Thursday, January 12, 2006

Harper and Reynolds need to give their heads a shake

Babble on.

I don't often chat politics with neighbours and co-workers. But when I do, one of the most common objections to a Conservative government is that "they'll be just as corrupt as the Liberals." I've always thought this was incredibly unfair, and counterproductive too - if we start with the presumption that all politicians are crooks, we'll be paralyzed by cynicism. I've replied to these people that I think the Tories probably won't be ethically perfect, but they'll fix problems quickly and thoroughly.

Now we have news that a Conservative candidate in BC failed to disclose to the party that he has been charged with a smuggling offence alleged to have occurred in 2004.

Canada Customs and Revenue Agency alleges Zeisman tried to smuggle a 1989 Mercedes-Benz as well as 112 bottles of liquor in July 2004 from the U.S. into Canada. He's also accused of lying to customs officers about the incident.

If convicted, Zeisman could be fined up to $50,000 and face six months in jail.

Zeisman, who is to appear in court next month, did not tell his party about the charges, which he called "unjustified." He said the information was leaked by someone in the government who had a grudge against him.

Here's what should have happened. When the Conservative Party found out that Zeisman was less than forthcoming with his entire history, he should have been asked to withdraw from the race. Failing a voluntary withdrawl, he should have had his CPC candidacy revoked.

Here's what actually happened:

John Reynolds, the Tory campaign chairman, says the party intends to stand by Zeisman and the charges against him were only "administrative" in nature.

"He will go to court, and he is still an innocent man until he goes through this process," Reynolds told the Vancouver Province. "But even at that point, it's not a criminal offence."

Of course, Reynolds is perfectly correct: this man is innocent until proven guilty. I have no idea if the charges were trumped up or not. And all that is entirely beside the point.

Since when is the standard for ethical behaviour in MY Conservative Party criminality? This man failed to disclose what he should have, and the appearance of impropriety has refected poorly on MY party. This is EXACTLY the type of situation that Harper has said he would deal with decisively in a Conservative government.

It's not too late. In fact, the opportunity exists for an "I told you I would, and I am, even though it hurts our political chances" moment.

You're not just another politician, Stephen, promising and promising but not delivering when the going gets tough. Now's the time to prove it.

Babble off.

Update: Well, it looks like my faith is not entirely misplaced:

In a news conference in Halifax on Thursday morning, Tory Leader Stephen Harper said it's too late to legally withdraw Zeisman as a candidate for the riding.

But Harper added: "I will say today that this candidate, Mr. Zeisman, will not be sitting as a Conservative should he be elected" on Jan. 23.

Harper said his party did a criminal background check on Zeisman, but that "this matter did not appear."

He said Zeisman should have revealed his legal problems before seeking the nomination. Harper stressed that this is not a criminal matter; "it is, however, a serious matter." (Babbler's emphasis)

Quick and decisive, and doing the right thing.


At 11:01 a.m., Blogger Calicos said...

Zeisman was dumped. This IS the party of ethics and integrity.

At 11:06 a.m., Blogger The Tiger said...

They dumped him.

Did the right thing in the end, if after a bit of a delay.

At 11:12 a.m., Blogger Ottawa Core said...

prove your loyalty instead of spewing from a position of ignorance. are you able to distinguish right from wrong? alleged, in my world, goes a long way in describing the situation. if we flunkies gang up and make a big deal out of this, you are doing the party a disservive, or you already knew that. oh, my, we're all liberals now. fuck the electorate. lie, cheat, steal. until Christ arises eh?

At 11:17 a.m., Blogger Babbling Brooks said...

Ottawa Core, I've advised you before to pull your head out of your rectum before commenting around here.

My loyalty is to my ideals, and to the ideals my party says it supports.

Harper and the CPC have done the right thing, and I've updated my post accordingly.

Now bugger off back into your fetid little hole.

At 11:44 a.m., Blogger Calicos said...

It would've been crass and reactionary by the CPC to dump Zeisman immediately after hearing a news report last night on the charges against him. The Conservative Party likely needed to investigate for themselves, contact Zeisman (currently in hospital after a car accident) and inform him personally (rather than through the news media) that he was no longer a candidate for the CPC. This was handled perfectly.

At 11:46 a.m., Blogger The Tiger said...

One further objection to that little sally -- we are not "flunkies". I may or mayn't be a CPC member (depending on whether my credit card's been charged yet for the next two years' worth), but what I am first and foremost is a free citizen of a liberal democracy.

There are no party lines to be toed, and if there are, that isn't a party I want to be a part of.

Harper's run a hell of a campaign, one that appeals to ideals, and so it is right and proper that he should be held to them. He passed the test.

At 12:03 p.m., Blogger The Tiger said...

Calicos -- point taken.

At 1:40 p.m., Blogger Babbling Brooks said...

Well, Calicos and Tiger, I'm not sure I could say it's been handled perfectly. Reynolds' only comment prior to a decision being made should have been: "We're looking into it and will issue a press release once we've gotten to the bottom of it."


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