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Last week, when the story broke, I was willing to cut Svend Robinson a bit more slack than some other commentators. I thought it was reasonable to believe that, in a psychologically-driven moment of self-sabotage, Robinson performed an uncharacteristc act and commited a crime for which he should have expected he'd be caught. I found his story to be credible and I was willing to look at it as more of a personal problem than an ethical issue.

New evidence has since come along. But before I saw it, I thought it was fair to make the distinction between someone whose mental state made it easier to submit to a crazy impulse and someone who stole something because they wanted it. In fact, I was imagining that perhaps Robinson's action was an escape route: an irrational action "designed" to make it possible for him to radically change his life and pursue something other than the vocation he chose at a young age.

Given all that, I thought it reasonable to refrain from calling him a dirty, rotten crook. I had respect for his confession and acceptance of blame, and I hoped he would retire from Parliament and sort his life out.

But now things sound a little different. He was in the market for a nice, big diamond -- this wasn't just some random grab. Also, the RCMP knew about his guilt before he confessed, and Robinson likely knew that he wouldn't be able to get away with it.

The ring that Robinson was shopping for was to be an engagement ring for his partner, and he was having it custom made with a large diamond. Media speculation about the stolen ring is that it may have been a lady's ring with a 2-karat diamond.

Overall, I'm finding it harder to believe that Robinson's action was the sort of breakdown I was giving him credit for. He may indeed have emotional troubles, but this is sounding more and more like a straightforward crime to me.

POSTSCRIPT: After writing the above, I found a long, interesting comment thread attached to Andrew Coyne's most recent post on this subject.



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