That may have been out of line, but if there's anything to this story, this may be the least of Emerson's worries.
David Emerson has rejected a report that he blocked a deal on the softwood lumber crisis until after the election campaign.
A report in Thursday's Toronto Star claimed Emerson, the former Liberal industry minister, had a template for a solution with the U.S. on the conflict, but put it on hold until after the election.
So here are the obvious questions--did Emerson agree to cross the floor (the Canadian term for switching parties) before the election (and not after, based on the evidence on hand at the moment)? And if so, did he hold up the deal so Harper could take the credit, and not (as he claimed) because of fears it would hurt Liberal chances in British Columbia?
A lot of Canadian outlets are reporting that this was an all-but-done deal--but forestry officials say otherwise.
The situation was far from approaching full-blown negotiations that might have solved the long-running and costly dispute, Carl Grenier of the Free Trade Lumber Council said Thursday.
And its early elements wouldn't likely have been acceptable to many in the hard-hit forestry sector, he added.
"It was only a proposal," with elements drawn from a previous proposal rejected by the forestry industry in December 2003, said Grenier, whose group represents lumber producers across the country.
"It was nixed by senior (forestry) industry people . . . I don't think it can be described as a done deal."
However, the mere fact this issue is even being raised is bad news for Emerson and his new Conservative friends. And yet, their behavior earlier this week hasn't done much to stop the questions. Emerson has been largely incommunicado since the swearing-in--aside from a Friday appearance on CBC in which he turned down demands that he step down and run in a by-election (special election) for his seat. He cancelled a press conference on Thursday after being reportedly snarled up in traffic. And Harper and other Cabinet ministers have kept quiet on this issue--which meant Conservative backbenchers had to defend Emerson from the inevitable Liberal attacks. At the very least, this is highly troubling considering that Harper currently heads the weakest minority government in Canadian history.
For Emerson's sake, he better be telling the truth that he only agreed to cross the floor after the election and that his concerns about the deal were really motivated by worries about a backlash in BC. If he isn't ... well, methinks the Conservatives will be lucky even to win two seats in the next election.