Thursday, April 15, 2010

From "serious and credible" to "second-hand"

Update (7:45 p.m.) below.

The fact that the Prime Minister did not in fact make a formal referral to the Ethics Commissioner over the Helena Guergis allegations, despite the appearance he gave of having done so, has become clear today. The Ethics Commissioner has clarified that.

There might also be something worth noting about the PMO's framing of the allegations. On Friday the PM publicly stated they were "serious" allegations:
"Last night my office became aware of serious allegations regarding the conduct of the Honourable Helena Guergis."
This morning Soudas also framed the allegations as "serious and credible":
"We received serious and credible allegations. We turned that information over to the RCMP and the Ethics commissioner. We did not provide direction to either the RCMP or the Ethics commissioner."
But then there seems to be a shift later today, the allegations are referred to as "second-hand":
Media are reporting that the Prime Minister never made a REQUEST to the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner concerning the Hon. Helena Guergis.

These reports are correct and entirely consistent with the Prime Minister's statement on Friday. Information was FORWARDED to the Ethics Commissioner and to the RCMP and these authorities were left to make their own decisions about next steps. The Prime Minister and PMO did not "request" or "direct" any specific action. These authorities are independent and will make their own determinations.

The reports also claim that the Prime Minister did not provide specific details of allegations. This is also correct. The referrals to the Commissioner and RCMP made clear that the information was second-hand and identified the source of the information for such follow-up as these authorities felt appropriate. (emphasis added)
A subtle move by the P.R. Government™ who spend a lot of time on such framing that may be worth noting. Could be a hint of a bit of a walking back as Guergis' lawyer steps up her defence and there is some light shed on the source and circumstances in which the information was obtained.

Update (7:45 p.m.): More on the walking back thing, there's this:
The private investigator at the centre of allegations against MP Helena Guergis owed creditors more than $13 million as of August 2009, according to documents obtained by CBC News.

Court records reveal that Derrick Snowdy has filed for bankruptcy, with total liabilities of $13,313,976 and total assets of $11,379 as of Aug. 21, 2009. A decision by the court has not yet been made.

Snowdy is reported to have told a Conservative Party lawyer that his investigation into Toronto businessman Nazim Gillani uncovered allegations of cocaine use and stock fraud involving Guergis and her husband, former Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer.

The Toronto Star also quoted Snowdy as saying he told the lawyer that Gillani boasted he had cellphone pictures of Jaffer and Guergis "partying" with high-class escorts when cocaine was being snorted.
By contrast: "Liberals turned down chance to hear Guergis allegations."