UPDATED: See below
, a former Liberal Party MP, cabinet minister, and currently a media broadcaster, has made a serious allegation on CTV Newsnet just now, while speaking to the CTV’s Mike Duffy and CTV News contributor L. Ian MacDonald, the topic being the effort by another Liberal to try to swing the Mulroney/Schreiber hearings into a new area by asking questions about Mulroney and the recent “wireless” auctions decision (you’re right—totally, hideously off base):
Jean Lapierre: Well, Mike, I will surprise you, but last night I knew all about those questions. They were written by the CBC and provided to the Liberal Members of Parliament and the questions that [Liberal MP and committee questioner] Pablo Rodriguez asked were written by the CBC and I can’t believe that but last night, a very influential Member of Parliament came to me and told me those are the questions the CBC wants us to ask tomorrow.
Mike Duffy: Well I would say that’s uh libelous or defamatory so we’ll have to uh put a caveat on that—far be it from us to ever suggest they were ever doing anything…
Duffy then strangely appears to be admit that he, too, suggested questions be asked, but issues forth a plausible explanation:
Duffy: …when I was uh you know in telling MPs what questions to ask I was raising it with you really more on the point of why a spectrum auction would be important economically to Quebecor. Brian Mulroney is a senior director or executive director of Quebecor World which is the Péladeau empire that has TV, and newspapers, and so on…
[Later, after a brief discussion about that…]
Jean Lapierre: … but a Member of Parliament last night came to me and told me about those questions [Duffy tries to interject to stop him from repeating the allegation]—I want you to know because I did not really appreciate that because you know I’ve been serving in this Parliament for what— 16 years—and never a network posed a question for me.
Duffy; Well, let’s just say that’s “hearsay” that’s going around …
Lapierre: Yes but I [pointing at himself] heard it. Here [pointing down] in this building.
Duffy: Yes I know you heard it but when the lawsuit arrives…
Lapierre: No…. [laughter all around]
CTV news contributor L. Ian MacDonald continues the conversation with Duffy, and MacDonald suggests that while he’s not sure about all of that, he did think NDP MP Pat Martin may well have gotten himself into legal trouble with some of the things he’d just said outside of the committee room where he’s not legally protected (as he is inside the committee room), “which Mr. Mulroney’s lawyer’s might want to take a look at”.
While MacDonald was talking, Duffy then inexplicably uses his right arm to actually push Lapierre off the set.
Here’s Duffy pushing Lapierre off the set with his right arm—no, he’s not stretching it out to shake anybody’s hand—he’s pushing Lapierre at the belly.
Just now (1:48 PM PST), Mike Duffy reported that a Conservative MP has filed an information (seemingly using my own wording, above, about a “collusion” between the CBC and the Liberal Party) concerning this matter. He says if true, it’s an anti-Conservative bias on the part of the CBC. More on that as I transcribe it.
For his part, Jean Lapierre has confirmed what he said before, while Liberals have strongly denied any such thing. More on this as I listen and type it out…
1:54 PM PST: OK HERE IT IS IN MORE EXTENDED FORM:
Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro wrote a news release. He said:
Conservatives demand answers from the CBC over the alleged collusion with the Liberal Party. Today former Liberal Party cabinet minister and current TVA journalist Jean Lapierre made shocking allegations about strategic collusion between journalists at the CBC and Liberal members of Parliament at the House of Commons Ethics Committee. According to Lapierre Liberals asked Brian Mulroney questions that were written by CBC journalists.
If proven true, these allegations would mark a major third case of orchestrated anti-Conservative bias from a broadcaster that is financed by all Canadians. …
Regarding Jean Lapierre’s earlier allegation and his latest confirmation of it:
According to further information provided to Mike Duffy by Jean Lapierre, a Liberal researcher named Jay Epward (sp?) quickly approached Jean Lapierre today and told him “…No, Jean, it’s not true! … The CBC phoned us up and merely ‘suggested’ questions that should be asked, but we actually typed them out ourselves…”.
The CTV bureau Chief Bob Fife and L. Ian MacDonald then discussed it with Duffy, and all agreed what a serious a matter this was, if true.
In something of a debate on Duffy’s program between Conservative MP (and committee member) Mr. Del Mastro and Liberal Pablo Rodriguez, Pablo Rodriguez vigorously denied everything and demanded an apology from Mr. Del Mastro, who rightly reminded him that it wasn’t he who made the allegation.
Pablo Rodriguez doth protest too loudly, is how I read him.
For my part, I’ve emailed Mr. Del Mastro and asked for a CC of his news release which he apparently mailed to Duffy, as Duffy read it off his Blackberry earlier.
2:25 PM PST:
The NDP’s Joe Comartin (also in the discussion) alleges that CTV reporters also suggested questions to the NDP that might be asked today, but my read of it was that this was in a much more casual arrangement; more along the line of the way things are done every day between reporters and opposition members. This in and of itself frightens me. Reminds me of a “Good Read” I wrote about yesterday.
3:30 PM PST:
CTV Newsnet is now covering this story in their news loop, over the banner “Questionable Questions”, as seen here in this screen capture:
UPDATE – Dec 14 2007:
The CBC has admitted to Canadian Press that they have launched an “internal investigation” and possible “disciplinary action”. [See “CBC reviewing claim reporter fed questions to Liberal MP”] … Of course the proper course of action is to ban any state-owned or state-run media in this country, and enshrine that notion in our constitution, as I keep saying.