Times Colonist

Scoop! Taylor plans a quick getaway!

- LES LEYNE

At first glance Monday afternoon, it sounded like history was happening all over again. The caller said a Mountie was standing at attention outside the Finance Minister’s office, while people hustled cardboard boxes out the door.

“Cops Raid Finance Minister — Again,” I thought, writing the headline in my head as I scampered to the crime scene. “Taylor Office Stripped Bare by Detectives.”

Nothing sets my spidersens­e tingling faster than cops busting some cabinet bigwig down to size. These are the kind of cases that can make a career. And a firstperso­n account of another police raid on the legislatur­e would be journalist­ic gold.

The tip came from Vancouver Sun colleague Vaughn Palmer, who spends more time than he should in his nearby office gazing out the window that overlooks the entry where the cop was on guard.

He probably had similar visions dancing in his head. Because we showed up at the same time, ready to duke it out for the scoop.

“Back off, Palmer, I got here first,” I snarled.

“Step away, punk, it’s my beat,” he sneered.

But the story evaporated right before our eyes. The cop turned out to be a fullsized wooden statue of a redcoated Mountie. Palmer should clean his windows once in a while.

And the worker toting all the evidence out the door turned out to be Finance Minister Carole Taylor’s husband, Art Phillips.

But you can never be too sure with these Liberals. We decided to rough him up a bit to see if anything shook loose.

“Not so fast, pal, that’s government property,” Palmer said.

“Are those top-secret documents?” I snapped.

We were all set to work him over pretty good with the old “good columnist-bad columnist” routine.

But Phillips coolly sipped a cappuccino and parried our thrusts.

He said he didn’t know anything about top-secret documents or evidence.

He was just following orders: Moving some stuff out of his wife’s office.

“I gotta get this Mountie in the trunk.”

His little “I’m-just-doingwhat-my-wife-told-me-to-do” routine didn’t cut much ice with me. But eventually we decided to play along for a bit, just to see where it took us.

Palmer grabbed the Mountie’s legs and tried to jam the statue from the rear hatch clear through the front windshield.

“Easy, man!” I barked. “You gotta know how to handle cops.”

Eventually we reversed it, stuck the Mountie’s head in first and got his hat brim to overhang the rear seats. That way it wouldn’t snap off. Phillips helped a bit.

The thing is probably worth a quarter mill, so it goes down as our good deed for the day. But it left us pondering a couple of things. (It left me pondering, anyway; I never know what Palmer is thinking.)

Why is the Finance Minister fleeing town in broad daylight? Where is she going? Why is she taking all her worldly possession­s with her?

I was just on the verge of going all bad-columnist on Phillips again when Taylor herself wandered up. At first she denied everything. It wasn’t a “getaway.”

There wasn’t another police raid. Nobody was seizing documents. There was no big scandal.

Then she tried to turn the tables and grill us. Imagine the nerve that dame’s got.

Why, when she gave perfectly clear instructio­ns for her husband on how to do the chore, would he enlist the help of two nosy political columnists to accomplish it? That was the thrust. Eventually Palmer and I retreated to a fallback position. OK, there’s no police raid and this isn’t a crime scene. But what does this say about a cabinet shuffle?

The premier wanted everyone’s career ambitions in his hands by the close of the session. He wants to know who’s staying and who’s going so he can put a new cabinet together to take him into the election campaign.

Taylor served hers up early, saying she was not going to run again.

If she’s out, if a shuffle is imminent, and if Taylor is clearing out her office, that could only mean one thing. The shuffle is going to happen this morning and she’s making way for a new minister!

She batted that aside without even trying very hard. Here’s her story. She’s got a family holiday coming up. She figures a cabinet shuffle could conceivabl­y happen right in the middle of it, later this month. So she’s clearing some personal items out of the office so they don’t get lost if a new minister has to walk in and take over while she’s away.

No police raid. No surprise shuffle. No story.

But now I know how to handle a wooden Mountie.

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