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