Maclean’s exclusive: David Tkachuk on Mike Duffy, Nigel Wright and the Senate

An interview with the chair of the internal economy committee

by Aaron Wherry

Conservative Senator David Tkachuk is the chair of the Senate’s internal economy committee and a member of that committee’s steering committee—the two committees involved in the investigation of Senator Mike Duffy’s expenses. Senator Tkachuk spoke with Maclean’s this morning about the deliberations of those committees, the report on Senator Duffy’s expenses and Nigel Wright, the Prime Minister’s former chief of staff. The following transcript has been abridged and slightly edited for clarity.

Q: First of all, in terms of the committee report, there’s obviously this controversy over certain sections that seem to have been taken out of an original draft to the report that we see now. Can you explain why those portions were taken out?

A: The original draft was a first draft that would have been written by the clerk of the committee for us after we had a long discussion about what the audit had said. The audit itself, we disagreed with parts of the audit, some major parts of the audit. In the case of Duffy, the audit was recommending that he pay back $1,200, that he said he was confused. Our view was that he shouldn’t have been and that he should not have invoiced for that money and that we should keep what he had already given us. There were some changes in the report, of course. It’s our report. We wrote the report. So steering committee writes the report, we then took the report to internal, there was an amendment made in internal and internal then presented the report into the Senate chamber for debate.

Q: What about though the impression that the portions that were taken out of that report made it less hard on Senator Duffy?

A: We didn’t try to make it less hard on him. What we tried to do was … what we did is we acknowledged the fact, in a way, that he had paid back the money and he said he might have been mistaken. We had hoped for an apology, but that wasn’t quite there, but he did pay back the money. And we thought that it was a little bit different and that we should be careful with our language. His money was paid back and so we were quite happy with that.

Q: So in a way was he given a bit of a break in that regard because he’d paid the money back?

A: Let’s put in this way: there were two recommendations in that report. The first one was that we keep the money. The second one was that we watch, that we put a sort of a cover over his expenses over the next year and both those were unanimously accepted by steering before it was presented to internal economy. So I don’t think he was given a break. He was given no break whatsoever actually. He suffered the same fate as everybody else. Was it as harshly written as the other two? No. But he had already said he was mistaken and he had paid back the money, so we didn’t think we should harshly write the report as the other two.

Q: There’s an incident, I believe after the report gets tabled, where Senator Furey stands up in the Senate and says there’s a dissent, or a Liberal dissent, to this report, or at least this is my understanding, correct me if I’m wrong. So was there some disagreement within the committee over how to handle the report on Senator Duffy?

A: First of all, what George said, actually he said this when I presented the reports and he moved a point of order, which was totally erroneous. His point of order was that because I was presenting the report that it was presumed to be unanimous, which isn’t true. No report is presumed to be unanimous, it’s just a report of the committee. So what he was trying to say is that it wasn’t unanimous. Well, so what? Very few reports are unanimous. A lot of reports aren’t unanimous. But there’s still reports of the committee because the majority rules. So in the case of the steering committee, there were certain amendments made that he agreed with and certain others that he did not. Then when we went to internal economy, there was an amendment made and it was passed.

Q: There’s also this question of a letter from Senator Duffy that refers to an informal conversation with you. That has been interpreted as a suggestion that you tipped him off to the problem. Can you explain that conversation that he is referring to?

A: What happened was that the auditors, what they do is they give you, to the audit committee, they did what they a call a presentation of facts, to make sure they got the facts correct. And then we have some debate, we have some discussion, with the auditors about what they’re trying to achieve and how long it’s going to take them and all this stuff. So when they came they said we have a telephone call that was from Florida and there was a billing made for a per diem that day. So I sort of put that in my noggin’ and thought to myself, oh, that’s interesting, I wonder how many other days there would have been. So I went to see Mike and I said, Mike, you have a problem. I said, you’ve got a phone call made from Florida and you were charging a per diem. And he said, gee, that was during my holidays. I said, well, how many days were there? And he looked at me and I said, well, you’d better straighten this out and you’d better get yourself organized and he said, well, what should I do? I said, I think you should write a letter to the auditors. He said, well, can I write it to you? And I said, I don’t care who you write it to, but it should go to the auditors. Which is exactly what he did. So I tipped him off about nothing. I actually helped the audit find out that he had, I think, 12 days billed during that time.

Q: So do you think there was anything inappropriate about contacting him at that point?

A: No. This is not a police investigation. This is an audit. I’m the chairman of the audit committee. I want the truth. That’s all I was interested in and it’s my job to seek the truth. I’m also chair of internal economy and when I hear something like this I have to take some action too. I mean, what am I going to do, close my eyes to it?

