Depending on which news clip you viewed, the end of the parliamentary inquiry into the advertising irregularities scandal was either a natural course of action or a complete hijacking of the democratic process. There’s no happy middle ground to land on after Paul Martin pulled the plug on Tuesday on the adscam hearings. No more will Newsworld feature gavel to gavel coverage of our earnest looking parliamentarians searching for the smoking gun. Riveting tales of those hidden worker projects that would make a Mafia kingpin blush in their brazenness, now destined to go unexplained until the next set of hearings in September with Justice Gomery.
Over thirty witnesses have come and gone, former participants going from speaker to suspect with arrests earlier this week. The RCMP providing the needed visual moment with Chuck Guite and Jean Brault doing their best COPS perp walk for the cameras, as they were led handcuffed to their date with a judge. A convenient bit of theatre that for the Liberals seemed to provide the natural ending point for a hearing process that seemed to drag on with little in the way of explanation coming forth. Let the legal system decide if the two are guilty or innocent, for now Guite and Brault provide a wonderful exclamation point for the meandering committee.
A last gasp motion by Conservative MP Jason Kenny to allow the hearings to continue, is destined to be defeated later on Thursday, as the House of Commons begins it’s Spring clean up mode. There’s an election soon to be called, other issues for Canadians to consider, these hearings are destined to be forgotten, like many commissions of inquiry before it. Eventually someone will publish the minutes, conclusions will be provided and the weighty tome will sit in public libraries across Canada gathering dust. It’s the nature of the Canadian way, we examine, we publish, we forget.
With a final press conference Kenny, Bloc MP Michel Guimond and NDP MP Pat Martin gathered together to exclaim Cover UP! The opposition group claiming that the Prime Minister was never really serious about getting to the bottom of the scandal, merely in going through the motions. For them it’s the last chance to get some face time in the media eye, once the writ is dropped they’ll fade from our view, and if the voters find fault in their work at home they’ll fade from Parliament as well.
The Liberals no longer wishing to do battle with their own, have chosen to bring this mess to an end. The Gomery hearings and the Guite/Brault court cases now off in some distant and safe time, long after the expected June 28th election date. For Prime Minister Martin the roll of the dice (to borrow from Brian Mulroney) is probably worth the gamble, if he wins the next election with a majority he can choose to revisit the fight, if he loses it will be a moot point, the Conservatives will no doubt bring forth an investigation to make the McCarthy hearings look to be a PTA meeting.
The required verdict is now needed from the jury; the Canadian public will soon get its chance to weigh in on the handling of this scandal. If they feel it has been properly moved forward then it will be a check mark in favour of the Martin Liberals, if they too believe it’s all been a smokescreen, then some lucky opposition party is closer to wooing a voter. Then again that age old Canadian tradition of holding one’s nose when they vote may come into play.
Which way will the wind blow? We’ll have a better idea as the date of decision is first announced and then draws closer. After all of the talk, the accusations and the days and days of testimony it’s back to us. Are we sufficiently outraged to take out our frustrations on our MP’s? By the end of June we’ll find out.
The above posting first appeared in my Boondoggle blog, for more postings and links about the government check it out.