Warren Kinsella released an affidavit “under embargo” saying he had discussions with Liberal Party President Alfred Apps who said there were discussions with Ed Broadbent and Roy Romanow about a Liberal-NDP merger.
Former Liberal prime minister Paul Martin’s director of communication’s Scott Reid was invited to appear on CBC Wednesday afternoon to react to the affidavit. Reid said Kinsella was wrong and he would “eat this microphone” if it was true.
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff, flanked by Bob Rae, denied any merger talks after a party caucus meeting today. He called talks “ridiculous” and said no one had any authority to “even discuss this matter.”
Later this evening, Alfred Apps sent out a release saying Kinsella was wrong, there were no “serious discussions” on the topic, and he claims it was Kinsella who told him about the meetings which included former PM Jean Chretien.
(Chretien told Susan Delacourt, Kady O’Malley and I after his portrait unveiling that he had had talks with Broadbent as he often does on a number of issues over the years, but he had no “mandate” from anybody to engage in coalition talks.)
The problems with the Kinsella Affidavit are that:
1. Warren told me about the meetings among senior types (including Chretien) – I did not tell him. I merely told him that I had heard the same thing but didn’t see the point about talking about it.
2. He called to advocate a coalition. I told him an ‘opposition coalition’ was a crazy idea as I have always maintained.
3. We then discussed the ‘merger’ idea and I listed all the reasons off the top of my head why it would not work. I also said any such move would demand respect for the fundamental democracy of the party – including a resolution and convention – and that I did not believe that a consensus existed in either party for such a step.
4. Everything in the affidavit that he describes as cornerstones of a ‘plan’ were, in fact, reasons my view as to reasons why a merger would and could never occur.
In all subsequent discussions with Warren, I discouraged him bluntly from pursuing the concept.
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. Over the past two weeks, I have listened to arguments in favour of some arrangement with the NDP from only two Liberals pundits (including Warren) and engaged in friendly banter with a couple of New Democrats over drinks (e.g. will you renounce socialism?). Those New Democrats never represented to me that they were making any kind of official approach to me and I never took its as such.
I have consistently maintained that neither a coalition nor a merger was, in my view, possible or desireable.
W. Alfred Apps
Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP
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