Stephen Harper scolds his rivals and preaches disclosure - Macleans.ca
 

Stephen Harper scolds his rivals and preaches disclosure

‘Any information we have that is relevant we will reveal immediately’


 

Having had to stand 22 times the day before, the Prime Minister apparently arrived at Question Period this afternoon quite prepared. If not to table any relevant documents or answer each and every outstanding question, then at least to make sure that if the opposition leaders persisted in asking him questions he would have something negative to say about them in response.

Mr. Harper would though, perhaps in the interests of politeness, perhaps merely to pace himself, wait until his second response to commence criticizing.

Thomas Mulcair would begin this afternoon as he had yesterday afternoon, hands folded at the waist, looking directly at the seated Prime Minister.

“Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Prime Minister acknowledged the existence of the email in which Mike Duffy wrote that he stayed silent on the orders of the Prime Minister’s Office,” Thomas Mulcair began, perhaps attempting to read into this response from Mr. Harper. “Who in the Prime Minister’s Office has a copy of that email?”

Mr. Harper attempted here to establish distance.

“Mr. Speaker,” he said, “this is an email, I understand, of Mr. Duffy, a former Conservative senator.”

The New Democrats laughed.

“As we know well, the activities of Mr. Duffy are being looked into by the appropriate authorities,” Mr. Harper continued. “Of course, any and all information we have will be shared with those authorities.”

Mr. Mulcair stood again, hands folded at the waist, for his second query. “Mr. Speaker, has the RCMP contacted the Prime Minister’s Office to obtain that email or all other documents that it has in relation to this matter?”

Mr. Harper stood here and actually offered a direct answer. “Mr. Speaker,” he said, “to my knowledge we have had no such contact.”

But then here came the segue. “Of course that would be very different, I understand, than the leader of the NDP,” Mr. Harper now ventured, “who, after 17 years of apparently knowing about the activities of the mayor of Laval, who is now charged with various offences, did not reveal that information to the public and the police until very recently. Any information we have that is relevant we will reveal immediately.”

The Conservatives stood and cheered, apparently happy for the chance to feel superior to someone else in this regard.

This much is reference to the question of Thomas Mulcair and the envelope he was presented with in 1994. Whether the matter of the envelope and the matter of Nigel Wright could be said to be somehow comparable is likely a matter of debate, but apparently the Prime Minister sees at least a principle that should be upheld.

Mr. Mulcair stood, hands folded at the waist, and waited for the government side to settle. Who, he wondered en francais, had the Prime Minister assigned to manage the matter of questionable spending in the Senate? Mr. Harper claimed to not entirely understand the question. The New Democrats laughed.

Mr. Mulcair asked, again en francais, when the matter had first been discussed within cabinet. Mr. Harper began in French before switching to English. “While we are sworn not to discuss cabinet matters publicly,” the Prime Minister offered, “I can certainly say that these matters were not matters of public business at any point.”

Then another segue. “In fact, as we have said, this matter became aware to me on May 15,” Mr. Harper continued. “I immediately made that information public, which is very different than the leader of the NDP who withheld information on the wrongdoing of the mayor of Laval for 17 years.”

Once again the Conservatives stood and cheered.

Mr. Mulcair pressed on. Mr. Harper repeated his scolding. The Conservatives stood and cheered.

Justin Trudeau now took his turns, fussing over the apparent fact that Mr. Harper was unaware of Mr. Wright’s payment to Mr. Duffy until the day after CTV had asked his office about a deal between the two men and Mr. Harper’s office had offered a statement in response to CTV’s queries. Mr. Harper insisted that “we have been very clear about what the facts are in the situation.”

And then another segue. “On the other hand, the leader of the Liberal Party should explain,” Mr. Harper ventured, “why he has known for weeks that a member of his caucus, a Liberal senator, is connected to an undisclosed offshore bank account worth $1.7 million, and he has chosen to take no action whatsoever.”

Conservatives stood and cheered.

This much is seemingly reference to the matter of Senator Pana Merchant and her husband. Mr. Harper did not specify what he thinks Mr. Trudeau should do about this, but if the example of Mike Duffy is any indication—questioned in a media report on December 2, formally found to have inappropriately claimed expenses on May 9, resigned from caucus on May 16—Mr. Trudeau might have some time yet to take action.

Mr. Mulcair returned to his feet for nine more questions. In seven responses Mr. Harper made reference to the events of 1994.

The NDP leader’s second last question pertained to the Prime Minister’s own efforts to understand the truth of the matter of Nigel Wright and Mike Duffy.

