When Sylvie Roy rose in Quebec Parliament and asked Premier Charest if he was aware that three of his members vacationed aboard Tony Accurso's yacht, it was particularly strange.
Not because the allegation was hard to believe, but rather at the way the question was put to the Premier and his reaction.
Ms. Roy had Parliamentary privilege and could have named the members, yet chose not to. Obviously she wasn't so sure of her information and was on a fishing expedition.
In response to questions by the press, she claimed that she had a source that refused to come forward out out fear of reprisals. Without naming the source publicly or having a secondary source to confirm the story, she obviously didn't feel that she was in a strong enough position to name names.
Strangely, Mr. Charest didn't seem overly perturbed by the potential bombshell that she dropped. He remained calm, collected and even challenged her to name names. When she didn't, Mr. Charest obligingly provided the names himself.
The next day Mr. Charest triumphantly announced that the allegations were false and all the members involved had denied ever being on Mr. Accurso's boat.
Every thing seemed to be playing out to the Premier's advantage and he was beaming.
It was all too neat. Ms. Roy had been set up.
Lucky for her that she hadn't named the names. Had she done so, immunity or not, she would be looking for a new job.
Many years ago I learned a valuable lesson in political disinformation from a friend who was working in politics.
He was an old hand at intrigue and described to me in detail how he salted false stories in newspapers or fed disinformation to neophyte politicians when it suited his purpose. It's simple, he told me; "When a politician or a political party is in trouble because of allegations of corruption (which is more often than not) it's useful to plant more stories of corruption which can then be proved to be untrue, thus tarnishing the veracity of the real allegations."
"And people really fall for it?" I asked incredulously.
His answer was succinct. "Everybody's on a deadline"
Over guffaws and a bottle of red, I asked him if he had ever worked for the KGB.
Over the years, I have seen this strategy employed a couple of times, but none as expertly as the lynching of Ms. Roy. It's as textbook case.
Still have doubts.
As they say in Latin 'Cui bono?', (Who benefits?) Madame Roy's source was obviously out to get someone, either her or the Liberal party. You decide.
The Liberals attempted to apply the coup de grace by invoking a motion to censure Madame Roy in the Assembly. It failed as it should have, but the Liberals are determined to keep up the pressure as a sideshow, to deflect calls for an inquiry into political donations and inflated contracts in the construction industry.
Sylvie Roy isn't out of the woods yet, she has been badly damaged in the court of public opinion. She'd better come out fighting if she wants to survive. She should tell the truth or out the informant.
This all could have been avoided if she had the courage to act honestly by asking a more adroit question in Parliament. It was a rookie mistake.
I can imagine the chuckles around Liberal party headquarters.