Q: The question of the agreement between Nigel Wright and Mike Duffy. There’s some suggestion that that agreement had some bearing on the proceedings of your committee. Did you ever feel any pressure, or was it ever suggested to you, by Nigel Wright, that you should in any way go easy on Senator Duffy or treat him any differently in any way?

A: First of all, I have no idea if there was an agreement between him and Mike Duffy. Only Mike Duffy and Nigel Wright can tell you that. So at the time, I wouldn’t have known anything. Don’t forget, he paid the money back in March. This report wasn’t written until recently and we didn’t receive the audit… the audit continued on after he paid the money back. There was no indication that and no expectation that we would treat him any differently than the way he was treated. The audit was going on, he paid back the money, we said thank you very much, that was it.

Q: Just to be specific, did you ever have any conversation with Nigel Wright where it was suggested to you that…

A: That in return for something I should do something?

Q: … no, more specifically, regardless of whether there was an agreement, was it ever suggested to you that you should treat him differently? Did Nigel ever suggest that you should go easy on Mike Duffy?

A: No. I mean, you’ve got to remember I would have been having a number of discussions with Nigel, I had a few of them. He 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. 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. The internal economy committee is responsible for what goes in that report and the steering committee is responsible for what goes in that report. But I get advice from the media, I get advice from my own leader, I got advice from Senator Cowan. Matter of fact, Senator Cowan wrote me a letter along with Marj LeBreton about what one of the major recommendations should be, which was to collect the money, was to have the money paid back. And we listened to them. That was the major part of the report and the major recommendation. Is that interference? I don’t think so.

Q: But again, just to clarify, was there pressure from anyone within the party or the Prime Minister’s Office or the government to go easy on Senator Duffy?

A: No, I never felt that I should make any excuse for Mike Duffy’s behaviour.

Q: It also seems to be the case that Senator Duffy stopped cooperating with the auditors after he made the payment. Did that bother you then? Does it bother you now?

A: He never cooperated with them before either.

Q: Okay.

A: He didn’t cooperate with them at all.

Q: Does that bother you?

A: No. It’s his right to do that. He doesn’t have to talk to them. We don’t live in a police state.

Q: Would it bother you if his not cooperating in some way linked to his agreement with Nigel Wright?

A: You know what I think? He paid the money. He said, that’s it. Here’s the money, I don’t owe any money, I’ve paid it back for four years. I don’t know what he was thinking, you’d have to talk to Mike about that. I don’t know what he was thinking, but that didn’t bother me too much at all. I would have liked him to cooperate, but he didn’t. Although when I did ask him to send a letter, he did cooperate. I said he was in trouble.

Q: Does it bother you at all now that the entire investigation of Senator Duffy is now subject to suspicion and allegation? Are you worried about the credibility of the investigation?

A: This has not been a healthy process. Let’s put it this way. I’d hate to have an audit done on me, I’d hate to have an audit done on any senator or any member of Parliament if this is the way politicians are going to treat it. What we did is we had an audit. It was an independent process. And then after the independent process is concerned, we had a report. The report was tabled in the Senate. Everything was done in public. Everything was done with the opposition present. The opposition presented no minority report. The opposition could have complained about it at the beginning. George Furey did not complain about it after the steering committee. They could have made amendments in the internal economy committee, they never made one. Not one. So this process then went into the Senate and somehow the process is wrong? I don’t see how the process is wrong. And you know what? The media has done more to assist it, in kind of a weird way, then anybody because there was that article, somebody did a lot of research … and that’s why the report is returned back because he may have invoiced during the election campaign, when he wasn’t even in Ottawa. Well, that’s not very good. So I’m kind of glad we got that information and now it’s coming back to internal [economy] to be discussed. But the process itself, we’ve got to deal with that and how we’re going to do this in the future because you can’t have kind of a Wild West, hang ‘em high mentality. There has to be due process. People have to be treated fairly. The emails that I get are beyond belief. The hatred that’s shown is beyond belief. And for what? For what purpose? None that I can think of.

Q: Emails from who, do you mean?

A: From ordinary citizens.

Q: Senator Cowan has suggested, or requested I guess, that the internal economy committee proceedings now, in terms of Senator Duffy, be held in public? Do you have any response to that?

A: You know what, Senator Cowan is a publicity-seeking hound. He has six members, he has the deputy chair. They can make that argument in internal economy to have the meeting public. He’s writing this to make himself look like the big guy. And then he’s talking about other people interfering in the process? There’s a guy who’s interfering in the process. If anybody’s done more damage to this process, it’s him.

