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Three days after his sleazy switch to the Conservatives from the Liberals, Canadian International Trade Minister David Emerson complained that his kids were getting picked on at school because of the switch.

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?

As it stands now, the evidence indicates that Emerson was first approached about switching parties just after the Conservatives won a minority government.  At some point before Harper was sworn in on February 6, Emerson agreed to go Conservative--despite representing a riding where the Conservative candidate finshed a very bad third.

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.

Originally posted to Christian Dem in NC on Sat Feb 11, 2006 at 06:45 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip jar (4.00)
    The Canadian press appears to be all over this one--even if there's nothing to it, they can give the American press a few lessons on how to hold a government's feet to the fire.

    Jack Murtha is no coward--here's a real coward.

    by Christian Dem in NC on Sat Feb 11, 2006 at 06:48:55 PM PST

  •  Tory - Party of Two n/t (4.00)

    Democracy should begin at home. --Alice Paul, 1919

    by Cordelia Lear on Sat Feb 11, 2006 at 06:50:33 PM PST

  •  Hardly surprising (4.00)
    There's been a fair amount of reporting that Republicans in the US persuaded the South Vietnamese government to go slow on cease-fire negotiations so that the continuing war could be used to Richard Nixon's benefit in 1968, and that the GOP sought to frustrate Jimmy Carter's efforts to end the Iranian hostage crisis before the 1980 elections.

    If you do prove that Emerson screwed the deal in order to benefit the Conservatives, I hope you find a way to make him -- and his new buddies -- pay at the polls.

  •  Harper hearts Bush (4.00)
    I guess Harper wants to be like Bush so much that he decided to start his government with a scandal. :)
  •  Like W, Harper ran -- at least partiall -- (4.00)
    on a "morals" platform -- free vote in Parliament on overturning gay marriage, clean up government after Liberal "scandals", etc.

    Like W, we are seeing that those who scream over the lack of morals of others are the exact people who often have the worst moral crises in their own lives.

    Or to state it more plainly:

    "And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, "Let me remove the speck from your eye'; and look, a plank is in your own eye?  Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye. "

    Matthew 7:3-5

  •  I do hope that Harper doesn't get.... (none) for solving the dispute and that, instead, there is a price to be paid. Of course, if you solve a multi-billion dollar dispute, involving thousands of jobs, how steep can that price be?

    I told you so.

    "What luck for rulers that men do not think." - Adolf Hitler

    by Bensdad on Sat Feb 11, 2006 at 08:50:52 PM PST

    •  Now, now, child.... (4.00)
      ....we aren't that stupid. At least up here.

      That Harper was toast was a foregone conclusion. What wasn't anticipated was that he would pour gasoline over himself and start playing with matches. Nice of him to spare us a protracted death in favor of a sudden dismemberment with violence.

      Lux in tenebris lucet et tenebrae eam non comprehenderunt.
      (The light shines in darkness and the darkness has not understood it.)

      by sagesource on Sat Feb 11, 2006 at 09:32:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Heh. Heh-heh. (4.00)

    How's the honeymoon going, Cowboy Steve?

    What will survive of us is love

    by howth of murph on Sat Feb 11, 2006 at 08:55:32 PM PST

    •  Yeah, he pretty much cancelled it (4.00)
      On his own with his cabinet picks.

      If Emerson had some kind of agreement in place to switch parties if the Cons won, I wonder what the same deal asked him to do in case the Liberals won?

      I hope this type of thing is illegal.  I've never heard of such an arrangement in Canadian history, so there may not be a specific law covering it.   But running under one party with the explicit intention of crossing the floor can't be considered ethical.

      "I will make a bargain with the Republicans. If they will stop telling lies about Democrats, we will stop telling the truth about them." -- Adlai Stevenson

      by Scientician on Sat Feb 11, 2006 at 11:40:52 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Emerson Home for the Weekend? (4.00)
    On Friday, David Emerson also backed out of an appearance on the Sunday program Question Period. He said he wanted to spend time with his family. This according to the Globe and Mail.

    Some reports say that he was heading back to Vancouver to talk with his family--and that there is a possibility he will decide to resign. He has said he won't resign, but a lot of people say they won't do something before they decide to do it. Or vice versa: like, for instance, promising to fight the Conservatives from the Opposition side, and then deciding to join them instead.

  •  I don't (4.00)
    see how backbenchers had to defend Emerson during question period.That would be hard to do since parlaiment isn't sitting.Fact check on that source please. The lumber deal story was reported in the Toronto Star,a Liberal paper,lock stock and barrel and is based on fragmentary data.If the deal was killed it was because it stank for BC,just as previous 'deals' never passed any more than preliminary muster.There will be no deal untill chimpy stops listening to the lumber lobby(whose greed on this has led to a rise of about $1000.00 per new house)and respects the agreements that were signed.And chimpys White House is not one to keep agreements in good faith.Besides,you don't think the Liberals wouldn't have like too trumpet an agreement during the campaign?To show that they can deliver.They certainly have used flimsier pretences to make themselves look good.They didn't use the dael,ergo,there was no deal.Probably nothing more than talking points and paremeters to negotiate within,and probably not good for both sides at that.

    it tastes like burning...

    by eastvan on Sat Feb 11, 2006 at 11:37:50 PM PST

  •  The terms of that supposed deal (none)
    look suspiciously like the last deal offered by the US Coalition for Fair Lumber Imports. Looks good for Ontario and Quebec lumber mills, absolutely disastrous for the BC mills. I can't see any BC companies supporting that offer. It also places Quebec and Ontario on a different, more favourable footing than BC. So much for putting more 'power in the West'.

    Emerson's political career, at least as an elected representative, is over. He's absoultely unelectable now anywhere in Canada. While we do expect politicians to play 'politics, to be dishonest and untrustworthy, we can forgive that. What we can't forget and won't forget is the blatant, unabashed show of contempt for the voter. If he did it in Vancouver-Kingsway he could do it anywhere else. He's toast. Time for him to head to the coroprate boardroom the moment the Harper crew is turfed out of power.

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