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Key Tory senator admits to getting advice from Harper’s office on Duffy expenses


 

OTTAWA – The controversy over alleged interference by the Prime Minister’s Office into a review of Sen. Mike Duffy’s expenses grew Thursday as the Conservative in charge of the probe admitted he got advice from Stephen Harper’s team.

Sen. David Tkachuk, one of a three-member special sub-committee studying Duffy’s housing expenses, told Maclean’s magazine that he spoke to people in Harper’s office — including former chief of staff Nigel Wright — about the issue.

Tkachuk and other Conservatives on the larger internal economy committee are facing allegations they whitewashed a report into Duffy’s expenses.

Also Thursday, Senate Speaker Noel Kinsella said the RCMP’s sensitive and international investigations unit is examining the claims of senators Duffy, Mac Harb and Patrick Brazeau.

Duffy repaid $90,000 in disallowed living expenses with the help of a secret cheque from Wright. After repaying the money, Duffy stopped co-operating with a team of independent auditors.

Wright has since resigned, and Duffy has left the Conservative caucus.

“(Wright) didn’t tell me to do anything, really. We discussed Mike and the situation that he was in. I mean, the prime minister’s office was very concerned about this. They don’t like this scandal going on. It was hurting us politically, ” Tkachuk told Maclean’s.

“And I didn’t like it going on, but he never said, he never told me to whitewash anything or to let him off the hook or anything like that. I’m responsible for what goes in that report.”

Tkachuk was also asked if advice from the Prime Minister’s Office ended up impacting how the report was written.

“It’s hard for me to say,” he replied. “Only because I asked for advice from many, many people, so it’s all in the report.”

The Saskatchewan senator also acknowledged that he had given Duffy a head’s up that independent auditors had found improper expense claims made by Duffy while he was vacationing in Florida.

“This not a police investigation. This is an audit. I’m the chairman of the audit committee. I want the truth,” Tkachuk said.

Those statements spurred the Liberals in the Senate to call for Tkachuk to reconsider his position as chairman of the internal economy committee.

“It’s not a court of law but you’re passing judgment on a situation,” said Liberal Senate leader James Cowan.

“To be discussing what might or might not go on with people outside that, this is supposed to be an in camera discussion and I just don’t think it’s appropriate at all.”

Duffy’s expenses are headed back to the same committee for another review. The Senate, meanwhile, has agreed to provide the RCMP with documents related to its travel and expenses policies.

Duffy spoke out Thursday for the first time since the scandal erupted last week, insisting that he looks forward to a complete airing of all the facts and dismissing suggestions he should resign his Senate seat.

Conservative Senate leader Marjory LeBreton said she didn’t see anything wrong with Tkachuk discussing the Duffy review with the PMO.

“…..Obviously the news stories about Brazeau and Harb were circulating around the Hill, so we obviously talk to each other,” LeBreton said.

“There is nothing wrong with that.”

The report into Duffy’s expenses was softened on the direction of Tkachuk and Sen. Carolyn Stewart Olsen, Harper’s former press secretary. Sections that referred to the clarity of Senate rules on primary and secondary residences were deleted, but left in the reports on Harb and Brazeau.

The Liberals are calling on the Conservative government to go public with any documents they might have related to the arrangement between Wright and Duffy.

Heritage Minister James Moore repeated Thursday in the Commons that there are no documents whatsoever relating to that deal.


 
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Key Tory senator admits to getting advice from Harper’s office on Duffy expenses

  1. “…..Obviously the news stories about Brazeau and Harb were circulating around the Hill, so we obviously talk to each other,” LeBreton said.

    “There is nothing wrong with that.”

  2. In lots of countries, it’s fully understood that the President’s office tells everyone what to do – the Judges, the police any ‘independent’ authority. Now it’s expected in Canada too. Totally normal:

    “…..Obviously the news stories about Brazeau and Harb were circulating around the Hill, so we obviously talk to each other,” LeBreton said.

    “There is nothing wrong with that.”

    And, it goes without saying that we take care of our own. Don’t you get it? Duffy is a CONSERVATIVE Senator. What part of this don’t you understand?

  3. The headline of this piece is misleading: “Key Tory senator admits to getting advice from Harper’s office on Duffy expenses” — the implication being that the PMO directed what was to be included in the committee’s report.

    It is only later, in the middle of the piece, that readers learn “(Wright) didn’t tell me to do anything …
    … he [Nigel Wright] never said, he never told me to whitewash anything or to let him off the hook or anything like that. … I’m [Senator Tkachuk] responsible for what goes in that report.”

    Maybe Jennifer Ditchburn should be equally responsible about the headlines of her stories.

  4. Duffy has to resign or be removed from the Senate. He doesn’t qualify to represent P.E.I. so is there on a false appointment. Probably Pamela Wallin should be forced to relinquish her seat as well.
    It galls me to think that Nigel Wright had to resign from his position and Duffy is still there. Wright not only lost his job, he is $90,000 out of pocket if what the conservatives are saying is true. Personally I don’t believe a word of that statement that the money came out of his (Wright’s) own account. Nobody gives away that much money foolishly, no matter how rich they are. It just doesn’t happen. How stupid do the Conservatives think Canadians are?

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