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Today's Big Story

The Never-Ending Scandal

Dion supporter to testify in Legislature Raid Case

By Richard Warnica 30 Jan 2007 | TheTyee.ca

Richard Warnica is a senior editor at The Tyee.

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Yesterday the Conservatives unveiled a series of ads attacking the credibility and record of Liberal leader Stéphane Dion. The ads coincided with the first day of the new parliamentary session. They featured, among other barbs, attempts to link Dion to the dirty deeds of Liberals past and assaults on his time as environment minister under Paul Martin.

As Maclean's magazine's Paul Wells points out, the ads go after Dion's perceived strengths: integrity and the green file. And in that sense they preview the Tories' strategy for the next election: 1) discredit the Liberals on the environment; 2) run around yelling "Gomery!" as loud as they can.

Integrity sank the last Liberal regime. And you can bet the Conservatives hope to drown Dion with the same issue. With that in mind, this story is basically a visit from the Ghost of Attack Ads Future.

Jaime Elmhirst, who until earlier this month was the president of the federal Liberals' B.C. wing, has been subpoenaed to testify in the trial of David Basi and Bob Virk. Bill Tieleman, who has written about the Basi/Virk case for the Tyee (here, here, here and here) broke the story in the commuter daily 24 Hours.

Elmhirst quit as president Jan. 15 but was subpoenaed by police Oct. 4, 2006, to testify. His letter of resignation to the party makes no mention of the subpoena, instead stating he was leaving to concentrate on his business and upcoming wedding.

Elmhirst, a former aide to B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell and former federal Liberal cabinet minister David Anderson, was a business partner of Erik Bornmann and Brian Kieran in the now-defunct Victoria lobby firm Pilothouse Public Affairs.

Both Bornmann and Kieran will testify as crown witnesses against Basi, Virk and B.C. Liberal government communications aide Aneal Basi in the trial starting April 2.

Guilt by association is more the rule than the exception in political scandals. And while no one is saying that Elmhirst was involved in the case, his proximity to it can't be fun for the Liberal brass. That's especially true since Elmhirst, like many well-connected B.C. Liberals, was an early supporter of Stéphane Dion's leadership bid.  [Tyee]

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