BERNARD SHAPIRO, Lh

Once again, Mr. Bernard Shapiro, our ethics commissioner, appears to want to damage the cause of conservatism with the help of his office.

After giving Belinda Stronach and the Liberal Party a pass for her defection which, after several days of deal making was secured in time for a crucial vote, Mr. Shapiro now finds it necessary to launch a probe aimed directly at, who else, Stephen Harper.

While I still do not condone the acts that led to Mr. David Emerson crossing the floor to join the Conservative Party, I am absolutely stunned at the double standard with which the Liberal appointed ethics commissioner can view the whole situation. It seems that his impartiality is just a whisper, a thought that never sees fruition.

Since Ms. Stronach held meetings with top level officials to defect to the Liberal Party and was granted an immediate cabinet position, could one not speculate that the negotiations that saw her switch sides encompassed her political future and what it would entail within the Liberal Party? While there may or may not have been illegal activity, the appearance of such was much greater with Ms. Stronach than it is with Mr. Emerson.

While my charges of bias against Mr. Shapiro may sound like crying over spilt milk, let’s consider the preamble to the inquiry regarding Mr. Grewal Conservative MP, Mr. Dosanjh Liberal health minister, and Tim Murphy who is a top aid to Paul Martin, in regards to the now infamous taped conversations between the two. The wording below is the work of the office of the ethics commissioner.

It claims that Mr. Yvon Godin, the member representing the federal riding of Acadie-Bathurst, has requested that three scenarios be investigated. They are:

i) “that Mr. Grewal sought inducements from Minister Dosanjh and/or Mr. Tim Murphy; or Minister Dosanjh or Mr. Murphy offered inducements to Mr. Grewal to change his vote(s) on matters before the House of Commons of Canada;

ii) that Mr. Grewal surreptitiously audio taped conversations with Minister Dosanjh and/or others; and

iii) that Mr. Grewal attempted to entrap Minister Dosanjh into improper conduct.

The only mention of possible wrong-doing on the part of the Liberals is buried at the end of the first scenario, not on its own for someone to pick out, but after the allegations are pointed at Mr. Grewal. The second and third paragraphs are directly aimed at Mr. Grewal.

If that doesn’t impress you, consider the fact that the dealings between these two parties were taped. While there is said to be gaps on some of them, there is still an enormous amount of dialogue which is intact. Hearing the participants of those conversations speak openly and frankly about the topics that the inquiry was said to be investigating, I find it incredulous that Mr. Shapiro found it unnecessary to base any of his findings on the contents of those tapes. In fact in his report Mr. Shapiro states that “At the conclusion of this inquiry, I did not consider it necessary, in the face of the wealth of the primary corroborated evidence of all of the witnesses, to rely on the contents of the tapes in reaching my conclusions.”

His conclusion is another matter, and pretty much places the entire blame at the foot of Gurmant Grewal. “Therefore, in relation to allegation (i) and (iii) as they specifically relate to Mr. Grewal, either the first or third allegation is true. Regardless of which is, in fact, the case, Mr. Grewal’s actions were in my view entirely inappropriate and deserving at the very least, of reproach.”

Putting the Grewal-Dosanjh inquiry behind us, let’s compare Stronach and Emerson. Belinda Stronach crossed the floor the day before a crucial vote and one which would either give the Martin government continuity or see it go down in defeat. Upon crossing the floor, Ms. Stronach was handed a peach, that being the cabinet position of Minister of Human Resources. The resulting fallout? No inquiry, not against the Liberal Party, not against Belinda Stronach, and certainly not against then prime minister Paul Martin.

Now David Emerson crosses the floor. Apparently his betrayal speech was not as convincing as Belinda’s or perhaps he just doesn’t have that photogenic thing happening. Whatever the differences, they mostly escape me, except for that one little thing. David Emerson had the audacity, the gaul, to join the Conservative Party. The fallout from that? Claims of inducements and a media that is howling about Bernard Shapiro now investigating Stephen Harper.

If it wasn’t so sad, it would be laughable. By the way, the Lh after Mr. Shapiro’s name in the title of this column stand for his degree, of course: Liberal Hack.