Stephen Harper may not be a chess master, but he's certainly demonstrated some talent at malevolent manipulation, especially when it comes to the Cadman affair.
With members of his party accused of offering financial considerations -- confirmed in Harper's own words on a taped interview -- to a dying MP for his vote, he knew that this sticky mess could dampen his pitch for all-encompassing power on Parliament Hill. It would be a virtual death blow to a man who campaigned (and quickly shed) on ethics.
So, he did what a shrewd, win at all costs general would do on the battlefield -- he attacked before his opponents could launch their best shots. Harper tried first to ignore it, deny it, then with his own voice asking "is this for publication?", he chose to aim his barrel at the author who penned the book, and his chief opponent. A lawsuit proved to be adequate enough to remove the issue for what was certainly long enough for an election. Well, it turns out it wasn't. Those darn abstaining Liberals. He had to request, beg almost, for the judge to hold off his case against the Liberal Party due to an election he said he wouldn't call.
Now, after imposing his own lip-lock on the final few days of the hustings, Harper managed to squeeze out a few answers in an exclusive interview Monday night just before the election coverage blackout -- thus eliminating any opportunity for follow-up questions or counter-spin. What a leader.
While even his own tape expert has contradicted Harper's main defence, that the interview tape was doctored, he still has an ace in the hole. That ace was Cadman's widow, who was the prime witness for the author's claim that a $1 million insurance policy offer was made to secure the MP's vote. With his own cold, calculating blue eyes, Harper somehow gained the trust of Dona Cadman, whom some may call a well-meaning, if somewhat unsophisticated lady, telling her that he knew nothing of a million-dollar offer.
Completely inadmissable, but aren't the similarities between the Cadman case and the Gurmant Grewal affair, where the CON MP attempted to sting the Liberals by feigning interest in crossing the floor, cause to prick up thy ears, oh media?
Dona chose to run for the CON party in this election, thus giving Harper another alibi for his own actions. She hasn't changed her story -- Chuck was approached by men from the CON team. Now, that ugly incident that nearly stained her husband's legacy is water under the bridge. But I'm betting she didn't come up with the idea on her own. What if Harper planted a seed with the widow, of continuing her husband's work, and carrying the torch for the CONs in Surrey North? Wouldn't that be just what Chuck would have wanted? Who said a snake has no charm?
These things we do know: Mrs. Cadman has shown little skill as a politico but has followed the Harper campaign strategy to a 'T'. In other words, she's eluded the media, and refused to explain the situation -- it is before the courts, so-to-speak.
But it seems to be like that court-room tactic of where the chief witness suddenly can't testify because she's since wed the accused. If it works on Boston Legal, why not on Ottawa Improper?
Let's get this straight: Dona Cadman will only go as far as the party brand can take her tomorrow. She is not the type of person who wins over the electorate, she has none of her husband's charm, nor delivers any kind of passion for the job. While he entered politics as a one-issue candidate, the maverick earned his stripes by walking the walk, demonstrating integrity above so much callous and shallow political games. Through no fault of her own, that's not Dona. But it's as though she's a cypher for someone else, doing this marathon of hide-and-seek, likely believing in her own cause, but not seeing that she's a pawn being played.
That Harper has pulled the eyes over the media on this is without a doubt. You could even say that they've been derelict in their duty in pressing for more answers on this character-revealing case of subterfuge and distortion of democracy (question- Dona still sticks by the story that there were two meetings, despite the party's denial. Who were the men?). It's the equivalent of George W's war record. But that Harper has tarnished the reputation of the one hero in this whole affair, and used his widow to cover his tracks, is a signal that he can never be trusted. But will the real story ever be told?