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Complete text of Craig's Monday morning commentary

I paid careful attention this week, as I always do, to Craig Westcott's Monday commentary on the CBC Radio Morning Show. In his typically timid style, Westcott opined on the Cameron inquiry, and the provincial government's meddling in its ongoing operations.

His comments were especially relevant, in light of current events. The volume on this issue was subsequently cranked up to 10, with comments from Justice Gomery, Dr. Tumilty and the many others who feel that the inquiry should proceed without interference.

The only downside with radio is that you can't go back and play the item again, unless it gets archived. And in Westcott's case, I often want to hear his commentaries again, after his dulcet tones have faded from the airwaves.

I contacted Westcott on Monday, and he agreed to the next best thing he agreed to forward me the raw text of his commentary. Without further ado, here is the complete, unabridged text:

CBC Radio Morning Show Commentary

Monday, May 12, 2008

By Craig Westcott

In the late fall of 1775, as winter's gloom gathered around her and smallpox killed her mother and scores of neighbours, Abigail Adams had to wonder: Was the terrible disease God's punishment for slavery?

Adams was a New Englander and firmly opposed to the practice carried out by the southern colonies.

And she wasn't alone.

Throughout history, in fact, people have wondered whether the actions of man have sparked the wrath of God in the form of some pestilence or earthquake, hurricane or blight.

I'm starting to wonder the same thing.

Okay, not really. But our weather has been bad.

So for argument's sake, it's worth ruminating on what the possible causes might be, other than meteorological.

The most obvious culprit is politics. Or rather, politicians.

I was gone most of last week, out of the province on business, visiting places where the temperature ran to 75 degrees fahrenheit in the night and 80 degrees by day.

I arrived home to cold and fog and a public mood that was vicious.

Strange, I thought. The weather usually doesn't make us this crooked.

And then I heard Premier Danny Williams, lambasting the Cameron Inquiry for being "too inquisitorial."

Well, isn't that what a judicial inquiry is supposed to be? Inquisitorial?

"I know a prosecution when I see one," said the premier.

Yeah, and I know bull cookies when I smell them, I thought to myself.

Williams even got his Justice Minister, Jerome Kennedy, to complain about the inquiry's cost and duration, the same fellow who made a mint from the two year long Lamer Inquiry.

It's more than passing strange that the premier would call a judicial inquiry a witch hunt.

Especially when he is going to be a witness.

As a lawyer himself, Williams would know it's inappropriate for a witness to make such a statement.

So you have to ask yourself why Williams would breach such a cardinal rule.

And the most logical explanation is that Williams is no longer a lawyer, he's a politician.

And so his motives are not governed by the precepts of law, but by political expediency.

In plainer English, Williams is trying to damage the credibility of the Cameron commission before it damages him.

Remember, one of the central tasks of this inquiry is to determine why the public was not informed right away that the lives of hundreds of women were at stake because of botched tests in the government's cancer lab.

The testimony we've heard so far suggests that the crisis was covered up for political and public relations reasons, which for this government, are really one and the same thing.

We've learned that the first politician to have been told of the problem was Premier Danny Williams, or at least his chief of staff and press secretary were told, ahead even of the Health Minister, John Ottenheimer.

For me, the fact that the two people closest to the premier, the two people who work with him every day, travel with him on the road, and enjoy a special relationship with him like no other two people in the province, means it's inconceivable they didn't tell him about the scandal right away.

Williams is also the only politician who was kept informed and up to date about the scandal in the months leading up to its exposure by the media.

Health Ministers came and went. Danny Williams remained in place, continuing to get the briefing notes.

Williams received briefing notes that not even his health minister received.

In short, Danny Williams has a lot of explaining to do.

Perhaps that's why he has attacked the Cameron Inquiry. Because if there is one rule common to law and politics it's this: The best defence is a good offence.

But it still doesn't mean you're right.

None of this, of course, really explains the weather. It could, though, be the cause of an ill wind or two.

For the Morning Show, I'm Craig Westcott.

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  • W
    July 27, 2010 - 14:53

    The Westcott commentary, along with the remarkable Jerome Kennedy tape, is now on CBC's growing audio archive:

    http://www.cbc.ca/thestjohnsmorningshow/media/20080512westcott_pol_climate_94214.ram

    Now, where's my Lab Morning?