The sketch: The perfect absurdity of the Duffy affair - Macleans.ca
 

The sketch: The perfect absurdity of the Duffy affair

How did we get here?


 

The Conservatives stood and cheered. The Prime Minister would stand and proclaim something resolute—and sometimes he might chop his hand or pump his fist or wag and jab his right index finger—and some number of the Conservatives around him would celebrate his remarks with a standing ovation. By my count, there were some 12 of these salutations.

On the day after Mike Duffy stood in the Senate and alleged that he had been intimidated into playing along with a “monstrous political scheme” propagated by members of Mr. Harper’s government, Mr. Harper would claim the high ground, or at least a ground slightly higher than the turf presently occupied by Mr. Duffy. And his caucus would be happy to see and hear him do it.

There would be no (or at least relatively little) attempting to turn questions around to taunt the opposition over some unrelated matter, no claiming to be focused on the “real concerns” of Canadians, no remaining in one’s seat and deferring to one’s parliamentary secretary. Mr. Harper would respond to 20 questions, taking even those that were posed by individuals who were not Thomas Mulcair nor Justin Trudeau. Mr. Duffy had his turn. And now Mr. Harper, with the crowd turning to see how he would respond, would have his. And so the Prime Minister’s latest, and perhaps greatest, test is whether or not he can best one of his own appointees in a battle over a housing allowance.

How did we get here?

Once upon a time, a Prime Minister appointed a man to the Senate. The man was a resident of Ontario, but he would represent Prince Edward Island. And if his cottage in Prince Edward Island was thus his primary residence, his home near Ottawa would be his secondary residence and he would claim the allowance that senators are due for maintaining such a residence near the capital.

In December of last year, a newspaper reporter questioned the claim of this allowance. It is the senator’s testimony that he appealed to the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, who assured the senator that his claims were in order. Still, the questions persisted and so Mr. Duffy appealed to the Prime Minister. Whatever the nuances of the two accounts of that meeting, both the senator and the Prime Minister agree that the Prime Minister told the senator on February 13 to repay whatever allowance he had received. Nine days after that conversation, the senator admitted that the might have been “mistaken” and announced that he would repay what he had claimed. But by then the senator had apparently agreed to let the Prime Minister’s chief of staff cover the cost of the repayment. It is the senator’s testimony that he agreed to do so because he had been told that, if he didn’t, the government would argue he was not qualified to sit in the Senate. And that if he did, the Prime Minister would publicly state he met the constitutional requirement of residency that is necessary to represent PEI and he would be shielded from an outside audit of his expenses.

Only then the deal between the senator and the chief of staff was revealed. And the chief of staff was compelled, after a few days and after the Prime Minister’s Office had publicly conveyed the Prime Minister’s confidence in him, to resign. And then the senator was told to leave the Conservative caucus. And now the government is moving to have him suspended without pay from the Senate. And now the senator is pleading his case. And so the Magna Carta and Winston Churchill are being cited as the Senate debates what it can and should do. And so a government noted for its hostility toward the media has been shaken by a journalist it happily invited into its midst. And so the man who travelled the country singing the party song and filling Conservative coffers has become both a pariah and an opponent. And so it is being speculated that the government is facing a dire threat and a grievous wound.

It all amounts to a perfect absurdity and a roaring spectacle. And if the Prime Minister had just appointed Mr. Duffy to represent the province of Ontario, this never would have occurred. Instead, his Throne Speech and his free trade deal (and his budget bill and his government’s agenda and whatever else might be said to matter) have been rendered secondary to the matter of the housing allowance.

And the Prime Minister’s best defence is ignorance; insisting that he was unaware of what his chief of staff did for his senator. An ignorance that persisted, in at least one respect, for a month and a half after his chief of staff resigned—when an RCMP application to the court was unsealed and it was revealed that Mr. Wright had told three other members of the Prime Minister’s Office about his decision to cut Mr. Duffy a cheque, a revelation that contradicted what the Prime Minister had said on June 5, when he told the House that Mr. Wright’s decisions “were not communicated to me or to members of my office.”

And now CTV is claiming that 13 “Conservative insiders” had knowledge of the cheque.

So what of the Prime Minister’s own actions?

Resuming his prosecution of the Prime Minister this afternoon, Thomas Mulcair first asked the Mr. Harper if he had threatened Mr. Duffy on February 13 with expulsion.

