The PM, Mike Duffy and the latest twist in our national reality TV show

The sketch: Stephen Harper hopes you will not be distracted by the wildly entertaining spectacle of Mike Duffy and Nigel Wright


The Prime Minister does not want to talk about Mike Duffy. Alas, he and his side are having a hard time not talking about Mike Duffy.

Would that it were so, he might’ve had this afternoon, his first prominent appearance in the House since June, to freely and happily boast of the trade agreement he agreed to on Friday. If only his government’s leader in the Senate hadn’t announced on Thursday that the Conservatives intended to have three of Mr. Harper’s appointees—Mr. Duffy, along with Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau—suspended from the Senate without pay. (If only he hadn’t appointed Mike Duffy to the Senate. If only he hadn’t waited so long to refer Senate reform to the Supreme Court. If only…)

Thursday’s initiative had the trifling flaws of seeming somewhat unfair and rather unnecessary—Why suspend Mr. Duffy now? What do we know now that we didn’t know in the spring, when he was free to take a seat in the red chamber? On what grounds are senators now suspendable?—but it also apparently provoked Mr. Duffy to respond. And so this morning, over the course of a rather entertaining 50 minutes, Mr. Duffy’s lawyer, glasses perched on the tip of his nose, ventured some rather provocative allegations: that Nigel Wright said Mr. Duffy expense claims were legitimate and that Mr. Duffy was threatened with expulsion from the Senate if he did not go along with Mr. Wright’s plan to have the expenses repaid.

Thus did our national reality TV show see its latest twist. And thus were the New Democrats teed up for Question Period.

“Mike Duffy’s lawyer today spoke at length and provided lots of new details. According to him, documents from the PMO outlined how this involved, ‘…cash for repayment,’ ” the NDP’s Megan Leslie related first. “Can the Prime Minister confirm that his office threatened to kick Mike Duffy out of the Senate if he did not go along with their scheme?”

The Prime Minister stood here and ventured first a vague platitude. “Mr. Speaker,” he said, “we have been very clear that we expect all parliamentarians to respect the letter and spirit of any rules regarding expenses and if they do not respect that they can expect there to be consequences and accountability for their actions.”

Then to something else entirely. “I will just say that I have noticed, obviously, NDP members’ instant opposition to the Canada-Europe trade deal,” he said. “I guess the reason we see them asking these kinds of questions is because on the big issues they are wrong.”

So if the opposition was to insist on questioning the conduct of the government, the government would insist on talking about its trade deal. But it was at least somewhat problematic for the Prime Minister here that the NDP released a statement on Friday offering general support for the idea of trade with Europe and that the Prime Minister’s Employment Minister then publicly welcomed their “relatively balanced” position.

Ms. Leslie persisted and, after three responses, Mr. Harper motioned for his parliamentary secretary, Paul Calandra, to take over. “Honestly, NDP members actually have absolutely no leg to stand on,” Mr. Calandra declared. “When they had a chance to demand reform in the Senate, what did they ask for? They asked for six seats of their own in the Senate. That is the reform they asked for.”

Except that the NDP does not seem to have done any such thing. According to the Prime Minister’s Office, the claim here is based on the governance accord signed by the Liberals and New Democrats in 2008, but the agreement includes no such commitment (the New Democrats were, instead, promised six cabinet ministers and six parliamentary secretaries). Rather, the only reference to the Senate is that “both parties are committed to restoring the integrity, transparency and efficiency of the appointments process in the Public Service and in federal bodies like the Supreme Court, the Senate and Commissions like the CRTC” and that “the Prime Minister will consult the Leader of the NDP as appropriate on appointments.”

Of course, the NDP would’ve been able to get away with this dastardly plan to bring integrity, transparency and efficiency to the Senate appointments process if the Prime Minister hadn’t prorogued Parliament to avoid a confidence vote, thus enabling himself to appoint Mr. Duffy to the Senate on the day in December five years ago.

