UPDATED: Official Bill Casey Open Thread

UPDATE: Nova Scotia has a story up.

EVEN UPDATEDER: … and so does Canadian Press.

MORE UPDATE-IER STILL:  Conservative blogger Stephen Taylor reveals that he, too, received a virtual “brown envelope”.

Halifax Chronicle Herald Ottawa bureau chief Steve Maher provides the most detailed account yet.

AND AGAIN THE UPDATES: Scroll down for the awesome poetizing of Jack Mitchell!

Y’all, I’m totally trying to catch up after missing this morning’s excitement, and I promise that I’ll update this post when I have a better idea of what’s going on, but here’s  a partial the full transcript of the point of order that Independent and Proud of It MP Bill Casey delivered a few moments ago in the House of Commons, at least:

Mr. Bill Casey (Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, Ind.): Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege. I hope to be able to present a prima facie case that my privileges as a member of Parliament and even as a Canadian citizen have been breached.

I never, ever thought that I would stand in the House and have to defend myself against false accusations of theft and embezzlement—I can hardly say the word.

Last Thursday a member of the press, Hugo de Grandpré from La Presse called my office and asked if there was any update on the charges against me on the accusation of embezzlement.

I knew nothing about this on Thursday. I called him back to find out what it was, and he said that he was in possession of a Royal Canadian Mounted Police briefing note to the commissioner that says that the Conservative Party of Canada has asked the RCMP to conduct an investigation against me and it is entitled “a complaint of theft”. It says that certain Conservative members, whose names are whited out, attended the Bible Hill office to report the embezzlement of funds by a member of Parliament.

I just cannot tell you, Mr. Speaker, what this means to me. I have been here for 20 years. I am 63 years old. I have built my whole business career, my politics on honesty, credibility and my reputation. To have this happen is devastating.

I just did not even know how devastating it was until this morning when I had to call my two daughters to tell them I was going to get up in the House to defend myself against accusations of theft and embezzlement.

I hope I can get through this. It is outrageous. I want to present the issue. I have sent a copy of the RCMP report, and I would like to go through it.

First of all, it says, to the commissioner: “For your information only—” just the commissioner and everybody else, apparently.

The issue is, member of Parliament, complaint of a theft. On September 18 Conservative Party members who are unnamed—

They are there, but the names are whited out.

—contacted the RCMP, Cumberland County district attachment—

This is the county where I live, Cumberland County.

—requesting a return phone call. The next day, on September 19, 2008, an unnamed group of Conservatives attended the Bible Hill office of the RCMP to report the embezzlement of funds by a member of Parliament.

Then, a lot of this is blanked out, but the number $30,000 is in there. It says, something about “Conservative Party and with a $30 cheque”. A lot of it is whited out, so I do not know exactly what the charges are, what the accusations are.

It says: “The cheque was written in the name of–” blank, I do not know whether that is me or not, but it was not me.

“It was endorsed by the financial officer and director of the Conservative Party—”

Blank. There is more here, but I will not bother to read it because it does not make sense as much of it is blanked out.

The accusations of embezzlement and theft are not blanked out, but a lot of the other information and the names of the Conservatives who made the accusations are blanked out. They are blanked out to protect their privacy. My riding is Cumberland—Colchester, and the two RCMP detachments they visited were in Cumberland and Colchester. Not only that, my name was included in the back of this. It is not blanked out.

The Conservatives or whoever did this whited out the names of the people who made the accusations, but they left my name in it. It is in the end, it is in the file name, and it may be an oversight. I do not want to make this worse than it is, it may be an oversight. There was no oversight when they blanked out the names of the Conservatives who made the accusations.

The current status is somebody was interviewed and a statement was obtained.

The statement provided did not articulate sufficient grounds or cause the merit of a commencement of an investigation.

That is what it says on one line. The next line says:

The investigation determined there was no financial gain by somebody.

It might be me or it might be a member of my riding association, I do not know. It puts a cloud over all of us, because they released the damaging information on this, the accusations, and the words “theft” and “embezzlement” but they have not released the rest of it.

Then it says: “The return of the money to the Conservative Party.”

I will just go on here a little bit further, it says: “The investigation could be reopened if circumstances warrant it. H Division, Criminal Operations will continue to monitor the situation.”

Now I do not know whether their criminal operations are monitoring me or what or who they are monitoring. I do not know what they are doing.

I did not know about this until last Thursday. I want to thank Hugo de Grandpré for the professional way he handled this. He did not put it out. He knows how devastating this is and he gave me this chance to put this case forward in the House of Commons. I am very grateful to be able to do that.

We could pick apart this thing and make it look really bad. There are so many things wrong with this. The only reason that I have any indication of what this issue is about is the $30,000 number.

In May 2007 the minority Conservative government was approaching a confidence vote on a budget.

My riding association suggested we open an account as required by Elections Canada and move $30,000 from the riding association to the campaign account, which is required by Elections Canada.

