The Duffy affair: Checking in on our pizza store

Still more questions about what happened and why


So Conservative Senator Irving Gerstein tells the Conservative convention that he told Nigel Wright the party would not cover Mike Duffy’s disputed expenses, but, as the Star notes, that’s not the impression the RCMP attested to in June.

Of the legal expenses the party did cover, the Prime Minister’s Office says “the party was assured the invoice was for valid legal fees related to the audit process.”

Below, meanwhile, is CBC’s account of the affair from last week.

And here, from the weekend, is the Globe’s account.

Brent Rathgeber invokes ministerial responsibility to argue the onus is on the Prime Minister and Bruce Anderson tests Mr. Harper’s idea of how this would be handled if it were a matter of private enterprise.

When Mr. Harper muses that private sector codes of conduct should be the standard by which his government should proceed, this invites unflattering analysis. As bad as “staff” conduct appears, a diligent board of directors would by now critically examining the judgment exercised by management.

Mr. Harper is probably fortunate that politics doesn’t operate by business management standards. Because it’s far from clear whether a private company would enthusiastically back a leader who had made the choices the Prime Minister has been making for the last six months, in this affair. At the very least, they would demand better going forward.


The Duffy affair: Checking in on our pizza store

  1. If “assurances were made” who made them? It only makes sense that Gerstein is pointing the finger at Wright but he doesn’t state it explicitly. Perhaps because he was speaking at the CPC convention and doesn’t enjoy protection from slander.

    However you look at it, Gerstein is far more crooked than any of Duffy, Wallin, Brazeau or Harb and he still enjoys the full support of Harper and all of his caucus. It is an outrage that an admitted corrupted hack like Gerstein is going to sit in the Senate and pass judgement on anyone else. If Harper had even a child’s grasp of the concept of equivalence then Gerstein would be in the Dock instead of sitting on the bench.

    I have seen the worst of Chretien’s abuses, and Mulroney’s abuses, and Martin’s abuses. I have never seen such a botched abortion of a scandal. It’s not about the money, it’s about the whoring out of our entire political system to vindicate the grudges of a petty tyrant.

    • That’s a scary thought. Don’t just vote for your favourite politician, why not just head down town, drive around the block a bit and roll down the window, and know exactly what you are getting for your money?[ the more you pay the better the class of pol and the longer the thrill]

    • You think Harper wants Duffy suspended because he has some unknown grudge against him, and it has nothing to do with the nearly $100,000 of taxpayer money he wrongly claimed?

      The only grudge Harper has is against those who would use public funds to enrich themselves. And frankly, that’s a grudge I’d hope any PM would carry.

      • Depend who’s telling more of the truth Duff or Harper? I wouldn’t trust Duff as far as i could throw him – Harper even less, if that’s possible.

        • Duffy has marks all over his abdomen from being touched with ten foot poles by Conservatives.

      • I guess you didn’t listen to his convention speech – he listed all those he holds a grudge against and it was extensive. And please no canned talking points inserted into your posts – they might as well be lit up in neon.

      • If it was about money stolen from taxpayers then Harper would be equally incensed at Gerstein since it was Gerstein that caused the CPC to defraud the taxpayers. Somehow, Gerstein still enjoys the dubious pleasure of Stephen Harper’s friendship.

        The only reason that Harper is angry with with Duffy & Wallin is because they got caught and that is the cardinal sin in his kleptocracy.

  2. So Conservative Senator Irving Gerstein tells the Conservative convention that he told Nigel Wright the party would not cover Mike Duffy’s disputed expenses, but, as the Star notes, that’s not the impression the RCMP attested to in June.

    Did the RCMP attest that they were under the impression that the Conservative Party of Canada DID repay Duffy’s expenses? Why would Wright have written the $90,000 check if the Conservative’s were still thinking about covering the expenses?

    It’s quite simple, because just like Gerstein said, the Party told him that they wouldn’t cover the expenses. That doesn’t contradict anything that was told to the RCMP, and it’s pretty bloody obvious.

    I guess the media have simply stopped even trying to tell the truth in this story. Just start calling things contradictions that clearly aren’t contradictions, and hope the story stays alive for another day. There’s nothing easier for lazy journalists than baselessly slagging Conservatives.

    • There’s always a basis for slagging conservatives.

      • lol…And their apologists.

      • It’s a gift that keeps on giving…

    • “Consider. What Sen. Gerstein was implying, even if he did not quite
      say it, was that when Wright told the RCMP, through his lawyers, that
      the party had in fact been quite prepared to pay Sen. Duffy’s expenses —
      until it saw the size of the bill — he was lying. While it’s possible
      to parse his words in such a way that they do not conflict with
      Wright’s, the plain import is that they do. The contradiction, what is
      more, could not be put down to a mere misunderstanding: he had made it
      “absolutely clear to” Wright…

      This rather ups the ante, not just for Wright (his lawyer acidly
      replied that Wright would not respond “at this time to this latest
      characterization of events”) but for his two ministerial defenders. Can
      they continue to stand behind a man accused by the party’s chief
      fundraiser of lying to the cops? Whose version of events do they accept:
      Wright’s or Gerstein’s?

