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September 30, 2005
'Several' RCMP Investigations Ongoing In Canadian Government

Newsbeat1 notes an interesting admission by a minister in the Candian governennt, run now by the Liberals, at least until scandal finally overtakes them. Scott Brison, the Minister of Public Works, appeared rattled enough during yesterday's Q&A period to admit that the RCMP has 'several' investigations into government malfeasance active at once in attempting to explain why the Mounties took dozens of boxes of materials out of his office this week:

Mr. Jason Kenney (Calgary Southeast, CPC): Mr. Speaker, yesterday, in response to a question from me about the apparent seizure of documents from the Department of Public Works, the minister said, I am informed that last week the RCMP contacted Public Works [which] provided an invoice to the RCMP....

Is it the position of the minister that the invoice ran over 100 boxes long? Is it not true and will he not confirm that over 100 boxes of information were taken from the offices of his department by the RCMP related to the sponsorship inquiry?

Hon. Scott Brison (Minister of Public Works and Government Services, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, yesterday that hon. member said on the floor of the House of Commons that in fact the information that was voluntarily provided by Public Works to the RCMP in full cooperation with the ongoing investigations of the RCMP was in fact withheld from the Gomery inquiry.

He was wrong. In fact, that information had been provided to the Gomery inquiry on at least two occasions previously. In fact, over 28 million pages of documents have been provided by the Government of Canada to the Gomery commission.

That hon. member should rise and apologize to the House.

Mr. Jason Kenney (Calgary Southeast, CPC): Mr. Speaker, is that not interesting? The minister will not deny that he claimed yesterday that an invoice was seized when in fact, by all appearances, over 100 boxes of evidence were taken from the offices of his department.

We are not going to accept the transparent diversions of the minister. We would like a straight answer. Were over 100 boxes of information seized by the RCMP from his department and were those boxes of information relevant to the sponsorship inquiry, yes or no?

Hon. Scott Brison (Minister of Public Works and Government Services, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the fact is that there are several ongoing RCMP investigations and Public Works has cooperated fully with the RCMP.

Beyond that

Some hon. members: Oh, oh.

Note that Brison never answered the question on whether the boxes had anything to do with the Sponsorship Programme or the Gomery inquiry. But in avoiding it, Brison makes it clear that the federal police have a number of probes active in Ottawa and in politics, and that the Public Works group may be central to more than one of them. What else has the Martin government been doing?

That may also be back on Canadian voters' minds. According to the G&M, new polling has begun to reflect what the Tories' private polling had already suggested was a beneficial summer break for the Conservatives. After taking an unexpected beating in the late spring while voters gave the Liberal Party a temporary pass on Adscam, Conservative numbers have once again bounced back. Not only have they cut the national Liberal lead in half since then, but they have also cut Martin's vital Ontario lead in half as well.

One other scandal appears on its way to the forefront of Canadian politics, only this scandal will damage the national pride more than the national pocketbook. CTV reports that the Canadian military and its procurement chain has fallen into such disrepair that it might take decades to correct -- decades during which the nation will have to rely on its southern ally for protection of its sovereignty:

The budget for the Canadian Forces needs to be doubled to about $30 billion a year if Canada is to secure the country and its sovereignty, says a new report by the Senate Defence Committee.

"At some point, the elastic snaps. And we think we're at that point right now," Sen. Colin Kenny, the chair of the committee, told a news conference Thursday.

"We are seeing so many things degrading simultaneously that they may not recover."

Canada only spends $15 billion per year on its defense, and the pennypinching has reduced what used to be a small but effective force into a collapsing, underpowered shell. It now takes 15 years to get new materiel through the production line and into the hands of its troops, a cycle that guarantees that the Canadian forces will find itself at a disadvantage on almost any battlefield in the world. For a country of its size, the national standing force of 62,000 would hardly even be of much assistance during a natural disaster on a Katrina scale, let alone a military attack by a foreign power.

It does call into question Paul Martin's decision to forego the American missile defense offer. With an army bravely operating under these conditions imposed by its government, Canada could use all the protection it can get.

More of these stories have begun to surface now that the autumn political season has reopened. Perhaps more Canadians will rethink their former allegiance to the Liberals, if the Tories can figure out a way to take advantage of the political opening they provide.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at September 30, 2005 6:40 AM

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