Sunday, January 04, 2009

Rattle that sabre

More tonight from CP on another outstanding controversy, this one from the midst of the December political battles: "NDP rattles legal sabre over disputed caucus tape."

The NDP is still rightfully concerned about the Conservatives having improperly and unethically listened in on an NDP conference call and then having recorded and distributed it. They are now seeking "...the names of "any and all individuals" involved in the Conservative decision to record and distribute copies of a New Democrat caucus meeting - and it is threatening legal action to get them." Meanwhile, the RCMP may or may not be investigating this Conservative intrusion.

We do learn from this report that the Conservatives apparently have some understanding that they did something inappropriate here and tried to make this little scandal go away quickly. In a conversation in early December between NDP and Conservative lawyers, the Conservatives said they would "...stop publicly referring to the recording, and that they were prepared to address NDP concerns." Whatever that means, given the damage they caused at the time in using this confidential conference call for propaganda purposes. Can they somehow take all that back?

It's not clear to me that there is any legal liability here, based on just the Act alone. Whatever happens with respect to any legal consequences, an equally important concern is the thuggish, Nixonian politics of the Harper Conservatives for having listened in on the call when they were fully aware of the fact that they should not have done so. They then taped and disseminated it. I wish the NDP well in pursuing the matter. Raising it and pressing the Conservatives in the court of public opinion is well worth the time.