Subsequent to that I was expelled from the Conservative Party but I was never told I was not the official nominated candidate. Even though I was expelled from the caucus I was still a member of the party and I was still the officially nominated candidate.

As soon as we learned that I was not the candidate, the $30,000 went back. Not a penny was changed; not a penny was spent; not a penny was used in any way; $30,000 in and $30,000 back, exactly penny for penny. That, I assume, is what the Conservatives are trying to call embezzlement. They are accusing me of theft and embezzlement.

Every single person in the House had to do the same thing because Elections Canada says we must open a dedicated account for our campaign and fund it from there. That is all I did.

I only learned I was not the candidate when the Prime Minister went on national television right out here and said there will be a candidate in the riding of Cumberland–Colchester–Musquodoboit but it will not be the former member. That is how I learned I was not the candidate.

We immediately consulted Elections Canada and returned the $30,000, penny for penny. Not a penny was moved; not a penny was used. The party knew this because it now has, and it has had since October 19, 2007, all of the bank documents that show the money in and the money back.

This is total fabrication. It is an attempt to smear my reputation and destroy my character. After spending a whole lifetime trying to build a good reputation and a positive reputation I am so offended to have people knowingly make false accusations just so they can get it in an RCMP report.

This report is here forever. It is not going to go away. Now it has been made public to the media. Why?

I announced a month ago that I was going to leave politics and get a new career in the private sector. Now somebody, the RCMP or whoever, has produced a letter saying that I was under investigation for theft and embezzlement.

My last career was with Merrill Lynch, and I was really proud to do the job I did as an investment advisor. People trusted me. They gave me their money, whether it was $1,000 or $1 million. I managed it and they trusted me. I did a good job for them. Now what are they going to think?

This document which says that I am under investigation for theft and embezzlement has been released and there is nothing to it. It is worse than that. It is worse than nothing to it. It has been fabricated. Whoever released this document knows there is nothing to it. They had the documents to prove it, and they still went ahead with this 10 months later, after they received the documents.

I am outraged and I am sad for this institution. I have been here for 20 years. When I was expelled from the Conservative Party I was the longest serving member in that party. I am proud to be a member of Parliament. Great things happened in this room to help people and do great things, but this is not one of them.

I am sad to see the level of our parliamentary rapport and process and whatever go downhill so far that RCMP investigations are being used when accusations to defame members of Parliament are wrong. It does not matter if one is a member of Parliament or a regular person, it should never happen.

There are a whole lot of things about this. There are some big questions.

Everybody in my riding wonders why the Conservative Party did not accept local candidates to run for it in the last election. The party would not accept people who wanted to run. Instead, I assume the Prime Minister nominated or appointed a candidate. There was no nomination process.

A candidate was appointed but not from my riding. This person was from Ottawa and had never been to my riding as far as I know. He worked for the minister in charge of the RCMP. The first thing his election team did when he came down to my riding was engage the services of the RCMP to launch this cruel accusation against me. I do not know if there is any connection or not. I am not making any accusations, but it is a fact.

The man they appointed to run against me was a member of the staff of the minister in charge of the RCMP. I think that man’s representatives went to the RCMP and made these allegations. I cannot say that for sure, because the names are whited out. However, if it turns out that the names in this accusation are agents of an employee of the minister of the RCMP I think we all have to ask ourselves some questions.

When I was expelled from the party, I think 27 members of the executive came with me as an independent. There was not enough people to form an executive for the Conservative Party, so the national party took over the party. They had access to all these records and bank statements. They knew the cheque for $30,000 went out and the cheque for $30,000 came back and not a penny was changed. I had nothing to do with that. That was the riding association and the campaign team and they act independently of me. I had no say. My name is not on any of the cheques. I did not sign anything and I did not do anything.

I had nothing to do with it. I am so glad and lucky that my team followed the letter and spirit of the law with this, along with the Elections Canada regulations. I am strong because they did that. They did everything right. In fact, they even did more than that right. In my opinion, at the time they returned the $30,000, I thought they should have deducted the bank charges. They did not even do that. It was over $30,000 back and they accuse me of embezzlement and theft.

A whole lot of things need to be done on this. My job as a member of Parliament is completely compromised. As you know, we deal with people on their RRSPs, tax problems with the government, investment incomes and loans and programs for their businesses. That requires trust. They have put this cloud over my head that I want them to remove. They put a cloud over my head and have hurt my ability to do my job as a member of Parliament. They have hurt my credibility. Who is going to feel comfortable coming in to my office knowing that the Conservative Party of Canada, the governing party, has had the RCMP investigate me for theft and embezzlement?

My hon. colleague here says they are not going to buy that and I hope they do not. I have built a lifetime of credibility. I have taught my kids that credibility and honesty is everything. I have had a standard speech I have given them all my life and they know it. I know they have repeated it to others, about how important credibility is. I had to call them this morning and tell them that I have to defend myself against accusations of theft and embezzlement. It is unbelievable and really sad.

