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PM in White House dog house

[PoliticsWatch Updated 5:30 p.m. December 9, 2005]

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton and Prime Minister Paul Martin meet the media in Montreal Friday. 

OTTAWA  — Friday, it seems, is special guest star day on the Liberal campaign. 

Last week it was CAW president Buzz Hargrove. This week, Prime Minister Paul Martin got an A-list celebrity -- former U.S. President Bill Clinton who was in Montreal to deliver an address to the climate change summit. 

Coincidentally it came on the same day that it was revealed that the White House was less than pleased with the PM's speech at the summit earlier this week in which he took the U.S. for task for its opposition to the Kyoto accord. 

Apparently Martin peeved U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney for this statement: "To the reticent nations, including the United States, I say there is such a thing as a global conscience, and now is the time to listen to it."

A Canadian Press story on Thursday evening reported U.S. sources as saying Martin's campaign-style rhetoric meant there was no possibility the U.S. would join Kyoto. 

But it could be a case of politics because nobody was expecting the U.S. to sign on to Kyoto in the first place. Perhaps Cheney was using Martin as a scapegoat. 

Meanwhile it seems the networks were spinning the nature of a meeting between U.S. ambassador Frank McKenna and a White House official on Thursday. 

CBC News had breaking news with "Official Complaint" in large letters across the bottom of the screen. 

The original reports made it seem that McKenna had been Bushwhacked by an angry Republican administration official, who demanded and received a meeting with McKenna.

But a later version of the Canadian Press story included the fact that a Canadian embassy official in Washington said McKenna actually asked the White House official for the meeting as part of their regular encounters.

"We asked for the meeting to talk about the (climate-change) proposals and how the U.S. was responding," Bernard Etzinger said.

You're Fired! …. and I quit

The income trust scandal is confusing. 

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper again called for Finance Minister Ralph Goodale to resign Friday over questions about whether his department or officials leaked information regarding a tax policy change. 

Goodale's November announcement to lower the tax on dividend yielding stocks and keep in place the tax free status of income trusts has been the subject of allegations of insider trading by opposition parties and some Bay Street watchers because there was a notable spike in the volume of a number of dividend-paying stocks and income trusts before the decision was made public. 

Goodale has vehemently denied for two weeks that there was a leak of information from his office.

But a representative from a seniors organization told CTV News this week that Goodale's office telephoned him on the day the announcement was made to tell him "something is going to be said" regarding the income trust uncertainty. 

That prompted Goodale's communications director, John Embury, to call CTV Ottawa bureau chief Robert Fife to tell him that the seniors group spokesperson was old and confused. Embury has since apologized.

Now the Tory's seniors critic, Dean Allison, is asking Goodale to fire Embury for his comments to Fife. 

The problem is the party also wants Goodale to resign. So exactly how do you fire someone if you have already resigned? 

"The minister should park his arrogance, fire his communications director and then step aside," Allison explained in detail in his press release. 

In Blog We (Income) Trust

Meanwhile, the scandal continues to dominate bandwidth on the Conservative blogs, but an interesting post can be found on one of the few members of the Liberal Liblogs giving it space.

The Dan Report has interesting links to the stock trading bulletin board posts that were featured in the CTV News Whistleblower's first story on the income trusts issue. The CTV story suggested that the language contained in two of the posts on the day of the announcement was similar to that Goodale used later at a press conference to announce the changes after the market closed. 

The blog includes a number of posts from the two users, who CTV suggested "had advance knowledge of exactly what the finance minister was going to say."

But The Dan Report says a closer look at one of the user's posts later that day makes it appear the person "didn't seem to know what Goodale was going to say."

"Whatever he's going to say, I contemplate no exultation," the user identified as Zonimoni wrote at 5:03 p.m. after the market closed. "Although I fully expect to come out even, I do feel for those whom he spooked into taking sizable losses."

A week later CTV reporter Kathy Tomlinson writes in the forum to Zonimoni: "Hello...I read this posting from last Wednesday and wondered -- can you tell me when and how you first heard this (what the government might be announcing)? You can reply at ************@ctv.ca (confidentially if you wish) Kathy Tomlinson, CTV"

An hour later, Zonimoni replies in the forum, "Heard it from a drinking buddy who says he pleads Judith Miller. I suspect he just made it up."

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