Comment on culpability in the Grewal affair
I've been so busy with trying to figure out the technical side to the tapes--frankly, I'm not sure I have the chronology of them straight yet--that I've left it to others to cast moral judgement about what was done or not done by the various parties. I will now state a prelimary judgement (that I may change later).
On the Liberals. I think that it is important that we differentiate between three levels of problematic behaviour:
- that which is illegal,
- that which is unethical, and
- that which is politically embarassing.
- if the PMO had explicitly offered a senate seat (or sim.) in exchange for the Grewals' vote on the non-confidence motion, that would (in my opinion) have constituted an illegality
- if the PMO had explicitly offered a cabinet post for crossing the floor, that would be unethical, but not illegal.
- Finally, to offer vague possibilities of future rewards in exchange for a floor-crossing would be politically embarassing, but only if exposed.
Did Martin know about the negotiations with Grewal? Obviously. And appropriately. Did Steven Harper know about negotations with John Bryden before the last election?
So, what is the degree of culpability here? This has been an embarassment to the Liberals. That is not in itself insignicant or unimportant. But given their other black-eyes recently, this is not much.
For the Conservative Party? This is still unclear, since the next day or two will (1) reveal many new problems in the tapes and (2) expose the mechanisms by which these problems developed. I note, however, that the CPC itself has not indulged in much of the irresponsible claims of illegality. (This may be because they knew that Grewal asks for more on the tapes than he is offered, and attempting to acquire is equally illegal under s. 119.)
Who gains? The NDP. They will win Grewal's seat in a cake-walk, and probably some other seats in BC.