Q: To come back to the question of Mr. Wright. Do you have any reason to believe that any other Conservative senators on that committee, either the steering committee or the main internal economy committee, were at all influenced by him or pressured by anyone else within the government to go easy on Mike Duffy?

A: I wouldn’t know about anybody else. But no one’s told me otherwise.

***

This portion of the interview ended there. But, at my request, we spoke again to return to a few points.

Q: Just to go back, we’ve established that the report was written a certain way because he had paid the money back. And I just want to make sure I’m using your words correctly here … You say, “He was given no break whatsoever actually. He suffered the same fate as everybody else. Was it as harshly written as the other two? No. But he had already said he was mistaken and he had paid the money back, so we didn’t think we should harshly write the report as the other two.” So the decision to not write the report as harshly as the other two, was that at all influenced by any discussion with Nigel Wright or anyone in the Prime Minister’s Office or anyone in the government?

A: No, it was influenced by the fact that he paid his money back. That’s the sort of the way Carolyn [Stewart Olsen] and I felt, that there was an opportunity here to send a message. These things sort of … they last a long time, like these reports, they’re not written in five minutes, you know what I mean? There’s so much discussion that takes place about, you know, what we should do and I’m sure that George [Furey] had discussion with his people, you know, and we had discussion with our people and we came to certain decisions and then we tried to put them in the report.

Q: But just to be as categorical as possible, the decision to not write the report as harshly as the others…

A: It didn’t come from someone else giving us an order to do this. Let’s put it that way.

Q: Or any advice to that regard?

A: Well, I got advice from all kinds of people. I’m not going to tell you who they are, but let’s put it this way: I talked to people in the PMO, I talked to media people, I talked to colleagues, I talked to my leadership, I talked to fellow senators. There’s tonnes of people that I would have sought advice [from] as to how we should proceed with this process. This was not a police investigation. There was an audit and there was a report and there were things done that were not correct, that were done wrong. And we felt these people should pay a price. And so we made the decision to have the money returned back for all the time that he had been a senator. You know, I can’t make it any clearer than that. There’s nothing nefarious about it or anything underhanded. Everything was done above board and everything was public. I mean, we didn’t do the report in a dingy room and throw it into the Senate floor, this was done with Liberals present.

Q: But the controversy now is on any suggestion of advice from the Prime Minister’s Office or Nigel Wright.

A: But whether I get advice from them doesn’t really matter, it’s whether I take it that matters. There’s the Prime Minister’s Office, these people are my colleagues and I have discussions with them from time to time. They have never asked me to do anything that I thought was wrong and I certainly did not listen to everything they said. So, you know, there’s nothing here that would be unusual for any report of any kind. It was a simple matter of, you know, we talked to people.

Q: But did Nigel Wright ever suggest to you how the report should be written?

A: Nigel Wright did not.

Q: Did anyone in the Prime Minister’s Office ever suggest to you how the report should be written?

A: Not really.

Q: What does that mean?

A: Because when I ask for advice, people will give advice. I did ask for advice, I’m not denying that. But all I’m saying is, no one gave me any orders, no one came to my room and told me what to do. I did what I thought was right and I asked for advice from as many people as I could and I made up my own mind and I believe Carolyn made up her own mind and I’m sure George made up his own mind too and I’m sure he got advice from all kinds of people. He didn’t make this up on his own either. All I’m saying is that there was no pressure to do anything. That I’m responsible for what’s in that. That’s all I can say.

***

I attempted at this point to close any possible loopholes, but this next question was not well-worded. At this point, I might’ve been accused of badgering the witness. But, for the record, here is part of what followed.

Q: Can you say though that any of the Prime Minister’s Office’s advice ended up impacting how that report was written?

A: Well, I don’t know, I suppose. It’s hard for me to say. It’s hard for me to say. Only because I asked for advice from many, many people, so it’s all in the report.

Q: And specifically though, the decision to not write the report as harshly, can you say whose advice that was based on?

A: That would have been my advice to myself. That was Carolyn and me deciding that that’s the way we should write the report.




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Maclean’s exclusive: David Tkachuk on Mike Duffy, Nigel Wright and the Senate

  1. Here’s what I think. I think that there is a link between Duffy’s expense report and the Robocall swindle. I just don’t see Wright willingly expose himself and the PM over something as simple (yet eggregious) as Duffy double-dipping in reimbursement. It has to be something much more nefarious.

