Friday, May 23, 2008

NAFTA-Gate: The Friday Afternoon Whitewash Dump


Well, well, well......

Apparently, the soon-to-be former chief of staff to current Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Mr. Ian Brodie, didn't do anything wrong in NAFTA-Gate.

Here's the lede from the CBC's report:

A Privy Council Office report into the so-called NAFTAgate issue on Friday cleared Prime Minister Stephen Harper's chief of staff of breaching any confidentiality rules.

So, why was Mr. Brodie 'cleared'?

Well, according to Mr. Harper's Privy Council, it is all because of the timing:

The news report said Brodie had told Canadian reporters during a media lockup (on February 26th) that Obama advisers had privately assured Canadian diplomats that Obama's tough talk on renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement was essentially rhetoric.

The story caused an uproar in the United States and came in the final days of the Democratic primary in Ohio, which Obama narrowly lost to Hillary Clinton.

The Privy Council Office report said it found no evidence Brodie broke any rules of confidentiality when he spoke to reporters in the lockup.

"Any comments Mr. Brodie may have made during the lockup did not reveal any information tied to the diplomatic report, of which he was made aware only on February 28," said the report. "There is no evidence that Mr. Brodie disclosed any classified information."

So there you have it - Mr. Brodie couldn't have possibly said anything of consequence on Feb 26th because he couldn't have possibly known anything of consequence until Feb 28th.

But does this 'clearance' of Mr. Brodie actually indicate that he didn't speak to reporters during the media lock-up of Feb 26th?

Well, actually, no:

"Friday's report does conclude that Brodie, who is said to be about to resign, may have spoken to CTV reporters about the subject of NAFTA and Clinton."

So, given that, is it not reasonable to wonder if, by 'clearing' Mr. Brodie, Mr. Harper's Privy Council report is, in turn, impugning the work of the reporter who originally spilled the (now well-washed and quite pale) beans?

Before you consider answering that question, even if only quietly to yourself behind closed doors (with cone-of-silence fully operational, of course), you may wish to consider the following from's Aaron Wherry:

There are various recommendations (in the Privy Council's Report), two related to Foreign Affairs, one covering the handling of documents by all government departments and then this.

"Any future undertakings signed by media representatives for admission to budget lock-ups should clearly indicate that comments made by any Government of Canada officials and/or ministerial staff during such lock-ups will be made on a background- not-for-attribution-basis only, and are to be considered and treated accordingly."


Mr. Bure's defense during the last days of his tenure with the Vancouver Canucks was, 'I didn't do anything wrong'.
Update: The Star, is not nearly so 'clear' about Mr. Brodie's role as was the Ceeb. Does this tell us something about how the times they are a changin' at the MotherCorp?


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