|The Mulcair envelope issues|
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.
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'.