    The only thing that comes to mind….The only thing that would cause Harper to take such an absurd risk is the Robocall affair. And if it is, it would also explain Deep Throat. It is only a matter of time before the truth behind Robocall comes to light and when it does, folks are going to jail.

    • At least we HOPE they are going to jail. But honestly I bet they never do. This NEVER happens in Government.

    • Yes, I’m sure Mike Duffy was Pierre Poutine. Tighten up that tin foil hat there bud.

    • If there’s a conspiracy, is it not more likely that it was simply that Wright and/or the PMO knew that the Senate expense reimbursements that Duffy claimed while campaigning for the party during the election were in the file, and might be less likely to come to light if the PMO could give the auditors an excuse to stop looking by (importantly, QUICKLY) paying off the dubious housing expenses and get the auditors to basically say “well, that’s done then”?

      It’s true that those writ-period expense claims HAVE subsequently come to light, but that was because of the research of REPORTERS, not the auditors.

      • Wouldn’t it have just been simpler to disown Duffy? The assumption here is that we are dealing with a rather smart Chief of Staff. Paying his tab is incredibly stupid and risky so if he’s indeed the genius that everyone claims he is, this simply cannot be the reason why he took such a risk.

        • Wouldn’t it have just been simpler to disown Duffy?

          The cynic in me thinks that this depends upon just how successful Duffy really is as a fundraiser for the party.

          • Understood but once tainted by the impending scandal, anyone with sense would have made the math on this one and understood that Duffy was about to become radioactive. Harper could have easily denounced Duffy’s actions and come out unscathed. He did it with Brazeau, Guerguis, etc. Instead of distancing the PMO from Duffy, Wright committed it to Duffy’s fate with that payment.

            And they would have us believe that he did this because Duffy’s double-dipping? I don’t buy it.

          • That all makes sense in retrospect. Again though, the cynic in me thinks that Wright gave him the money thinking (naively, sure) that no one would ever know about the gift. Duffy’s tied to the PMO now because we know about the $90,000 gift, but if we’d never found out about it, all we’d know is that Duffy had paid back the dubious housing claims. Having done so, the auditors moved on to other things, and there’s a scenario under which this all would have died down, and the story would have simply been “Duffy claimed some expenses he shouldn’t have, but he paid them back, so let’s move on”. In retrospect, the gift has blown up in their faces, but I can see how at the time it might have looked like a good way to get the money returned to the treasury QUICKLY, and get the auditors’ focus off of Duffy.

          • The Chief of Staff of the Prime Minister of Canada cut a personal cheque to a Senator under investigation. That’s not being naive. That’s being incredibly stupid and reckless. Only stupid and reckless do not fit the profile of this particular individual. By all accounts, he’s the smartest one in that bunch.

            Sorry. It doesn’t add up.

            He took this risk because he feared a greater threat than being uncovered. That threat has something to do with Duffy.

          • I think we’re saying essentially the same thing. I think it was stupid and reckless too, but I don’t think he does it if he thinks it’s going to come to light.

            I also agree that the point was to get the auditors to take their focus off of Duffy (as I said above). It’s my understanding that the gift was given before reporters found the expenses that Duffy had claimed from while he was campaigning for the Tories during the election. That may not be the ONLY thing there is to find, but it’s the sort of thing that one might want to keep the auditors from finding, and the whole “the housing expenses have been paid off, so let’s move on to other Senators” rationale is exactly the rationale that I think Duffy and Wright wanted the auditors to accept.

          • Why Duffy and not Pamela Wallin? Why would shielding Duffy from the probe be more important than doing so for Wallin?

            Why? Because this is not about covering up a double-dipping scheme. This is about covering up something much more damaging than cheating taxpayers. Keeping Duffy out of the line of fire became critical to keep that something from coming to light.

          • I’ve always taken the Duffy/Wallin difference to be about Duffy’s pathological inability to keep his mouth shut, whereas I haven’t heard boo out of Wallin since this all started.

          • Keep his mouth shut about what? His own incriminating expense reports? No. Keep his mouth shut about the real concern that motivated the PMO’s extraordinary intervention.

          • Which is???

          • I’ll refer you to my original post. My theory is that this has something to do with the Robocall affair. If not that, some other equally nefarious act that has yet to come to light. The point being that it has to be a lot more serious than just wayward senators double-dipping. He needed to make sure that Duffy wouldn’t sink their ship.

          • Remember the timelines involved, however. When this payment was made, neither senator was saying much and they were just getting in with the auditors.

    • I have been saying the exact same thing to my friends and family for several days now. The robocalls are the only thing that makes the sort of risk taken by Wright logical at all. Let’s hope that it will come to light sooner than later.