      But Gerstein may have put himself in jeopardy at the same time. For
      even as he was contradicting Wright on one point, he was confirming him
      on another: that he was one of the those who knew of the efforts to pay
      off Duffy’s expenses. And if he knew, and did not tell the prime
      minister, how is he not part of the same circle of deception?”

      Coyne makes the case for Gerstein having a pretty good motive for lying. And if you parse the remarks of Wrights lawyer carefully it sure like there are warning bells going off there, if not now, then further down the road.
      How far off is the next election? I’d say it was touch and go as to whether the bell is going to save Harper this time.

      • It’s so entertaining watching these actors, while attempting to save themselves, or others, step on a land mine every time they venture out. I am thinking this would make a great board game.

        • But would it sell? And what would we call it?

          Snakes and leaders?

          • I can’t think of anything better – let’s go with it.

          • I was going to suggest Under The Bus, but Snakes and Leaders wins.

          • I was also thinking of Monotony.

            The bored game all the family can play…why should SH have all the fun in QP. You too can bore your family stiff by never answering a single question they put to you with a straight answer.

            But it just couldn’t compete with the real thing.

    • ‘Why would Wright have written the $90,000 check if the Conservative’s were still thinking about covering the expenses? Why would Wright have written the $90,000 check if the Conservative’s were still thinking about covering the expenses?’

      But, really, why would Wright write the cheque…ever? I know the guy has a few bucks to his name, but what was in it for him to part with $90,000 of his own money? I mean, if Duffy was a dud from the get-go, why give him a lifeline? I’d still love to have a better understanding as to why he’d ever he’d ever, ever do this, in any circumstances. It’s never made a lick of sense to me. Hopefully, someday, we’ll get a better explanation of Wright’s motivations.

      • In my opinion, Wright wrote the cheque as an investment in his future. He never intended to stay “in public service” for his whole career and he knew that helping out Harper when he was in a jam could pay off many times over in the future.

        In hockey parlance, they call it future considerations…

        • But, even if everything breaks right for Harper, he’d only going to be in a position to help Wright for the next five or six years. Is that worth a $90,000 ‘investment’? Further, Wright already has a lot of goodwill towards him (or, at least he did)… you’d think he’d do okay in the ‘future considerations’ department regardless.

          That said, your explanation is as plausible as any others I’ve heard. I hope someday Wright speaks up and lets us in on his thought process/circumstances.

          • Having given it a little more thought, and considering the high esteem he enjoys which I figure must be deserved to some degree, perhaps it was an act of personal generosity.

            According to Duffy’s documentation, Wright had given him his personal assurance that his expenses were okay. Perhaps Wright felt that, since he had given his own assurance, he would make Duffy whole out of his own pocket. In other words, perhaps it was an act of genuine personal responsibility. Something the Cons love to talk about but never actually practice.

          • Hmmm… an act of good-natured generosity? Wasn’t that the line the Conservatives were testing in the day or so after news of the cheque broke?

          • Yes, and still what they are claiming as far as I know…

            It’s all speculation on our part, of course. Perhaps Wright will explain himself one day, under oath preferably.

          • I thought they were running with ‘deception’ now… two rogue elements trying to hide senatorial wrongdoings from Harper, the CPC and the Canadian people…

          • Ahh! We are back to the difference between the active voice and the passive voice. There are certain phrases that always act as flags to me and one of them is the phrase …”I/we were assured that…” It’s a way to hide culpability. I presume that Wright was being impolitical in that he actually felt responsible to Duffy for having given his personal assurance that his expenses were okay.

            To be clear, I think Harper assured Wright in the first instance and then he reversed himself leaving Wright holding the bag for the reversal. Which is why it is an even deeper betrayal when Harper stands in the House of Commons and denounces Wright as a deceiver. It’s like shooting a man in the back and then coming to the funeral to spit on his grave.

        • “In hockey parlance, they call it future considerations…”

          …or a player to be blamed named later.

    • The contradiction is between what Wright said to the RCMP and what Gerstein said at the CPC convention. People who think for themselves are curious about contradictions, it’s something you would not understand.

    • Oh, I see, the Rob Ford defence MO.

  3. http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2013/11/03/andrew-coyne-conservatives-effort-to-hide-from-public-only-gains-them-more-enemies/#comment-1107914374

    Coyne is entertaining and incisive as ever on this new chapter of, as the senate churns. Could we call it the Gertein Wright pay off? Or maybe the boot out at the not so ok Tory corral? Something catchy anyway.
    Mr Harper wanted us to call it the Harper govt, guess we oughta start calling it the Harper senate too.

