Canada Day evokes colourful reactions from press gallery reporter

Two years ago, The Toronto Star’s Susan Delacourt had the Canada Day blues…

They’re painting the town blue for Canada Day in the nation’s capital this year.

Though the red and white of Canada’s flag is usually the dominant colour scheme for the big party in Ottawa on July 1, blue seems to be all the rage this year – a good, solid Conservative blue, to match the government in power.

Workers have been erecting the main stage for festivities this week on Parliament Hill. By yesterday, it was evident the favoured hue seems to have definitely shifted from red – which also happens to be the colour of the Liberal party, the Conservatives’ arch-rivals.

This wouldn’t be the first time, however, that this symbol-conscious government has eschewed red for blue.

The government’s official website, www.gc.ca, has increasingly leaned toward blue tints ever since the Conservatives came to power almost a year and a half ago.

For this year’s Canada Day, Delacourt was seeing red,

Early into his first term as Prime Minister, Stephen Harper mused aloud about how he wished Canadian reporters would stand when he entered the room. I believe the collective reply to this musing had something to do with weather forecasts and the temperature in hell.

But yesterday, on Canada Day, Global TV news showed us how Harper managed to get the military to give him a salute that’s normally reserved for the Governor-General. As Heritage Minister James Moore explains in the video, this was something that the Prime Minister apparently wanted.

So if you do run across our Tim Horton’s, hockey-dad, regular-guy PM this summer on the barbecue circuit, give him a little salute. Or stand up, or something. He really seems to appreciate deference.

Liveblogging the cabinet shuffle

9:52AM: Rob Nicholson, Gail Shea, Leona Aglukkaq, Peter Kent and Peter van Loan, Chuck Strahl show up to Rideau Hall

9:52AM: And Christian Paradis, Jim Prentice. CTV has speculated Prentice to environment.

9:54AM: John Baird has arrived.

9:55AM: Some MPs showing up in Blue Line cabs, some in airport cabs, some in their own cars.

9:55AM: Rona Ambrose shows up. Rumour is she’ll move to HRSDC.

10:00AM: Lynne Yelich is at Rideau Hall and Stockwell Day

10:01AM: James Moore arrives

10:03AM: Rahim Jaffer has shown up. Probably to support his newlywed wife Helena Guergis.

10:06AM: Jim Flaherty arrives with wife Christine Elliot.

10:08AM: The Prime Minister’s motorcade makes its way up to Rideau Hall.

10:16AM: Rumour is that Jason Kenney is moving to Citizenship and Immigration. You heard it here first.

10:25AM: Cabinet embargo about to end. Should have the list up soon.

10:31AM: Other MPs at Rideau Hall: Bev Oda, Peter MacKay, Keith Ashfield, Gary Lunn, Chuck Strahl, Gordon O’Conner, Tony Clement, Gerry Ritz, Stephen Fletcher, and Lawrence Cannon.

10:40AM: Here we go. Here comes cabinet into the hall.

10:44AM: Nicholson stays in Justice, no surprise there.

10:45AM: Greg Thompson at Veterans Affairs, Chuck Strahl at INAC, Vic Toews at Treasury Board

10:48AM: Bev Oda at CIDA, Flaherty at Finance, Gerry Ritz at Agriculture

10:50AM: Jean-Pierre Blackburn to Revenue. Aglukkaq to Health. Finley to HRSRC.

10:55AM: Raitt to NRCan, Day to International Trade and Asia-Pacific Gateway.

10:55AM: Ambrose to Labour.

10:58AM: Prentice to environment. The could be to negotiate new regs with the provinces when it comes to GHG emissions. Alberta will need to sit down with the federal government soon to finalize the new regulations for the oil and gas sector.

11:00AM: Baird goes to Transport/Infrastructure.

11:01AM: Cannon goes to Foreign Affairs.

11:02AM: Tony Clement goes to Industry.

11:05AM: Josee Verner to intergovernmental affairs.

11:05AM: Jay Hill to House Leader.

11:05AM: PVL to Public Safety.

11:07AM: Jason Kenney to Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism.

11:08AM: Christian Paradis to Public Works.

11:09AM: James Moore to Heritage and Official Languages.

11:14AM: Gail Shea to Fisheries.

11:16AM: Gary Lunn to Sport.

11:17AM: Gordon O’Connor to Government Whip.

11:18AM: Helena Guergis to Status of Women.

11:19AM: Diane Ablonczy stays at Small Business.

11:20AM: Rob Merrifield to Minister of State (Transport).

11:22AM: Lynne Yelich to Western Economic Diversification.

11:24AM: Steven Fletcher to Democratic Reform.

11:27AM: Gary Goodyear to Minister of State for Science and Technology. Goodyear will work closely with Minister of Industry Tony Clement.

11:29AM: Denis Lebel to economic development for Quebec. Lebel will be the cash man for Quebec and this will help him electorally.

11:31AM: Keith Ashfield to ACOA.

11:32AM: Peter Kent to Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Americas).