Mr. Harper would return to his feet when the floor was turned over to Liberal House leader Ralph Goodale, Mr. Goodale insisting here that we dwell on the fact that the Prime Minister once told the House that no one in his office had known about Mr. Wright’s deal with Mr. Duffy, an assertion now at odds with what Mr. Wright’s lawyers told the RCMP.

Mr. Harper pleaded ignorance. “I answered based on the information I had at that time,” he said. “Of course, the reality is that these actions were the responsibility of Mr. Wright. Mr. Wright has accepted full responsibility for his actions, as he should. In the meantime, the government is, of course, focused on making sure we create jobs and growth for Canadians, including the biggest trade agreement that we have ever had, the trade agreement that we concluded this week in Europe.”

“Mr. Speaker,” sighed Mr. Goodale, “Canadians would appreciate a focus on ethics.”

It is probably necessary to note that it is not entirely clear whether any particular wrong has been committed here. It is entirely possible that the RCMP will decline to press charges or that, if it does, whoever is charged will be found not guilty. Mr. Duffy is out of the Conservative caucus and Mr. Wright is out of the Prime Minister’s Office and the government’s man in the Senate is trying to banish Mr. Duffy from the upper chamber and yet this might all only amount to some questionable expenses and a very badly managed bit of theatre. Possibly precipitated by one senator’s debatable ties to the province he was supposed to represent.

All of which might render the whole spectacle that much more ridiculous.

After three questions from Mr. Goodale, Mr. Harper ceded the floor back to his parliamentary secretary and Mr. Calandra, who is hopefully at least in line for a prime cabinet post as a result of his current lot, dutifully waved his hands, shuffled his feet and hummed a few bars of his own take on the Maple Leaf Forever. Jobs, growth and economic prosperity in all regions of this country! Unleashing the potential of our small businesses, our medium businesses and our large job creators! A strong, stable, national Conservative majority government! The best Prime Minister in the world! A Minister of Finance who has won awards! The strongest cabinet in Canadian history!

Shortly thereafter, he invoked the “$21-billion carbon tax.” Later, he started talking about John Turner.

“I can understand why the New Democrats do not want to talk about the economy,” he proclaimed of the official opposition. “It is because they know nothing about the economy. I know they do not want to talk about jobs and economic growth because it is another topic they know nothing about. When it comes to community safety, we know that they are not interested in that at all.”

And if the Conservatives don’t want to talk about Mike Duffy… well, that’s just because they have so much else they would rather be talking about.


The PM, Mike Duffy and the latest twist in our national reality TV show

  1. Humina humina humina, free trade, er, free trade LOOK! Pandas!

    • Subways subways subways!

  2. it looks like another nor’easterly(scandal a day) is blowing harpers way again with the news Kelly Leitch has been caught with her mitts in the cookie jar, over 20,000.00 worth, and we still don’t have the all the details of the CETA deal to make a full complete assessment. everyone should view the Jim Stanford ” Equilibrium ” video, its very educational.

  3. You forgot the part where Harper told the NDP to join the 20th Century. The NDP quickly corrected the record, reminding the PM that we are actually in the 21st.

    • LOL, did he? Maybe he’s rattled.

  4. Time to lay in more popcorn….this is going to go on for quite awhile. LOL

  5. The PM is really crawling towards the finish line, eh?

  6. From what I’ve seen so far (in the House and on CBC’s P&P) of this Calandra character, the latest among Harper’s retinue of personal forelock tuggers, he’s so disjointed and utterly haphazard in his freely-associated verbal meanderings, he makes James Joyce’s Ulysses seem like a tautly written novella.

    He’s gonna’ be one entertaining wind-up toy to watch.

    • Ah the other CBC viewer.