  4. Not enough pizza metaphors, despite the delicious title.

    Let me help:

    Gerstein: Who ordered the extra large with anchovies? We’re not paying for an anchovied pizza.

    Wright: I know it smells fishy. Goes with the “The Works” special. You have to take all the toppings, – no changes. Duffy’s standing order. Nevermind. I’ll pick it up.

    Gerstein: Thanks. It’s been a slice.

    Duffy: You made me [fill in blank]

    • You might just add:

      Duffy: You made me…and i want more.

  5. Did the ‘In and Out’ gang (who Gerstein was a member of, have their $52,000 fine paid by the fund? And what about their legal fees – I can only imagine what they cost? I guess if you’re running the fund you get to make the rules.

    • He wasn’t just a member, he was the chief organizer along with Doug Findley. He and Findley were charged personally for electoral fraud and – in a bizarre twist – the party was allowed to plead guilty and the principles of the fraud somehow escaped justice. And Harper named them to the Senate and Pierre Polievre called it a victory for the party.

      When Harper cries his crocodile tears about protecting the “hard-working folks who play by the rules” he is laughing inside at the rubes and the losers who keep stroking their cheques to the CPC. Of course he does want to protect the flock, he doesn’t want to just shear them once, he wants to shear them again and again and again.

      People like Rick are like those idiots who flail themselves with whips and braids in worship of their false gods. When they are quiet you just pity them, but when they start preaching you want to urge them on to put a little more effort into their flagellation.

      • And I love the old schtick that Harper offers up every once in a while – that he and Laureen are still just a simple couple from Calgary who didn’t go there to hob nob with the elites. It’s Nixon and Pat’s cloth coat redux. But it is just lapped up the the devotees.

  6. What’s the deal with the moderation on here? I just wrote a response to Jan that can’t be posted because her post is not “active”? Is this just a glitch or did someone actually “moderate” her comment?

    • When I posted the above old schtick one – it went immediately to moderation and disapeared for a few minutes. So yours should be along in a few minutes, hopefully. I thought I was being careful about what I was saying.

      • When did this board start moderating? Is it automatic or was your comment flagged somehow? Just curious how it works.

        • Take an economics class at Laval to find out.

          • I really don’t have the time, could you give me the Coles Notes?

          • Why do you think I have added two t’s to my name? And have to use Hotspot Shield at some wifi locations? Academic censorship by what Harper refers to as “ivory tower theorists”. The main online folks @ Macleans are aware.

            Don’t know about your case, tho. This too will be deleted in due course – sometimes the day after after the discussion has moved on.

          • Not really sure I follow, you were formally Dot, right? Have you been completely banned? If so, why?

            If not, what?

          • Yes, Dot. And then Just Visiting from Macleans on Worthwhile Canadian initiative. Then blocked/banned at WCI.

            When Gordon moved to Macleans I knew it was just a matter of time. Blocked as Dot and at least one location when I called him out on his Carney rants.

            When he got moderator status on EconomyLab, blocked as Dott on a Andrew Leach blog he was moderating, and at another wifi location.

            Have had MANY comments deleted, some when I also question Moffatt’s tunnel vision.

            It’s mainly ideology – economic theory vs. my less theoretical approach.

          • Well that’s pretty lame. So you’ve been banned because of a personal grudge of a moderator? Pretty short-sighted and downright shitty behaviour, really.

            Anyone who can’t handle disagreement should not bother to participate online.

          • Thin skinned tenured union job for life syndrome, I believe it’s called.

            (let’s see the shelf life on this comment) :)

          • Senate debate is being followed, you might have a few hours.

          • Well that is a bit ad-hom but certainly far from what I’d judge as worthy of being deleted. However, banning your participation entirely is something else again. Way out of bounds, IMO.

          • Well, Macleans and WCI can do as they see fit. Their sites. Just so long as it is known publicly that they do this.

            What bugs me most is the hypocrisy of the principle of “academic freedom” and promoting/defending all points of view.

            Maybe things have changed in the twitter/blog/talking head 24 hrs newscycle world we now occupy.

          • So they will block reasoned comments but allow Old Dutch Verhoeven to rant and rave (and rage) ad nauseum? I cussed (worse than usual) once and it was deleted, and the only other time was when I excitedly announced that Rahim Jaffer had been arrested on a Wells blog — and he admitted he deleted it, and said he thought it was untrue, and also not germane to the conversation when I asked why he took it down.

          • ‘Don’t contradict the professor’ -that’s basically all you need to know.

        • Definitely moderating, especially by sensitive authors. Mine didn’t have a chance to be flagged because as soon as I hit post it went to moderation. I think that was just a glitch,

  7. Harper is doing irreparable damage to the Conservative Party.
    The longer he lies and dodges questions the worse it will get for him and his party.
    Paul Calandra is such a disaster that i cherish his every performance.
    Lance Armstrong , Pinocchio and Bernie Madoff have more credibility in Canada than Harper, Gerstein and Calandra at this point.

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