Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Hypocrisy, thy name is Reynolds

John Reynolds, hypocrisyThere are many Conservatives who are being criticized for intemperate comments that they made last May when Belinda Stronach defected to the Liberals (here, for example), which is fair enough provided that criticism does not go too far. Talk is cheap; Conservatives had every right to feel betrayed by Belinda when she crossed, and those feelings found themselves into words. Now a few of them are getting a chance to eat them. No big deal. The lesson? Everyone should be slower to throw stones, because sooner or later one of your associates will turn your house into glass.

Talk may be cheap. But legal complaints are not. And while writing up a few thoughts about Emerson's crossing at my other blog (here), I noticed this old Toronto Star story from last June (here), which reported that Reynolds complained to the Law Societies of Ontario and BC about the actions of Peterson and Dosanjh in the defection and non-defection of Stronach and Grewal respectively:
Reynolds provides transcripts he claims indicate that Dosanjh and Murphy offer a cabinet position to Tory MP Gurmant Grewal or a "significant position” for Grewal’s wife Nina, also a Tory MP, in exchange for their votes.

He also provides transcripts he says indicate that Peterson offered former Tory Belinda Stronach a cabinet position in exchange for crossing the floor to the Liberals.
Got that. Reynolds filed a complaint with the Law Society of Ontario that argued that David Peterson should be disbarred for having "offered former Tory Belinda Stronach a cabinet position in exchange for crossing the floor to the Liberals".

Now compare what Reynolds is saying in today's Globe and Mail:
The day after the election, Mr. Reynolds called Mr. Emerson at his Vancouver home.

"I said, 'How would you like to stay in the government?' So we had a conversation about the pros and cons of that, and then, I said, " 'why don't we just sit on it for a couple of days? I'm not talking to anybody. You think about it and we'll get together,' " Mr. Reynolds said.
Doesn't this look an awful lot like what he tried to get Peterson disbarred for?

Update. Apparently Reynolds was interviewed on ROBTV yesterday, a clip of which is reported here:
John Reynolds: "When we won the next day I was talking to Stephen would you like me to talk to David Emerson... Steve said hey talk to him so I did I phoned him up."

Amanda Lang: "So the prime minister's response was Ya that's a good idea, let's call up our big foe and ask him to join cabinet. He didn't say what are you talking about John?"

John Reynolds: "No, no."


late said...

It depends. If Reynolds offered Emerson a cabinet seat but not a request to change parties, and then Emerson decided himself to change parties -- this would not be an illegal inducement I think.

But it seems that from the later Reynolds quote in that same article, "I offered him nothing. I offered him a chance to sit down with Harper and talk about it," that the request was not to remain in cabinet but instead to switch parties.

In this case, a request to "stay in the government" could mean that a cabinet post was offered, which is especially damning considering that he retained his existing post. It is difficult to imagine that he was not informed that this would be part of his new role in the government, yet this is far from proof.

We should ask Grewal -- maybe he had a wiretap on the line...

buckets said...

Just to clarify. I don't think that Reynolds' actions in this was illegal, or that Peterson's was.

What I'm struck by is that Reynolds seems to have done exactly what he tried to get someone else disbarred for.

Steve V said...

From the height of arrogance and detached reality department:

"I'm sure a great percentage of the NDP people in his riding are yelling and screaming today. But everybody else is happy,” MR. Reynolds said.

Everybody else?

Stephen said...

Some parts of the Globe story don't add up.

Reynolds apparently told Emerson, 'I'm not talking to anybody,' and yet Stephen Harper is reported to have known of the conversations.

Also, Reynolds is said to have approached Harper 'much earlier' about the possibility of bringing Emerson over and himself told the reporters 'We wanted him, no question about that.'

Who did the 'we' include if not Harper and Reynolds?

And how early was 'much earlier' anyway? During the campaign itself?

Back when Reynolds was accusing Peterson of brokering criminal deals?

I agree that Reynolds looks hypocritical here.

Pete said...

"Reynolds apparently told Emerson, 'I'm not talking to anybody,' and yet Stephen Harper is reported to have known of the conversations."

I read this as Reynolds saying that he wasn't talking to anybody else for the position that Emerson was up for.

I could be wrong of course.

Darrell said...

I think the fine line is that it's illegal to entice or otherwise influence an MP to change their vote. It's not illegal to ask them to switch parties, or even offer them a spot in the cabinet.

They are, for practical purposes, very comparable though. If Reynolds was truly morally outraged by Peterson/Dosanjh's actions, he never would have done this himself.

buckets said...

Darell. I'm sure that there are plenty of fine lines in plenty of places.

But I'm having trouble finding one here. Belinda changed parties and became a cabinet minister; Emerson changed parties and became a cabinet minister. Once they changed parties, they became bound to vote with their new parties.