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Michael Bryant (MIKE CASSESE)
Michael Bryant (MIKE CASSESE)

Robert Silver

On Bryant, Kormos plays cheap and dirty politics Add to ...

The Toronto Star has a speculative story this morning about Michael Bryant's political future now that all of the charges against him have been dropped. Some context and then some thoughts.

I like Michael Bryant. Sometimes I like him a lot. One on one, he's a wonderful, cheerful, sometimes absurd guy. That having been said, politically I was never a Bryant fan-boy. While in the legislature and cabinet, he always struck me as a little more sizzle than steak. A bit too confident, a bit too ambitious, and I was never quite sure what it was all about with him. Why was he doing this beyond ambition? What does he really believe in?

Watching his press conference earlier this week, the most striking thing was that Bryant was clearly a changed man - extremely humble, almost understated. What I had also forgotten over the last year is just how impressive a speaker he can be. Clearly brilliant, articulate - a litigator in all of the positive senses of the word.

So does Michael Bryant have a political future? If he decides he wants one, there is no doubt he can make a full return to public life, potentially as a much stronger candidate than the day he left Queen's Park.

But of course that's not the only part of the Star story that jumped out at me. After former Progressive Conservative cabinet minister John Snobelen is quoted saying all kinds of classy things about his erstwhile political rival, enter Peter Kormos:

"Bryant may find he would have been better off going to trial so a judge could rule on the charges, which would go further to quell sniping from critics that he got a sweetheart deal in the 'post-Jaffer environment,'" said NDP justice critic Peter Kormos, referring to former Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer.

"There's going to be a cloud over this whole scenario."

Let me follow Kormos's logic: For the rest of time, there will be a cloud over Bryant. Why? Because one of the most respected lawyers in the country, who was brought in to prosecute the case in a completely independent manner, looked at all of the evidence and decided a guilty verdict based on the evidence was an impossibility. In other words, the special prosecutor decided that there was as good a chance of Peter Kormos being found guilty of the charges as Michael Bryant (i.e., zero chance).

So, this highly respected, independent lawyer decided to drop the charges rather than proceed to trial. This decision hurts Bryant's future - according to Kormos - because it was an independent, highly respected lawyer who decided there was zero chance of a prosecution, rather than a judge.

This argument (which is the same one my friend Kory Teneycke made that Adam Radwanski dealt with in his blog earlier this week) is ludicrous and beneath a public official and lawyer like Kormos to make.

In fact, if the prosecutor had proceeded with the case, he would have been explicitly violating his professional responsibilities. This is precisely how our system is supposed to work. Prosecutors don't proceed to trial for the PR benefit of the accused.

Kormos, a lawyer, of course knows this - or at least he should know this. But he just couldn't help himself from playing the cheapest form of politics. That reflects only on Kormos, not Bryant.

(Photo: Mike Cassese/Reuters)

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