Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Mulcair Envelope: Questions that will haunt the NDP Leader

The Mulcair envelope issues
Ottawa is aswirl with rumours about breaches of ethical rules by our esteemed senators, and a subcurrent is now starting, egged on by a desperate Conservative Party that wishes to change the channel and/or deflect criticism.

Three interesting articles by journalists deal with the possible cash bribe that was offered to Thomas Mulcair, the rookie member of the Quebec legislature, some 17 years ago, by a former Laval mayor now charged with corruption (including gangsterism).

Apart from the fact that the apparently conflicting statements by Thomas Mulcair will be used in thousands of TV attack ads by  Harper's neocon new Conservatives leading up to the next election, there are a few questions that Mulcair needs to consider while he decides how to handle this issue.

Thomas Mulcair

The 4 questions that have arisen so far are:
1.      Did Mulcair know that the white envelope offered to him by the Mayor contained a cash bribe?
2.     If he did not know that it contained cash, did he at the time of the offer suspect that it contained cash and was meant as a bribe?
3.     If he did so suspect, why did he not report it to the authorities at the time?
4.     Why, in 2010, did he apparently accuse another rookie member, who was also offered an envelope by the same mayor, of failing to report the offer to the authorities (even though Mulcair did not report the offer made to him)?

The first 2 questions are designed to clear up what seem to be conflicting facts in press reports. The third question deals with Mulcair's non-reporting of the incident for many years.

The last question raises the issue of possible hypocrisy by Mulcair (the pot calling the kettle black).

In Thursday's Globe & Mail, Daniel Leblanc writes about the offer to Mulcair (my underlining and bolding):

Federal NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair refused an envelope that may have contained cash from the mayor of Laval, Que., in 1994 but discussed the matter with law-enforcement authorities only 17 years later.

The incident raises questions about the delay of the disclosure until 2011 but also Mr. Mulcair’s statement the previous year to reporters that he never saw envelopes of cash in the office of long-time Laval mayor Gilles Vaillancourt..

Mr. Mulcair acknowledged in a statement on Thursday that he met with Mr. Vaillancourt the year he was first elected as an MNA but that he discussed the meeting with authorities only two years ago.

“In early 2011, I met with the police in order to help in their investigation. I gave to them my account of a meeting I had with Mayor Gilles Vaillancourt dating back to 1994. As is indicated, I effectively and immediately ended the meeting with Mr. Vaillancourt,” Mr. Mulcair said.

The statement corroborated a story in Montreal newspaper La Presse that Mr. Mulcair told police that he felt the envelope likely contained cash and that he had refused it.

Further on, Leblanc writes:

Mr. Mulcair was asked at a news conference in 2010 whether he had ever been offered or seen “envelopes of cash” in Mr. Vaillancourt’s office. He answered, “No.”
 The statement is accurate in that Mr. Mulcair apparently did not see the contents of the envelope that Mr. Vaillancourt had offered.

Leblanc writes this about Mulcair's concern about another member of the legislature:

In his 2010 comments, Mr. Mulcair criticized Serge Ménard, a former Bloc Québécois MP and Parti Québécois MNA who had acknowledged to the media that he was offered an envelope from Mr. Vaillancourt.
 While Mr. Ménard said he refused the offer, Mr. Mulcair raised questions about his failure to report the matter to authorities, given that he went on to become a prominent PQ minister.

“One thing preoccupies me with that is that a person who went on to become justice minister and public security minister felt that he couldn’t do anything about it,” Mr. Mulcair said at the time.

He added that when someone raised a case of potential wrongdoing with him, “I invited the person to go to the police.”

It is not clear from the above quote as to exactly when, in Mulcair's opinion, his fellow legislature member should have told the police about the mayor and the envelope. Should he have done it soon after the envelope was offered by the mayor? If so, why would this duty not also apply to Mulcair? Or should he have done it as soon as he was appointed justice minister? And why just then?

This issue will not go away in a hurry, and the Harper Tory attack ads will hurt Mulcair and his party unless he clarifies issues, especially the nagging question why he never told any authority (the Speaker of the Legislature; the RCMP; the provincial police; the Premier; whoever ...) about his concerns about 'the envelope'.

5 comments :

  1. Mulcair didn't know what was in envelope, had no evidence, and you can't go to Police with a hunch, especially about a powerful Mayor without evidence.

