Harper’s Cadman interview not doctored, writer insists
OTTAWA — The author at the centre of the so-called Cadman affair is vehemently denying allegations by the federal Conservatives that a taped interview implicating Prime Minister Stephen Harper was doctored.
The Conservative Party of Canada revealed yesterday that it retained two forensic audio specialists to analyze a tape of a 2005 interview that Harper, who was opposition leader at the time, gave to author Tom Zytaruk.
In the interview, Harper acknowledged the party offered unspecified “financial considerations” to independent MP Chuck Cadman, who was dying of cancer at the time, so he would vote with the Conservatives against the former Liberal government.
However, in an affidavit filed in court this week, one of the specialists concluded a tape provided by Zytaruk to the Conservatives had been altered.
“It is my opinion that the tape does not represent the entire taped interview of Stephen Harper as it actually occurred,” said Tom Owen, president of a New Jerseybased forensic-consulting firm called Owl Investigations, in an affidavit. “The tape has been edited and doctored and does not represent the entire conversation that took place.”
Zytaruk categorically denied doctoring the tape.
“My total interview is on the tape. The tape has not been edited,” he told Surrey Now, the newspaper where he works.
The Conservatives are seeking a court injunction preventing the Liberal party from using the tape. It has been posted it on various Liberal party-affiliated websites.
“The Zytaruk tape has been thoroughly discredited. This is just the latest in a growing mountain of facts that discredit the Liberal party and their accusations against the prime minister,” Conservative MP James Moore said at a news conference at the party’s campaign headquarters.
Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion said his party would obey any such injunction but had no immediate plans to stop using the tape.
He said the move was an attempt to obscure the fact that Harper has never fully explained what the Conservatives offered to Cadman.
The Cadman affair catapulted into the public arena in February after a book by Zytaruk quoted Cadman’s wife, Dona, saying her dying husband had told her two Conservative officials sought but failed to win his support in the crucial vote by promising him a $1-million life-insurance policy.
On Sept. 9, 2005, several months after Cadman died, Harper visited his widow at her home in Surrey. Zytaruk interviewed Harper on the driveway after the visit.
In an affidavit filed in court this week, Harper said the interview lasted five to 10 minutes. Zytaruk later provided a copy of the original recording to the Conservative party. But that copy omitted the beginning of the interview, Harper said.
“The only reason I agreed to be interviewed by Mr. Zytaruk was to provide him quotes for his book about my relationship with my friend Chuck Cadman. The audio tape that purports to be my entire tape interview omits all of this part of the interview.”
Zytaruk said yesterday he didn’t know how long the interview lasted, but added that he provided “wire-to-wire” copies to both the Conservatives and Liberals, and the RCMP.