

It need be recalled that respect for democratic practises has never been high on the list of this prime minister and his coterie. If getting their way required running roughshod over the system, they were prepared to do it. There are dozens of examples, not the least which were Harper’s being found in contempt of parliament, his proroguing of parliament for crassly political ends, his use of closure and time limits to cut off debate, his putting in place a vetting and censorship second to none. Given all this, it would hardly be shocking to imagine voter suppression tactics being employed.

Against that record, Harper and Guy Giorno have offered categorical denials that their party was involved in any voter suppression scheme:

Harper and Guy Giorno, his former chief of staff, have both strongly denied any involvement by the Conservatives in the robocall scam. Those denials were so categorical that they should be accorded a good deal of weight. At the same time, a lot of denials on a lot of charges have been made by this government over the years and the record shows that many of them have not withstood the test of scrutiny. In matters relating to the Afghan detainees affair or the “in and out” scam, or the G-8 spending boondoggle to name just a few, the track record for truth telling is hardly impressive.

Canadians should not be prepared to take either man at his word. But they need an answer to Senator Baker's question.


Wasted said...

The Harper government's protests of innocence became tragicomic earlier this week when Dean Del Mastro claimed robocalls to Liberals were engineered by Liberals. Hmmm... I guess his reasoning was the Liberals defeated themselves so they could cry "foul" after the election.

That's funny enough for the movies.

The tragic part is that the claim, like virtually every other Conservative response to date, was designed to muddy the waters rather than get at the truth. Isn't that a classic defense? To argue the murder might have been committed by some one other than the suspect - by the butler, or better yet - by the victim?

The Conservative's "modus operandi" of always attacking the Opposition may have seriously backfired this time. One can hope.

Owen Gray said...

It seems to me, W, that you can only run that play so many times. Del Maestro should know that.

But I'm not sure he's sharp enough to figure it out without some help. And I doubt that his party is going to enlighten him.

Beijing York said...

I think Dino Del Mastro is being put front and centre to make this crime look much less serious than it is. And if that fails, he might prove a useful sacrificial lamb.

Anyway, sent my complaint to Elections Canada and copied all the opposition leaders. I was going to copy the PM and thought better of it. I don't want any visits from the RCMP.

Owen Gray said...

I'm sure that a lot more people than Michael Soma will walk the plank before this is over, Bejing.

Something tells me that Del Maestro will be abandoned, too -- but only when he's outlived his usefulness.

I read this morning that support for Harper is still strong among Conservatives. That will only change when the weight of evidence is too strong to be denied -- and when the suppressed votes make their voices heard.

Your complaint is one more piece of evidence