  2. How to tell when someone is lying…

    Statement Analysis is the most accurate way of determining
    if a person is lying in a verbal or written statement. A person cannot give a lengthy deceptive
    statement without revealing it is a lie. This is because people’s words will betray
    them.

    There are usually several ways you can phrase a statement. People will always word their statement based
    on all their knowledge. Therefore, their
    statement may contain information they did not intend to share. Even though people may want to withhold
    information, they will give us more information than what they realize. Unfortunately, they sometimes give us more
    information than what we realize. The
    key is to listen to what people are telling you and to know what to look for in
    a statement.

    http://www.statementanalysis.com/

    ……………………………………………………………………

    • Really interesting link you provided there. thanks!

    • When Harper spoke yesterday, he did not read from a prepared text. Does that help?

      • Actually he stared down to his right almost nonstop and then he shuffles his notes at one point, which are to his right, down on the podium. So yes he did use script.

        • All is in the eyes of the beholder!

          To me, Harper eyes spoke of shame; shame that it had to come to this. People hang their heads in shame, such is common. What you saw as reading from a prepared script, I saw as a man not feeling very proud of what had transpired.

    • David Tkachuk should first think about the citizens of this country being treated fairly. Abolish the senate. I am sick and tired of having this country pay for political patronage. As far as I am concerned the majority of the politicians up in Ottawa are there for themselves. Lets get rid of this dictator and all the crowneys with him that babble every day to justify the outrages salaries they receive for doing nothing. I am so sick of this crap every day as a Canadian I am ready to puke .Tired of these people robing us blind.

  3. It’s like pulling teeth, trying to get honest answers from Conservatives. Did Jenni Byrne give any advice? Michael Sona is singing her name today, says she never did get along with Nigel Wright.

    • He’s singing? Where?

      • He’s been very active in Twitter the past few days.

    • Michael Sona

      Should ask Q “Who’d this entire series of stories hurt most; why leaked from CPC?” Nigel/Jenni never saw eye to eye

      Again, why has govt/players (seeing as most are lawyers/lawmakers) not sued Fife? Must be a *pretty* senior CPC leak

      My theory is that it’s either a CPC leadership hopeful, or a supporter thereof within PMO doing the leaking. #CdnPoli

      https://twitter.com/MichaelSona

  4. What about the impropriety of seeking advice from the PMO, taken or not? I thought this was an “independent” senate committee meeting in camera.

    • Where ever Harper happens to be today, he must be FLIPPING OUT! right now. His man in the Senate just blew his preferred narrative right out of the water. Harper is trying to peddle the story that Wright and Duffy worked out this cozy little arrangement between them without allowing anyone else a sniff of what was going on. But Tkachuk just made it very clear, loudly and repeatedly, that this was the biggest crisis the PMO had to deal with, for months on end… and he talked to Every One in the place looking for advice. So everyone in the PMO knew and everyone in the PMO was “seized” with the issue… EXCEPT for Harper himself who was too busy petting kitties and knitting booties for crack babies. You know Harper, he doesn’t like to get his hands dirty with the day-to-day stuff, he’s more of a big picture guy.

      • Everyone knew the Senate audit was happening. Tkachuk also made it clear that he knew nothing of a deal between Duffy and Wright.
        I’m not at all convinced there was anything fishy at this end of things. The real question is, why did Wright feel it was important to give Duffy money to pay back? That’s where the smell comes from…

        • Yes, we need to focus on the cover up scandal.

        • I don’t think Tkachuk is being evasive or dishonest (at least not by the normal standards of Ottawa), I think he is being insufficiently evasive and thereby upsetting the balance of the PMO’s Rube Goldberg contraption of a cover story.

          Tkachuk makes it plain that the problem of Duffy’s expenses was the primary focus of both the Senate and the PMO for a period of many weeks (at least) and that absolutely everyone was in on the discussions of same. Harper’s “I didn’t know” fig leaf was as thin as a pressed reed in the first place. But Tkachuk has now taken away even that.

          If the discussion was just about the wording of the report, it would hardly require all the agonizing and consultation that Tkachuk describes. The only logical explanation is that the agonizing and consultation was about how to present the story that Duffy was being co-operative and repentant when – very clearly – he was being neither. He didn’t have the money and, I suspect, he was disinclined to pay it back even if he had had it. It seems to me that all this discussion and “advice” could only have been necessary if the “means” of the repayment were the contentious issue.

          Does anyone remember a few weeks back when Duffy surprised everyone by claiming – very briefly – that he had not paid back the expenses? I’ve never seen any satisfactory explanation of that odd stutter step but – let’s face it – this entire episode has been a morass of weirdness and shifting stories.

