The Elizabeth Matthews secret appointment story grows - expontentially. On Monday, an indignant Ms Matthews withdrew her nomination as Vice Chair for the Canada - Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (CNLOPB), and the already existing position as a regular member of the Board. A furious Minister Kennedy came on the VOCM Open Line show and condemned the Official Opposition for scurrilously attacking poor Ms Matthews character, and lamenting that such attacks were aimed at nothing less than women's rights. That somehow the Opposition was against advancing women in politics. Forget for the moment that the Leader of the Opposition is a woman. Let's focus on his spin. Minister Kennedy ignored the fact that Ms Matthews was secretly appointed. He ignored the fact that the government had an obligation to inform it's citizens about the actual nomination, and not just the hypothetical nomination as Vice-Chair. Again, the spin, no matter how ridiculous it may seem, was put ahead of the actual issue.
Then there is my twitter conversation with David Cochrane of the CBC. Mr Cochrane stated to me that Ms Matthews told him she was unaware of being appointed to the Board. As far fetched as that would seem one would think that lying to the press would be even more so. Surely in a government process, where officials are always making sure they have their collective selves covered, a paper trail will be there - somewhere. Then there is Mr Skinner coming on CBC, NTV and the Telegram and stating:
"There was a process, as I indicated, that was supposed to be followed — and again — I haven't been able to determine why that process wasn't done in a more timely manner, but again, I'm going to investigate that," Skinner said.
He further sated:
"While I respect [Matthews's] decision, I am disappointed that such an accomplished and capable individual was pushed to such a decision by petty political manoeuvring by the Opposition that went too far," Skinner said in a statement Monday.
A nasty shot at the Official Opposition, again, with the purpose of demonizing them and ignoring the issue. His own extended interview on the matter started with him saying there was a communications breakdown. That Ms Matthews was not informed of her appointment, and that he would investigate why. Then he said the problem was politics and not communication problems. Then, at the end of the interview, he went back to his position there was a communications problem. You couldn't make this stuff up.
Fast forward to Tuesday. One day later and a new document is released. A copy of the actual Order in Council authorizing Ms Matthews appointment to the board and nomination as it's Vice Chair:
You will notice that Ms Matthews is listed, along with the Premier, as people to receive copies of the Order. That makes sense considering the Premier put forward the appointment, and Ms Matthews was the person receiving it. In addition, two Deputy Ministers, the Clerk, and the file were to receive copies. That document was dated 21 December, 2011. The only problem being that Ms Matthews and Minister Skinner said she wasn't notified.
Then the bombshell fell Wednesday. The Telegram wrote a story: http://tinyurl.com/48lhz44. Apparently, an spokesperson for Executive Council confirmed that the Order in Council was delivered to Ms Matthews. Oops. Ms Matthews told the CBC she wasn't told she was on the Board. According to the Telegram:
Matthews told The Telegram she received a copy of the order in early January, but was told it was sent to her in error.
“I received an (Order in Council) in the mail in January at which point I contacted the Premier's Office to enquire about its contents,” Matthews said. “I was told they were unaware the (Order in Council) had been sent to me and it should not have been sent.”
Here are some immediate questions. Why would Elizabeth Matthews or the Premier's Office question her receiving a copy of the Order when she is designated to get a copy as stated on the Order?Why should the Oder in Council not be sent to Ms Matthews when she was on the internal distribution list? Why would the Premier's Office, of all Offices, tell her it was mistakenly sent out? Why did Minister Skinner say she wasn't told of her appointment when she was (in January no less)? Why would Ms Matthews have to enquire about the contents of the Order considering her extensive experience as the government's Director of Communications. Then there are the two big questions: Why did Kathy Dunderdale not tell the press the truth, and why did she allow Minister Skinner to mislead the public? After all, according to Ms Matthews, she spoke to the Premier's Office directly about her appointment in January. Ms Matthews knew she was appointed in January. The Premier knew that Ms Matthews was aware of her appointment in January. So why did the premier allow Minister Skinner to mislead the public?
The questions are just finally coming to the real nuts and bolts of things. The bottom line is we can't have politicians lying at will to our press. The press are our ears and eyes, and a firm check on the power of governments. This is the most serious of challenges to our democratic way of life. It challenges the very foundation of our democratic process. This is an issue that should bring down Mr Skinner, Ms Dunderdale, likely Minister Kennedy and perhaps the government in general. A breach of trust. A gross attempt to manipulate it's own citizens for purely partisan reasons. A despicable act by any government claiming to be democratic.
Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the
round pegs in the square holes... the ones who see things differently -- they're
not fond of rules... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify
them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change
things... they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the
crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that
they can change the world, are the ones who do.
US computer engineer & industrialist (1955 - 2011)