Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Larry O'Brien trial update

I watched some of the cross examination of Terry Kilrea, the one-time mayoralty candidate whose complaints about Larry O'Brien resulted in the Ottawa mayor being hauled into court.
Essentially, the defence, made by the able Michael Edelson (a guy so skilled that he got Margaret Trudeau acquitted on a drunk driving charge), is that Kilrea is both too dumb to really remember the nuances of whatever pitch O'Brien made to him, and too devious to be counted on to give an honest version of what happened. And toss in media whore and desperate serial candidate for good measure.
I don't think it's working. Yes, I would not want Kilrea to perform brain surgery on me or fix the transmission on my car, but he is not yielding much ground. He does come across as a bit intransigent and very cautious, but he doesn't seem to be a liar. He also seems like the kind of guy who uses people, especially political supporters and discards them, but that's not much of a defence for O'Brien.
Strangely, Edelson, knowing Kilrea had testified O'Brien threatened to "ratfuck" Kilrea, brought in evidence that suggests precisely that: e-mails about the Kilrea campaign's reaction to an alleged attempt by someone possibly vaguely connected with O'Brien's campaign to con Kilrea's people into giving up information about Kilrea's fundraising.
Kilrea will probably stay on the stand through the rest of the week. Most reporters see him as uncommunicative, but I don't think that undermines his testimony or shakes his story. Kilrea is a rock. Maybe he comes across as being dumb as a stone, but I think that actually gives his story an air of credibility.
In fact, I think no one involved in whatever happened -- if anything -- believed what they were doing was illegal. People make political deals all the time: Peter MacKay and David Orchard made a deal about the Conservative leadership, though no jobs or cash were involved. Many a leadership candidate has tossed in the towel on the third ballot for a cabinet seat. And this town is full of wanna-be kingmakers and political fixers who believe the shortest distance between two points is a tunnel. So I'm not surprised we've ended up here.
Meanwhile, less than a kilometre away, Ruby Dhalla tells the world she doesn't exploit Third World women. And a short walk down the road, a former Prime Minister tries to explain that he did nothing wrong when he took envelopes stuffed with thousand-dollar bills from a sleazy arms dealer.
Not a good week for representative government in Canada. Not a good week at all.

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