“At that particular time did I threaten him with expulsion?” Mr. Harper repeated. “No.”

Mr. Mulcair turned to Mr. Duffy’s testimony. “Mr. Speaker, on February 13, did the Prime Minister tell Mike Duffy, ‘It’s not about what you did; it’s about the perception of what you did …The rules are inexplicable to our base’? Did he say that, yes or no?”

The Prime Minister was categorical. “Mr. Speaker,” he said, “no I absolutely did not say that.”

Mr. Mulcair asked about Mr. Wright’s presence during this discussion. “Was Nigel Wright present when the Prime Minister instructed Mike Duffy to repay his expenses, end of discussion?” the NDP leader demanded.

Four times this spring was Mr. Harper asked by Mr. Mulcair about who was present for this discussion. Two of those questions were about Mr. Wright specifically. None of those questions received an answer. And even now, even after Mr. Duffy had stood in the Senate and said that it was “just the three of us,” even still Mr. Harper could apparently not bring himself to state a simple “yes” or “no.”

“Mr. Speaker, once again, I have indicated that I made these statements in a caucus room,” Mr. Harper explained. “I made them to an entire caucus and senior staff, not just to Mr. Duffy and to Mr. Wright but to many others who were present and who heard them. Those instructions were absolutely clear, that I expect Mr. Duffy to repay his expenses and not Mr. Wright to repay them for him. That was also not correct, which is why Mr. Wright is no longer working for me and why Mr. Duffy is no longer in the Senate.”

(With a slight smile crossing his face, Mr. Harper would take his next opportunity to concede that his statement about Mr. Duffy’s official whereabouts was incorrect.)

So what of Mr. Duffy’s Senate seat?

“Mr. Speaker, in exchange for Mike Duffy going along with the PMO clan, did the Prime Minister ever undertake to ‘publicly confirm you are entitled to sit as a Senator from PEI’ ?” the NDP’s Megan Leslie asked when she picked up the case, quoting here from Mr. Duffy’s testimony.

“Mr. Speaker, when we name senators, we ensure that they fit the eligibility criteria for the Senate,” Mr. Harper responded. “Those criteria are laid out in the Constitution.”

So is that a no? Was Mr. Duffy still threatened at some point with expulsion on the grounds of his eligibility? If so, was Mr. Harper aware that Mr. Duffy had been so threatened?

Mr. Harper would refer repeatedly to what “Mr. Wright” had made clear and what responsibility “Mr. Wright” had accepted. Mr. Trudeau would challenge the Prime Minister to accept his own responsibility and Mr. Harper would clarify that “the reality is we are talking about the actions of Mr. Wright and Mr. Duffy.” Mr. Trudeau boldly wondered if Mr. Harper would testify under oath about these matters and Mr. Harper casually ignored the question.

Mr. Harper would repeat that he was not aware of Mr. Wright’s cheque and that, had he been aware of Mr. Wright’s plans, he would have blocked him. Indeed, among the things Mr. Wright had made “very clear” was that Mr. Harper was not among those Mr. Wright had told. The Prime Minister would state his objections to what Mr. Duffy had done and his support for what the government leader in the Senate was now trying to do with Mr. Duffy.

Ms. Leslie would chide Mr. Harper for taking a seat yesterday and Mr. Harper would now make his most quotable pronouncement, turning suddenly folksy as he punctuated himself.

“Mr. Speaker,” Mr. Harper began, “my answers on this matter from day one have been exactly the same as they are today.”

So does the Prime Minister still believe Mr. Wright acted with the “right motive” of reimbursing taxpayers?

“The facts are clear,” Mr. Harper continued. “Mr. Duffy was told. Mr. Duffy now says he is a victim because I told him he should repay his expenses. Darn right I told him.”

Darn tootin’.

If there is anything here to be linked to the greater narrative of Mr. Harper’s time in office, it might be his government’s general unwillingness or inability to explain itself. It might be something to do with the government’s need for control. It might be about transparency and accountability and all that. Or this might simply be a remarkable confluence of events and forces: power, ambition and expediency. It is the stuff of some cable TV show about a government trying to balance the demands on its attention and welfare and how badly and gloriously it can all go wrong and ridiculous. It is proof that reality is almost always more entertaining than fiction. So long as you can get past the fact that it’s really happening.

Awhile after the Prime Minister had finished with his 20 questions, Paul Calandra was sent up to recap what we had just heard.

