Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Credibility and appearances

Those are the two factors staying with me today after the big hearing at Government Operations at which Rahim Jaffer and his business partner, Patrick Glemaud, appeared.

On the first point, the two fell down in the credibility department, for various reasons. Jaffer failed to remember that his personal website touted his government connections. You can read exactly what was on his site here. It was a pure bumble on Jaffer's part. It undermined the credibility of his testimony.

Glemaud's credibility was affected by his inability to remember the names of the three companies he and Jaffer submitted to Brian Jean, Baird's parliamentary secretary, for green project funding. That strained believability. Those allegations have been front and center for over a week now, come on. Glemaud and Jaffer will now have to produce the names of those 3 companies within 24hrs, to the committee.

And then there's just the point on the overall appearance regarding the lobbying question that was left. Not drawing any firm conclusions, they deny it and the Lobbying Commissioner will be looking into it. But it just doesn't seem to pass the smell test. In Glemaud's own words:
...when asked about a document submitted to Brian Jean, parliamentary secretary to Transport Minister John Baird, on behalf of three companies, Glemaud called it an "executive summary" to determine if there was interest in learning more about the companies.

"If there was an interest then there would be a request to submit a detailed business plan with all the details of the project," Glemaud said. "And that would be viewed as the actual grant or contribution agreement application, and that's when lobbying would start. We didn't get to that stage."

"Our understanding is if we were in a position to be at that stage, then I would have to decide for myself to register as a lobbyist," Glemaud added.

That is the kind of argument, along with a need for more facts, that the Lobbying Commissioner will be looking at, presumably. The "executive summary" version doesn't measure up to Brian Jean's in two media reports.

Otherwise, the hearing was not the salaciously focussed spectacle that some worried about. For the vast majority of the hearing, except for Pat Martin's moment, the questions pertained to the lobbying issues, trying to figure out just what Jaffer and Glemaud's business was, trying to probe the ethics of Jaffer and Glemaud's interactions with government. That was a successful outcome of the day. Any spin that the hearing was a circus won't likely be credible. There was no piling on that the public would recoil from. Some public light was shone on some key actors, so people can judge matters like credibility for themselves. That's a good thing, a little bit more transparency, and but for our minority parliament situation, wouldn't be happening.