Just a routine visit.

Well, this just keeps getting more confusing, doesn’t it?

The Toronto Star:

The documents that ended what was supposed to be a bright political career were forgotten on a coffee table in Laval, Que., in the middle of April.

They were left behind in an envelope by erstwhile federal cabinet heavyweight Maxime Bernier after a visit with Julie Couillard, a 38-year-old Montrealer, one-time girlfriend of the
now-disgraced foreign affairs minister.

“It was clear it wasn’t a document for me, it was a document addressed to the Hon. Maxime
Bernier, which is why I wanted to return it,” Couillard told the TVA network, detailing how she hired a lawyer to return the sensitive document over the weekend.

Montreal Gazette/Ottawa Citizen:

A well-placed source said Mr. Bernier left his “prep material” for last month’s NATO summit in Romania in Ms. Couillard’s home.

The documents were a spokesperson’s briefing book and another document, the contents of which the source would not disclose. But the source said they did not contain any sensitive financial information.

“They were not market sensitive; they were not anything that could move markets,” said the source.

Shortly after the news conference, in an interview broadcast on the Quebec television station TVA, Ms. Couillard said the minister had left a government document at her Laval, Que., home during a routine visit in mid-April.

Okay, first off — a “routine visit?” Is that what they’re calling it these days?

And in what Yes, Minister-inspired parallel universe is it routine is it to drop by your ex’s place with a classified briefing book weeks after the meeting for which said book was supposed to prepare you?

Then there’s this, also from CanWest:

During the interview, she said Mr. Bernier was aware in the midst of the public furore over their relationship that he had left the document behind at her home, but he had not called to retrieve it because they had stopped communicating.

“He isn’t without knowledge of it, he’s the one who left it at my place. He knows. But we haven’t talked again since that event,” she told the interviewer.

If true. that would seem to contradict Bernier’s claim that he only “became aware” that the material had gone missing within the last few days. If you parse the Prime Minister’s comments, though, it seems that he may not buy that version of events either, although he’s clearly hoping that the rest of us are satisfied with the explanation — and that nobody quizzes him on the difference between “becoming aware” of something, and “recognizing the error”:

No. This is about one thing, and that is a failure to uphold expected
standards on government documents. It is a very serious mistake
regardless of who the Minister is, regardless of personal life, to
leave classified documents in an unsecured location. And this is a
serious error. The Minister has recognized this error himself and
offered to resign. ….
I thank Minister Bernier for recognizing the error himself and offering to resign, but as I say, I don’t think it matters …

… Obviously I’m very disappointed. I’m obviously very
disappointed for the government, disappointed for Maxime. I think it’s
very unfortunate. Maxime became aware of this, he told me late last
evening and informed me, as I say, this afternoon. So we spent the
last couple of hours. I accepted his resignation right away and we’ve
spent the last couple of hours putting the mechanisms in place for the

In Harper’s mind, was the “error” in question simply leaving documents in a “non-secure location”? Or was it being sufficiently reckless in romantic judgment to let them fall into the hands of the kind of woman who would end up at the centre of a media frenzy, doing an exclusive tell-all interview with TVA?

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