QP Live: When it was all the privy council office’s fault

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by Nick Taylor-Vaisey

The Prime Minister’s inner circle has a defence at every turn. No matter the messy details that threaten the sanctity of Stephen Harper’s role in the Wright-Duffy affair, the team puts up a defence. Last night, we learned something new about former PMO legal adviser Ben Perrin. Everyone thought that Perrin’s emails from his time as an adviser, some of which could shed light on any contribution he made to the Wright-Duffy negotiations, were deleted. Oops, not so much. The Privy Council Office, the non-partisan branch of government that “provides essential advice and support to the Prime Minister” dug up emails that, as it turns out, were retained in relation to an unrelated matter. Truly, there is egg on some bureaucrat’s face.

The PMO’s defence came quickly. The National Post‘s Andrew Coyne had tweeted questions about how the PMO could have somehow not asked for the emails. Jason MacDonald, Harper’s director of communications, tweeted an explanation. ”We did ask. Repeatedly. PCO said they were gone. Repeatedly. They were wrong. We told them to tell the RCMP. They’ve done that.” And that’s where the story rests. Bruce Anderson, the pollster and contributor to CBC’s At Issue panel, pointed out that the PCO  is “essentially PM’s dep’t”—in other words, he ought to take responsibility for its foul-ups.

But you can bet Paul Calandra, the PM’s parliamentary secretary, (and Pierre Poilievre, the Minister of Democratic Reform (who’s occasionally standing in for the PM and, apparently, Calandra)), will have none of it when he rises during Question Period. So goes the firewall he continues to build around his boss.

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Last week, Sen. Irving Gerstein’s role in the Wright-Duffy affair was the object of opposition scorn. He’ll likely continue to get airtime, but former PMO legal adviser Ben Perrin’s mysterious emails—once thought to be deleted, now revealed to still exist—will have the PM’s parliamentary secretary, Paul Calandra (and Pierre Poilievre, the Minister of Democratic Reform) once again playing defence on behalf of the boss’s office.

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QP Live: When it was all the privy council office’s fault

  1. To think, Tom Mulcair wants Harper to resign. Message to Tom, listen to Justin, let it go. Harper is the gift that keeps on giving and has a lot more gifts to hand you. Their is a corrupt Frame starting to take shape around Harpers head now, just let the dots connect themselves, because when your always on your heels, you tend to continually make mistakes and as a leader, you never get your mojo back. I would let this ride to 2015.

    • I don’t know. I generally agree that one shouldn’t get in the way of one’s opponent jumping off a cliff (or however that saying goes). But there’s good evidence that Conservative caucus sentiment is begining to lean in the same direction. This has gone so far past one or two potential grey zones of malfeasance, and is so clearly a systemic PMO scandal, that Harper has been stripped of his normal defensive (which is normally an offence!) tools. Unlike the years of minority parliament where the opposition could be made to wear a “needless” election or simple power lust, there’s not much downside this time around.

    • we now have a new entrant The Privy Council of Canada!

  2. I am glad Jason MacDonald cleared that up. How many Jason MacDonalds are there? I ask because I believe it was a Jason MacDonald that lied to the Canadian people telling us that Nigel Wright had the full support of Stephen Harper one day after Stephen Harper fired Wright. It must certainly be a different Jason MacDonald because that other one must have been fired, right?

    • This Jason MacDonald is a failed candidate in Ottawa South. He lost to Dalton’s brother. This is what happens when you reward failures.

  3. How would the PMO lawyers not be aware of litigation against Perrin that required caching of emails? Is that plausible?

  4. Looks like Lisa Raitt scored some good wardrobe finds at Allanah Myle’s garage sale last weekend.

    • I like watching the Conservative faces/body language during their answers to opposition questions. It appears to be changing to – ‘not good’?

      • A lot of people suddenly have to intensely check their phones.

    • Ah – I frequently wonder where she gets her wardrobe

  5. “The Privy Council Office, the non-partisan branch of government that “provides essential advice and support to the Prime Minister……”
    And we’re supposed to believe that this supposed “independent” office hasn’t been hopelessly compromised by the Harpercrits? That would make it seemingly the only one.

  6. “The Privy Council”…I don’t even like the name of this bunch.

  7. the Mounties always get their man, or men, or large group of men and women…how many Conservatives can be accused of possible criminal wrong doing at this point? Anyone keeping track?

  8. Raitt says the government has engaged in litigation and demand that CN repair its own bridge. Another question from the NDP benches swatted down, this time by Raitt.

    It both amuses and saddens me that when a serious question receives a serious (and related!) answer in QP, it is characterized as the questioner being “shot down”. In other words, as one side winning and the other losing. In reality, this is how questions and answers should work: one side asks a serious question about, in this case, a big public safety issue, the other side provides a serious, related, and truthful answer This is how questions and answers should work.

    Now back to our regularly scheduled sh*tshow.

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