Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Shapiro Smacked Down

Stephen Harper continues to saw through the floor around Bernard Shapiro's feet:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Tuesday the power to make cabinet appointments lies with his office and he won't turn relinquish it despite the threat of a pending inquiry by Canada's ethics czar into a former Liberal's move to the Tories' ranks.

The comments came after federal Ethics Commissioner Bernard Shapiro announced he was launching a preliminary inquiry into Mr. Harper and former Liberal cabinet minister David Emerson regarding Mr. Emerson's switch to the Tories just two weeks after the Jan. 23 federal vote.

“The power to make cabinet appointments is a power that resides in the office of the Prime Minister as the highest democratically elected official in the country and this Prime Minister has no intension of acceding that jurisdiction in any way, shape or form to any government official,” Mr. Harper told reporters in Ottawa.

How long can Shapiro last in office with any credibility left? The Prime Minister has shut the door on his investigation in public, twice, and will keep doing so until Shapiro either drops his investigation or quits.

The problem with Harper's approach, as legally and constitutionally correct as it is, is that he might unintentionally make Shapiro a martyr by forcing him out, and make the Emerson deal look much dirtier than it really is. Attacking the prosecutor is usually the last resort of the dead guilty: it should not be the first resort of a government with nothing to hide.

If Shapiro really believes that there was some sort of bribery or subornation of public office in the matter, he would have stepped aside and let the RCMP take up the matter.

Shapiro needs to be reined in. But Harper might end up strangling him instead.

Source: Globe and Mail


ferrethouse said...

Not acting is worse - it gives Shapiro legitimacy.

Harper, with our help, needs to point out that parliament (Bloc, NDP, and Conservatives) questioned the partisanship of Shapiro last year. He is a joke who is probably still under orders from the Liberal upper echelon.

PGP said...

Shapiro deserves to be fired.
His history of bowing to his patron Chretien and towing the Liberal party line in all things is reason enough to give him the boot. His rush to pounce on the Emerson move is just more of the same. Knowing full well the limited number of his days in authority (such as it is ) he is blatantly going after his mentors foes.
This last bit of politicing on his part will be his swan song. Perhaps that will resonate with some as some form of a brave last stand. But reality is that his carreer has no points of note at all except for failed opportunities to shed light on noteable incidents of Liberal self serving arrogance

Brian Lemon said...

Once again the PM is not, and his supporters should not, be apprehensive about he doing what he believes is right, instead of what offers good optics.
Since when does a PM pussyfoot around a beureaucrat appointed by a previous government.

Ottawa Core said...

"In a position like this you also have to always ask yourself whether you're continuing to add value for the country at large. If I felt, for example, that no matter how hard I worked, no one ever felt I had the right answer to anything, I would have to seek another thing to do in my life." -Dr. Bernard Shapiro, Committee of Procedure and House Affairs, 26Apr04

Anonymous said...

If you don't like what Shapiro is doing, then email his office and state your opposition to his investigation.

Anonymous said...

The choice of an academic like Shapiro for such a position was a poor one to begin with. If anyone's ever seen how universities in this country are "managed", putting an academic in charge of ethics is akin to letting Clifford Olson run a daycare.

Toonces said...

I agree with the main post, and really disagree with the first three comments. This could be dangerous if not handled the right way. Fortunately PMSH seems to be doing this by denying Shapiro based on his constitutioal perogative to appoint cabinet ministers. Full stop.

The other issue about Shapiro being sleazy, incompetent, Liberal appointed etc. cannot be cited as a reason you're not co-opeating. See the above quote about how dissing the prosecutor is the last stop of the guilty. The sleaze factor may be true and will be why he is replaced--but if PMSH does it now--lookout.

hancor said...

Peter McKay and Ed Broadbent were on to Shapiro's incompetency way back in June of 2005.

Refusing to investigate Tim Murphy, Dosanjh but quite willing to train his guns on Grewal in the tapes affair. I wrote a letter back then that he should be replaced.

I am sure Mr. Shapiro will find gainful employ back in academia which may be where his real talents lie.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Shapiro needs to leave now, not tomorrow but today. He has turned into a buffoon. His days were numbered even before he announced the Harper/Emerson investigations. His record since assuming officing is deplorable and with Parliament finding him in contempt he should have done the right thing and resigned them. This man lacks the temperament and the skills to be the Ethics Commissioner and he must go.

Toonces said...

odds that he will make it past the new ethics bill-0. Odds that Harper will wait a week or two to force his resignation/fire him--80%. He can't be fired this week. If the guy wants to retain a shred of dignity--he will resign. I think it would help the Liberals case if they forced him out. Hanging on till he's fired just so he can be 'entitled to his entitlements' is reminiscent of Dingwall.

Anonymous said...

This turn of events is good news for those of us who want Emerson to back down.

This is both an ethical issue and a political issue.

Emerson has now become a political liability for the fragile Harper government.


Anonymous said...

Ethical guidelines only work if the person has ethics to begin with. Those who don't will look for ways to say "this does not apply here".

CuriosityKilledTheCat said...

NDP growls and shows its teeth ...

They are considering bringing a contempt of Parliament charge against Stephen Harper over his refusal to cooperate with the Ethics Commissioner!

Peter O’Neil in The Gazette on March 9, writes:

“Harper, Broadbent noted, is also violating the ethics code requirement that all MPs must co-operate during investigations. "The prime minister is moving in dangerous territory himself, no doubt inadvertently, and he could even be found in contempt of Parliament," Broadbent told CanWest News Service yesterday.... Parliament has the authority, though it has never been used, to throw anyone in jail for contempt of Parliament, according to the latest edition of the authoritative House of Commons Procedure and Practice, by Robert Marleau and Camille Montpetit. Contempt is defined as "any act or omission which offends against the authority or dignity of Parliament (and) can include disobedience to a legitimate command of the House or libels against it, its officers or its members," according to the Parliament of Canada website. New Democrat MP Peter Julian said yesterday his caucus colleagues, meeting today and tomorrow in Ottawa, will consider whether to raise a motion of contempt against Harper when the new Parliament begins next month.”

Hardball politics, anyone?

And when do we see the Liberals showing some action in defence of Parliamentary rights, rather than hand wringing distress?

Go for it, Layton! It is part of your job.