What Kinsella said

Warren Kinsella, Chretien loyalist and Martin foe, testified under oath at the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee today.

There is some debate about the meaning of some of his remarks. He said he received a phone call minutes before testifying in which the caller said that the Prime Minister’s Office would seek to discredit some aspects of his testimony. But who made the call? Kinsella wouldn’t say but divulged the name in private to John Williams, the Conservative MP who chairs the committee. Williams will tell other committee members on Tuesday in a closed-door committee. Then, the committee will decide if it will make that name public.

Was the caller someone who works in the PMO? Or was it someone outside the PMO but who has enough influence within Martin’s inner circle to make such a threat?

The issue is important because Kinsella is essentially suggesting that there was some witness-tampering, a serious offence.

Kinsella had a brief post at his blog  (look for the April 18 entry) before testifying in which he alludes to this pressure.

The proceedings this afternoon were televised on the House of Commons closed-circuit channels. From that videotape, here’s my transcription of the relevant comments. My comments are within [] square brackets:

[at 16:14:53]

KINSELLA: I received a phone call from an individual a few minutes before I came here indicating that Mr. Dingwall would disavow everything I had to say here today … I would consider that to be an inappropriate statement.

WILLIAMS: If that’s what you were going to say, how can they disavow it before you said it?

KINSELLA: Perhaps people are nervous, sir.

[You can watch this exchange at CTV site and see Mike Duffy’s interview with Kinsella.]

[Later … at 16:23:35 .. Kinsella is asked by a clerk of the committee for some clarification on this phone call. The clerk asks if the Kinsella’s caller was talking about disavowing all of Kinsella’s testimony.]

KINSELLA: One thing in particular, yes. The document you have before you, Mr. Chairman, the advice-to-minister document dated October, 1995 and that the Prime Minister’s Office would exercise [or] apply some pressure to [former public works David] Dingwall to issue a statement or make some statement to contradict what I say or contradict that document.

My colleauge Bob Fife has the report on this on tonight’s newscast.


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