Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Berniergate: Down the Rabbit Hole

Let's play what's wrong with this statement?

Prime Minister Stephen Harper rejected an expanded probe, telling reporters there is no evidence to suggest official secrets have been revealed, and he dismissed outright questions about electronic eavesdropping.

"There is no evidence to indicate that documents have circulated," the Prime Minister said at a media briefing in Paris, where he is meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

"The documents were returned to the government of Canada, but it is our intention to review the incident to ensure that that is the case ... We have no information that would suggest that any secrets have been revealed."

Now, I may just be a lowly blogger, but it seems obvious to me that when you make a conclusion about an investigation you haven't even launched yet, you're either:

a) psychic
b) in denial

As CBC's Don Newman rightly called today's question period "The Peter Van Loan Show" since he was the designated talking-point spokespuppet on the Bernier affair who could barely look anybody in the eye - not his usual bully posture, quite obviously - it was apparent that 2 words had come down from Steve's office to attempt to minimize the situation that has embarrassed Canada around the world because Van Loan repeated them over and over:

Asked if a larger investigation should be launched, Mr. Harper fell back on previous statements that he won't intrude on individuals' private lives.

"As we've said, private lives are private lives, and the government of Canada does not intend to get into the business of investigating private citizens."

Setting aside the fact that the last sentence flies in the face of everyday reality (the government never investigates private citizens - ever?), the Cons seem to think that they've found the perfect angle to deflect the growing calls for a proper investigation - the "private lives" excuse.

They don't seem to understand that when a person like Bernier's ex-girlfriend who's had ties to some rather notorious criminals in the past and is involved in this type of security breach, her personal life is very much the business of the government. These were classified documents left in her possession and the public has the right to know what may have happened with the information contained in them, regardless of the embarrassment it may cause this prime minister. We all know what would have happened if the situation had involved a member of any of the opposition parties. There'd be calls from the Cons' benches for blood. (And why wasn't Bernier fired, instead of being given the chance to resign?)

Yet, Steve thinks he can continue to insult our intelligence:

Ms. Couillard alleged in a taped television interview Monday that Mr. Bernier had been careless with government papers and that she had recently learned her bed had been bugged with a microphone.

Asked about the bugging, Mr. Harper said "I have absolutely no reason to believe it's true."

Shorter Steve: "I don't want to believe it's true."


In the interview with the French-language TVA network, Ms. Couillard said she had her house checked by experts after she came back from a supper with a friend and found that her alarm system had been disarmed. The experts, she said, found clear marks that a microphone had been tacked to her bed, and removed in a "classic clean-up operation."

So you see, Steve, you are not going to get away with shelving this situation in the file labeled "private lives". Ms Couillard has the right to know whether or not her home was bugged and, thankfully, that answer will not be decided by you, no matter how much you want to control absolutely everything that goes on in this country.

You might find it comfortable in that rabbit hole you've chosen to inhabit but, with the dirt piling up around you, you'd be wise to pop your head out and face reality every now and then - especially since you're currently running around the world meeting with leaders who rightfully ought to have serious concerns about confidentiality because of Bernier's actions and your refusal to properly investigate what really happened.

(Photo credit: Reuters)


And the award for Most Creative Blog Post About Berniergate goes to pale at A Creative Revolution for Weekend at Bernier's.

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