Friday, April 10, 2015

On trial and error

It may be true - as argued by Lawrence Martin - that Mike Duffy's expense fraud trial will serve as the most prominent point of discussion about the Harper Cons' stay in power. But we should be careful not to rely on it too much as a counterweight to the Cons' self-promotion - nor to allow broader concerns about the Cons to be drowned out by the minutiae of Duffy's actions.

The need for caution arises out of the nature of the trial. It shouldn't have come as any surprise that the main points to be aired and decided involve relatively narrow issues as to Duffy's own state of mind - and while the trial will certainly shed some light on Harper and his PMO in addressing those points, it will take some substantial work to link the trial to the myriad of other outrages mentioned by Martin (though his abuse-of-power theme does seem like a useful one to take up).

More importantly, though, the fate of the trial is far beyond their control.

By all means, opposition parties and progressive Canadians need to be prepared to respond to developments - and it's possible that some might make Harper utterly toxic to voters.

But the timing and content of the trial is subject to change at any time based on how Duffy, the Crown prosecutor and the court see the trial proceeding: for example, Duffy himself could avoid taking the stand if his counsel thinks his best chance is to rely on weaknesses in the prosecution's case as to the clarity of the Senate's expense rules, or the Crown could agree to a plea bargain before the defence starts presenting its promised expose of the Harper regime. So anybody planning to build an election strategy around the expectation that the trial will result in blame sticking to Harper personally may wind up disappointed.

Again, it's worth pointing out how Duffy's sense of entitlement is just one example of the Cons' overall disdain for the law and for the interests of Canadians at large. But there's a significant danger in counting on the Duffy trial to bring to light all the issues that ought to count against Harper - and we should be working on ensuring the latter receive ample attention even if the former doesn't live up to its advance billing.

No comments:

Post a Comment