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May 3, 2005
Are The Liberals Buying Their Survival?

A Conservative MP with the memorable name Inky Mark claims that the new Liberal survival strategy will rely on buying Tory MPs in order to undermine Stephen Harper. Mark told the Canadian media in several interviews that the Grits attempted to induce him to switch parties in exchange for an appointment to the foreign service or to the Senate:

Conservative MP Inky Mark says the Liberal party is trying to woo him by offering him an ambassadorship or Senate position.

Mr. Mark said in several interviews Tuesday that he was approached by an unnamed cabinet minister who offered him a position in a phone call last Friday.

"The suggestion was that well, maybe, well, there must be something that I want, right?" Mr. Mark said in an interview with CBC Newsworld Tuesday in Ottawa.

"The minister said this?" the reporter asked him.

"The minister said that. Perhaps I would like to be an ambassador for Canada. I said, no, I travel enough. I don't think I want to do that," Mr. Mark answered. He did not disclose who it was.
He repeatedly declined the offer, saying he was not interested, he said.

Then the Liberals implied that a Senate position could come his way, Mr. Mark told CTV Newsnet.

The Liberals appear to have a habit of offering lifetime appointments in exchange for political favors, a manuever that may not be completely illegal but certainly has ethical shortcomings. The approach reminds one of Benoit Corbeil's allegations almost two weeks ago, when he told CBC that federal judgeships were used to reward Liberal Party activists for their work. Now faced with the collapse of their government, the Liberals have fallen back to the same cronyism, but this time with Tories as the beneficiaries.

It doesn't take a mathematician to realize that removing no more than two or three Tory MPs from Parliament would make it almost impossible for Harper to carry a no-confidence vote. In this case, Mark would not have even needed to switch parties; accepting the new position -- especially the Senate appointment -- would have made him ineligible to vote on the no-confidence motion. Paul Martin's shabby deal with Jack Layton created the almost-even split of seats which makes this kind of bribe worthwhile to the Grits, and apparently having made that arrangement, selling off ambassadorships and Senate appointments follows rather easily.

Inky Mark went public with his bribe offers. In doing so, he may have spooked any other Tory MP that might have been tempted to accept such an offer from Martin's Monty-Hall administration. We may not know that for sure until a head count can be done when the no-confidence motion gets tabled. Don't be too surprised to see a couple less Tory MPs than expected when Harper finally gets his opportunity.

UPDATE: Corrected Benoit Corbeil's information to reflect it came from an interview, not sworn testimony. (h/t: Wedgie)

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at May 3, 2005 1:11 PM

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Tracked on May 27, 2005 8:57 AM

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