Monday, April 26, 2010

Another week of peeling back the onion

Avert your eyes from the Conservatives' latest shiny object to distract from the questions of lobbying scandal that are on their doorstep. That shiny object would be the pursuit of Frank Graves and the CBC which the Conservatives wish to carry on into this week. Why? Because the ongoing Jaffer matter which has now reached into three ministries continues to provide daily bad headlines for the government. Those headlines are being furthered along by the government's own handling of the mess.

Note Jim Prentice's refusal to bring information to the attention of the House of Commons until Friday of last week about one of his staffers meeting with Jaffer. He learned of it on Tuesday. The MPs on the Government Operations committee sitting on Wednesday were therefore deprived of the knowledge that Jaffer had met with a Prentice staffer and could not ask any questions about it. Further, Prentice indicated that the "details of those discussions and the documents relating to them" were forwarded to the Lobbying Commissioner and would be to the Ethics Commissioner. If this whole matter is indeed "before the House and before one of its committees," as Prentice stated in the Commons, that information should also have been sent to the committee. The delay of Prentice's statement until Friday and the withholding of information that resulted raises questions. Some think it constitutes misleading the House of Commons. That's important and it should be pursued.

John Baird's nonchalant Wednesday night release of the project proposal documents that Jafffer/Glemaud had submitted to his office for green infrastructure funding, after the committee hearing earlier that day, also deserves some scrutiny. His office clearly had the information, sat on it and should have provided it to the Government Operations committee before it heard from Jaffer.

If the committee had had the documents in front of it, someone might have inquired, for e.g., about what the notations on the documents meant. See "From Rahim - submit to dept," for e.g. on the DPS Kinetic document. Sounds like it was written by someone who knew him. "From Rahim" was meant to be of significance to somebody and it looks as if it helped to push the project through the door. These are the kinds of questions that should be asked of Baird, or Brian Jean, his parliamentary secretary who met with Jaffer and Glemaud.