“I think the Prime Minister has been very clear today,” the Prime Minister’s parliamentary secretary offered by way of response to a question from the Liberal corner, Mr. Calandra now apparently auditioning for a future career in deferential media. “He has answered all of the questions put forward to him. What was very clear is this, when Senator Duffy approached the Prime Minister about his inappropriate expenses, the Prime Minister told him to repay those expenses.”

So that much is clear. Indeed, not even Mr. Duffy quibbles with this. And that leaves only whatever else occurred to be clarified and whatever else remains to unfold.


 

The sketch: The perfect absurdity of the Duffy affair

  1. Wonder who came up with the hokey “darn right” line. It’s so middle-class-ordinary-folk-around-the-kitchen-table-pandery. The base will lap it up like cream, and the team had its talking points out very early today, even here on the MacLean’s boards.

    • And according to you, did Mike Duffy falsely claim housing allowances or not?

      Back then perhaps he did, but now not any longer? Is that how the story line unfolds in your neck of the woods?

      You lapping up your own double standards. How does that taste? Bitter? Too much like eating crow?

      • Even if he did, blackmailing a Parliamentarian is a criminal offence.

        • blackmail?
          Have you read the Judges reasons for throwing out Helena Gurgeus case against PMSH, the ‘conspiracy and abuse of process’ case.
          Parliamentary privilege. Party leader can hire fire and toss out of caucus who ever he decides to for what ever reasons.
          Duffy is under not one but 2 RCMP investigations, second one for doling out cash to a buddy for no work done.

          • If he was threatened with being purged from the Senate, which is what’s happening now, it’s not covered by privilege. It’s conspiracy to silence a member of our parliament.

          • A leader can refuse to sign nomination papers or just boot them out. Senate caucus is no different.
            Duffy was ‘threatened’ the boot if he didn’t pay up.
            Parliamentary privilege.

          • Have you read the news? He is currently being suspended without pay by the CPC in the Senate. According to Duffy, this is exactly what he was threatened with if he didn’t resign his seat. That’s quite different from choosing who will be in caucus and who won’t be.

          • News flash Frank. The CPC doesn’t pay Duffy, YOU and I do.
            And it is the Cons Senate Caucus booting the 3 Senators out,
            not the CPC in the House of Commons.
            The Senate stands alone and can do this.
            Fire them all!

          • Duffy alleged in his speech yesterday that Marjorie LeBreton and PMO threatened to arrange to have him **kicked out of the Senate** if he didn’t do what they said. They have already been booted from the caucus, this is about suspending them from the Senate proper. I know, incredible!

            CPC stands for “Conservative Party of Canada” and includes — news flash — the Conservative Senate Caucus.

          • The ‘threat’ was that he had to pay back the ineligible expenses.
            Duffy said he originally refused to.
            Sen LeBreton thought Duffy paid with a Royal Bank loan.
            That’s what Duffy told everyone, until weeks later the Wright cheque thing surfaced.
            The Senate stands alone when it comes to this motion.
            They make their own rules.

          • “Wright cheque thing…”

            You don’t take issue with a member of the PMO cutting a $90k personal cheque to buy a senator’s silence?

            What has this world come to?

          • I absolutely do take issue with Wright cutting Duffy a cheque.
            It was a huge mistake, and Nigel’s gone.
            Imo, Duffy should have paid up himself or got the boot publicly and immediately.
            I also think my party worries way too much about the media.
            As Deb Gray said, do the right thing and let them howl.

          • Sorry Sharon, but “your” party has to wear this. Duffy was Harper’s choice, Duffy’s expenses were vetted by the PMO, Nigel Wright was chosen by Harper, and whether Wright operated on his own or under the guise of Harper remains to be seen.

            Basically, Harper is incompetent due to being completely ignorant of what is going on in his own office OR he orchestrated and perpetrated the whole affair.

            You choose. Either way Harper and the Conservatives are rightly taking a hit.

          • You bet we are mad at this mess, and my party is wearing it.
            Harper didn’t appoint Sen Harb or Sen Kenney.
            Who’s fault is it they abused taxpayers funds? George Bush?
            Harper is taking responsibility, trying to get them off the public payroll.
            When a boss hires someone usually they can fire them.

          • Ummmmm NO he is most definitely NOT taking responsibility. Far from it, at best he is deflecting and obfuscating.

