Stephen Harper and Maxime Bernier either still don't understand the difference between a minister's private and public life, or they're hoping really hard that voters don't.
When Bernier read out a prepared statement to a room packed with supporters in his Beauce riding, he parrotted Harper's line since Day 1 of the Couillard scandal: "I can answer certain questions, but I still refuse to lay out in public the details of my private life."
It boggles the mind that in an advanced country, a prime minister and his former foreign affairs minister claim it is a private matter for the chief of diplomacy to have had a love relationship with a woman who had close ties to men linked directly to the Hells Angels, the Rockers and even to the Mafia.
Also considered as private by the PMO are the details of Julie Couillard's other mix of the private and the public when she allegedly tried to influence a close adviser of the public works minister to land a lucrative real-estate contract for Kevlar Group, whose director happened to be the man who introduced Couillard to Bernier. The media digs for the details while the PMO stays silent.
Bernier also played the three-monkey game, saying he'd heard nothing, saw nothing and said nothing about Couillard's past dangerous liaisons. This, in turn, raises more questions. If things had been that simple, why did Bernier wait so long to speak out?
Bernier also said that the famous documents left at Couillard's home on April 4 were neither sensitive nor "numbered." Therefore, he said, they didn't need to be "tracked" by the ministry. If that's true, why did Harper give this as the main reason for Bernier's resignation?
If leaving the documents didn't constitute a security breach, we go right back to the basic two-fold question: Why did Bernier resign just a few hours before Couillard spilled her beans on TVA and why did one of Michael Fortier's close advisers, who was another one of Couillard's government paramours, also resign? The details of what lead to these two very public events are obviously of public interest.
In his statement, Bernier also displayed his ignorance of private-versus-public matters when he pulled an Oprah on his audience. "I've made a mistake," he said, "but I have learned sufficiently from this hardship to become a better person."
Trying to pass himself off as some kind of an innocent victim of a Biker Jezebel with a plunging neckline - but a victim who found redemption through this lesson - isn't just farcical. It's also a sad display of someone who still doesn't get that his feelings, not his relationship with Couillard when he was minister, are what should be kept private.
Still, his sortie was mostly an attempt to take the attention away from the PMO's responsibility and lack of transparency throughout this affair. But when Couillard publishes her so-called autobiography this fall, Harper could find himself right back in the limelight.
Given the music critics who revelled in superlatives to describe the experience of seeing Leonard Cohen in concert this week at Place des Arts, this fortunate fan has only two words left to offer: absolute gratitude.
Still, toward the end of the show, standing at the peak of his performing talents, it was Cohen who turned to his beaming hometown audience in gratitude. With humility and a deep sense of appreciation for being the recipient of so much admiration, love and respect, he recited his magic words: "I am so grateful to be here and to be from here."
But it is us, those lucky enough to have seen and heard him, who bow and thank the poet for allowing us to share in such a beautiful, fleeting moment of life and of art. To paraphrase one of his songs: If it be your will, Mr. Cohen, come back to see us again. And again.
They still don't get it
When a top minister cavorts with a biker's former girlfriend and leaves sensitive documents at her house, it is in the public's interest to know