Saturday, June 04, 2005

Plausible Deniability

Ethics commissioner Bernard Shapiro will investigate the Gurmant Grewal tape scandal to determine whether Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh bribed Grewal to cross the floor and whether Grewal, in turn, entrapped Dosanjh.

Will Paul Martin tell us all to suspend our critical faculties until Shapiro reports?

Very likely, because not only can Shapiro's investigation be quickly suspended, but he also can't investigate the other major player in the affair, PMO chief of stafd Tim Murphy:

From The Globe and Mail :

The Prime Minister's chief of staff office falls outside the scope of the ethics commissioner, and Mr. Murphy will not be investigated.

Mr. Shapiro has the power to subpoena witnesses, but his investigation would be suspended if the RCMP launched a criminal probe into the matter. So far, the RCMP has obtained the original tape but has not announced whether or not it will investigate.

Ethics commissioner spokesman Jonathan Choquette said "it was a bit early" to tell how long the process would take.

"It's hard to say, it depends on the complexity of the investigation," he told "It will also depend on what the RCMP decides and how fast we get the information."

When complete, Mr. Shapiro will table his report in the House of Commons, but does not have the authority to sanction or discipline a Member of Parliament.

If the RCMP gets involved, Shapiro will never report because the investigation will be taken out of his hands long enough for everyone to have forgotten about his inquiry.

If not, his report will be suspect because it will not be able to make any positive assertions about the PMO's involvement--only second- and third-hand reports about Tim Murphy's conduct.

Paul Martin will stand up in the House and claim that he's been exonerated because Shapiro's report did not state that the PMO was involved in any way. Tim Murphy will be still be chief of staff, Ujjal Dosanjh will still be in cabinet, and the media will be screaming for Gurmant Grewal's head for distracting Dosanjh from fixing health care for a generation.

Meanwhile, the Liberals are still trying to prove that the tapes have been doctored without actually studying the tapes themselves:

The Liberals have said for days that the tape has been edited. Late Friday afternoon they produced their own expert, Glenn Marshall, who said he found identical sound fragments of someone asking for a cup of tea repeated twice in the tape.

"In a continuous tape you should not see a duplication such as this, the timing is too exact," he said at an Ottawa press conference.

Stevan Pausak, a former Ontario government expert and forensic scientist who trained at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said a 46-second audio segment containing a chat between Mr. Grewal and Mr. Dosanjh about an unspecified reward for joining the Liberal Party contained an unexplained dead air gap of 0.3 seconds.

"Two seconds into the recording there is this continuous gap and the signal is missing for 0.3 seconds," he told "The missing signal definitely shows the copy [provided to him by The Canadian Press Thursday] is altered."

In Liberal time-keeping, 0.3 seconds is as a big a gap as 18 1/2 minutes. What could Dosanjh have said to exculpate himself in 0.3 seconds? What could anyone?

I'll leave the last word to John Reynolds.

Tory House Leader John Reynolds compared the Liberal handling of the tape scandal to "sort of like Monty Python's Flying Circus but more sinister."

I wonder if he was thinking of this Python classic?

And now for something completely different: a man with a tape recorder up his nose.

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