The sketch: Stephen Harper, circa the fourth week of November 2013 - Macleans.ca
 

The sketch: Stephen Harper, circa the fourth week of November 2013

Look what Nigel Wright, Mike Duffy and a $90,000 cheque hath wrought


 

The Prime Minister might’ve just said, “no.”

“Did the Prime Minister know about the original plan from the PMO to repay Mike Duffy’s illegal expenses using money from the Conservative Party?” the NDP leader asked yesterday. “Did he know about that plan, yes or no?”

Just last week, after the Prime Minister’s own answers had proved to be insufficiently clear, Mr. Harper’s office had clarified for reporters that Mr. Harper had not, in fact, been aware of any such plan to have the Conservative party cover Mr. Duffy’s expenses.

“The answer is no,” the Prime Minister’s director of communications, Jason MacDonald, told the CBC.

“He didn’t know,” Mr. Harper’s spokesman told Postmedia. “Period.”

On Saturday, in an interview with the CBC, Mr. MacDonald said of Mr. Harper that, “he had no knowledge of discussions that would see the fund repay.”

On Sunday, asked by CTV’s Robert Fife whether Mr. Harper knew that his staff had asked the Conservative to cover Mr. Duffy’s expenses, Mr. MacDonald said “absolutely not.”

So Mr. Harper might’ve stood here in the House of Commons and said exactly and only those words—”The answer is no. I didn’t know. I had no knowledge of discussions that would see the fund repay. Absolutely not. Period.” Instead, he stood and said all of the following.

“Again, Mr. Speaker, I have been very clear on that. It was my view from the beginning, as I told Mr. Duffy, that he should repay his own expenses. I did not suggest the party should repay them or Mr. Wright should repay them or anybody else. Once again, Mr. Speaker, I was told that Mr. Duffy would repay them. I was told he had repaid them, not anybody else, Mr. Speaker. I couldn’t be clearer on that fact. And those are the facts. And, of course, as we know, that wasn’t true, and that’s why two individuals are under investigation.”

Mr. Mulcair was unimpressed. “Still afraid to give a straight answer,” the NDP leader sighed.

Possibly, rather, our politicians are slowly losing the ability to communicate according to traditional standards of human dialogue. Probably Twitter is to blame for this.

A month ago, and a day after Mr. Duffy stood in the Senate and told his story and explained how he and Mr. Wright and Mr. Harper—”just the three of us”—had had a chat, the Prime Minister was asked whether Mr. Wright had been present when Mr. Harper told Mr. Duffy to repay his expenses. For whatever reason—and he has shown himself, at times during this affair, to be capable of simple, declarative answers—Mr. Harper did not then say, “yes.”

And on Tuesday he would not just say, “no” and now matters in the House would get well and truly confused.

Mr. Mulcair asked if Mr. Harper had been aware of a promise to cover Mr. Duffy’s legal fees. Mr. Harper seemed to misunderstand the question. “Mr. Speaker,” he responded, “as I have said repeatedly, no, on that, a fact that is well known. No such payment took place.”

Except that there would otherwise seem to be no dispute that such a payment did in fact take place.

Mr. Mulcair reminded the Prime Minister that the question was about the legal fees and then wondered if Mr. Harper had been aware of a plan to have Mr. Duffy withdrawn from Deloitte’s audit. In response, Mr. Harper stood and sought to clarify the matter of the legal expenses, saying that he became aware of that payment on May 15, but that it was not a surprise to him. Mr. Mulcair then stood and tried to return to his question about the Deloitte audit. “How about Deloitte?” Mr. Mulcair asked. Mr. Harper then stood and said he was not sure what the question was. “As we know, Deloitte was retained by the Senate of Canada to do an audit, and Deloitte stands by the findings of its audit,” Mr. Harper offered anyway.

At least most often these six months have been slightly less confusing than Tuesday afternoon. But it is has perhaps not generally been much more straightforward.

It is has been six long months now of parsing and fussing and guessing and theorizing. Since May 15, Mr. Mulcair has asked something like 250 questions on this matter—and keep in mind that the House did not sit for a third of June, all of July, August and September, and half of October. Maybe some of those questions haven’t been perfectly precise or charitable or necessary—surely Mr. Mulcair is drawing this out for his own purposes—but maybe only a fraction of them would’ve been asked if Mr. Harper had more proactively explained himself. Or if his office hadn’t chosen earlier this year to take ownership of Mr. Duffy’s problem. Or if the Prime Minister had just nominated Mr. Duffy to represent Ontario instead of PEI.