Final cabinet speculation

Mostly certain:
– Prime Minister Stephen Harper
– Flaherty to stay in Finance (confirmed by numerous people in the department)
– Baird moving (confirmed)
– Clement moving
– Guergis moving (family has flown in, and hair appointment booked early AM tomorrow apparently)
– Bernier not in cabinet
– Aglukkaq in cabinet
– Prentice staying in Industry (no indication of a move from bureaucrats or political staffers up until midnight)
– Lunn moving (family has flown in)
– Verner moving
– MacKay stays in defence
– a good number of Secretaries of State named

Responsibly speculative:
– Cannon in foreign affairs (heard this from a high level source on Tuesday night)
– Kenney at CIC
– Nicholson stays in Justice
– Strahl stays at INAC
– Clement in trade
– Baird in transport
– Verner to intergovernmental affairs
– Ambrose to HRSDC
– Shea or Duncan in Fisheries
– Raitt in cabinet
– James Moore promoted

Wildly and so irresponsibly speculative:
– Raitt to get NRCan (doubtful)
– Liberal crosses the floor and enters cabinet (sourced at a high level, but I don’t see it happening. Yet, a number of Liberals staffers have been confirming they’ve heard the same rumour for days)
– Rob Moore in cabinet

Tale of two tapes

In recent Canadian political history we’ve had two stories of alleged bribes offered on tapes followed by partisan claims of doctoring of the evidence.

In one story, former Conservative MP Gurmant Grewal alleges that he was offered a senate seat or an ambassadorship for his MP wife Nina if he defected to the Liberals as that party was trying desperately to hang onto power. Grewal secretly taped then-Prime Minister Paul Martin’s chief of staff in conversation. The Liberals later alleged that Grewal had altered the tapes.

Currently, we have a story about a sitting Prime Minister embroiled in a taping controversy as Tom Zytaruk, biographer of Chuck Cadman, taped the then-opposition leader allegedly speaking about “financial considerations” for the Cadmans if Chuck were to run for the Conservatives after voting to bring down the government.

As an aside, it’s interesting that these stories occurred surrounding the same event. However, what some may consider tangential, let’s look at how these stories were and are being handled by those that tell the story to the rest of us.

In the case of Gurmant Grewal’s taping, when allegations of doctoring arose, the burden of proof shifted to Grewal, to the OLO’s communication staff and to the opposition leader (Harper) himself.

Yesterday, we saw a number of sworn affidavits detailing the context of the taping of Stephen Harper by Tom Zytaruk, which raise not only the question of splicing of the taping, but the context of the interview itself (whether Mr. Harper returned to the car or not – Harper and his staff (Novak, Olsen) and Dona Cadman confirm under oath that he did not). Further, two forensic audio specialists confirm that the tape was altered with Tom Olsen saying “This tape has been edited and doctored to misrepresent the event as it actually occured”. Sworn affidavits from Novak, Olsen and Cadman (including Chuck Cadman’s assertion that he was never offered anything inappropriate), sworn testimony from audio forensic experts saying the tape was altered and an RCMP conclusion that “no evidence” is available to support an investigation into allegations of bribery.

Why after all of this does it seem that the burden of proof has been shifted upon the Tories in both cases? Thus, it seems, they must bear the burden of politicking while Conservative.

Consider this CBC story from June 5th, 2005 concerning the alleged Grewal doctoring,

Experts say Grewal tapes were altered

Last Updated: Monday, June 6, 2005 | 9:12 PM ET

Two audio experts have independently concluded that the secret recordings made by MP Gurmant Grewal were edited.
John Dooher, a forensic audio engineer hired by CBC News, said Thursday there is a “crude” edit and something “amiss” about a section of tapes made by the B.C. member of Parliament.

while in yesterday’s story concerning the alleged doctoring of the Harper interview, CBC News published,

Tories ask court to stop Liberals from using Harper tape

Tape was doctored, Tory MP says

Last Updated: Wednesday, June 4, 2008 | 7:55 PM ET

According to Gough’s sworn statement, “the tape is not a continuous recording of one conversation.”

Moore did not say that Harper’s words had been changed.

When the CBC’s Don Newman read him one exchange between Zytaruk and Harper, Moore would not say whether or not it had been altered.

“Why would you even raise the tape?” Moore said, adding that experts — hired by the Conservatives — have proved that the tape has no credibility.

CBC News should hire its own set of forensic audio experts as they did with the Grewal tape so that they can confirm Moore’s assertion. They should also give the RCMP the benefit of the doubt when that agency says that there is “no evidence” to support an investigation. Perhaps everyone should also take Cadman’s own word when he stated that no inappropriate offer had been made to him by any party. What has happened is that they’ve refocused the story upon an insignificant question still somewhat unanswered (was that Harper speaking about some sort of financial overtures to Cadman? – yet we know from the sworn affidavits released yesterday that those financial considerations were limited to a suggestion of providing party support for a campaign).

In the case of Grewal, enough of a cloud had been cast upon the validity of his tape (and his character) that any tangential unanswered questions (such, as what did Tim Murphy mean by comfy fur?) became moot to the press for that story.

Two tapes, two alleged bribes, two sets of audio experts, two standards.

NDP climbs down

Just received:

STATEMENT

Ms. Mathyssen phoned Mr. Moore earlier this evening.

Mr. Moore offered to explain that it was of his girlfriend.

Ms. Mathyssen has accepted the explanation and offered her apologies and she will be making a formal statement in the House of Commons at the earliest opportunity.

Courtesy: NDP Press Office

Well ok then.

Since when did the NDP become the party of prudish moral outrage?