Wednesday, May 28, 2008

We Haven't Got the Full Story on Couillard-Bernier Yet

Jeff over at A BCer in Toronto has compiled links to a bunch of international stories about the resignation of Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier. One of his commenters refers to the incident as the Bernier Biker Babe Bungle. Jeff comments that he thinks this is "like news footage of parliamentarians brawling in the legislative chamber in Malaysia".

But it's a lot more than that, for a couple of reasons. One is that Bernier, as Foreign Affairs minister, represented Canada on official foreign trips. What do the people he met think of Canada now? What do the people he introduced Couillard to think now that it's known that she's linked to organized crime - and that he was aware of it all the time? She shrugs it off, saying that George Bush must have known her past when he lavishly complimented her. I doubt it. There is, or at least was, a certain level of trust when meeting the spouses of allies.

Second, and even more importantly, this story stinks to high heaven. There is no way we have got an accurate acccount of what happened:

* Are we supposed to believe that after weeks of the Opposition claiming that Julie Couillard was a security risk, it turned out that there was a very serious security breach involving Julie Couillard that was "just an accident"?
* Couillard says she broke up with Bernier in December of last year. How is it that he left super-sensitive government documents in her house in April of this year?
* Couillard says she didn't read the documents. How did she know that the documents were so sensitive that she had to consult a lawyer about them?
* Why did Couillard have her lawyer return the documents to the government? Why didn't she just tell Bernier to pick them up?
* Given the level of security and monitoring of documents this sensitive, someone must have known the documents were missing and people must have been actively trying to retrieve them. She had them for five weeks.
* Couillard claims her house was bugged. The most likely explanation for a wire-tap is a criminal investigation. Were Couillard or Bernier suspected of wrongdoing?
* Is it likely with this level of security breach that this is the only security breach? What else did Bernier show Couillard or leave around for her to see?

Who knows what really happened:

* Perhaps Couillard had the documents because the pair were trying to use her criminal contacts to sell them.
* Perhaps Couillard stole the documents from Bernier and then used them to try to blackmail Bernier or to sell them. She could have returned them through a lawyer because he threatened to have her arrested.
* Perhaps the couple played a high-risk game where he got a thrill by giving her classified materials in return for sex.
* Perhaps Couillard was successfully blackmailing Bernier and forced him to give her access to sensitive documents for as long as she liked.
* Perhaps Bernier's "stupid bungles" as Foreign Affairs minister were intentional and had the same cause as the document mishap.
* Perhaps Bernier was so careless that he left classified documents everywhere.

I make no claims. All I'm saying is that there's more to this story than has come out so far. The facts just don't add up.



A BCer in Toronto said...

Yappa, I was making that comment in the context of the interest the average joe or jane overseas likely has in this story of Canadian political scandal. I agree with all the questions and concerns you've raised here; I was just saying that in terms of the interest level of most people overseas I suspect its like a train wreck spectacle to many of them.

Yappa said...

Hi Jeff -

You're right and I apologise. I was using you as a segue I'm afraid. I should have mentioned all the other stuff you said about Canada's place in the world - all very apt!

foottothefire said...

Perhaps we should know more about the lady's security company.

Anonymous said...

Jean LaPierre said that they checked out her claims about working in real estate and the company apparently said she never worked for them - if so, how do we know she's telling the truth about anything else?

Yappa said...

To anonymous at 6:45 -

I'd heard that too. Several weeks ago the Canadian Press reported, "Couillard is listed on the website of the Quebec real-estate agents association as working with the Montreal firm Kevlar Real Estate Investments Inc. But when a Canadian Press reporter entered the office and asked for her Thursday, three Kevlar employees retreated into a back room and re-emerged after several minutes to say Couillard had never worked there."

She didn't say anything about Kevlar in the TVA interview. But it seems prudent to take everything she says with a great big humongous pinch of salt.

WesternGrit said...

The wiretaps are pretty easy to guess answers to.... Someone who knew about her past relationship(s) would consider her a "person of interest" warranting investigation. If someone saw Maxime taking documents to her home, then perhaps suspicions arose in the RCMP, and in CSIS?

Perhaps - most logically - a foreign agency bugged them (maybe even the CIA - as they would worry about Maxime's "looseness" with gov't info, and the fact that he was privy to sensitive US info as well, being a cabinet minister). More frightening, perhaps, is the chance that a "not-so-friendly" nation decided this may be an easy way to dredge information. The "not-a-wife" involved in the past with bikers, is just interesting enough to make everything disappear harmlessly when he would have to resign - leaving no trace of the foreign buggings/interest.

Thing that gets me is that Couillard was suspicious of being bugged. You don't get suspicious of being bugged unless you think there is a REASON for you to be bugged...

And I'm sick and tired of all the sexist conservatives talking about Couillard's dress... or accusing the Liberals of that, more accurately. No Liberal MP commented on her choice of dress - neither did the NDP. It was the media - the mostly conservative-owned media, I might add, that was infatuated with her dress from day one...