“Mr. Speaker,” Mr. Mulcair asked, “has the Prime Minister asked that all emails to and from Nigel Wright’s email account in the Prime Minister’s Office be examined to see if there is any reference whatsoever to the Mike Duffy affair, or to any and all documents concerning the Mike Duffy affair?”

Mr. Harper stood to offer a response. “Mr. Speaker, once again, we have put in place the appropriate authorities to investigate such matters when they arise,” he said. “We will obviously assist those authorities and we will ensure that anybody who has broken any rules or laws is held accountable.”

By a strict reading of human language and communication, this was not an answer.

Once again then, a segue. “We are doing so promptly,” Mr. Harper explained, “unlike the leader of the NDP who, in spite of the fact he knew about the inappropriate activities of the former mayor of Laval, and has now admitted it after having denied it in public repeatedly, refused to provide that information.”

If Mr. Mulcair erred in 1994 and thereafter, let him now be shamed by the remarkable example of this government and the individuals involved in this matter. There is no higher authority than the Parliament of Canada, the forum through which the public’s business is conducted, so let it all be aired here and soon. There should be no excuse now for anything short of full disclosure and explicit answers. What was the arrangement between Nigel Wright and Mike Duffy? Was Mike Duffy offered any kind of assurance of favourable treatment? Was Mike Duffy told to remain silent by anyone in the Prime Minister’s Office? Do any documents or correspondence exist that relate to the arrangement between Mike Duffy and Nigel Wright? Has the Prime Minister made any attempt to ascertain any of this?

There are two questions filed on the order paper, in the name of Mr. Trudeau, that pertain to this matter. Officially, the government has 45 days to respond, but given the Prime Minister’s deep concern for disclosure surely there can be no reason to wait that long—surely, at the very least, there must be answers to those questions before the House rises for the summer.

Two days ago, a proposal to study this matter at the ethics committee was apparently stymied. Surely that should be revisited. Surely, at the very least, Nigel Wright should be invited to sit and testify.

In his second response this afternoon, the Prime Minister was perfectly reassuring. “Any information we have that is relevant,” he said, “we will reveal immediately.”

Good. This is heartening. For whatever this unfortunate matter amounts to, it should be made clear as immediately as possible.

And perhaps once we have achieved perfect clarity as to whatever happened here, we will see how this principle might be applied to other matters.

 


 

Stephen Harper scolds his rivals and preaches disclosure

  1. Broken records, Dear Leader…..do not sell

  2. When lions are on the prowl, chimps group up, jump around,
    yelp and yowl, throw dirt and feces in the air.
    The lions stop and stare in bemusement. But the attendant
    jackals are often impressed.

  3. Concerning Mulcair’s knowledge of bribery, I think it’s pretty easy to respond that -while he had no proof of criminality, he was made uncomfortable enough by the circumstances that he ended the meeting immediately. Every adult in the world has been in circumstances where they were aware of potential criminality without being ready to call in the cops. False accusations are a very real danger and no-one is required to make themselves a free-lance cop or vigilante.

    Frankly, Harper is only underlining his own complicity with a whole long series of questionable characters of which Duffy and Arthur Porter are only the latest examples. Harper has never stumbled across a bad associate on his own, yet he’s surrounded by more felons than Mom Boucher.

    • I would go further and surmise that, in the absence of evidence to corroborate an allegation of corruption back in ’94, Mulcair risked being sued for defamation had he gone public.

      • Nobody asked him to go public. However, talking to the police was an option he did not exercise. That is clear. If the police had been informedre informed it was up to them to investigate and see if any law had been broken. Its not complicated. Even lefties should be able to understand it.

        • Oh, we get it. And, in fact, every time Harper bleats about it in the House, rather than answer questions about the mess he’s created himself, serves as a fresh reminder that (unlike at least one Con recently) Mulcair didn’t take money that was improperly proffered.

          • He is answering questions. You may not like the answers but that’s tough. What has he created for himself. So far all we know is that Wright gave the money to Duffy from his personal account. Harper says he found out on May 15th. Duffy is responsible for Duffy and his own actions. What mess has Harper created for himself. Trouble is the media and the Harper haters want there to be more but I suspect there isn’t anything more.
            Mulcair is a lawyer. He was a member of the Quebec legislature. A mayor tried to bribe him with an envelope (with cash in it). We only have Mulcair’s word that he did not take it. To suggest that the police should not have been informed absolutely defies logic.