          • For a brief shining moment, RBC gave him a loan and Wright had nothing to do with it. Slippery stories will trip up the prime minister, and Duffy (and apparently Tkachuk) are chatty fellows.

          • That would fit with the fact that Tkachuk is being very careful here and elsewhere to point out he had consultations, but took no orders from anyone. There’s been far too much parsing of word choice in this little farce. Still an open question whether they told him about the cheque though. My best guess is they did not.

          • I don’t think so. Maybe I’m wrong, but my sense of the timelines etc is that the money was paid well before the audit was complete and the report written. While Tkachuk was consulting, it seems to me he was trying to determine what, if any, weight he should give to the fact that Duffy repaid the money. Not where it was sourced from or what role he was to plan in any nefarious cover-up scheme.

            He is taking the blame for the softened language, and I’m inclined to believe him that he did this after listening to input but not on orders.

            As to the PM’s knowledge, this does not prove or refute the PM knew about Wright’s payment to Duffy, either. Unfortunately. He could easily have discussed the report with Tkachuk without either of them knowing what Wright was up to.
            Yes, I think the PM knew, and I think there is something the PM and Wright were trying to hide beyond the mere monetary exchange. But do we have a smoking gun? Not yet…

      • I have a slightly different take[ i don't know whether it was appropriate for the chairman to have sought the advise of everyone - but i find it a little naive to think this wouldn't occur in any govt]
        Assume Tkachuk is being truthful. This makes it worse and reinforces your point – because he is the honest unwitting party. They kept the payment from him and the committee. In the process Tkachuk, as you say, just blew Harper’s cover wide open.
        The pmo is in this up to its neck. The bastards are so distrustful and devious they even went around the back of their own chairman.

  5. At least this helps to illustrate exactly why Harper works so bloody hard to keep these people from speaking. This guy sounds like Dean Del Mastro’s dumber brother.

    • His more-successful brother…

    • Ouch!!

    • According to his bio, Sen Tkachuk was appointed by Mulroney in 1993 and has been chair of the John Diefenbaker Society since 1992. Didn’t Dief consult with Mulroney when he was in Law School?

      Tkachuk apparently is in Sask right now. Wouldn’t it be delicious if Mulroney phoned him and coaxed him into “coming clean”.

  6. Aaron, can you get some face time with Nigel Wright? This interview is a GET — good for you!

    • Why ask for Aaron to interview Wright, if you cannot believe anything being said in Wherry’s last interview with David Tkachuk?

  7. Thank you for the interview, Aaron Wherry.

    I think David Tkachuk and you acted in good faith. Keep up that kind of good work! I appreciate it.

  8. Great read and always badger the witness, Aaron. After all, this is how every murder investigation in “Columbo” was ever solved.

    • Sir.. Just one one question…

  9. Even if you take this guy’s word for it, [ he doesn't sound as though he's lying, for what that's worth] it does still leave some very big questions left unanswered. That would mean that Wright[ and Duffy] kept him and the committee out of the loop as to the source of the money. This alone would infuriate me if i were Tkachuk. In fact i would feel betrayed by both parties[ and the PMO] At the very least these guys left the committee out to dry, as none of this was supposed to become public.It would also confirm that Duffy is a complete @#$% since he worked so closely with Tkachuk over the process.

    This makes Wright’s choice of words even more telling – i did not make the PM aware of the “means” of payment[ or words to that effect] What does “means” mean? It certainly leaves room open for the PM to have known about this back-hander to Duffy all along.

    If i were the Conservative senator [ assuming Thachuk didn't take any direction from the PMO] i would be very peed off at my PMO and my PM right about now.

    [ macleans, you appear to have Takach in your tags by mistake.]

    edit: The fact that Tkachuk doesn’t appear to be furious at the pmo may indicate he is lying here – he did in fact know about the deal. But If he is telling the truth then he needs to really think about this; he has a duty to blow the whistle on the pmo, and by implication the PM. What are the chances of that?

    • I think he walked a fine line in the interview – open as to what he did, and why, but tight-lipped and loyal as to how his party may have used him without his knowledge. If it looks like he is being scapegoated, he may decide to add some colourful details down the road…

  10. I thought that was a pretty fair interview. I don’t think the reproach Mr. Wherry gives himself with the comments at the end is warranted.
    On substance, having established that Wright didn’t make inappropriate representations personally, the root of the issue seems to be whether it’s appropriate for the executive to pressure legislative committees towards favourable outcomes, recognizing that the Canadian system is organized around party politics and a sense of institutional independence. Obviously the PMO preferred a low key outcome in the report, and obviously Senator Tkachuk is aware of his responsibilities as a Senator and committee chair. I’m reassured by his responses.