            I have yet to see Harper take responsibility for anything.

          • You are entitled to your opinion, I just don’t agree.

          • A few posts up you were touting Senate independence; now you are saying Harper pulls the strings. Make up your mind.

          • I know what you mean KeithBram she is kind of unreal in her assumptions.

          • Just a little mistake, a teeny error in judgement. Sheesh.

          • You ascribe a motive “a Senator’s silence” — which is not alleged. Duffy said he lacked the funds. Wright — a multi-millionaire who knew how Duffy had been a hard worker for the party — personally addressed the problem by giving Duffy $90,000. There’s no silence being bought. The public is being re-paid funds that were not properly received. Duffy told people he had a bank loan. How do Senators spend so much when they make so much?

          • Do you get to choose the flavour of Kool-Aid at least?

            There was most definitely an attempt to buy silence. Why else is Duffy singing and his lawyer brandishing veiled threats directed at Harper?

          • How can you point to Duffy’s testimony as proof that his silence was being bought? If Wright had bought his silence for $90k, Duffy now owes Nigel $90k. Were Duffy remaining silent, it would be completely different. But it’s clear as day that his silence wasn’t bought.

          • Yes, his silence was not being bought and the report on him wasn’t whitewashed.

            Nudge nudge wink wink.

          • Maybe Duffy feels someone reneged on the deal…

          • I don’t think anything is clear it is your opinion.

          • So you are saying that Nigel gave Duffy $90k to buy his silence about getting a $90k gift?

          • No. Why are you obfuscating?

            Nigel Wright cut Duffy a cheque to the tune of $90k in order to pay off Duffy’s illegitimate housing expenses. In exchange, Duffy would bite his tongue or risk losing his senate position.

          • You are several weeks behind on this, so I will cut you some slack.

            From Duffy’s speech yesterday (http://www2.macleans.ca/2013/10/22/mike-duffys-remarks-to-the-senate/ ):

            “Then, in May, after someone leaked selected excerpts of a confidential email I had sent to my lawyer in February, in which I voiced my opposition and concern about the deal, the PMO was back with a vengeance. I was called at home in Cavendish by Ray Novak, senior assistant to the prime minister. He had with him Sen. LeBreton, leader of the government in the Senate. Sen. LeBreton was emphatic: The deal was off. If I didn’t resign from the Conservative caucus within 90 minutes, I’d be thrown out of the caucus immediately, without a meeting, without a vote. In addition, she said, if I didn’t quit the caucus immediately, I’d be sent to the Senate ethics committee, with orders from the leadership to throw me out of the Senate.”

            So you see, it’s not the Senate acting on its own, it’s the Senate taking its orders from PMO. And it’s not about people exercising parliamentary privilege, it’s about blackmailing a Parliamentarian.

            Of course, Duffy may be making it all up. But those are the stakes.

          • Sen LeBreton calls that story fantasy.
            I don’t doubt he was given the opportunity to resign before he was booted.
            I will take her word over Duffy’s any day of the week.

          • you did it again you contradicted your contradiction with a contradiction.

          • you just contradicted your early comment, which was also wrong.

          • wrong.

          • Not the senate, cupcake.

          • Some members of the PMO are also involved in those RCMP investigations.

          • Duffy is being investigated, no one else.
            So far not even Nigel Wright is being investigated, and yes many, including CTV Bob Fife (who is refusing to answer) are being ‘questioned’.

          • She’s not misinformed; she’s misinforming

          • Only as witnesses from what I’ve read. i hope the RCMP is interviewing EVERYBODY. They should. Including the media involved, who will likely claim immunity. But get them on the record.

          • Caucus is one thing. Kicking out of office is another entirely.

        • The PM can’t fire a Senator. He can kick him out of caucus. It hardly amounts to “blackmail”.

          • He and his Senate puppets sure seem to be giving it a good try with their little kangaroo court,,,

          • Yes, he has instructed his minions, led by Minion LeBreton, to fire him. You can say “axe him” or “off him” if you prefer.

          • Lebreton can’t fire a Senator either. The only people can “axe” a Senator is the Senate as a whole. Are you suggesting that all of the Liberals in the Senate are also Harper’s minions?

          • The CPC has a majority in the Senate, even with Segal’s principled stance.