    Your leader on the other hand had no problem with going on a very profitable speaking tour while he was supposed to be at work in Parliament. He took money from school boards and charities to give pay speeches he wasn't qualified to give.

    Almost no other MP charges to give speeches, its concidered apart of the job.

    Justin says he got permission from the ethics commissioner to do it, problem is she is legally unable to confirm or deny it! Not long after the Ethics commissioner complained about being unable to set the record straight about such matters.

    Unlike the Liberals and the Tories Mulcair refuses unethical money, turns it down, and faught the corrupt Laval Mayor over the Enviroment, the Liberals over lying, and the Tories over well everything they've done wrong, that's a big list.

    So I'll put the intergity of my leader up against yours, while yours parties in Jamica while Ottawa burns.

    If the Liberals are insane enough to try and take thier talking points from Van Loan who ran away from the media like a dog with his tail between his legs, bring it. Mulcair will make you regret it.

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  2. Ryan, don't you think that if an elected MP or MLA has good reasons for thinking that public officials are being bribed, that he or she should alert authorities (choose any of the Speaker, the police, his party leader, his party whip, others) to this degredation of democracy? I do.

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  3. Now I directed these comments to Conservative supporters seeking to deflect

    current scandals of the Harper regime by raising the scandal of Liberal MNA Mulcair in 1994, but they apply as well to the Liberal Party of Canada:

    "As to the accusations of corruption and bribery in Quebec in 1994, the Conservatives are treading on dangerous ground here seeking to dig up dirt on fund-raising and influence peddling practices of the former Quebec Liberal governments of Robert Bourassa and Daniel Johnson, Jr., only of interest to them because one lone MNA, Thomas Mulcair, was elected as a simple backbencher in the Chomedey-Laval riding in 1994. From what I can judge, he may have been one of the only ones to actually refuse a bribe. So the question remains, as a former attorney for of Alliance Quebec and a spokesperson within Johnson's Liberal opposition to Parizeau's PQ government addressing the concerns of the anglophone minority - this was his status at the time - why didn't he blow the whistle on an apparently corrupt Liberal opposition and tearing down his own party as some anti-corruption crusader in the polarized climate leading to the second Quebec referendum. Context is relevant to his motives."

    "As to the overall context of the period, the federal Progressive Conservatives worked the same environment with practices similar to Bourassa Liberals during this period, had the same sources of fund-raising and were mired in numerous scandals involving corruption, questionable fund-raising and influence peddling, so it is a bit ironic to see Conservatives today - who claim continuity with this past - digging around in Quebec pre-referendum history."

    Given that the Liberal Party during this same period contained such worthy Ministers as Gagliano, Liberals are in a fine position to raise issues of ethical behaviour with respect to Mulcair.

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  4. Rene, the scandals re municipal projects in Quebec are mind boggling and very disappointing. The slippery slope towards such corruption is paved with people who know evil is afoot, but turn a blind eye to it. Why did Conservatives not question Duffy's expenses? Why did Liberals not blow the whistle on the corruption that brought down the Liberal federal government? Why did Mulcair not raise the alarm when a mayor offered him an envelope and his spidy senses said something was wrong?

    We have the right to expect honourable behaviour on the part of our elected representatives, and to have them protect the democracy if they become aware of corruption.

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  5. You are trying to place the blame for the corruption rampant within both the provincial and federal Liberal parties, as well as the Progressive Conservatives of that era on the shoulders of one Liberal MNA from Chomedy-Laval in 1994, who allegedly witnessed corruption in his party but failed to blow the whistle on it, thereby destroying or crippling his party for the sake of "honour", and betraying the over-riding interests of his own electorate in so doing, because the utmost concern at that time was presumably to report the activities of some pickpocket within his own ranks, while his own ranks were engaged in a struggle to determine whether their party, their institutions, their country would continue to exist in its present form.
    Good to see that Liberals in 2013 have their priorities worked out, and would insist on blowing the whistle on some pickpocket roaming about committing larceny, because it's a matter of principle and honour, while ignoring the greater threat of some lurking serial killer intent on mayhem and murder.
    Now the Liberals themselves were deeply involved in such fraud and corruption, even after the separatist threat had receded, using the threat to excuse such transgressions as the sponsorship scandal, but apparently they are now holding this poor Liberal MNA from Chomedy-Laval to higher standards than they exhibited at the time- holding him responsible for widespread corruption throughout Quebec federal, provincial and municipal governments for his failure to blow the whistle in 1994.

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