Yesterday, I spent some time defending the Greens' embrace of what I referred to as a questionable choice for MP. Today, I did what I should have done yesterday. I looked into what really happened in October 2007 when Wilson and the Liberal Party disassociated themselves from one another. It turns out Wilson was not turfed. He was not expelled. He was not fired. He was not ejected.
He resigned. He voluntarily stepped down when he was being investigated by Elections Canada.
At the time, Liberal leader Stephane Dion praised Wilson's action.
Vancouver MP Blair Wilson resigned from the federal Liberal caucus on Sunday, following accusations that he didn't disclose all his expenses during the 2006 federal election.
Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion confirmed the news in a written statement Sunday night.
"I have accepted Mr. Wilson's resignation from his position as national revenue critic, and as a member of our national caucus, effective immediately," he said.
Wilson denied the allegations and said in a written statement that he is confident his name will be cleared.
He has not suggested he is leaving his post as MP for West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast, which means he will have to sit as an Independent.
"I will collaborate fully with Elections Canada, and do whatever I can to help expedite its investigation into the allegations," Wilson said.
Dion praised Wilson for asking Elections Canada to investigate the matter. Dion said the allegations against Wilson are serious and that they raise questions that must be addressed immediately.
"I have instructed the Liberal Party of Canada to provide whatever assistance they can to Elections Canada as it reviews the allegations," Dion said in his statement.
Liberal MP Marlene Jennings said that Wilson did the right thing by stepping down "at the first hint" of any questions about his campaign expenses.
As he said he would, Wilson cooperated fully with Elections Canada. Recently, he was cleared of any serious malfeasance. Unfortunately, the damage had been done. The smear job that led to the investigation had sullied Wilson's reputation enough that, even after he was cleared, the Liberals refused to take him back into the fold. So much for doing the right thing.
Now that Wilson has joined the Greens, the Liberal long knives are out. BCer in TO Jeff contends that Wilson was asked to leave the Liberal caucus. Jeff may have some inside info that the CBC, Dion and Jennings didn't know about. Or he may be blowing smoke. Jeff rhymes off a litany of problems he says the Liberals have with Wilson. Among those, is a $1.9 million dollar lawsuit brought forth by Wilson's wife's stepfather. According to published reports yesterday, the amount in dispute was reduced to just $11,000. Let's not let facts get in the way of sour grapes, though.
Jason Cherniak also continues the smear job. Cherniak states that Wilson "(w)as kicked out of the Liberal caucus for allegations of financial and legal improprieties." Jason is Stephane Dion's number one blogging friend. I wonder how Jason squares Dion's October 2007 praise of Wilson stepping down at the first hint of impropriety with his own false statement that Wilson was kicked out. As a lawyer, I expect Jason to know the difference between allegations and convictions. As a lawyer, I expect Jason to grasp the concept of innocent until proven guilty. As a lawyer, Jason should know that those allegations were, for the most part, dismissed by Elections Canada after a lengthy investigation. Don't let the facts get in the way of a smear job, Jason.
Pogge also bought into the story that Wilson was kicked out of the Liberal caucus. So did a few others. I can't blame them. I thought that was the case, too. After all, that's the way it was reported by CP.
Now, however, I'm setting the record straight. As evidenced by Dion's praise and MP Jennings' affirmation, Wilson was not kicked out of the party. I left a comment on Jason's blog a couple of hours ago. I cited Dion's praise and quoted the CBC article. I am still waiting for that comment to be published and responded to, Jason.
I expect it's too much to ask every blogger who bought into the "he was turfed" storyline to recant. I'm going to make the rounds and try to set the record straight and I do expect some bloggers to admit, like I have, that they jumped to a conclusion without investigating whether or not Wilson had really been turfed or fired or expelled or disgraced. We'll see.
I just went back to the original Canadian Press story that said Wilson had been "turfed." The story has been edited. It now states that Wilson resigned.
After that, I'll try to post another boog story on this whole Blair Wilson thing. I ain't quite as obsessed as some bloggers are but I've spouted off in a lot of comments sections and I'm aiming to recycle some of my copious verbosity here on my own little boog.