Courtesy of the Hill Times, we now know what Tom Zytaruk thinks about the is-it-or-isn’t-it-a-gag-order settlement agreement that ended the Prime Minister’s lawsuit against the Liberal Party:
Tom Zytaruk, author of the book that prompted sensational Liberal allegations of bribery against Prime Minister Stephen Harper and subsequently the Prime Minister’s unprecedented $3.5-million defamation lawsuit against the Grits, says it’s a “distasteful concept” that the Conservatives and the Liberals have now agreed to never disclose details of the settlement after Mr. Harper suddenly dropped his lawsuit earlier this month.
“A lot of Canadians would disagree with that, that everything should be tidily forgotten about,” Mr. Zytaruk told The Hill Times last week. “The whole concept of two political parties just deciding that this isn’t up for discussion anymore is kind of a distasteful concept.”
Distasteful is, indeed, one word for it, although given the contradictory statements from one Liberal party spokesperson, “incoherent” would do nicely as well. From the same article:
Liberal Party spokesman Dan Lauzon said the party would have no further comment about the settlement. “We’re not going to say anything about this. The statement speaks for itself and there’s an understanding that it’s time to move on.”
Bur Mr. Lauzon also said in this week’s Spin Doctors column that there’s a distinction between “the so-called Cadman affair and the lawsuit.”
“Prime Minister Harper’s lawsuit is over,” Mr. Lauzon said and quoted from a recent Toronto Star editorial that said, this “would return this matter to the political arena, where it always belonged.”
Given the extreme reluctance of Liberal House Leader Ralph Goodale – who, it should be noted, was not a party to the lawsuit, and as such, would not be covered by a standard settlement confidentiality clause – to comment on Pierre Poilievre’s latest backhanded swipe at Zytaruk’s credibility as a journalist, it would seem that Lauzon’s latter statement is one that will be “more honoured in the breach than the observance” — at least, when it comes to the Official Opposition’s willingness to venture into that quadrant of the “political arena”.
At the same time, while ITQ is glad to see the NDP’s Joe Comartin speaking out on Zytaruk’s behalf, she can’t quite forget that party’s eerie silence on the Cadman controversy during the months that the Liberals were, at least arguably, enjoined by ongoing litigation. How serendipitous, then, it is for the NDP that they can now lump the Liberals in with the Conservatives when condemning the ill treatment accorded to Zytaruk. It would seem to back up the widely-held, if distressingly cynical, conventional wisdom that the main reason why the NDP wasn’t all over the scandal when it broke last spring was out of fear that it might indirectly boost Liberal fortunes, a decision that Tom Flanagan would enthusiastically endorse.
Really, when it comes down to it, ITQ finds it hard to disagree with Commenter JV’s assessment of the situation in the previous thread:
The Conservatives behaviour in this matter is predictably disgraceful, given their attachment to gutter politics.
The Liberals behaviour in this matter is, surprisingly, even more disgraceful, given that there is absolutely nothing for them to gain by settling, beyond some vague “let’s put this Dion-related thing behind us” horseshit.
And Tom, if you’re reading this, I really respect the dignified way in which you have conducted yourself on this. In the end, you are the only one to emerge from it with your reputation not just intact, but enhanced, at least through my eyes.
Ours too, although we haven’t quite given up hope that somewhere in this sea of collective selective mutism and sanctimonious strategic outrage, there may eventually emerge a party – or at least a politician – willing to speak out on Tom Zytaruk’s behalf — not to score points against a rival, but because it’s the right thing to do.