      • You see the problem you have is that you believe that there is a bad guy, and therefore there must be a good guy. I know I know…it makes you feel warm and fuzzy to believe in this political dichotomy…

        But you see, the way I see it is there are two very very bad men…

        And as bad as Duffy is at stuffing his face in the public trough, it pales in comparison to blackmail and extortion and manipulation of due process sanctioned by the office of the Prime Minister of Canada.

      • Got anything else to say today? Or is this constant repetition some form of Tourettes?

    • “It’s so middle-class-ordinary-folk-around-the-kitchen-table-pandery”… jeez, almost sounds like almost anything that used to come out of Jack Layton’s mouth, doesn’t it? And his base (and the media) lapped it up like creeam.

      • That’s why I wrote it that way, Guffman.

        • Then, well done!

    • His base-whispering has always been one of his strong points. I’m surprised he hasn’t had a minister somewhere intimate something about immigrants as a distraction to all this. The old “strong economy” canard apparently didn’t quell the murmuring from his base.

    • There is no doubt in my my mind that these three Senators claimed inappropriate expenses. But it gets worse. It is very clear that their more serious crime was accepting Senate appointments from Stephen Harper, with conditions. The conditions were that they agreed in advance to vote in certain ways on Senate reform and he made it very clear that he EXPECTED them to fund raise and campaign on the taxpayer dime in a way no other Senator has done in Canadian history.

      The only way Canadians will be satisfied that this Senate scandal has been properly examined is if all those involved are called to testify under oath. That applies especially to Stephen Harper and Nigel Wright. Harper should no longer be allowed to get away with sending out his inept Parliamentary Secretary to speak for him; by his own admission none of his staffers or officials around him have any idea what he knows and he of them.

      • I completely agree with your comment. Harper under oath — and the others too — is the only way for him to rebuilt whatever credibility he had. And for all of us poor Canucks to find out what really happened. I support Trudeau’s call for the sworn testimony — and also Segal and Cowan who say they are not receiving due process. It’s the pm’s refusal to give them due process that makes me wonder what else he’s trying to hide!

        • And the other thing I wonder about is that report on Wallin’s expenses that died on the prorogation table — so it just doesn’t exist. Yet there is a report — how can that get tabled and also be made public?

    • Harper has, no doubt, been talking to Sarah Palin. You’re darn right he has!

  2. Save some popcorn for when Nigel Wright sings like a canary.

    • I hope he does — and Michael Sona too. But I can’t believe that Nigel paid his own money — I mean, lose his own job and ruin his own reputation; so where could he be paid back from that could not be traced?

      • Malroney?

      • One thing I can tell you for sure, these guys are not smart enough to make it untraceable.

    • Nigel Wright is a very respected straight shooting religious man. He would NEVER lie about his involvement nor take the fall for anyone.
      He is wealthy, not corrupted by the dangle of dollars.
      After PMSH demanded Duffy pay up, news reports said Duffy cried to Nigel about being sick and poor, banks don’t give sick people loans.
      Mr Nice gifted Duffy the money to get the job done.
      Shame on Duffy that he didn’t use his own assets.
      He didn’t sound very sick yesterday during his performance.

      • Am I missing the irony here? I can’t believe you seriously think that the PM’s chief of staff would give somebody $90 000 out of the goodness of his heart.

        • What was in it for Nigel?
          I do think he was bailing Duffy out to get the matter settled quickly.
          And yes, he is a very nice guy.

          • Well, he HAS finished last.

          • Hogwash!

            Your moral compass is way off if you think a “nice guy” would cut a cheque to cover up someone’s fraudulent activity.

            You really should quit while you are ahead (or certainly avoid getting deeper in this quagmire).

          • poutine,
            if I remember correctly, when Wright cut the cheque it was to cover off ineligible housing expenses. The audit found he had just over $1000 of ineligible expense ‘mistakes’ and that the housing allowance rules were not clear.
            It wasn’t until much later Duffy was exposed as having a ‘pattern’ of making charges for expenses he had not incurred, at which time the RCMP started a probe, then an investigation.

          • “the housing allowance rules were not clear…”

            Oh please that is such a worn out talking point.

            Funny how the other 100 senators (not to mention all the senators over the last 100 years) have never had an issue. But yes it must be difficult to know where you reside.

          • It was in the audit report,
            not me trying to cover for anyone of the Senators at the trough.

