The black helicopter rose seemingly out of nowhere and caused curiously little noise due to its stealth engine buffers as it moved slowly over the Ottawa building. Its bay doors opened and two ropes unfurled from the inside, no sooner had they snapped as they reached their full length only a few feet from the rooftop, when they were mounted and slid down by two figures in black fatigues who landed only feet apart from each other. With a quick hand gesture from one of the figures, the ropes where taken back up into the chopper and it disappeared almost as mysteriously as it had arrived.
Wasting no time the figures went into action, one forcing his way into the elevator tower while the other started to work on some kind of electric control panel.
“Com check” the first man said, his voice being picked up by the vibrations of his vocal chords on the vocal transmitter wrapped around his neck.
“This is Beta, I read you. Give me one more minute and I will have the video looped. It will take me a few more to extract the pin code for the office entrance,” replied the second man, at the panel.
“Good we have ten minutes before the chopper gets back, there’s no room for failure. I am going in, Alpha out.” Alpha man came back.
Alpha hooked up some support device to the elevator cables and slid down to the twelfth floor. “Video looped,” came the signal from Beta.
Alpha opened the elevator doors and slipped down the hallway that hid behind them. Timing was perfect, as Beta had the pin number info for him just as he reached the office security entrance pad. He popped in the code and the door buzzed open. Once inside he slipped a disk into a computer located in a large yet drearily decorated office that presented a meager scattering of mass produced art prints.
“How could anyone work in such a dull setting for 40 hours a week,” he spoke quietly through his com to help lower the stress of the situation.
Beta replied with a grunt, “Hey not all of them can have $19,000 plasma TVs on the walls, now hurry up, I am freezing up here.”
Alpha watched as the disk uploaded and a signal was sent to a remote computer whose operator soon had control of the host. Alpha watched as account information was swapped, sending money to secret bank accounts, erasing names from files, and in some cases whole reports. It continued working at lightning speed, creating false invoices and removing and replacing original electronic signatures on e-mails and documents with new false ones. This was big! Alpha looked around the room nervously as he realized that tens of millions of dollars of public money was being manipulated in ways that would shift the blame to the most unsuspecting members of parliament, and benefit those already of much wealth. The screen flashed “Complete” and Alpha wasted no time removing the disk and retreating by the same route out of the building, to be whisked away. As far as anyone would know he was never there. Now all he had to do was wait for “it” to hit the fan.
Fast forward two years:::.
It’s a typically windy and bone chilling night in February. A tall, stocky man walks along the Rideau Canal. Even though the days are getting longer, it was dark a few hours ago already. The only sounds are of a few ice blades cutting into the brittle ice as a young couple skates by, laughing and flirting with each other, their voices echoing along the otherwise quiet iceway. The man’s hands are deep in his pockets, the collar of his overcoat is up high around his neck as he approaches the bridge that connects Wellington and Rideau streets above, only meters from Parliament Hill. Through the spirals of wind whipped snow, he barely sees the outline of a man in a dark corner under the bridge. The red glow off a cigarette gives him away as the person the man is there to see.
Having now made his way into the corner shadows the smoking man speaks first.
“I hope there is a good reason for this meeting, I have box seats for the Senator’s game tonight and you know how bad traffic is on the Queensway on the night of a game!” he says, his voice deep and hoarse.
“Any ideas about who will take this game?” the first man asks, trying to break the ice.
The smoking man coughed a bit and gave a grin as the voices of the two skaters thundered through the tunnel as they passed through, now going the other way.
“Of course I do, you really think the outcome of these games is based on skill, or even chance? Now why am I here?”
The stocky man speaks now with sense of urgency, “The PM is onto us, he is going to expose the whole thing. We need a plan for damage control, fast!”
“Don’t be a fool!” the smoking man hisses, “everything is under control. Mr. Martin only knows what we want him to know. When, and if, we need to change courses I will let you know,” he says as he flicks his cigarette to the ground and snuffs it out with his foot while pulling out a new one from his pocket.
“But I don’t understand!” the stocky man says.
“Good, while knowledge is power, too much could be bad for your health,” the smoking man manages to say with his new cancer stick in his mouth. He turns away and starts off in the opposite direction the stocky man had come from. The stocky man watches as the smoking man walks away, his head briefly outlined by the glow of a match as he lights his cigarette.
Is this a fictional story of a group of sophisticated and shadowy figures, working to undermine the government and use our tax dollars to fund their own interests, or is it based on some semblance of reality?
Well if you are to believe the Prime Minister, it is based on reality. In response to his government’s grilling on the federal sponsorship scandal he said as much. He said that while he was one of the most senior and influential members of cabinet, he had no clue about what was going on in his own backyard. Most shocking of course was the excuse he gave to prove why he could not have known. In his own words it was the work of a, “sophisticated” group of shadowy government employees.” Really Paul, this is the best you can come up with, “Shadow figures did it!” This excuse, seemingly torn from the pages of a lost X – Files script, does nothing to shelter him from this scandal. In fact it only serves to undermine his competence in the public eye. Yes folks, the great white knight of both the Liberal party and of Canada has arrived, and he is a dud. To top it off his speech writers seem to have experience as cloak and dagger authors.
He should count his lucky stars the opposition is in the middle of a leadership race and not quite operating with all resources aimed at this issue. While it is a favorite government fallback to blame things on public servants when all else fails, at least then they normally can nail it to certain people. The best the PM can do now is say it was some mystery people who may or may not exist. Maybe we should install more lighting in public offices to help eliminate the shadows and flush out these, “shadow people.”
In the last election the PM’s own party made a big joke out of one party leader’s belief that Dinosaurs roamed the earth with people at some point in history. Well heck, at least we can prove there were dinosaurs, where is the evidence of these “shadow bureaucrats?” The least he could do is produce a smoking gun to prove it, or even a smoking man in this case.
With the next election looming close, Liberals had better hope Mr. Martin can come up with some better, less comically fictional, responses to the issues of the day. For if this is an example of what will be, then the Conservatives may actually have a chance of winning. Take my advice Mr. PM, call a fall election rather then a spring one and take that time to defuse the self destruct sequence your predecessor set before he left, and while you are at it, you can start being the great Prime Minister you made yourself out to be, or you may find yourself with a Stornaway mailing address before the year is out.
Paul was the second chance for many that were becoming disillusioned with the Liberal party, and he is blowing it. If he does not pull through as expected, people will realize this party is bankrupt in all aspects and they should muster the fortitude and guts to make a difference in the next election.
Will Paul pull out of this scandal as clean as his old boss? Will Belinda Stronach shock the nation and win the Conservative party leadership? Will the Ottawa Senators ever win the Stanley cup?
Only the shadow knows!
PM battles scandal storm, Feb. 12 2004. Canoe.ca ,http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/Canada/2004/02/11/pf-344166.html
Martin says he was in dark over scandal, Feb. 12 2004. CBC, http://www.cbc.ca/stories/2004/02/12/martin_040212
Internal auditor warned of sponsorship problems in 2000: Fraser, Feb 12 2004. CBC, http://www.cbc.ca/stories/2004/02/12/public_accounts040212