Saturday, November 20, 2004

Former Minister Accuses Federal Government of Fraud

Saturday, November 20, 2004
Sheila blasts Liberals

I host a nightly current affairs TV program called The Michael Coren Show. We air on CTS, on basic cable in Ontario and on satellite throughout Canada.
This past week, Sheila Copps was my guest. I was prepared to hear her rehearsed answers about her new book and her relationship with the Prime Minister. I was surprised.
Here is how it went.
"I thought he should have read (the book), considering he was quick to say there was nothing in it that was true," she says of her former leader. "Usually it's good to read something before you pass judgment on it."
So, I ask her, does this, and the other things you claim, mean the Prime Minister of Canada is telling lies?
"Yes, of course he is."
In an interview that goes well beyond anything she states in her book, Worth Fighting For, Sheila Copps alleges thuggery, fraud and dishonesty on the part of Paul Martin and those around him -- charges Martin and his staff have vehemently denied.
"He will go to any length to get there. To be Prime Minister. He's not an honest person," Copps says.
So you dislike him? A long pause. "Yes." Another pause. "Yes, yes I do. I don't like him because I don't like people who smile at me and tell me wonderful things and then behind my back stab me."
Copps is direct and deliberate. "It became personal when I went to see him just before the cabinet was named. I said I didn't care if I was in it or not but asked him to allow me to run in one riding and Tony Valeri to run in another. He averted his eyes -- he doesn't look in your eye when he doesn't want to give you bad news."
Valeri is now the MP for the Stoney Creek riding in Hamilton. He and Copps fought each other in an ugly Liberal nomination race. "The nomination was so dishonest. I was actually shocked to see how blatant the Liberal Party was in cheating," she says, adding: "This was organized fraud by the highest level of the government."
I ask her if she is seriously accusing high-ranking Liberals of fraud. She replies that she most certainly is.
"We actually have an official of the party on tape ushering my opponent's voters in through a secret back door."
Then, just as I assume she has finished, she goes on: "I can get you an affidavit tomorrow from someone who got a $100 bill in Saskatchewan to vote for Paul Martin."
So, I ask, people were bribed to vote for Paul Martin?
"Yes. Yes. His chief thugs are doing his dirty work for him."
Copps uses the word "thug" several times to describe senior people in the Martin camp. "They literally went in the night before and deleted 400 of my members from the computer list."
She continues, "500 more ballots cast than people who entered the room. Paul Martin was aware of it, believe me."
I suggest Martin is a popular leader who duly won the leadership of his party and the country (his only opponent was Copps, whom he beat overwhelmingly). She counters: "In the course of the leadership, so many MPs were told point-blank that if they didn't support Martin they would be got out of their riding."
Then, a little later: "Part of the strategy of the current Prime Minister to make sure there were no opponents and no real debate was to get a lock on who got members and how. He secured victory by disqualifying thousands of bona fide voters." (Again, Martin and his people have refuted all of this.)
Copps argues that Martin is being defended by cabinet members and backbench MPs out of fear and intimidation, that the Prime Minister is "not a Liberal" and that there is no openness within government or within the Liberal Party.
She even says it is hypocritical to advise countries such as Haiti and Afghanistan about democracy when the Liberals have elected and maintained a leader with such disregard for the same.
I joke that she's probably been removed from the Prime Minister's Christmas card list.
"No joke" she says. "I was, a year ago."