Friday, October 10, 2008

Harper Committed Perjury

This seems to be what happened:

Conservative party officials tried to bribe a dying independent MP to vote to bring down the Martin government. According to his widow, they offered him a million-dollar life insurance policy.

Harper discussed this issue with author Tom Zytaruk. Zyartuk taped the interview.

Later, Harper denied that he knew about the bribe and claimed the tape was doctored.

Harper got an injunction preventing the Liberals from using the tape and sued the Liberal party for libel for $3.5M. Harper won a delay in the trial until after next Tuesday's election.

Only the people in the room during the taping knew the truth about what Harper said. One of those people was Harper.

Now it has been revealed that the tape was not doctored.

Is there any explanation other than that Harper perjured himself?

(He apparently thought he was safe denying the tape because experts said that it was doctored. However, it turns out that while part of the conversation was recorded over, the damning part of the tape was clean.)


Anonymous said...

Wait - did Harper testify under oath that he knew the tape was doctored? Because unless he did that, it's not perjury.

The Mound of Sound said...

YDD are you sure Harper went on oath to unequivocally assert that the tape was doctored? Perjury is a crime requiring pretty specific proof.

Yappa said...

I know from the Mulroney Ethics hearings that perjury doesn't have to be in a court; you can perjure yourself when filing documents before a trial (or maybe that's just in affadavits). Harper has been claiming in court and elsewhere that the tape was doctored: that he didn't say what the tape says he says. If the tape isn't doctored, how can it be that he's not lying? And if he's lying in proceedings that led to a libel trial, an injunction, and a request for a delay of the trial, then isn't that perjury? Or some related illegality of a similar nature?

Because of the trial and the injunction, I don't know the exact details (and I guess we won't know till after the election).

Yappa said...

The Star now reports that "The findings may call into question Harper's testimony about the interview during a sworn cross-examination conducted by a Liberal party lawyer in August."

Anonymous said...

Yappa, mound is right. Perjury requires specific proof. If Harper said "the tape must have been doctored" that isn't perjury, because Harper doesn't know for sure whether the tape was doctored; he just thinks it was. So it would impugn his credibility as a witness, yes, but it's not perjury.

Yappa said...

It's hard to imagine how Harper could have convinced a judge that the tape was incorrect without perjuring himself. Don't forget that the Liberals were cross-examining him.

Why the media isn't connecting the dots, I don't know. The Liberal site Scandalpedia isn't commenting on anything to do with the issue because of the law suit: the party may be muzzled.

Yappa said...

Okay, here's the connection.

From the tape:

Zytaruk: "I mean, there was an insurance policy for a million dollars. Do you know anything about that?"

Harper: "I don't know the details. I know that there were discussions, uh, this is not for publication?" (see next post for the rest of the transcript)

The Star article reporting on Harper's testimony under oath: "Harper insisted in his testimony that at that point in the interview he told Zytaruk he did not know about the offer of an insurance policy. He claimed Zytaruk edited that response out of the recording."

Anonymous said...

Okay but you're missing the point. Perjury is a very specific allegation and requires specific proof. You can't be perjured for something you don't know about for sure. Harper's statement was essentially that he assumes the tape was doctored. What would be perjury is if, under oath, he said he didn't doctor the tape, and then the evidence proved that he doctored it.

Again, none of this is to say it won't make Harper look stupid. But it's not perjury!

Yappa said...

Hi anonymous at 9:10 -

Several of you have missed the point in thinking that the lie was about whether he claimed the tape was doctored. The lie was about what he said he said. A technical expert decides whether the tape was doctored.

I'm not concerned with whether or not Harper appears foolish. I think this shows him to be dishonest.

I doubt whether there will be prosecution for perjury. (See my more recent posts on the matter.) It is rightly the case that we don't go after prime ministers lightly, and the case may not be egregious enough to warrant it.