      • You don’t have to watch the CBC to know that, and btw there are more who watch this station than The Sun News Network! But that’s off topic, and perhaps the only thing that can be written for the indefensible. Just watch Question Period, that ought to be enough. It was another “let’s not answer one question just try to smear” or like Calandra do some bizarre look at our greatest hits. All the journalists from all the papers were commenting on the lame responses from this guy. Get over the CBC and stay on the topic on hand.

      • C’mon, get serious. Judging from the volume of responses to P&P’s daily ballot box question, there are at least 153 of us.

        And we outnumber Sun TV’s viewership by a ratio of 2:1.

      • …and so what? ad hominem nonsense. neuroticdog’s post was bang-on and funny to boot. Cons don’t do funny. They do mocking, sneering and eye rolling, but not funny.

  7. “Liberal House leader Ralph Goodale”

    Note to Mr. Wherry: Goodale is Deputy Leader; Dominic LeBlanc is House Leader

  8. This is smelling very like SPONSORSHIP, lies, lies and more lies. Harper is supposed to be a Conservative not a liberal.

    • I’d argue that he is acting just like a Conservative. Or at least his retinue is…I have yet to be convinced that Harper would, as a random example, accept brown paper bags full of money for certain future considerations. But I don’t hold that reservation for some of his more odious Ministers.

    • You got to be joking. In fact Duffy paid back less than that old Liberal Mac Harb. Get real.

      • Oh, then that makes the whole Duffy affair OK. Thanks for setting us straight there, Mervin.

        At least Harb (as far as we know) used his own money, not yours as a faithful contributor to the Con PMO slush fund.

        • Wright used his own money to repay the Duffy expenses. That made the taxpayers whole. So your point doesn’t make sense. I am not trying to underplay this whole sordid mess. However, I need to ensure you lefties aren’t wetting your pants over pinning Harper to the wall.

          • How do you know Wright used his own money?

            And even if he did, the exchange (allegedly) means Senator Duffy received a benefit to which he’s not legally entitled. It also could be construed (depending on conditions attached to the payment) as either blackmail or extortion.

            Remind me again how Harper and his retinue arrived in Ottawa with the determination to clean up Liberal malfeasance. It looks, no matter how you try to spin this fiasco, that they are bigger grifters than the Libs.

            Or, on the face of it, at least as bad.

          • No worse, because the hypocrites actually had Canadians hoping for a higher standard. Now, cynically many have walked away entirely, allowing this pestilence his majority and allowing him to subvert democracy well into the future with his morally and ethically questionable appointments.

          • I think there was a story in one of the media that it was a draft drawn on the CIBC. I could be wrong but in any event there have been many guesses about how the money was paid. Duffy was already in the tank for the Conservatives and so where was the blackmail as you put it. He was given $90,000. to make the taxpayers whole and to make a problem go away. That is in itself bad enough but to read other motivations is a step too far.

          • Regardless of whether the money came from the CIBC, some Con slush fund, Wright’s personal walkin’ around money, or the cookie jar at 24 Sussex, the fact remains that the PMO facilitated the conferral a benefit to Duffy, to which he wasn’t legally entitled, presumably in exchange for some set of expectations. Ergo, the appearance of blackmail.

            The act by itself is criminal, never mind speculating on motivations.

          • In other words, you don’t know that Wright used his own money.

          • Made the taxpayer whole hey, what about the rule of law that is supposed to apply to all citizens?

            So I rob a bank.
            Then get caught.
            After I’m caught I promise to pay it all back.
            Then when I pay it back all is forgiven and I get to go home, no harm no foul.

            It appears that it’s your point that is based on faulty logic

          • Your point is entirely different. None of the senators in question have been convicted of anything. It sounds like rules were applied that were not in place the time the expenses were incurred. Who knows. However, lynching people in the media and in parliament is not very attractive. If in the end they are found to have broken the law then they should face the full consequences of their actions. You see they have already be accused, tried and convicted by the likes of you. Who made you judge, jury and executioner?

          • “…lynching people in the media and in parliament is not very attractive.”

