Liberal president talked merger: affidavits

Two Liberal Party advisers have sworn affidavits saying the federal party's president spoke to them about high-level discussions with NDP officials about the creation of a new party.

Apps denies 'serious' merger talks, says Kinsella called him, not vice versa

Two Liberal Party advisers have sworn affidavits saying the federal party's president spoke to them about high-level discussions with NDP officials about the creation of a new party.

But Alfred Apps is denying he was involved in any serious merger talks.

Warren Kinsella, who was an adviser to former prime minister Jean Chrétien, said in the affidavit that Apps told him in May about "high-level" discussions with NDP officials about the "creation of a new party."

Warren Kinsella says in an affidavit that the Liberal party president told him about 'high-level' discussions with NDP officials about the creation of a new party. ((CBC))

He writes that he took "detailed notes" of his conversation with the Liberal Party president and was surprised when Apps told him there was "a lot of interest in merger in the NDP."

He said Apps told him the NDP would have to comply with three conditions: renouncing socialism and embracing a mixed-market economy; accepting Michael Ignatieff as leader; and having senior party "saints" such as former federal NDP leader Ed Broadbent and past Saskatchewan NDP leader Roy Romanow promote the merger.

In another affidavit, John Mraz, a former director of communications for the Liberals, said that in a discussion with Apps, the party president told him about merger talks between the two parties.

Mraz says he told Apps that he had heard rumours of talks between Chrétien and Ed Broadbent, a former federal NDP leader.

What is an affidavit?

According to the Oxford dictionary, an affidavit is a written statement confirmed by oath usually by an authorized official, like a lawyer or some kind of legal officer, for use as evidence in court.

The person who has signed an affidavit is swearing under oath that the information, to the best of their knowledge, is true.

The affidavits of Warren Kinsella and John Mraz were sworn in Toronto before a "commissioner for taking affidavits."

Under the Criminal Code, those who knowingly make a false statement in an affidavit are guilty of perjury.

He said Apps "angrily" replied: "You don't know the half of it. You've got no idea what you're talking about. I've been involved in those discussions, and they not only included Broadbent and Chrétien, but [former Saskatchewan NDP premier Roy] Romanow, [former Progressive Conservative prime minister Joe] Clark and [former Ontario chief justice and attorney general Roy] McMurtry."

Mraz in his statement also said that any such merger would "demand that the NDP renounce socialism."

The documents come amid fierce denials by leaders of both parties of the CBC News report that the Liberals and NDP have been holding secret talks about possibly merging to form a new entity to take on the Conservatives.

But Apps told CBC News that Kinsella's claims in the affidavit are not true. He insisted Kinsella called him and told him of the meetings of two party's senior figures, not the other way around.

"In subsequent calls from Warren, I discouraged him strongly from pursuing the idea," Apps said. "I have never personally engaged in serious discussions on this topic and have no personal knowledge of any such discussions among others. I have never encouraged such discussion." 

Liberal Party of Canada president Alfred Apps denies he was involved in any serious merger talks. ((CBC))

Apps told CBC that Kinsella and Mraz were the only two Liberals to call him about the subject.

As for Clark's participation, Apps said the only information he passed on to Mraz was information he learned from Kinsella.

"I then speculated and said we clearly have a bunch of former politicians, if these meetings are occurring, I said I wonder if they're involving former PCs like Joe Clark."

On Tuesday, CBC News reported that senior insiders with the Liberals and New Democrats have been holding secret talks about the possibility of merging their parties to form a new entity to challenge the Conservatives.

Many Liberal insiders confirmed that discussions between the two parties are not just focused on forming a coalition after an election or co-operation before one, but the creation of a new party.

The new party would possibly be named the Liberal Democrats.

Kinsella told CBC News "serious people are involved in discussions at a serious level."

But on Wednesday, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff called discussions of a merger "ridiculous."

Kinsella worked for Ignatieff in the Opposition Leader's Office until recently, reportedly leaving on less than the best of terms.

When asked Wednesday about his relationship with Kinsella, Ignatieff responded: "I have no relationship with Warren Kinsella."