          • Of course you are referring to the whitewashed audit report…

        • and the Harper Government rode in on the white horse of accountability and transparency…fairy tales still entertain us all, and eventually present a moral to the story.

          • So you agree with Harper, these Senators should be suspended without pay for abuse of taxpayers funds…?
            That IS accountability.

          • They haven’t been convicted of anything. If they are convicted, they should be expelled from the Senate.

          • The Senate does not have to follow due process nor the Charter.
            Common law does not apply to the Senate, they stand alone.

          • Uh, according to whom?
            Anyway, you are cool with our Parliamentary chambers being able to turf their own members by majority vote? You realise that would allow a majority to start targeting the opposition, right?

          • Mr Walsh, I’ll try to find the article and post it.
            What have I got to say about how Senators treat each other?
            They are unelected and make their own rules.

          • Absolutely. And in the next election if they were seen as being wrong — which would be a by-election — they would receive a message.

          • So let’s say Tony Clement builds a series of gazebos in his riding, raising serious ethical questions, during a minority parliament. You would be cool with the House of Commons voting to expel Tony Clement?!

          • ”…However, Rob Walsh, the former top legal adviser to the House of Commons, said in an interview that the Senate is not bound by considerations such as due process. “Due process, the right to hear the other side, the charter — none of that applies to parliamentary proceedings. But lawyers’ first instincts are to invoke these principles they’re accustomed to in legal proceedings.”

          • Actually, the Senate has rules on expulsion. It’s in Chapter 15 of the Rules of the Senate. Interesting bits include:

            15-2. (1) The Senate may order a leave of absence for or the suspension of a Senator where, in its judgment, there is sufficient cause.

            15-3. (1) While a Senator is under suspension:

            (a) the sessional allowance otherwise payable to the Senator shall be reduced by the amount remaining after any deductions required by any Act of Parliament; and
            (b) the Senator shall not be entitled, except as provided in subsection (2), to the use of any Senate resources allocated for the purpose of carrying out the Senator’s parliamentary functions, including funds, goods, services and premises as well as any entitlements for moving, transportation, travel and telecommunications.

            15-5. (2) The suspension continues in force until the earlier of the following:

            (a) the finding of guilt is overturned on appeal;
            (b) the sentence is replaced by a discharge on appeal; or
            (c) the Senate determines whether or not the place of the Senator shall become vacant by reason of that conviction.

            So, yes, the Senate does operate under the rule of law. It recognizes due process, and by inference, the Charter that defines due process. And, as the Senate rules state, Common law has the final say, in that a Senator can return to full duties, *with back pay* (15.3(3)).
            Other than that, I agree with you 100%.

          • Thank you Neil.. I would say that being under 2 separate RCMP investigations should be sufficient to apply 15-2 (1)

          • So…you are aware of the RCMP findings…?

            “Due process” does not equate to “political expediency”.

          • Yes; but as far as I can tell, they are only allowed to deduct $250 per day that the Senate is sitting which is, approximately, 65 +/-, per year since 2006. They are threatening to take all the $$ without, so far as I can tell, Parliamentary authrization to do so. If you can find a bill that allows complete suspension of pay, please let me know. Thanks!

          • Er, could you explain why. all 3 senators are actually appealing for due process and their charter right? I suggest you get your legal opinions from somewhere other then Ezra’s blog.

          • They have been found guilty by the Senate Committee and have refused to re-pay the money illegally claimed. Hence, cutting off their salaries.

          • but they did repay the money

          • Except for Duffy, Nigel repaid it for him.

          • No, Duffy repaid $90,000 for housing allowance but none of the allegedly illicitly claimed per diems and other expenses claimed because Ottawa wasn’t his primary residence, which it clearly was. If you listened today, you’ll know Duffy claimed Ottawa perdiems when he was in Florida. he blamed it on a ‘new staffer’ who was a Hill veteran with Liberal and other Senators, so wasn’t a rookie. But same pattern happened with his normal suport staff. And he signed every one of the expense reports found wanting. The media has reported on this for six months. Wallin and Brazeau have also stonewalled on repayment of expense claims. I believe Liberal Harb paid back all he was told to, and resigned.

          • and some get lost in the tale being spun.

        • You obviously don’t know much about Nigel Wright.

          • I only know he runs a marathon every morning like a psychopath, is rich, and randomly gives people like Mike Duffy $90 000 simply out of the generosity of his good Christian heart.