            I gather, then, you disagree with the government’s attempt to suspend the three senators with neither pay nor due process.

          • Absolutely!

          • In the example above I wasn’t convicted either, I like Duffy was caught and decided to pay it back. If all suspected bank robbers were given the option of paying it back rather than being charged would that be acceptable to you?.

          • Harper is finished. You must know that. This business is just a particle, a speck, it’s him, his actions and his attitude that did that, not the “librul” media. The media gave him an easy ride right up until recently. And yeah, Harb is a taker too. Lots of them here in Ottawa and that thieving, that malfeasance and misfeasance is a bi-partisan endeavour.

          • I would not write Harper off as quickly as you apparently have. There is much that is being said but there is little real evidence that Harper knew about the payment to Duffy. If that happens then I agree he is in big trouble given his denials. However, I would remind you that while many Canadians including myself are upset about the Senate scandal the fact remains there will be only three choices on the ballot next time out. The incumbent who I believe has done a pretty good job, the socialist who will tax us all to death and the kid who knows nothing about running a country. Canadians will have to assess the track record of the PM and his opponents who have no track record. All the polls say the economy is top of mind. The Senate not so much. Before making predictions you should be careful. They tried it in Alberta and B.C. and failed. The Libs in Quebec were written off by many and they came within a couple of seats from winning. We both will agree that many MPs and Senators are probably fleecing the taxpayer but that is not applicable to any one party. They all do it. Regrettably its part of the system.

          • Harper wasn’t much more experienced than Trudeau when he took over and as you seem to think he has done swimmingly your point is somewhat moot. The reason why the economy survived as well as it did in the global downturn had nothing to do with Harper and Co; that was thanks to the policy decisions of a real finance minister in Paul Martin. In fact it is testimony to just how good a grasp Martin had on the economy that despite the manifest stupidity of Flanagan and Harper and their tax cuts the economy did so well at all.
            Harper has done anything but “a pretty good job” on the economy he messed up with tax cuts at the time we needed the income and is solely responsible for the massive debt we now have. He is also desperately trying to sell our national resources, regardless of the loss and cost to us, to try and recover some cash to cover for his crass stupidity.
            Oh and please cut out the PMO talking points about the other leaders, the PMO has shown itself to be the nexus of all that is corrupt in government today. If they issued a statement saying the sun came up today, I’d have to look to make sure.

    • Complete with stealing ideas from the NDP, his transformation into Jean Cretien is (almost) complete.

      • I was never a Chretien fan but I don’t think he ever stooped nearly as low as the snake in that position now.

    • Harper isn’t anything but a weasel who latched on to whatever ideology he thought would get him to power. That’s his problem now. He never actually believed in anything enough to actually run a government, so he has no vision other than the one provided by his financial backers – oil.

      He leads through divide and conquer, pitting people against each other. Sure, you can rise to the top that way, but as Nixon found out, people don’t love or respect you and many will celebrate your fall and you will fall because eventually it will all catch up to him. For all those he rewards with appointments and senate seats, there are as many now being thrown under the bus once their usefulness has expired. Sona, Duffy, Wallin… one of them will talk.

  9. They can run, but they can’t hide.

    • I know I saw them in Question Period. How are they hiding? If the RCMP decline to prosecute the story is over and will die on the vine with time.

      • I never said they where hiding, in fact I said the exact opposite. Perhaps you are referring to my running comment? In that case, Harper keeps running out of the country every time big news breaks and the Cons refuse to actually answer any questions.

        • Yes, how dare the PM leave the country to sign the largest trade deal that Canada has ever signed. The never ending saga about the Senate scandal is just that. Never ending. I am sure many Canadians are sick to death of hearing the names Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin, Brazeau and of course lets not forget that wonderful Liberal Mac Harb who simply gets a passing reference. His payback exceeds both Duffy and Wallin combined.

