The Cadman affair

Prime Minister Stephen Harper took the unprecedented step of suing the Liberal Party of Canada for libel over statements made by the party on its website. After the release of a taped interview with Harper from 2005, Liberals began accusing the Conservative party in general, and Harper in particular, of bribery with respect to Cadman. To refresh readers on the basic story, on May 19th 2005, a crucial vote was held in Canadian Parliament, a vote that was specifically a motion of confidence (or non-confidence) in the sitting Liberal minority government of the time. In a recently released book, by author Tom Zytarek, Cadman’s widow Dona is quoted as saying her dying husband told her of a $1 million insurance policy offer, made by the Conservatives before the vote. Its important to note as well that Cadman’s vote on this non-confidence motion was beyond crucial … he was literally the deciding vote between the government holding, or falling.

Harper’s Conservatives have strenuously denied the insurance policy offer, and there is no proof it was ever made beyond the word of Cadman’s widow. However, whether there was ANY offer made to Cadman in exchange for his vote is a little less clear. Harper was interviewed about the issue in 2005 by Zytarek, and his comments are very interesting. I will post the transcript of the interview below.

Zytaruk: “I mean, there was an insurance policy for a million dollars. Do you know anything about that?”

Harper: “I don’t know the details. I know that there were discussions, uh, this is not for publication?”

Zytaruk: “This (inaudible) for the book. Not for the newspaper. This is for the book.”

Harper: “Um, I don’t know the details. I can tell you that I had told the individuals, I mean, they wanted to do it. But I told them they were wasting their time. I said Chuck had made up his mind, he was going to vote with the Liberals and I knew why and I respected the decision. But they were just, they were convinced there was, there were financial issues. There may or may not have been, but I said that’s not, you know, I mean, I, that’s not going to change.”

Zytaruk: “You said (inaudible) beforehand and stuff? It wasn’t even a party guy, or maybe some friends, if it was people actually in the party?”

Harper: “No, no, they were legitimately representing the party. I said don’t press him. I mean, you have this theory that it’s, you know, financial insecurity and, you know, just, you know, if that’s what you’re saying, make that case but don’t press it. I don’t think, my view was, my view had been for two or three weeks preceding it, was that Chuck was not going to force an election. I just, we had all kinds of our guys were calling him, and trying to persuade him, I mean, but I just had concluded that’s where he stood and respected that.”

Zytaruk: “Thank you for that. And when (inaudible).”

Harper: “But the, uh, the offer to Chuck was that it was only to replace financial considerations he might lose due to an election.”

Zytaruk: “Oh, OK.”

Harper: “OK? That’s my understanding of what they were talking about.”

Zytaruk: “But, the thing is, though, you made it clear you weren’t big on the idea in the first place?”

Harper: “Well, I just thought Chuck had made up his mind, in my own view …”

Zytaruk: “Oh, okay. So, it’s not like, he’s like, (inaudible).”

Harper: “I talked to Chuck myself. I talked to (inaudible). You know, I talked to him, oh, two or three weeks before that, and then several weeks before that. I mean, you know, I kind of had a sense of where he was going.”

Zytaruk: “Well, thank you very much.”

In this statement, Harper appears to confirm that SOME sort of offer was made to Cadman in relation to the May 19th vote. Harper clearly confirms that two party operatives, who “were legitimately representing the party” made an offer to Cadman regarding the vote. Harper isn’t clear on what the offer is, but he makes it clear that the offer was about money. “But the, uh, the offer to Chuck was that it was only to replace financial considerations he might lose due to an election.

Now, this is where it gets a little sticky. Lets remember that the ONLY way an election happens after the May 19th vote is if Cadman chooses to vote with the Conservatives. Its one thing to offer an unelected member of your own party financial support in a possible upcoming election … that is politics as usual. But it is quite another to make precisely the same offer to a sitting member of Parliament, in advance of a crucial vote of confidence in the sitting government, especially when the member you are talking to will clearly be the deciding vote. The clear implication in the phrase “… he might lose due to an election” is that the offer is only valid if an election occurs, and an election only occurs if Cadman votes with the Conservatives. There is really no way to spin that other than as an offer of financial support to a sitting member of parliament, contingent upon him voting in a certain way. And once again, I can’t see any way to spell that other than “B-R-I-B-E.”

I think Harper was very clear in his statements. We still don’t know what offer was made, but we do know, confirmed by Harper, that SOME offer was made, and that offer was specifically representing the Conservative Party. Further, Harper has clearly stated here that the offer involved “financial considerations” that Chuck might lose “due to an election.” That means that SOME form of monetary offer was made to Cadman, by Conservatives, conditional on an election that could only happen with Cadman’s vote … Harper clearly admits this much in the above transcript.

Now, with the hindsight of history, we can see that Cadman chose to reject the offer and vote with the Liberals on May 19th 2005, propping that government up for a little longer. But that doesn’t change the reality of what happened. Perhaps I too will get myself into libel problems with my statements here, but it seems pretty clear to me the Stephen Harper has confirmed that a financial offer was made to Cadman contingent on him voting with the Conservatives. Perhaps the dictionary that Harper uses defines bribe in a different way than the one I use, but in political parlance, a bribe is pretty clearly any financial offer that is contingent on a sitting MP voting a certain way. Harper very clearly states that’s exactly what happened with Cadman in this interview. It seems to me that this lawsuit has no place to go, except to blow up in Harper’s face. Forget the insurance policy, forget the $million figures, just listen to what Harper says about whatever offer was made …

But the, uh, the offer to Chuck was that it was only to replace financial considerations he might lose due to an election.

I dunno how else to spell that out, frankly … the dictionary I use spells it “B-R-I-B-E.”

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One Response

  1. Seems the she said, he said scandal surrounding Chuck Cadman has become the red herring of the century.

    If the thought of some insurance underwriter giving a life insurance policy to a man with terminal cancer sounds ridiculous it probably is.

    And all the statements attributed in the draft of the book, which I have read, are third party hearsay statements that would never stand up in court, or anywhere else for that matter.

    Even the author in an interview couldn’t even corroborate the allegations other than to say that is what Mrs. Cadman told him and she wasn’t in the room either. No doubt the conservatives would offer to help Cadman with an election since his riding association was broke and unable to finance a campaign.

    All other political party’s including the Liberals bolster riding associations this way. And according to the author, nobody except his legislative assistant Dan Wallace was in the room with Cadman and the representatives from the conservatives so any information flowing from that is mere speculation, or a fabrication since Wallace refuses to say what was said and now denies being in the room at all.

    According to the author he deferred to Dona as to what was said. If anyone knows a first-hand account, instead of the heresy of others, it would be Dan Wallace and no other since Mr. Cadman is deceased.

    As to Mrs. Cadman running for the conservatives, good luck with that.

    Seems this whole scandal is designed to pump up book sales for the author and increase the dividend paid to the Cadman family for their unsubstantiated statements in the book.

    What I find most amusing is how the media ran with the story before getting all the facts.

    Moderator’s Note: You’ll note that I’m not making any issue of the supposed insurance policy. I have no idea WHAT was offered, but I do have Harper’s own words, on tape, confirming that an offer was made by Conservative Party operatives of financial considerations in the event of an election that Cadman’s could bring about with his vote. This isn’t about what Dona said … this is about what the PM admitted to on tape in the interview with the author. This is about the PM saying “But the, uh, the offer to Chuck was that it was only to replace financial considerations he might lose due to an election.“

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