Thursday, January 26, 2006

Harper failed to meet ethics czar on Grewal (Globe and Mail)

The Globe and Mail reports:
Harper failed to meet ethics czar on Grewal
Thursday, January 26, 2006 Posted at 5:22 AM EST
From Thursday's Globe and Mail

OTTAWA — Stephen Harper failed to meet federal Ethics Commissioner Bernard Shapiro despite repeated attempts over four months to interview him for an inquiry into the Gurmant Grewal affair, Mr. Shapiro noted in a report released yesterday.

Despite a code of conduct that says it is an MP's duty to co-operate with an inquiry by the commissioner, Mr. Harper's office told Mr. Shapiro he could not find time in his schedule to answer his questions between August and November of last year. Instead, Mr. Shapiro spoke to an aide.

The report was ready last Friday but delayed to prevent accusations of political favouritism in the last days of an election campaign. In the report, Mr. Shapiro wrote that he wanted to ask Mr. Harper when he knew about the surreptitious recordings of conversations that Mr. Grewal, then a Conservative MP, had with senior Liberals about switching sides for a crucial no-confidence vote. [snip]

Update The paragraph where the Ethics Commissioner says this:
Unfortunately, although we made numerous attempts between August and November, we were informed Mr. Harper’s schedule did not permit an interview. We wished to clarify with Mr. Harper that Mr. Grewal first approached him on this matter after their Tuesday evening (May 17, 2005) caucus meeting and that it was only on Wednesday, May 18, 2005, during a telephone conversation with Mr. Grewal that he (Mr. Harper) was informed by Mr. Grewal that he was tape recording conversations with the Liberals about crossing the floor and the offers that were being discussed. However, as indicated above, these facts were corroborated by Mr. Norquay.
Frankly, I don't understand why Harper wouldn't have met with Shapiro. Some bloggers are implying that Harper had something to hide, but for now it is best to suspend judgement. (Off the top of my head, the only thing that Harper had to hide was whether his office had a role in the editing of the tapes. But given that this was not a question that was being dealt with in this review--something that Harper would have surely known--that seems an unlikely reason.)

Update 2 The Toronto Star editorializes on Harper's failure to meet with Shapiro in Editorial: Leading by example


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