Friday, June 13, 2008

A Couillard extravaganza in the Globe today

The Globe has a few reports today on Julie Couillard's efforts to influence Maxime Bernier and Bernard Cote in respect of the $30 million federal building project in Quebec City. Signifying how this is not about "sordid stories," to quote Peter Van Loan's ridiculous spin yesterday. You'd have to be willing to believe the national paper is just in this story for the prurient details if you believe Van Loan. That's nonsense. This mess is about a set of facts that the media is unravelling day by day that thus far do not seem to suggest a random set of happy coincidences when it comes to Ms. Couillard and this government.

In the Globe we learn that Kevlar, with whom Couillard was associated, had lost out on a major land acquisition on the Montreal harbourfront in the spring of 2007. Following that big loss of "time, money and energy," Kevlar turned its attention to the Quebec City federal building project worth $30 million. The point being that Kevlar was apparently very motivated to win the bid for the federal project in Quebec City. And so it appears they enlisted some help around that very time. Ms. Couillard acquired her real estate license and started dating Cote, then Bernier, both of whom she is said to have lobbied on Kevlar's behalf in respect of the Quebec City project. The Conservatives, however, would have you believe she's just a very social being.

Speaking of disbelief, it's reported by Canwest last night that Cote doesn't believe Couillard had any nefarious purpose in dating him. He explains that he met her purely by chance:
In a telephone interview with the Montreal Gazette, Cote said he had agreed to meet a friend at the Restaurant Lounge LeBlanc on St. Laurent Blvd. in Montreal.

Cote said he arrived to find his friend chatting with Couillard at the bar. One thing led to another, and Cote and Couillard casually dated around March and April, 2007 - prior to Couillard's relationship with former foreign affairs minister Maxime Bernier.

"We didn't exactly plan to marry," Cote said.

Aren't these Conservatives adorable in their naivety? (And chivalry, judging by that last comment.) Let's count the ways this might not have been purely the chance meeting Cote believes it was. The friend set him up. Maybe it was known he frequented that bar. Maybe it was known that his friend frequented the bar. And so on, and so on. Cote was a top Quebec adviser to the Minister of Public Works. He was found by Couillard. Either that or she's just the luckiest real estate agent in Montreal, what with her trying to get Kevlar its deal in Quebec City and what with him and his Public Works portfolio. Bingo, for an enterprising gal, she hit the random jackpot of acquaintances she could have met in the city that night! Bernard, you're refreshingly idealistic.

In the same vein, the Globe has an editorial on the appalling lack of judgment displayed by the Conservatives involved in this mess. Here's the essence of it that sums up part of the reason for the sliding Conservative fortunes:
No government rule or regulation could possibly have anticipated this peculiar sequence of events. A government's major duty is to ensure that responsibility is vested only in those with the maturity and good judgment to handle it.
Not a lot of maturity and good judgment on display of late.

And oh yes, the RCMP is confirming they didn't tell the PCO about Couillard's background. The report reads as if they didn't tell any other government department either. Look how well that's all turned out.