Saturday, May 10, 2008

Does this now mean that Harper's threats to sue constitutes the same conflict?

Apparently just a threat of law suit is enough to prevent a member of parliament from participating in committees, and possibly the house itself.

From the Globe this morning:
Liberal MP has been barred from asking questions on the Mulroney-Schreiber affair in Parliament, raising fears that a libel chill is set to extend into the House and committee rooms on the Hill. Up until this week, Liberal MP Robert Thibault had been one of the opposition party's main questioners on the cash dealings between former prime minister Brian Mulroney and businessman Karlheinz Schreiber. 
However, Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson has barred Mr. Thibault from raising the issue further in Parliament because Mr. Mulroney has launched a $2-million lawsuit against Mr. Thibault for allegedly libellous statements on CTV Newsnet on the matter. Ms. Dawson ruled that according to the conflict-of-interest code, Mr. Thibault now has a "private interest" in the controversy and he cannot debate or vote on issues related to it.
Ms. Dawson, who began her investigation after a complaint from the Conservatives, did not impose any sanctions against Mr. Thibault, stating that he acted in good faith and that her ruling was a first on this type of issue.
Unlike a Prime Minister that might be accepting funds, while in office, Harper's government thinks the bigger conflict of interest is the Liberal MP asking questions about it. 

Does this now mean that Harper's threats to sue Liberal members constitutes the same conflict? That's one way to silence the opposition Steve.

Here's the CTV article from November 15, 2007 where Mulroney announces his intention to sue. The same day that Thibault went on CTV's Newsnet with Duffy.
According to Mulroney's statement of claim, Thibault said during the broadcast that Mulroney has previously claimed not to have known or had a business relationship with Schreiber, a German-Canadian businessman facing extradition to Germany for fraud charges. The documents also allege that Thibault said Mulroney began receiving $300,000 in payments from Schreiber while he was still in office in May 1993. Mulroney has denied the allegations, and none of them have been proven in court. He has maintained that he did not receive any money from Schreiber until after he left office
Brian, I never could understand your indignation about the timing of the payment. It is not really the fact whether you were paid the night you left office, or a week, a month or six months later. Reading the articles in the press, the question becomes when did you arrange to be paid and wouldn’t that constitute a business relationship with someone you knew.

Personally I somewhat agree with the blogging tories and wish Brian would go away, but he just keeps suing people to salvage a reputation that doesn't exist. At least not to the majority of Canadians that overwhelmingly threw his party out of office.

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