Stephen Harper, Mike Duffy, Nigel Wright and the February 13 meeting

‘Was Nigel Wright present at the meeting between the Prime Minister and Mike Duffy or not?’


The Prime Minister’s Office acknowledged on May 31 that the Prime Minister and Mike Duffy had discussed the matter of Mr. Duffy’s expenses on February 13. So that a meeting took place has been known for some time.

Mr. Duffy’s version of events includes some colour that was not included in the official account.

Here again is Mr. Duffy’s account.

So after caucus on Feb. 13 of this year, I met the prime minister and Nigel Wright, just the three of us. I said that despite the smear in the papers, I had not broken the rules, but the prime minister wasn’t interested in explanations or the truth. It’s not about what you did; it’s about the perception of what you did that has been created in the media. The rules are inexplicable to our base. I argued: I’m just following the rules like all of the others. But it didn’t work. I was ordered by the prime minister: Pay the money back, end of discussion. Nigel Wright was present throughout, just the three of us.

And here is the PMO’s account.

“Mr. Duffy approached the prime minister in the caucus room regarding the situation with his expenses. The PM was adamant that he should repay any inappropriate expenses,” Andrew MacDougall, the prime minister’s spokesperson, said Friday.

In his next appearance at Question Period, Mr. Harper explained that Mr. Duffy had “approached me to seek some clarification.” The Prime Minister explained the next day that “Mr. Duffy was seeking clarification on remarks I had made to this effect in caucus and I was adamant that any inappropriate expenses had to be reimbursed by him.” And on June 6, he offered that “our view is that all expenses have to be appropriate, and I mean by that not simply that they respect the rules but that they are defensible to any reasonable person.”

As for Mr. Wright’s presence, the Prime Minister had at least four opportunities to acknowledge it.

Twice on June 4, Thomas Mulcair asked the Prime Minister who was present at that meeting. Neither question received a straight answer.

On June 5, Mr. Mulcair returned to the matter of the meeting and was more direct, asking Mr. Harper if Nigel Wright was present at the meeting. The Prime Minister neither confirmed nor denied Mr. Wright’s presence.

On June 6, Mr. Mulcair tried again, asking the Prime Minister whether Nigel Wright had been present when Mr. Harper instructed Mr. Duffy to repay his expenses. The Prime Minister did not provide a straight answer in response.


Stephen Harper, Mike Duffy, Nigel Wright and the February 13 meeting

  1. When you’re being bounced repeatedly by a Sumo wrestler, delicate shades of meaning become less relevant.

  2. Duffy and other Senators clearly saw themselves as working for the Prime Minister and the Conservative Party of Canada, rather than for Canada, which is to me a much larger issue than petty fraud with expenses or even the official coverup.

    We’re not a republic that has to sit and wait until the next winner gets the spoils or foment a coup in order to get our leaders to behave; we’re a parliamentary democracy and we are supposed to be able to bring our first and other ministers to account. If we no longer have the mechanisms to do that, we need to fix our democracy so we can be rid of the presidential wannabes that have conspired to rule us for the last 4 or 5 decades.

    • Exactly! We have a parliamentary democracy. And Harper has stated time and again that he had no prior knowledge of the cheque having been issued personally by Nigel Wright. Harper still says so. Harper has not changed his story in that regards.

      Now, Wherry brings up a date and meeting which took place outside of the House. No records are kept when politicians bump into each other in hallways. Duffy can claim all sorts of things and all of them may be lies. Should we question Duffy and his take on the truth? Absolutely!

      Here is the thing: way back when, most (if not all) Conservative and Liberal senators were insisting that Duffy falsely claimed housing allowance. PM Harper is NOT required to keep tab of senate regulations; senators do that. And so most senators on both political sides insisted that Duffy falsely claimed housing allowance. Such was then reported over and over again in the news, that indeed Duffy had falsely claimed housing allowance. And so the PM ordered Duffy to pay back the money. Harper was not responsible for the rules in the senate; senators are. And the media clearly reported that the senators on both sides insisted that Duffy was in the wrong. And so Harper demanded, accordingly, that Duffy pay back the money.

      In a democracy I expect stolen money to be returned. And I am proud of a PM who believes the same thing, namely that falsely claimed money should be returned. So what exactly did our PM do wrong?? The senators on both sides said that Duffy was in the wrong. The media reported over and over again that Duffy was in the wrong regarding housing allowance. And the PM took note and demanded the money be paid back. What then has the PM done wrong??

      • I expect the prime minister to answer questions, provide documents and own up for the problem, including resigning when he is under investigation.

        • In other words: you would like for the PM to interfere with an ongoing investigation.

          I don’t think anyone should interfere with any investigation ongoing, least of all the PM.
          And if you would prefer all the ones being under investigation, to step aside or resign, you might as well demand that all politicians step aside, because many of not all have had some role to play in this.

          Or are you now suggesting that all those who insisted that Duffy falsely claimed housing allowance, can now simply change their story and not be investigated? Interesting how you think.