    • The Senator has contradicted the prime minister. I don’t imagine Harper is reassured by his responses.

        • For once we are on the same side; I don’t see it either…

  11. The media has done more to assist it, in kind of a weird way, then anybody because there was that article, somebody did a lot of research … and that’s why the report is returned back because he may have invoiced during the election campaign, when he wasn’t even in Ottawa. Well, that’s not very good. So I’m kind of glad we got that information and now it’s coming back to internal [economy] to be discussed.

    Yes. It’s surely great that SOMEONE did some research and uncovered those expenses that were never in the report.

    Perhaps next time, rather than relying on the media to do a lot of research, the Senate’s Internal Economy Committee could hold an investigation themselves. Maybe they could hire an independent auditor to look at the Senators’ expenses.

    Oh, wait…

    • Perhaps the auditors need a do-over, take another look at all the Senators again (which they did in the beginning), not just the 4 singled out by their first look.

    • Tkachuk indicates Duffy did not cooperate with audit, before or after repayment of ineligible expenses, and Tkachuk was okay with that. He doesn’t think there was anything nefarious or underhanded in the process, but he’s pleased that the media uncovered ineligible expenses that the audit was unable to. WTF is the purpose of Deloitte being paid big bucks to do an audit when the senators are under NO obligation to cooperate, and the general public has to rely on the media to uncover what the audit couldn’t, while this guy is flitting about Ottawa soliciting advice because things aren’t looking good for them. Then he has the audacity to accuse George Furey of damaging the process. Tkachuk is doing himself no favours in this interview. If he is any example, those who have been appointed to provide us with sober second thought are idiots.

  12. Well the lessons being learned from the media here are clear: If you believe you’ve billed for expenses erroneously, ABSOLUTELY DO NOT VOLUNTARILY PAY THEM BACK.

    No, the “proper” thing to do in Liberal land is fight tooth and nail till the very bitter end, like Liberal Senator Mac Harb, or the many many Liberals Senator’s who’ve committed fraud before him. Taking responsibility for ones actions simply isn’t the Liberal way.

    Duffy broke the rules, and he paid the money back. Should he be judged as harshly as Harb, who broke the rules and DIDN’T pay the money back? I guess that because he was a Conservative he’s actually supposed to be treated worse.

    The best part about this whole “scandal” is that in the next election campaign, Harper will yet again be campaigning for Senate reform, the NDP will be campaigning to abolish the Senate, and little Trust Fund Trudeau will be telling everybody that the Senate is just great as it is, it just needs more Liberals, who are the Gold Standard in Senate corruption.

    Let’s see how well that works out for him.

    • You do realize that the _only_ reason Duffy paid these back is with the bribe money from Wright? Moreover, how can you consider that he paid it back when he gets to keep the illicitly claimed money?

      You really need those glasses cleaned up. All this rose coloured digested grass filming them is affecting your vision..

      • Um, what “bribe” money? The only one who’s seen any bribes is Thomas Mulcair, and he lied about it.

        • I agree that Wright wasn’t “bribing” Duffy.

          What it seems to me that he WAS doing was enabling Duffy to pay off the inappropriate housing expenses as quickly as possible so as to get the auditors eyes off of Duffy, and to move the conversation on to something or someone else (presumably, preferably, not Wallin, lol).

          The “good” interpretation of that move is that Wright wanted to relieve his friend of the stress of the audit (not that Duffy was cooperating with the audit anyway, but not cooperating could have been even more stressful). The “bad” interpretation of that move is that Wright knew about the improper writ-period election claims that Duffy made for expenses that he incurred while campaigning for the Tories during the election, and wanted the auditors to consider the Duffy part of their investigation over (with the housing expenses having been quickly repaid) so that the auditors wouldn’t find the writ-period expenses. The “horrible” interpretation of that move is… who knows (wait and see???).

          I don’t think the gift was meant to influence Duffy. It was meant to influence the AUDITORS to move on and stop poking around.

      • It’s just Rick[ well it isn't really, but...] he’s already forgotten that Brazeau and Wallin are both cons, and both fighting this as well as Harb…did i mention he isn’t too bright either?

    • Uh, Rick… the issue is not that he paid the money back. If he had done so out of his own pocket I personally would have found that to be somewhat admirable. Not as admirable as if he had never broken the rules in the first place, but…
      The real question that has most of us buzzing is “Why did Wright give him the money?” No one other than diehard CPC supporters think it was an act of altruism. Something smells here, and we want answers. And answers we can trust is going to require an independent investigation.