          • Actually Mulcair was not a member of the National Assembly at the time: he was running as a first time candidate. Technically speaking it was not corruption as he was not an office holder at the time . . . probably the laws should be updated to extend to declared candidates and political party operatives.

            And answering questions by saying, clearly untruthfully, that he didn’t understand the question, is NOT answering questions. That one is right up there with “It depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is”

          • What has he created for himself

            Well, I don’t have time to recite the litany of woes he continues to create for himself but we could start with the sorry cast of grifters (Duffy, Brazeau, Wallin, et. al.) he personally chose to place in the Senate.

          • I challenge you to show what in the backgrounds of Duffy, Wallin and Brazeau which would indicate they would fudge their expenses. If you are going to say they were bad appointments at the time they were made you should show the evidence.

          • I suppose “bad” is in the eye of the beholder. IMO, appointing people to the Senate whose primary contribution to the nation is bagging money for the Cons is “bad”. Appointing bagmen who, on the evidence, are also doubledipping into public funds for their expenses (Duffy, probably Wallin) or who can’t stay out of the criminal courts (Brazeau) is “worse”.

          • So there is no responsibility on those who selected the three? None on those who selected Harb?

          • In a perfect world you can say the one who made the decision to appointment them should be held accountable. I think Harper is being held accountable by the media and the public at large. However, these Senators made their own decision to cheat and it is they who have the greater responsibility and should be held accountable for their actions.

          • I must have missed the answer as to why Wallin has left the Conservative caucus after Harper checked her expenses himself and found no problem. Or his explanation as to why he praised and defended Wright days before Wright resigned. Or how he didn’t know about Wright’s cheque or his offices public response to the cheque on the day the story became public.

            Maybe you can provide some links.

        • Fair point. But by the same token, Stephen Harper could have done a bit more background checking on Bruce Carson and Arthur Porter, but failed to do so.

          Also worth mentioning that when he was aware that a bribe was being offered by Finley and Flanagan to a sitting Member of Parliament he should have informed the police.

          • Do you honestly believe that Stephen Harper vets these appointments himself? Something was missed I will give you that but to simply lay the blame on Harper is not being fair.
            There was no proof that Cadman was bribed. You sure don’t want to let go. There have been how many elections since then with the Conservatives receiving higher pluralities in each one. The final arbiter of the Conservative party is the people through elections. They have spoken. Time to move on my friend.

          • “to simply lay the blame on Harper is not being fair.”

            Obviously he’s not much of a manager then. He appointed those who should be doing the vetting, if they are not capable of doing that effectively he should take responsibility and improve the process. However that doesn’t seem to have happened as these are serial cases.

            And yes, Carson and Porter would have had to have the approval of Stephen Harper: Carson because he was political staff and Porter because his position (Head of SIRC) is very high profile . . . you don’t think for a second that Stephen Harper, who is a political calculating machine (“he’s playing three-dimensional chess while everyone else is playing checkers”) had no hand in those?

            And you can’t be serious that Mr. Harper had no hand in the Duffy and Wallin appointments? Not to mention Bert Brown who it has just come to light seems to have had a very hefty travel bill for Senate work during an election campaign ($43k).

            You can’t seriously expect people to believe that.

            And, if you apply that reasoning that there have been many elections since then (the Cadman affair) to give Stephen Harper a free pass on his knowledge of corrupt practices, why the double standard with respect to Mulcair? He’s been elected provincially and federally, so if that is the litmus test he’s all clear. Time to move on, indeed.

          • Umm, Brazeau was a deadbeat dad and Duffy had already demonstrated his ethical shortcomings.

            Of course Harper isn’t to blame for his appointments. *snort*

          • Do you honestly believe that Stephen Harper vets these appointments himself?

            Yes.

    • Harper is the worst judge of character I’ve ever seen in public life!

      • I dunno about that. I think he’s very good at finding the kind of people he prefers. That is the type of person who can carry off the pretence of being respectable while still having the morals and character of a polecat in heat.

        Frankly, when all the usual pundits were singing the praises of Nigel Wright and his unimpeachable character I was pointing out that his character has already been besmirched by his association with Stephen Harper. I don’t think a person who is truly respectable and honourable could spend 6 weeks in the company of Stephen Harper without resigning in disgust. Wright spent 2 years with him and he only resigned when caught bribing a Senator to stonewall an audit that would damage Harper. I don’t care how early he gets up, and I don’t care how many miles he runs, that’s not how a respectable person behaves. IMO.