          • It’s not as big as NAFTA.

            And when Harper ran to South America?

          • It’s a small fraction of NAFTA.

            But you’ll have to forgive hollinm – he’s just dutifully regurgitating what he’s been told by his Con betters.

          • BTW, I don’t think NAFTA was a good thing.

          • He didn’t sign a trade deal. He made an agreement to make an agreement. Now you are lying, on top of your usual hypocrisy. Anything to deflect I guess.

      • That’s what some low IQd folk might think, but the reality is the damage is done. If the RCMP fail to prosecute, most Canadians will suspect they have been co-opted by Harper and that democracy and the rule of law are really, truly just a sham thanks to our Reformers who promised to make Canada a completely different place.

        Oh, and not answering a question in the house with a weak attempt to deflect or distract is running. Harper does not deserve his paycheque, the weasel in a chicken suit.

        • No Problem. If it as you say the Canadian people will judge in 2015. They are the best ones to decide not the lefties on this board.

          • Why do people constantly want to split the county into left and right? It’s a meaningless label, an American thing. Calling our media, our mostly corporate media, “left” is just silly. They are no such thing.

            IOW you aren’t helping with this divisionist nonsense.

          • Whether you agree or not there are two visions of how the country should be run. A conservative vision is one of lower taxes, less government and personal responsibility. The other is wealth redistribution trying to create a utopian where we are all equal…equally poor. This experiment has not worked in Europe and they are drowning in government. It has been known as the right and left. Unless you can come up with a better definition for the two opposing philosophies it is what it is. The media is concentrated in the hands of very few. Most of the media types believe in big government and so they are referred to as lefties.

  10. Governance based on bald faced lying. They are doomed…

  11. I predict the motion to suspend the offending Senators will be dropped. I predict that the RCMP will decline to prosecute. If that happens then the story is dead except for the speculation by the lamestreet media, the Harper haters and the opposition. Oh what might have been.

    • Why are these shenanigans a-ok with you? I thought conservatives hated abuse of the public purse. Or is that just the myth by which you live?

      • I think what has been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt is that conservatives have no morals and therefore are incapable of seeing when they are being complete hypocrites. It is all good as long as they get their chance at the trough. They weren’t pissed about Adscam because it was ethically and morally wrong, they were angry because their political cards made it virtually impossible for them to profit.

        These predictions of hollinm’s actually echo the superficiality of the conservative mind. They think small time and short term and believe that this will blow over, just like all the other crimes they’ve committed for which they were never held accountable. The reality is that this has damaged Canadians’ faith in the system to the point where the rot in the PMO is spilling into the Senate and newspapers on a daily basis and Canadians are sickened and appalled by the gamesmanship and lack of accountability of our PM. This is why criminals still exist. They never think they will get caught.

      • Who says I like these shenanigans? However, I do believe in due process. Yes the whole thing smells to high heaven but convicting people in the media and of course via Question Period is not what we should be doing. The facts will come out eventually but like I said if the RCMP find there is little evidence to prosecute because the rules are vague etc. then we have simply another politically scandal.

        • Actually the rules regarding fraud are quite clearly defined in the criminal code and that is what these violations are. This has nothing to do with Senate “rules”. The definition of fraud being; obtaining monies, goods or services under false pretenses, or a misrepresentaion of facts in a transaction/s between persons or businesses. Save your smoke screen of “rules are vague”.

          • I will take the direction of the police when determining what is fraud. Things are not always black and white. You don’t have to take my word for anything. However, before making accusations you should at least have the decency to wait for the police investigation to finish before hurling accusations.

          • I will take the decision of a Judge. Police enforce the law a Judge decides whether a criminal or civil contravention has actually been made. Strange that you would wait for Police to charge before deciding, your previous comments ala Mac Harb say otherwise. Once again your remark regarding “vague rules” is a smoke screen and deflection. You are a hypocrite, which is what we expect from one of the Harper “boys in short pants”. Now go away.

