The latest scandal to hit Stephen Harper's government is an accusation that his party tried to bribe Independent MP Chuck Cadman to bring down the Paul Martin government in May 2005. Supposedly the Conservatives offered Cadman, who was dieing of late stages of cancer a million dollar life insurance policy for his vote. Cadman died two months after the vote.
The story broke when parts of a biography on Cadman set to be released later this month were released to the media. The RCMP have already opened a criminal investigation after receiving a complaint from the Liberals. If the story is proven to be true the opposition parties should waste no time in toppling the government.
There are a number of important unanswered questions regarding this story. Where would the Conservatives obtain such a life insurance policy? Numerous actuaries, insurance agents and anecdotal evidence has been presented in the media to confirm that life insurance for someone dieing with 4th stage cancer simply does not exist. Cadman's wife who has confirmed that officials made an offer to her husband his the Conservative candidate in her late husband's riding. Chuck Cadman never made the accusation that he had been bribed.
The author of the story claims to have known about the allege bribe in September 2005. If he believed there was any wrong doing should he not have reported the incident to the RCMP, instead of waiting 2.5 years for his book to be complete? Is there any reason that the preview information on the book was released shortly before a vote on the budget, that many believed was going to trigger an election.
An election presented an extra risk to Cadman. If he lost he would be entitled to reduced benefits package from what he would receive as an MP. A minimal offset of this concern to allow Cadman to make a decision based on the interests of his constituents instead of his own financial gain would not have been a breach of ethics. It would be difficult for the Libeals to argue that such an offer was any worse than Belinda Stronach crossing the floor and taking a cabinet position.
There are far too many questions to make a fair judgement call on this scandal. Hopefully the RCMP and ethics committee will be able to get to the truth on this scandal.