Saturday, June 18, 2005

Reynold's Gambit

Several days ago now, John Reynolds, a prominent Conservative MP, filed a complaint with the law society of two provinces that Dosanjh and Murphy had committed ethical breaches in their negotiations with Grewal. I will leave aside the question of whether this complaint has any merit (which I doubt). Instead I want to point out what this implies about what strategy the Conservatives have decided to take in the Grewal affair. (I assume that Reynolds is acting for the Conservatives, and not as independent agent.)

I was surprised by Reynolds' move, since I had assumed that keeping the story alive hurt the Conservatives as much if not more than the Liberals. On the whole, I think this is correct, but needs revision. Any further attention to the Grewal affair will hurt the Grewals most, then the Liberals, then the Conservatives, provided that no further details emerge about who specifically was involved in helping Grewal with the editing (see my discussion here .)

Reynold's move, then, probably reflects a decision within the Conservative circle that the Grewals cannot be saved, but that whatever makes the Grewals look bad also make the Liberals look bad. To use a chess analogy: they are sacrificing two pawns with the hope of putting a bishop (Dosanjh) and Rook (Murphy) in danger. This move (which I'll call Reynold's gambit) is a high risk play, not least because it involves some danger to the Conservative king (Harper). The suicide-note shows that it was Harper's office that was responsible for the editing of the tapes (see here). That is a fact that the public has not digested--presumably because the Liberals, not wanting to trade a bishop and a rook for a queen, have not pushed it. But there are several unresolved aspects of this affair that could push this whole affair back onto center stage, including Reynolds' gambit. If that happens, it is likelier to damage the conservatives.