    • Oh, do you mean the continuance of Third Reich tactics? Reread your history of the Feuhrer’s early governance.

      • You are one crazy person. The Third Reich? This makes your comment ridiculous and makes you sound like a nut.

        • Apparently, like Mr. Harper, you’d rather resort to name-calling rather than compare Harper’s tactics to those of Hitler in his early years.

  12. So the PCs were trying to write off partisan expenses through the tax payer funded Senate? Kind of reminds me of Kenny using parliamentary letterhead and staff to issue fundraising letters. I guess that is why we have such a huge “conservative” deficit. Not only do we pay for Harper’s supposed meetings with Business Leaders in the States (yeah, it was all a sham, put on by Harper), but he also pays the lobbying bill for the oil industry on our dime.

    Come on Duffy and Wallin, you’ve been used and now you’re being tossed. Your reputations have been destroyed in an effort to prop up the “man”. Time for a bit of defence and things are getting interesting.

  13. This comment was deleted.

    • It isn’t the left wing and the media. It is the majority of Canadians.

    • “My prediction is in 10 years the left wing in this country will have
      turned it into a socialist paradise with the help of the media…”

      Look out, we’re already hiding under your bed.

    • grow up Dude the left media doesn’t hate pipelines just bad pipelines . Wake old dude if it wasn’t for socialist Canada you wouldn’t be alive if you were poor as you grammar

  14. So many political issues. Toronto Mayor, former Ontario Premier and our Prime Minister. Maybe the Star can put some perspective around these scandals. These are elected officials and they run the political fabric of Canada. Some it has humour around it, some of it is scandalous but these are the people we depend upon to run our country and also the image of who we are as Torontonians, Ontarians, Canadians. How does this fit in with the big picture – making decisions that impact 35 million people and trillions of dollars. Is it just the issues, pressures and human frailties of our complex world and we should give some rope or is this truly big stuff that should result in better people running the shows. I just hope I have good choices when I get my chance to vote.

    • If the media had ignored Harper when he refused to answer questions, he wouldn’t be where he is today. There is also a huge difference between what is written about politics and what is played on TV. Only rarely do the TV news reporters report anything other than what is on the government press release – in effect government propaganda. Most people do not get the whole story – so yes, we need better people all around.

      • were not there yet but the way Harper Gags scientist and the CBC if he stays democracy will be battered and the constitution raped

  15. So, once again we have a journalist who is glossing over the real story here. The illigitimate expenses put forward by Duffy Walin et al, were approved by the CPC dominated senate finance committee, and the PMO. This was done to compensate them for their partisan fundraising and electioneering. A sophisticated fraud. The PMO and Harper himself are neck deep in this. Remember that Harper personally reveiwed Wallins expenses, his words. Then there is the denial of any e-mails pertaining to this and the binders released by Wrights lawyer, and what Duffy’s lawyer cited prove this to be a bald faced lie. Shouldn’t the media be pursuing clarification from Tkachuck and LeBreton, on the advice that has been attributed to them giving? Where is the RCMP, and why have they not pursued and seized evidence before it can be corrupted or destroyed? We have over 40 CPC Mp’s and untold CPC candidates that are under investigation for election financing fraud. Then the voter suppression related to robocalls, and a CIMS data base used to commit a crime controlled by only the top CPC members to do it , according to Judge Mosely. Then there is missing and misappropriated monies, 3.4 billion in Security, 2.4 for consultants without any documentation of work done, or invoicing can be found, the DND is missing somewhere in the range of 2 billion, because of “accounting irregularities.” Instead of any meaningful information or revalations from the media, we get hundreds of column inches, and terrabytes of bandwidth on a agreement, to make a trade agreement

  16. Funny thing is this whole scandal is actually helping justify the existence of the Senate. If this second chamber didn’t exist, there’d be no one to challenge the overgrown powers of the PMO.

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