Thursday, October 28, 2004

Sheila Copps Again Exposed as a Liar

Thu, October 28, 2004
It's just a game, right, Sheila?
While critics attack the credibility of Sheila Copps' new book, Greg Weston
recounts the day she labelled him a liar
By Greg Weston, Sun Media

The national cacophony of "She lied! He lied!" that erupted this week
between Sheila Copps and critics of her latest hardcover muddle of fact and
fiction was like a bizarre acid flashback to my own day of the long nose. It
was just before the 1988 federal election when Copps went on national
television to call me a liar, claiming I had fabricated entire segments of a
book critical of then Liberal leader John Turner.

As evidence of this most heinous of journalistic crimes, Copps cited one
pivotal political meeting described in the book, an event she swore "never
even happened."

The surprise wasn't that the Mouth that Roared would do or say just about
anything for political gain -- as she showed in this week's performance of
the Copps circus, smearing reputations is barely a warm-up act.

ORIGINAL SOURCE

What dropped my jaw that day in 1988 was something far more peculiar: Copps
herself had been the original source of the information she was denying on
live television.

Needless to say, this left me utterly speechless (no small feat),
floundering for explanations that did not involve either Monty Python or a
possible change in meds.

Either Copps had just accused me of fabricating information which she, in
fact, had fabricated. Or the big fiction was her TV performance, refuting
material in the book that she knew to be true.

What Copps probably didn't know at the time was that two other prominent
Liberal sources had confirmed the same story in the book, almost verbatim.

(Otherwise, I would never have used the information, such was -- and still
is -- my journalistic confidence in Copps as a reliable source.)

TEARS SHED

A tad stung by this cute little drive-by character assassination, I called
Copps in her parliamentary office to ask what, if anything, she might have
been thinking.

Reminded that all of her interviews with me for the Turner book were on
tapes that other journalists -- and other Liberals -- would surely love to
hear, she began sobbing and wailing that her political career would be
ruined.

Then this: "You know it's just a game."

Just a game -- in many ways, it would have been an apt title for her book, a
prism through which much of her political career and personal behaviour
might actually make sense to average Canadians.

It is what helped make her such an effective attack dog during her
opposition years in the Commons, a star player of the daily question period,
strutting the stage of what her leader John Turner aptly dubbed "bulls--
theatre."

Just a game.

But how to explain her book?

WORK OF FICTION?

Poorly written, barely edited, factually sloppy if not fictional, Copps'
book is a pointless mix of delusional grandeur and what National Post
columnist Don Martin so eloquently described as sour grapes pressed into
whine.

For the first time, we discover that Sheila Copps saved the environment,
health care, old age pensions, Confederation, the Liberal Party, the CBC
and, well, pretty much life as we know it.

Of course, she saved it all from the clutches of that heartless monster,
Paul Martin, and the dreadful types around him.

All of which would be interesting, even political dynamite, if it were true.

So far, Copps has produced not a shred of evidence to back her most
controversial claims -- not a cabinet document, not an office memo, not even
one of Jean Chretien's famous napkin notes.

Indeed, the most remarkable aspect of Copps' book has been the deafening
silence of no one coming to her defence, even among her longtime Liberal
pals.

There is, however, no shortage of key players in this saga who have been
willing to say Copps is full of it.

"Obviously," she says, "they are all lying."

Hey, it's just a game.