Sunday, March 02, 2008

Cadman scandal: Transcript shows Stephen Harper knew Conservative party officials made financial offer to ailing MP; widow and daughter stand by story

Independent MP Chuck Cadman, House of Commons, May 19, 2005
(Photo by Tom Hanson/CP)

The Toronto Star has published the contents of an interview that was conducted by Vancouver journalist Tom Zytaruk with then Opposition leader Stephen Harper in September 2005.

The article Cadman 'bribe' furor grips Tories (Toronto Star, Feb. 29, 2008) explains that “Harper knew Conservative party officials were making a financial offer to independent MP Chuck Cadman in exchange for his vote to topple the minority Liberal government in May 2005.”

In his new book Like A Rock: The Chuck Cadman Story, Zytaruk said two Conservative party operatives offered Cadman, who had terminal cancer, a million-dollar life insurance policy.

According to the Star:
Two days before the vote, Zytaruk writes, Cadman was visited by two Conservative representatives and presented with a list of enticements to rejoin the party before the vote.

“They wanted him to vote against the government,” Zytaruk quotes Cadman's wife Dona.

A million-dollar life insurance policy was on the list, Zytaruk writes.

“That was on him, so that if he died I’d get the million dollars,” Dona Cadman said.

“There was a few other things thrown in there too, but it was the million-dollar policy that just pissed him right off.”

The book says that the MP responded to the proposed deal by “bouncing them out of his office.”

“He came home and was mad. He just said that he was insulted and that he was ashamed to have been a part of the Conservative party,” Cadman's wife recalled in the book.
In Cadman confided Tory offer, 'hurt' daughter says (Toronto Star, Feb. 29, 2008) Cadmnan’s daughter, Jodi, confirmed her mother’s story saying her father had confided on his deathbed that he had been offered an insurance policy for a million dollars by the Conservatives.

In a Feb. 28 statement, senior Conservative officials Tom Flanagan and Doug Finley confirmed that they met with Cadman on May 19, 2005, two days after the meeting described in the book.

According to the Star, the statement issued by Flanagan and Finley makes no mention of any earlier meeting with Cadman.

But in his own book, Harper’s Team, Behind the Scenes in the Conservative Rise to Power, Flanagan hints that the May 19 meeting wasn’t the first time they had tried to persuade Cadman to come back to the Conservative benches.

Harper, now prime minister, denied that there was any financial offer made to Cadman.

During Question Period in the House of Commons on Feb. 28 Liberal MP Michael Ignatieff demanded to know if Mr. Harper, in denying the offer was ever made, was suggesting Mr. Cadman's widow was a liar.

“Is he saying that the widow of Chuck Cadman is lying? Is he saying that a Conservative candidate is lying?”

The Prime Minister did not respond to the question. ['No truth' to Cadman allegations: Harper (Globe and Mail, Feb. 28, 2008)]

Harper says there was no attempt to bribe to Cadman because Cadman himself said so on national TV on May 19, 2005, in an interview with CTV’s Mike Duffy. The Liberals claim the interview was “at best ambiguous.”

Adam Radwanski, a member of the Globe and Mail’s editorial board, provides a transcript of that interview on his blog.

In a separate blog entry Radwannski said, “It would be ironic, given his usual reluctance to talk to reporters, if Stephen Harper were undone by his willingness to talk to Tom Zytaruk in a driveway.”

“Unless I’m missing something, [the tape] would seem to contradict the current Conservative version of events in two different ways.

“One, the PMO claims that Harper only learned of the alleged bribe offer - of which he purportedly found no evidence - from Dona Cadman. But what he reportedly told Zytaruk directly implies that he knew in advance they were up to something, if not exactly what.

“Two, Tom Flanagan and Doug Finley - presumably the officials in question, unless there were two separate offers from two separate pairs of Tory operatives - claim they were there to offer “ways that we – as campaign officials – could help Mr. Cadman in the Conservative nomination process, and if successful, wage a competitive campaign in a general election.” But at the time, Harper reportedly suggested their theory was that Cadman was worried about “financial security” and that they offered to replace “financial considerations he might lose due to an election.”

“That actually makes a lot more sense, since Cadman wasn’t in any shape to run for re-election but might conceivably have worried about giving up his income for as long as he was alive. But it also sounds a lot more like a bribe, doesn’t it?”

The following is the transcript of the Zytaruk/Harper interview as published in the Toronto Star. After that is the transcript of the exchange between Cadman and CTV’s Mike Duffy as provided by Radwanski on his blog.

Zytaruk: “I mean, there was an insurance policy for a million dollars. Do you know anything about that?”

Harper: “I don't know the details. I know that there were discussions, uh, this is not for publication?”

Zytaruk: “This (inaudible) for the book. Not for the newspaper. This is for the book.”

Harper: “Um, I don’t know the details. I can tell you that I had told the individuals, I mean, they wanted to do it. But I told them they were wasting their time. I said Chuck had made up his mind, he was going to vote with the Liberals and I knew why and I respected the decision. But they were just, they were convinced there was, there were financial issues. There may or may not have been, but I said that's not, you know, I mean, I, that's not going to change.”

Zytaruk: “You said (inaudible) beforehand and stuff? It wasn't even a party guy, or maybe some friends, if it was people actually in the party?”

Harper: “No, no, they were legitimately representing the party. I said don’t press him. I mean, you have this theory that it’s, you know, financial insecurity and, you know, just, you know, if that’s what you’re saying, make that case but don’t press it. I don’t think, my view was, my view had been for two or three weeks preceding it, was that Chuck was not going to force an election. I just, we had all kinds of our guys were calling him, and trying to persuade him, I mean, but I just had concluded that’s where he stood and respected that.”

Zytaruk: “Thank you for that. And when (inaudible).”

Harper: “But the, uh, the offer to Chuck was that it was only to replace financial considerations he might lose due to an election.”

Zytaruk: “Oh, OK.”

Harper: “OK? That’s my understanding of what they were talking about.”

Zytaruk: “But, the thing is, though, you made it clear you weren’t big on the idea in the first place?”

Harper: “Well, I just thought Chuck had made up his mind, in my own view ...”

Zytaruk: “Oh, okay. So, it’s not like, he’s like, (inaudible).”

Harper: “I talked to Chuck myself. I talked to (inaudible). You know, I talked to him, oh, two or three weeks before that, and then several weeks before that. I mean, you know, I kind of had a sense of where he was going.”

Zytaruk: “Well, thank you very much.”


Duffy: “Chuck, earlier tonight Craig Oliver reported on our network special that the Conservatives were prepared do offer you an unopposed nomination if you would vote with them, and also help with campaign funding and so on. Was that offer actually made?”

Cadman: “Well there was some talk about that. As far as the unopposed nomination, you know, the discussions did come up. The talk did come up, yeah.”

Duffy: “So they were making an offer to you, and in the end you refused?”

Cadman: “Yes. Well, that was the only offer on anything that I had from anybody. So there was no offers on the table up till that point about anything from any party.”


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