        • ‘the pretence of being respectable while still having the morals and character of a polecat in heat.’

          LOL good point….it’s just hard to believe how many ‘polecats in heat’ a small town like Ottawa has. I mean they roll up the sidewalks at 10.

          Nigel is apparently known for his religion….wanted to be an Anglican priest back in the day….and for that reason is considered ‘respectable’

          But then of course there’s Charles McVety…..

          • I had forgotten about McVety. You can’t keep all the players straight without a program, eh?

            Must be enough disgraced Harper appointees to field a softball team by now.

          • I especially watch the ‘christian’ ones. If you have to announce it to people….

            There is indeed a long and growing list of Harper appointee/disasters….even Cons have begun to notice

  4. You quote Harper as saying, “Of course, any and all information we have will be shared with those authorities.”

    It strikes me that you may have got this quote wrong, Aaron. I think that Harper said that “… any and all relevant information….” would be shared. And who will decide on the relevance of the information given? I suspect it will be Mr. Harper and his new, improved PMO.

    UPDATE: Oh sorry, I see that you did mention the relevant thing later in your piece. I jumped the gun there, I guess.

    • maybe he quietly muttered “Ezra Levant” instead of relevant (sounds a bit the same if you say it quickly). So he will make public all the EZRA LEVANT information, leading him to be able to say a month from now:

      “Mr. Speaker, I can sincerely say our search located no documents within the paramaters I set out earlier.”

      • He’s got to hand over the infamous email because Fife said tonight that Andrew McDougall, his communications guy, told Fife way back, he had read it.

        • You’re right. It was 10 years ago.

          • Try maybe February.

    • Mary Dawson doesn’t have to tell anybody what she got and what she didn’t get does she?

  5. Himself will be absent from the House tomorrow. Scheduled to

    meet with the President of Chile, I believe.

    Last week he was in Peru … to offer enlightenment on the proper

    use of environmental regulation in meeting the needs of Canadian

    mining companies ( Canadian, at least, in the sense of being listed

    on the TSX ..but since the darker corners of the VSE were shut down,

    they had to go somewhere ). Perhaps he also offered advice on dealing

    with uppity indigenous populations … although any Latin American

    leader would have puckered their brows at that ..the only good one is

    a dead one, right ?

    In any case, I betcha that the Chile agenda will include, over the tea

    and crumpets, an intense discussion of Barrick’s current troubles (fines

    and delays and other pesky stuff). I understand Barrick has one less
    friend in high places but I’m sure they won’t have a shortage.

    • I look forward to the press conference.

  6. Harper played to his base. After all he need their money to pay off for fines given by CRTC for robocalls.

    • yer grammer and speling iz goode.

  7. great journalism, a different take and refreshingly informative in a more sublime manner. I look forward to reading more of your articles on this issue.

  8. Sorry…I wouldn’t call throwing around red-herrings ‘slamming’ the opposition…It’s called being a desperate little child who won’t man up and take responsibility…a child who is decimating our democracy.

  9. Can you define “immediately”?

  10. What a waste of our time this irrelevant little man is. Canada deserves an adult Prime Minister.

    • Well if we do….why didn’t we elect one?

      • Maybe we did. Election fraud in 240 ridings seems like a good reason to question the integrity of the outcome.

        • A coup we were unaware of?

          Well, I’d rather believe that than collective stupidity I guess

  11. Everyday someone from the opposition needs to quote Harper from 2005 over adscam.

    “The Prime Minister personally ordered adscam done and chose the people who executed the plan. At the very least he fostered an attitude within the party, chose the managers who committed these crimes and completely and utterly failed to exercise any oversight, supervision or leadership. In the end it does not really matter. He is the leader and a leader is responsible for the actions of the people he leads.’ ”

    Harper just doesn’t get the fact that no scandal, no wrongdoing on the part of the opposition will in some way out-scandal himself because his party cheated in the 2006 election so that they could be THE GOVERNMENT! There is no one that can trump a scandal committed by the Harper government.

  12. Lefty media give Harper’s opponents a pass on their “mistakes”.

    • Poor Harper, he tries so hard to be the stern, secretive, but benevolent father that Canadians need – but that damned left wing media conspiracy and their treachery!!! Ahhhh!!!!

  13. Having just read about the Rob Ford video mess and now the Harper obfuscation on this topic, I find the story lines are blending into just another TV gangster show. All that’s missing to make this a season of Boardwalk Empire is better clothes.

    • Nucky Thompson had e-mails??