The Canadian Imagination

What it means to be Canadian; examining and reworking Canada as a nation.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Just in time for the new year

I have this image in my head.

Knowing that Paul Martin and the Liberal spin doctors cannot afford to do anything at this point but stand solidly behind Ralph Goodale, I watch the various newsbytes of the Liberals supporting blindly and the Conservatives villifying just as blindly (and both without any solid evidence of any kind that the finance minister was actually involved, let alone in anything criminal) -- and a vision creeps into my head, after the cameras are turned off and the last of the reporters is gone, of Paul Martin seizing Ralph Goodale by the lapels and hoisting him off his feet: "What were you thinking?!!?"

Here and now, it really doesn't matter what the truth of the matter is. I suspect few even bother to care about the details, or even that the possible leak would have involved insider trading based on early disclosure of Liberal plans for income trusts. For all we know, the answer could be coincidence; or another document copy in a dumpster or even stolen from the office. (It is not like it has not happened before.) Still, on what is effectively the first "real" day of the campaign (for all that has gone before has been nothing more than the polite first testing skirmishes), the knee-jerk polarised soundbytes are already in place: "integrity", "rich Liberals benefitting". No one wants to wait for actual evidence pointing in a specific direction. Perhaps, in politics, no one can afford to. Yet especially without a single shred of solid evidence pointing in any specific direction, despite the specific statement in the RCMP press release stating that
The RCMP wishes to note that at this time there is no evidence of wrongdoing or illegal activity on the part of anyone associated to this investigation, including the Minister of Finance Ralph Goodale
the damage has already been done and the public will believe what it wants to believe: although the context of the early Gomery report has made it that much more likely that the Liberals generally (and in this case Goodale specifically) will no longer be given the benefit of the doubt. At the very least, guilt or innocence notwithstanding, Goodale has likely lost his seat over this (which overturns my earlier prediction). Fairness and presumption of innocence has nothing whatsoever to do with politics.

Even though the timing has inevitably made this investigation into a political act, I would oppose any suggestion that the RCMP in any way set aside or delay any or all such investigations based on the happenstance of the politics alone. That direction lies Watergate.

Yet the timing certainly is, shall we say, unfortunate. In an ideal world we would not wonder at the convenience of having this investigation into the events of November 23 surface exactly when it did. We would like to believe the RCMP acted based only on the evidence they were given, that Toronto forensic accountant Al Rosen handed over that evidence when he had completed his examination of the day's trading results, no sooner, no later: and that it just so happened that the combination would have normally required an RCMP investigation to be opened on the opening day of the major part of the election. There exists nothing inherently to make such a coincidence impossible ...

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