11 January 2008

Rideout misrepresents former cabinet colleague's remarks

rideout toqueFish minister and deputy premier Tom Rideout must be having a bad day. 

Not only is he now on the hook repaying several thousands dollars of taxpayers cash he received but was not entitled to, but it turns out his rebuke of former cabinet colleague Loyola Sullivan is based on Rideout's misrepresentation of Sullivan's comments.

Here's Tom's version, as reproduced by CBC:

We were astounded and surprised at the view taken by [fisheries ambassador Loyola Sullivan] when he made the remark that we're 10 years too late for the fight," Rideout said in a statement, describing Sullivan's appearance at a Fur Institute of Canada meeting in St. John's earlier this week.

Here's the next bit of the CBC story, giving Sullivan's actual words.

However, Sullivan's precise comment while speaking with reporters was substantially different than Rideout's rendering of it.

"It's difficult because it's advanced so far," Sullivan said, describing the effectiveness of campaigns by groups protesting the seal hunt.

"I would love to have been in this position 10 years ago, to be able to advance it before it got such a foothold."

It's like the different between an office and a house.

Last month, The Telegram revealed that Rideout had claimed rent of a house in his constituency, even though House of Assembly rules at the time didn't allow members to claim rent or mortgage costs for property in the districts they represented.

Confronted with the claims totalling $23,000 over eight years, Rideout initially defended the expenses saying that he had permission from administrative staff at the legislature for the arrangement. On Friday, Rideout took a very different position:

"I have personally concluded that the way in which these residential expenses were billed to my constituency allowance was not appropriate," he said during a news conference.

"I take full responsibility for that and it is therefore my responsibility to ensure that it is rectified."

Rideout's initial defence started to come apart at the seams when he made incorrect statements on a local radio talk show.  As reported previously, Rideout said that he had only claimed per diems for meals and similar expenses.  Documents obtained by the Telegram showed Rideout claimed both per diems for meals as well as per diems for accommodations even though he was occupying a house and office already being paid for by taxpayers.

Rideout was a member of the House internal management committee at the time he began the expense claim arrangement.  During Rideout's term on the committee, it approved changes to legislation governing the House administration that led, in one instance to the auditor general be barred from auditing the legislature's own accounts. The period was well described by Chief Justice Derek Green in his recent report on the period.

-srbp-

Related links:

"Beholder, beheld and beholden", a post that notes the curious change in perspective on the Rideout affair from a newbie local blogger once the Premier spoke on the subject:

If Deputy Premier Tom Rideout had permission from the House of Assembly, and thus a special arrangement, to claim for accommodations in Lewisporte, then what has he done wrong? The accommodations exist, permission was granted to claim a legitimate expense, and he has done nothing illegal.

Wonder what the view is now that even Rideout admits there was something wrong in the billing arrangement.

6 comments:

Peter L. Whittle said...

Always the gentlemen Ed.

Perhaps the original IF puts the thing in context. Remember it was you who talked about special considerations for special circumstances when you justified Oliver Langdons travel arrangement, even if you got all the details wrong.


IF he did not have permission than that would mean that Rideout has been flying by the seat of his pants and he has pushed the envelope one time to many and his career is on a wing and a prayer.

Edward G. Hollett said...

Peter;

Playing with the meaning of words is usually the refuge of people, like Bill Clinton, for example, who are caught out yet cannot face the plain facts.

In this case, your position shifted noticeably and dramatically within 24 hours.

We might ponder the meaning of the word "if", however, entire phrases are much more revealing.

"permission was granted to claim a legitimate expense"

We have no proof that permission was granted, save for Rideout's initial claim. Apparently there is no record of such "permission" otherwise Rideout would not have made his about-face.

Rideout's entire claim of permission (which you apparently accepted at face value) would rest on the word of an individual currently facing a series of criminal charges. The fellow is innocent until found guilty, but under the current situation, his word would hardly be taken on its own.

We do know that not all of the expenses claimed were legitimate, although for some reason you stated otherwise in that post. As you are well aware members were not entitled to claim costs of rental accommodations in their constituencies.

Moreover, Rideout claimed rent and simultaneously claimed a per diem intended to cover temoporary accommodations

Rather than shifting position or attributing positions to me I did not take, perhaps you might consider addressing those rather substantive problems with your position.

