Saturday, June 07, 2008

“The Hells Angels are much more dangerous to Canadians than al-Qaeda.”

There's a Globe report this morning that's quoting Serge Menard, the Bloc MP, at some length on the Bernier-Couillard matter. Menard speaks about his reluctance to date to look into the issue given the fear of unnecessary prying into the private relationship aspect. The Globe report yesterday changed his mind and he is now striking a tone which resonated with me as I read it. There's an element of ominousness to his comments that the Liberals would do well to factor in as they contemplate whether or not to leap into an election in the coming week (or risk waiting until the fall when the U.S. will be undergoing a "change" election that will work against the Conservatives here). Menard, as the article notes, speaks with some authority on the issue given his prior role as Public Safety Minister in Quebec during past biker wars and having been on a biker hit list himself.
Serge Ménard no longer has any doubt: The Bernier affair has put Canada's national security at an “enormous” risk that will profoundly embarrass the Harper government and the RCMP.
“Even if only half of what I read were true, she represented an enormous security risk for a [cabinet] minister,” Mr. Ménard said in an interview Friday.
“This situation was clearly dangerous for the minister,” Mr. Ménard said. “When did the RCMP inform the minister? What did they say? When did they inform the Prime Minister's Office and what did they do?”

If the RCMP did not spot any potential threat from Ms. Couillard's past or Mr. Bernier's handling of the documents, and did not inform the government, he said they will have to explain themselves.

“If the RCMP failed to live up to its duty, it will be hard to get them to admit it. Still, I think we will be able to establish that this woman was a security risk and, as such, the competent authorities had to be informed,” Mr. Ménard said.
But he is now convinced that given Ms. Couillard's past, the Hells Angels could have either blackmailed her or Mr. Bernier, or lured Mr. Bernier into a compromising situation.
The Conservatives are entirely on the defensive on this issue. They have either ignored a blatant risk and done little to nothing about it - or are simply too prideful to admit now that yes they did review her status and still did little to nothing about it.

You can't help wondering what this will do to Conservative fortunes in Quebec during an election campaign when Quebecers have lived through biker wars and don't take it as lightly as the PM and his team have done. If the Conservatives did take it seriously, they would ensure that the Foreign Affairs Minister and Public Safety Minister each testified in front of this committee. And they would answer questions substantively in the House. The contrast in the opposition's approach versus the government's will be plain for all to see as the committee hearings get underway next week.