Chris Collins - We Really Should Know More

Chris Collins - We Really Should Know More

As the most secretive government I have seen since I started covering politics as a reporter back in the 70s, it is perhaps no big surprise that the Gallant government has wrapped this Chris Collins harassment thing in mystery. And it shouldn’t be this way.

What do we know, officially? We know someone accused the Speaker of harassment. But what could that be? In these days of #metoo but also of political correctness, it could be anything. There is consensus it wasn’t sexual or physical so there’s that. So it was verbal, but that still leaves a wide spectrum. We don’t know who complained, why, or what his or her motivation was.

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Some know. There was an investigation, and while the finding of the investigator was that the complaint against Collins was “founded in part”, that’s really not helpful. It was certainly helpful to the Premier though, because it supports his action of suspending Collins from the Liberal caucus. It would have been decidedly unhelpful if he had been totally cleared. Can you say “lawsuit?” But the details were even hidden from the legislature committee dealing with it, at least the non-government members of it.

A political scientist was on CBC a few days ago saying it is proper that these allegations stay private. While there could be cases where you could make that argument, this isn’t one of them. He is absolutely wrong in this case.  And the reason is that there may be too much behind all of this that goes beyond the incident itself, to the core of how decisions are made by our Premier. As a voter, don’t you have a right to know whether he was being vindictive of someone he saw as a political rival, or was he doing proper due diligence to ensure the legislature was a respectful workplace?

 Photo Credit: CBC

Photo Credit: CBC

And what of voters in Moncton Centre? Do they not deserve to know whether their representative was using his position as Speaker to act like a jerk, or whether he was the innocent victim of an overly sensitive employee, with a Premier a little too eager to exploit that?

Collins, for his part has come off as repentant, but refused to answer reporter’s questions when he met with them yesterday. All his prepared remarks confirmed was that he said something that he thought was “humorous and inoffensive” but was apparently taken by the complainant as not funny and indeed quite offensive.

But what the heck is that? I know people, and maybe you do too, who make it a point of being offended every chance they get. Is this person one of them? We don’t know.

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Was this politically motivated? Consider the history. Collins backed Gallant’s leadership rival Mike Murphy. And except for Collins until this happened, none of those Murphy supporters could find a home in the Gallant government.

Collins didn’t do himself any favours by not being more forthcoming yesterday. Why is anybody’s guess – questionable legal advice, strategically waiting for a more opportune time, wanting it to just “go away”?

At the very least, the legislative committee looking into this should have been provided with the investigator’s total report, not a version summarized by whom? The investigator? The Premier’s office?

In short, all we know is that he said something that he thought was OK and then found out the hard way that it wasn’t.

So, we may or may not find out if it is something you or I would find offensive.

here’s something you heard here first - Collins will be running in Moncton Centre as an independent.

But we might. Collins might be saving that for his announcement, because here’s something you heard here first - Collins will be running in Moncton Centre as an independent. This, by the way, from the proverbial reliable source.

From what I gather Collins is popular in his constituency. So this means he will either win, or divide the Liberal vote, clearing the way for some other party’s candidate to win. Either way not good for Gallant. But imagine if Gallant won a minority government and Collins ended up holding the balance of power. What a nightmare scenario for the Premier that would be.

So the election in Moncton just got a little more interesting.

Don’t we all love a good mystery?  

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