Canada’s Prime Minister facing a serious scandal

A few weeks ago, Aaron offered this comment:

Gee whillikers — for a couple of Canadians, you two sure are focused on the elections down here! Isn’t there anything interesting going on where you are? 😉

Usually, the answer is No, there isn’t anything interesting going on in Canadian politics.

But now we have a scandal! And not a typical, boring Canadian-grade scandal, either. The scandal involves, allegedly, an attempt to buy the vote of a Member of Parliament who was dying of cancer at the time.

It is alleged that a $1 million insurance policy was one of the inducements offered. Chuck Cadman, who died less than two months later, rejected the offer.

If the allegations can be substantiated, it wouldn’t just be dirty politics:  it would constitute a criminal offence. And the guilty party would be the Conservatives, led by our current Prime Minister, Stephen Harper.

Chuck Cadman was sitting as an independent Member of Parliament in May 2005. The Liberals had a tenuous minority government at the time. The government would stand or fall based literally on a single vote. (At issue was a Liberal budget:  traditionally, if Parliament votes against a budget, the government is deemed to have “lost the confidence of Parliament” and an election is held.)

The Globe and Mail broke the story yesterday:

OTTAWA — The widow of former B.C. MP Chuck Cadman says two Conservative Party officials offered her husband a million-dollar life insurance policy in exchange for his vote to bring down the Liberal government in May of 2005.

The offer, which was summarily rejected by the dying man, is outlined in a biography of Mr. Cadman by Vancouver journalist Tom Zytaruk that is due to be released on March 14. A copy of the manuscript, including an introduction by former Liberal prime minister Paul Martin, has been obtained by The Globe and Mail.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is quoted in the book, Like a Rock: The Chuck Cadman Story, as confirming that a visit took place, and that officials were “legitimately” representing the Conservative Party. But he says any offer to Mr. Cadman was only to defray losses he might incur in an election.

Cadman’s widow is the source of the story. She has confirmed her account in a telephone interview with CTV news.

The vote was held on May 19, 2005. Cadman, who had been battling cancer for two years, died on July 9, 2005.

The Liberal Party has submitted a formal request to the RCMP, asking Commissioner William Elliott to open a criminal investigation.


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. McSwain
    Mar 01, 2008 @ 02:00:56

    I’ve wondered about the obsession with U.S. politics myself–glad someone else asked. 🙂 This is truly a juicy scandal.


  2. Stephen
    Mar 01, 2008 @ 07:10:53

    Canadians tend to gravitate to the middle of the political spectrum. (At least, what passes for the middle in our country, which is far to the left of the spectrum as it exists in the USA.)

    At either extreme, right or left, there is a fringe group. But no political party can be elected by appealing to the fringes. Both the “Liberals” and the “Conservatives” are actually centrists. There are differences between them, but they are nothing like the gulf between the Republicans and the Democrats.

    So it often feels like there’s not much at stake in a Canadian election. No one up here defends waterboarding detainees, for example, or a constitutional amendment to ban same sex marriages. On the other hand, no one supports increasing federal spending to such an extent that we run an enormous deficit.

    It makes for boring politics when everyone crowds together in the centre, but that’s probably a good thing!


  3. nebcanuck
    Mar 02, 2008 @ 00:57:30

    Good read on the issue. I’m afraid school and the Trent Christian Fellowship have kept me pretty busy of late, so I didn’t get much of a chance to keep tabs on the issue myself, not to mention the possibility of posting on it!

    You’re absolutely right about the “boring-ness” of Canadian politics. What’s funny is that it’s very much based on the elites politicking while the rest of the country goes about their business. There isn’t a sense of urgency about most of what they do, and a great deal gets overlooked by the media because it wouldn’t garner much interest. This, of course, has been doubled since Harper has taken over, since he’s one to hold his hand close at all times… members of parliament aren’t to even speak to the media without express consent from the prime minister’s posse.

    It makes for a very zealous following of American politics, when they’re as intense as the Obama-Clinton war!


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