          You yourself are not even prepared to answer whether Duffy falsely claimed housing allowance. Figure that, eh!

          • Well yes, we can’t have the Prime Minister interfering in an investigation. He should stay well clear of any investigation; that would be most improper for a sitting minister …

            But wait, that’s what’s being investigated, his OFFICE!

          • How about cooperate with an ongoing investigation?

    • What exactly do you want to hold Harper to account for? Advising a member of his caucus to repay ill gotten expense claims? Isn’t that exactly the type of thing the Prime Minister *should* be doing?

      • I’m so glad you asked Rick. For the cover-up orchestrated by his office.

  3. Funny how Wherry does not highlight the fact that Duffy never claimed Harper was present when Nigel Wright offered to pay by personal cheque.

    In fact, Duffy stops short completely in that regard!

    Tell us, Wherry, before you try and spin this story out of control once again:

    according to you, did Duffy falsely claim housing allowance or not?

    Because it is quite clear that at the time, most Conservative and most Liberal senators insisted that Duffy falsely claimed housing allowance, and the media widely reported on that ad nauseum. So, when most senators on both sides insisted that Duffy was in the wrong, it was nothing more than logical for the PM to demand that Duffy pay the money back. Harper does not keep track of the senate rules; senators to that and both Liberal and Conservative senators had insisted then that Duffy falsely claimed housing allowance. And so the PM demanded that Duffy pay the money back.

    Or are you now suggesting that the senate rules are unclear? But if that is the case, why then did you and other not make it the news story that the rules are unclear and that therefore NO ONE could say for certain who was in the wrong?

    You see, had the media reported accurately way back when, then the media would not have to spin an altogether different story now.

    You and others are trying very hard now to accuse the PM of wrong doing once again. Yet, it is not the PM who keeps changing his story; it is you and others who are changing the story now.

    So, I ask you once again: according to you, did Duffy falsely claim housing allowance or not??

  4. To the media’s regret, there is no scandal to be uncovered in regards to PM Harper.

    The only ‘scandal’ to speak of is the personal cheque Nigel Wright wrote when working in the PMO. He should not have done that and he resigned. PM Harper reluctantly accepted that resignation. Reluctantly I say because Harper probably could not have believed that Wright would have made such a error in judgement. But within days, the PM accepted Wright’s resignation. That is the only scandal to speak of.

    So a chief of staff made an error in judgement and resigned over it.

    But let us then have a look at what other politicians are up to. Pat Martin found himself in legal trouble after he had falsely accused a private business owner. In other words; Pat Martin did something wrong for which he was ordered to pay up. But then Pat Martin went to the unions, or the unions came to him, who is to say (?) and union money was paid to Pat Martin for paying off his personal financial obligations. Union members paid their dues and such dues were then being used to pay off Pat Martin’s personal finances.

    The media has not demanded that Pat Martin disclose how much he got from the unions. The media has not asked the union membership if THEY were ok to let their hard earned money be used to pay off a politician’s personal debt. Suddenly, the secrecy surrounding the unions donations to Pat Martin are of no concern.

    But you try to tell us that the Conservative government is ‘secretive’? How so? And what exactly is NOT secretive about Pat Martin and his leader, Tom Mulcair? How long did Tom Mulcair know in advance that Pat Martin would be paying off his personal shortcomings with union money???

    Or does the media suddenly embrace secrecy?

    • Most, if not all, members of the media are also union members. When it comes to reporting on unions, they’ve usually got their own personal interests at heart. Truth be damned.

  5. Jeez, Frannie … even his own mother calls him Mister Wherry ..

    • Jeez, even my mother knows that when the media is trying to spin fabricated stories, we should all be on guard.

  6. Thanks for the honest writing Wherry, instead of hyping this faux scandal. The partisan’s here are far too quick to assume that the PM is the worst person in the world. This makes it very obvious that he hasn’t clearly done anything wrong.

    • “This makes it very obvious that he hasn’t clearly done anything wrong.”


      You are absolutely right, there Rick…he hasn’t clearly done anything wrong…obfuscation through parsed statements is certainly not “clear”.

    • Duffy could be lying, but if the PM really told him that they’d publicly declare him eligible to sit as a Senator for PEI if he paid the money back, but publicly declare him NOT eligible to sit as a Senator for PEI if he didn’t, that’s a big problem for me.

      Duffy’s either eligible to be a Senator for PEI or he isn’t. If he IS eligible, it’s highly inappropriate to threaten to lie publicly about it by claiming that he’s not eligible. If Duffy ISN’T eligible to sit as a Senator for PEI, it’s even MORE inappropriate to threaten to lie publicly by claiming that he is.

      Also, while there might not be an ethical problem with the Wright-Duffy deal happening without the PM’s knowledge, it does make me question his managerial skills and competency. If the Wright-Duffy deal was really a deal being hashed out by the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff, a sitting Conservative Senator, lawyers for the Prime Minister’s Office and lawyers for the Conservative Party of Canada and the Prime Minister had no idea that any of it was going on, that’s pretty shocking.

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