Offer to Cadman was to fund his re-election, Tories say
Liberals reject assertion that dying Independent MP was seeking to run again
Opposition MPs ridiculed government suggestions on Monday that Independent MP Chuck Cadman had plans to seek re-election in 2005, even as he was dying of cancer, and that the only thing the Conservative party offered him to rejoin its benches was money to run his campaign.
The Tories faced intense questioning from the Liberals during question period in the House of Commons about what, exactly, the Conservative party offered Cadman in spring 2005.
James Moore, the government's point person on the affair, confirmed that representatives from the Conservative party met with Cadman, but he said they only offered him the party's nomination to run for re-election in his Surrey, B.C., riding, and funds for the campaign.
"Mr. Cadman was going to run again," Moore said.
The Liberals rejected that claim.
"He wasn't going to run. He didn't need their help," Liberal deputy leader Michael Ignatieff fumed. "How long do they keep repeating these stories? No one believes them."
Cadman, who died two months after the meeting with Tory officials, is at the centre of allegations the Conservatives tried to bribe him to secure his co-operation on a crucial budget vote that threatened to topple the Liberal minority government in May 2005.
In Like a Rock: The Chuck Cadman Story, his wife, Dona Cadman, alleges that the Conservatives offered her husband a million-dollar insurance policy if he voted to bring down the Liberal government. Two Cadman children have also said their father told them of the offer.
On the crucial day, the Independent MP sided with the Liberals, allowing them to survive the narrow confidence vote. If the Liberals had lost the vote, the government would have fallen and an election would have been called.
The allegations of a bribe attempt surfaced late last month when advance copies of Like a Rock, by B.C. journalist Tom Zytaruk, were leaked to the media.
The book says Prime Minister Stephen Harper knew of the offer to Cadman. "I don't know the details. I know that there were discussions," Harper says in a taped 2005 interview with Zytaruk that was later released.