            Oh, and I know that he’s a national byword for corruption and abuse of power.

      • God save me from the religious people!

        I had a boss once who told me she couldn’t trust people who had to tell you all the time how good they were and how often they went to church. Something to that, no? Someone truly good has no reason to tout that, do they?

        • I feel the same way, but I don’t recall Wright saying it about himself, so I’m not sure if that applies here… I’m not sure where Sharon heard that about Wright, but it doesn’t seem to me like Wright is going around telling everyone “all the time how good they were and how often they went to church.”
          In fact, the only thing I heard Wright mention about this whole affair (because let’s face it, it’s not like he’s giving dozens of interviews about this topic) is that he made a mistake and resigned. He never really tried to defend it in any way, at least that I can recall, and certainly not with “I’m a good person, blah blah blah…”

          • I think the only time we have heard from Nigel is when the intrepid CTV reporter ran him down! Your comment to me is fair and I agree — I was addressing sharon, who insists everything in this sordid mess is just fine, and saying that a religious person could not do anything wrong.

  3. This fake scandal is almost coming to an end. The beginning of the end of the fake scandal started today when PM Harper made it very clear that nobody had anything on him. It is more than clear now that Harper has acted ethically and has done the right thing.

    But for people who have no moral compass, it is difficult to understand that.

    Back then Duffy (and other senators) were accused very publicly of having claimed false expenses. Today we find out that at least one of them is now alleged to have committed fraud. The police today announced that they allege that Mac Harb committed fraud. Who, exactly, within the Liberal party had advised Mac Harb as to his expense account? Does Wherry want to know? Perhaps no one will be interested any longer now that the fake scandal is coming to an end and now that the Liberals will come under fire. Actually, the Liberals will not come under fire by the media and that’s the other reason why this fake scandal will come to a quick end soon enough.

    Oh, what will the members of the media dream up in fake scandals next!

    • long time lurker first time commentator…Francien you’re either (IMHO) the most useful idiot or paid by the comment.

      • If Emily were paid by the comment, that might explain some things.

        • if I applied my criteria equally…then based on the frequency variable exclusively I would agree…maybe even the partisanship…but if so, Emily is infinitely more subdued in her presentation. I suppose that rubs both ways…however, I have spent enough time thinking about this.

      • Hi Justin, great nom de misrepresentation…

        • man…you missed the obvious one.

          Reply: more like “long time loafer first time leader”…followed up by a punchy “right Justin, hmmmmm?’ as the finisher.

          • CPC if you steal that “long time loafer first time leader” line….well, it would be amusing.

    • You’ve got to be on the PMO staff. No one can spending that much time conjuring and writing down spin and still hold down a day job unless that IS their job.

      • She’s retired.

        • Yes, some of us have both the time and experience to follow these complex issues.

          • Have you tried golf?

          • If only having it equated to using it.

    • “The beginning of the end of the fake scandal started today when PM Harper made it very clear that nobody had anything on him. It is more than clear now that Harper has acted ethically and has done the right thing.

      But for people who have no moral compass, it is difficult to understand that.”

      Perhaps I have no moral compass, but I understand ‘nobody had anything on him’ is not an equivalent statement of ‘Harper has acted ethically and has done the right thing’. One means he is innocent; the other means that no one can prove that he is guilty. These are not the same thing.
      Duffy said two things that the PM is fighting: the Feb 13 talk happened outside Caucus–meaning that it is not priveleged and any evidence can be subpoenaed–and that the reason that the PM is interested in spin is because he thinks his constituacy, his voting base, is incapable of understanding the rules. The PM’s stance is that the conversation was in caucus and is therefore immune from criminal investigation.
      Stating loudly & repeatedly that “you can’t try me for that, nyah nyahnyah” does not inspire me with confidence in his own confidence of innocence.

    • “This fake scandal is almost coming to an end.”

      Hahahahahahaha!
      Do you close your eyes and tap your heals together when you write that?

    • 6 months and getting stronger.

  4. “And if the Prime Minister had just appointed Mr. Duffy to represent the province of Ontario, this never would have occurred.”

    That thought must have Harper reaching for the Pepto Bismol every time it crosses his mind. It must.

    • Senate appointees commit to abide by the rules. To a Prime Minister and then when they are sworn in, to the country. These three committed to it but apparently didn’t do so.