Perhaps your whole series of posts will go the way of the Harper majority government you wrote about. it vanished too.

Peter L. Whittle said...

ED:

Your something else. Really. If he had a special arrangement as you suggested Oliver Langdon did, than why would your rules for one not apply to the other? Thats my point. Not shifting at all.

Edward G. Hollett said...

Peter:

You started this whole thing based on some apparent vendetta of yours against Oliver Langdon. Thanks for reminding us of it.

With respect to Langdon, you are the one who claimed there was a special arrangement. I stated that the rules that applied to Langdon with respect to travel applied generally to members of the legislature. Rideout's claims with respect to travel indicate generally the same thing, namely that the rules apllying to one applied to all.

in general, i made the point that even if there is someting dodgy in any travel claims, the AG found that 90% lacked sufficient documentation.

Short of having everyone pay every nickel back - whether their claims were legitimate or not - we'd be likely spending as much or mor than was original spent to recover some amount of money, even if some amount could be identified.

Incidentally, you negelcted to point out in your own attack on Langdon that you served as an executive assistant to a cabinet minister during the period in which Rideout's claims started and thus you had some knowledge of how the system worked. You were asked but repeatedly avoided providing information that would be directoy relevent. You skated and ducked and weaved. Very odd for someone posturing as being on a moral or ethical mission.

With respect to Rideout's housing arrangements - which you ultimately defended - the rules did not apply equally to all. Not all members were able to claim a house (not permissible at all under rules at the time) and refer to it as an office.

To the best of my knowledge no members were able to claim rent on a house and accommodation per diems at the same time.

Those were my points.

Your point seems to focused on attacking Oliver Langdon. Your incredibly short post on the subject persists in that single-minded purpose of yours. in order to carry on your single-minded attack, you even ignore the obvious: Rideout has shifted positions and even given false information while langdon has steadfastly maintained the same position. Perhaps the one approach you seem to favour is more familiar to you.

One would almost think that Oliver did something to you or Tom did something for you for you to warrant your curiously biased writing on the subject.

How exactly do you see Tom as being consistently right no matter what he has said or done, well at least since Danny exhonerated him?

Peter L. Whittle said...

Ed:

I like this suggestion that Tom Rideout did something for me. Want to put some meat on that bone for me. You keep teasing around the edges, like you want to say something but can not quite get to it. Please elaborate.

I have said that special arrangements might be legally okay but ethically wrong. That is the issue with both of these incidents.

You seem to think it was alright for one person to have a special arrangement and not the other. I say everyone should be treated the same. My full posts, not your excerpts show that.

No one else that I am aware of in the House Of Assembly was able to claim mileage to their district with a special formula like the one used by Mr. Langdon which was permitted by the House of Assembly. Just because it was legal, does not mean it was ethical. That is for him and others to judge.

The vendetta here seems to be yours with me. Why is it okay to be critical of tories but not liberals. I am an equal opportunity pundit. Not beholden to a party or an employer. Free to express my opinion unencumbered by blind partisanship.

I'll let others judge. The Telegram, the Auditor General, the average joe could all be wrong. We are all entitled to different opinions.

Edward G. Hollett said...

Again, Peter you misrepresent my position, your position and the cases at hand.

With respect to travel there were no special arrangements. this may have appeared to be the case at the outset, but subsequent evidence showed otherwise.

Your position has not been consistent either with respect to legality or ethics nor has it been consistent even on Rideout as a single case. Your comments are available for people to read.

With respect to doing something, you conveniently saw only half the comment I made with respected to your biased writing on these two cases. Your comments on Langdon and Rideout seem to apply a double standard, consistently attacking Langdon and doing a flip flop on Rideout. I simply pointed out that one might think one had done you a favour or the other slighted you.

As for the rest of your comments, I have criticised your remarks on the basis of your remarks. For example, I have criticised your comments on the Equalization racket for no other reason than you distort the public record and promote the Premier's propaganda line.

That's the basis for the criticism since the propaganda line ignores the larger issue of federal provincial relations involved. It also ignores, by the way, the real principles involved.

You cloak your comments in pious (As opposed to the old Pius) garb - 'unencumbered by blind partisanship' - and so forth but that really has nothing to do with anything.

You make a comment. Be prepared to defend it without skating around like Stoyko or misrepresenting your own or other people's point of view.