The timing of this. They had all these documents. On October 19, the money went back. It was done. They had all the documents, but they waited until the election started. The employee of the minister in charge of the RCMP came down and they launched this criminal accusation against me with two RCMP branches. Now that I am leaving Parliament, out comes this copy to the media of an RCMP investigation.

How is that going to help me going forward? Who in the investment business is going to say, yeah, sure, we would love to have you, after you get those things straightened out about the little thing about the theft and embezzlement. Think about it. Everybody in this room is as guilty of theft and embezzlement as I am. That is, we are not guilty at all. There is no reason for these accusations.

For the RCMP to leave this open by saying that there are not sufficient grounds to proceed again with the investigation is not enough. Not sufficient grounds insinuates that there are grounds. There are no grounds. I want the Conservative Party to say that these accusations should never have been made. That is what I want them to say. If they have an ounce of justice and fair play, they will do that and not hesitate, because there were no grounds for these accusations.

I want to make the main points as far as my point of privilege goes.

First of all I want to say that if my credibility is in question, I cannot do my job to the full extent that I am able to. Credibility is everything. Trust is everything, in my world it is anyway. I have lost that now until this is fixed.

I want to know who made the decision to white out the Conservative names on this but leave mine in. It may have been an oversight but it was done. The Conservative names are left out, mine is not. I think the government owes us an explanation on that.

Someone I talked to this morning suggested that to lay false accusations against me may be against the law. I am not a lawyer, so I do not know, but perhaps the crown should have this investigated or considered to see if anything wrong happened here. Certainly my reputation has been damaged. It is character assassination as far as I am concerned of the worst order. If anyone did wrong I would ask the crown to investigate that to see if there is anything wrong.

I was thinking about Danny Williams this morning. Danny Williams is often animated but he says he often uses the word “vindictive”. I think we should be listening to Danny Williams perhaps a little more because this is vindictiveness.

However it goes further than vindictiveness. This is malicious and it is vicious and it is terribly hurtful. I am so glad that La Presse gave this to me. I do not plan to run again and if I had left the House and then this came out everyone would say, “That is why he left. He was under investigation by the RCMP”. I did not even know it until Thursday but that is what would happen. I am so glad that I had this opportunity.

I said I was not going to run again but I am not leaving here until the Conservatives who made these accusations in this RCMP report, whoever they are, make it right.

Mr. Speaker, if you agree that I have prima facie case that my privileges were breached and my ability to do my job has been affected I am prepared to move the appropriate motion and I will leave that with you. poet laureate Jack Mitchell weighs in:

Casey in the Dock

The budget wasn’t gentle to the Maritimes that year;
Th’ Accord then lay in tatters: precious little thus to cheer;
“Atlantic Tories can’t accept it,” journalists did say:
But turns out they were cowards; only Casey voted Nay.

For Casey was a Member of our honest Parliament
The like of whom this glorious nation has but seldom kennt:
He never fobbed his riding off with speeches learned by rote,
And what’s more, when he gave his word, he backed it with his vote.

They chucked him from the caucus and behind him locked the door
They left his party card in little pieces on the floor
They said, “Get out! And nevermore disgrace the Tory brand
With talk of how MP’s can take an independent stand.”

He piled his stuff in boxes: pictures, letters, notes of thanks,
The bric-à-brac of twenty years of service in the ranks
And drove the dismal highway at the closing of the year:
Then Casey, even Casey, at the wheel could shed a tear.

He parked the car in Cumberland and walked to Musquodobit,
His heart was heavy as he passed a dwarf and dusky hobbit,
But just as Casey reached the crest and gazed upon the scene
His heart rejoiced and sobs of joy replaced his sometime spleen.

For all around the Valley, through the streets of every town,
His proud constituents had come to add to his renown:
The lawns, the poles, the chimneys all were decked with banners bright,
And each and every one of them said “Casey, you done right!”

They clustered round him, sang their songs, and lifted him on high,
The men looked on with envy and the women breathed a sigh;
But there among them, ‘mid the mirth, were some the Devil sired,
The Tory organisers who ‘gainst Casey now conspired.

They hated his staunch virtue, and they hated his new fame:
The hated him the more because the people praised his name.
And PMO had sent them out from Ottawa’s dark caves
To muddy Casey’s reputation — scoundrels, villains, knaves!

They donned their balaclavas and they clubbed some baby seals,
They fabricated accusations of dishonest deals
And with a silent cackle slipped them in the Mounties’ mail,
And scurried back to Ottawa to hit the campaign trail.

You know the rest, dear reader, how the carpetbagger came
And got his ass kicked back to where the Tories have no shame;
The people stood by Casey, rich and poor and young and old:
The Casey vote outclassed the Tory’s numbers by tenfold.

But now we wait to see if evil scheming in the dark,
The balaclava politics, the ethics of a shark,
Shall muddy yet the name of one would not hurt a mouse,
Of Casey, mighty Casey, pride and honour of the House.

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