      • Fair enough, but if Duffy was an Ontario senator and not a PEI senator, he wouldn’t be breaking that residency rule that put him on the radar screen. Simple observation is all, not really a criticism.

  5. Another excellent piece which brings everything together!

  6. The fact that Harper doesn’t give simple yes or no answers is very telling and a classic way to dance around the facts in order to deceive and manipulate.

    • He gave yes no and here is why answers today in QP

    • In that respect, Harper has some distinguished company on these comment boards.

      • Sure. The onus on Internet commenters to be as forthcoming as the PM is self evident.

  7. Yet again Mulcair is making Trudeau look like a rank amateur. If Trudeau Jr. can’t be even remotely effective in opposition, there’s no way his party will retain their (recently) coveted second place spot in the HoC.

    • Mulcair is better at being angry. But Justin is dreamy.

      • I can’t believe you are responding to your own post. That’s classic. Or are you OrsenBean, not notRick?

        • If you think I’m the same beast as Rick, then you really have your head jammed so far up your colon that you can’t see.

          • Sockpuppetry is so advanced these days, who’s to know?

          • In any event, I find it rather surprising that you would take issue with Justin’s dreaminess.

          • Meh. He’s got one good policy, and one nice head of hair.

  8. The truth will only come out when these cases are heard in the court !!! Then all of this will go down in history as the scandal that costed the PC their election !! They digged a hall for the other but they fell in it themselves !!!!

  9. Harper actually coerced Duffy into falsely thinking he could represent PEI. He did that and he must take responsibility for that. That much is clear. And the Cons have effectively handed the brunette Ashley Wilkes the job of next PM.

  10. Didn’t Duffy darkly mutter “just us three’ (referring to himself, Wright and Harper) not once but twice yesterday? Seemed deliberate, like an incantation. Like he was reminding someone of something? Is that a referral to ex-caucus, therefore non-immune, on-the record convo?

    Anyway, they’re both dankly motivated crepuscular entities whose operational metastasis should be excised from the body politic forthwith.

  11. Don’t kid yourselves the destruction of Canada con-tinues if anything Conservative Slime Dwellers will put even more into the budget bill and ram it through the house. This is the most dangerous time for Canada it’s our job to protect her from the slimy alternate lifeforms currently infecting Ottawa.

  12. Maybe I am missing something here, but if Mr Duffy has to pay back what he claimed for his Ottawa residence, then surely the PM is admitting that Mr Duffy is from Ottawa, not from PEI. In which case he could not have been the member from PEI

  13. This is the house that Harper built and it will be on he and only he when that house finally blows down…and it will.

  14. I wonder how many times the CONServatives will say “very clear” this week.

  15. How we got there? Lack of judgment on the part of the prime minister in his choices for nominations to the Senate.
    In light of the comedy of errors around the nomination of Nadon, I expect we will soon ask the same question of the Supreme Court.
    Maybe that’s the price Canadians have to pay for having a prime minister whose entire career was built up on casting aspersions on the Senate and the Supreme Court.

  16. The Quebec Court of appeal has unanimously ruled that Ottawa cannot proceed with its proposed reform of the Senate without the approval of 7/10-50% support.

  17. Boy, does question period ever reveal what a moron Justin is. “Under oath”? Dude, you’re in parliament!

    • I’m not sure that I understand the criticism here. If people believe that the PM is lying to Parliament, wouldn’t getting him to testify to these facts under oath be a logical step for them to demand?

      • My assumption is that promich is suggesting that whether Mr. Harper is under oath or not is irrelevant to whether he’s telling the truth or not, and that Mr Trudeau should realize this by now after witnessing Mr. Harper’s actions in parliament up to this point.

        • Ahhhh. I hadn’t thought of that.

    • Moron , In parliament the truth can be set aside . Harper practices that every time he slithers into Parliament . Under oath and it’s a crime to lie

      • Exactly my point, numbnuts. All parliamentarians have already sworn an oath, and what they say in the chamber can used in any committee. Which precisely why Mulcair has been so precise with his questions, and Harper has been so evasive with his answers. Meanwhile, Justin has been eating glue in the corner. Clearly not ready for the big time.

    • Trudeau stated “under oath” in a public inquiry, and not during Question Period. Nice try at spin though!

    • MP’s cannot use the word “Liar” directly as an accusation toward another MP. They must couch the word in more gentlemanly terms, else be expelled.