      • Indeed, why Duffy and not Wallin or Brazeau?

        I can understand why not Harb.. not even of the same party.. but why not Wallin? Why not Brazeau, who, at the time, was being touted as the CPC’s poster boy and link to aboriginal groups who was going to take on and defeat Trudeau in the boxing ring.

        Paying for a friend would be the only above-board excuse that makes sense there, but given the talk we’ve heard that the two never really spoke to each other seems to suggest that’s not the case either.

        Which leaves only the under-the-table reasonings.

  13. Your transcriber needs to learn the difference between ‘then’ and ‘than’…

    They got it wrong here: “The media has done more to assist it, in kind of a weird way, then anybody because there was that article, somebody did a lot of research…”

    Who checked the recording against the transcript? What was edited out? Thanks.

  14. This little freak has hanged himself perfectly. The brainless wonder admitted he asked the PMO what to do. The self-entitled puke has seen the ease with which the castrated media has allowed them to get away with murder for so long that he doesn’t know that he just indicted himself and the fat hog Harper.

    Well done you brainless fool!

    • Do you really think that the Liberal Senators did not get advice from Trudeau’s team on this?
      If the report was so outrageous, why didn’t the Liberals file a minority report to put their disputes on the record?
      Because they were in agreement, until there was a chance to grandstand, then they weren’t in agreement.

  15. This is shocking, all senators and PMO staff involved, including Harper, need to step down.

  16. Yes we do live in a POLICE STATE & DICTATORSHIP!

  17. And STILL people are believing the political crap that’s being bandied about by the Opposition(s) and the media! The author of the report has admitted to poorly worded questions, and has repeated questions in different forms, and the responses have been the same. YET, the only place this has been reported (that I’ve seen or heard) has been this article. Should Duffy et al be disciplined? Surely! But he’s not the only one. How many Liberal Senators were also involved in this? At least two, but are we hearing from/about them? Surprisingly, no… but why not??? Hmmm… And the Official Opposition [Leader], who has already built his reputation as a loudmouthed, accusatory blowhard with little substance and NO alternatives, is pounding away at this like he has something to gain.
    This whole mess should have been cleared up from the beginning, and it sounds like due process WAS taking place, but has now become politicized; not only politicized, but paraded through the media to sway public opinion vehemently and vociferously. (Shame on you, media! You claim to report “facts”, but mostly they’re innuendo masquerading as facts. You should know better. Whatever happened to investigative reporting?)
    Thank you Mr Wherry for this picture (though not entire) of what REALLY happened in the Senate. Without it, we’d just have to believe the mainstream media (horrors!).

    • CTV made public a ‘fragment’ of an email from Duffy to them about the RBC loan and Nigel Wright. Why do the ‘….’ thing and not make public the entire email?
      We are left to fill in the blanks. How is that good journalism?
      The email fragment intentionally misleads the public and not a peep from the media.
      It gave the scandal hungry media a couple of more stories.

  18. Well, if ever Mr Harper needed the impetus to affect proper reform to the Senate, this is it! Even the Opposition (loud and obnoxious as he is) is calling for some kind of reform. No, let’s not abolish the Senate; it was created to balance Parliament and minimize the risk of improper legislation. (Whether it actually does that or not is another debate entirely.) But, with all the foot-dragging the Liberals, the PQ, and the NDP have been doing for the last number of years (this is not a new idea from Harper), we might actually see some progress towards a reformed Senate. Possibly even an elected one…?

  19. Q: Did anyone in the Prime Minister’s Office ever suggest to you how the report should be written?

    A: Not really.

    Don’t they realize how cynical and underhanded this all looks? It’s as if they have no ethics at all.

  20. way back on the surface of this if you or I ” Joe Public” stole 90,000 from the gov’t wouldn’t we go to jail for that?

  21. There is so much comment about abolishing the senate. We are missing an opportunity to make the senate a modern, useful agency for Canada. Let’s look at how the world has changed since the format of governments so many years ago. Here are a few ideas: obviously an elected senate BUT with a twist; have each of the ridings structured so each senator represents more than one distinct district in Canada; for example a senator might represent say Chicoutamee and Saskatoon. One of the primary focuses for the senators would be national pride and unity. In addition, all communications to be via electronic media and no need for residences in more than one location. Some “way out” thoughts but just want to give our representatives some examples of forward thinking they should be doing before simply abolishing the senate and or making it an elected senate to carry on in similar fashion to today.

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