And now the questions seems endless. And Question Period is suddenly regarded anew as a relevant test (or at least compelling theatre). And Parliament seems to matter, at least on this count, even as the details of this matter reinforce the most serious concerns about this grand showcase of our democracy.

You’ll understand the Prime Minister isn’t much for explaining and that, up until six months ago, that wasn’t much of a problem. But Mr. Mulcair insists on persisting—at some point, it was decided that a prosecutorial manner might be a good approach for him here and now it has become something like a trademark—and where Mr. Harper has mostly declined to explain matters, Mike Duffy and the RCMP have been expansive (and, in the case of the latter, operating with investigative powers).

And so while Mr. Mulcair might’ve otherwise run out of questions to ask weeks ago, he has been regularly supplied with new material. And a Prime Minister who has so succeeded in controlling matters (the narrative, the discourse, the flow of information) these last seven years has suddenly found something that so far exceeds his grasp. And a government that thrives on simple clarity (taxes are bad, criminals are bad, etc) is struggling to keep things simple and clear, no matter how many times the Prime Minister uses the word. What seems to have started as some attempt to control a relatively small matter—a Conservative senator’s questionable claim of a housing allowance—has become an uncontrollable spill that threatens to mark the undoing of a Prime Minister.

That Mr. Harper didn’t know about the $90,000 cheque might be his saving grace—to have known might’ve compelled his resignation.

But that leaves everything else we now know to be either known, said or alleged.

We know that as of June 5, the Prime Minister was not aware that three members of his staff knew of Nigel Wright’s decision to cover Mr. Duffy’s expenses. That it is alleged that some thought was given to having the Conservative party cover Mr. Duffy’s expenses. That it is alleged that Senator Irving Gerstein made some effort to contact Deloitte while the agency was auditing Mr. Duffy. That Mr. Duffy did not cooperate with that audit. That it is alleged that the Senate committee’s report on Mr. Duffy was edited at the behest of the Prime Minister’s Office. That, according to the Prime Minister’s director of communications, Mr. Harper was aware of some plan to “compel” Mr. Duffy to repay his expense claims. That, according to an email sent by Mr. Wright, Mr. Harper knew “only in broad terms” that Mr. Wright had “personally assisted” Mr. Duffy.

We are told that Mr. Harper was not aware of any plan to have the Conservative party cover Mr. Duffy’s expenses. That he was not aware of any attempt to influence the Deloitte audit and that he would have put a stop to any such effort had he known beforehand. And that he did not know of any intervention by member’s of his office to edit the Senate committee’s report on Mr. Duffy.

But that there has been no condemnation of that particular allegation.

We know that Senator Irving Gerstein and Senator Carolyn Stewart Olsen are both still members of the Conservative caucus and two of the individuals alleged to have been involved in the machinations around Mr. Duffy are still employed within Mr. Harper’s government.

We know that last week’s filing by the RCMP revealed all sorts of correspondence detailing all sorts of things we were never supposed to know about.

In fairness to the Prime Minister, likely none of his predecessors would have much wanted to explain all that. Unluckily for the Prime Minister, the notion of responsible government and the nature of a Westminster parliament make it difficult for him to completely avoid demands that he tender an explanation.

It’s easy to see how on May 16, when the basic exchange of a $90,000 cheque was public knowledge, but Nigel Wright was still the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, this might’ve seemed just another controversy that the government would endure. It’s easy to see now that that was naive. And now so much has been exposed. And now we wait to see whether the Prime Minister’s former chief of staff will be charged with a crime.

And this is altogether no way to run a pizza parlour.

Mr. Mulcair just keeps standing up—14 times per afternoon when the Prime Minister is in attendance. And when Justin Trudeau is present, the Prime Minister gets at least three more questions. On Wednesday, Mr. Trudeau stood six times, meaning the Prime Minister was compelled to acknowledge a total of 20 questions, even if he was not required to acknowledge the content of said queries.

On Tuesday, Mr. Mulcair wondered whether Mr. Harper agreed with Mr. MacDonald that a “cover-up” had taken place and why no one else had been dismissed as a result of the affair. Mr. Harper was once more besmirched.

“When the leader of the opposition starts tarnishing the names of people who face no allegations whatsoever,” the Prime Minister lamented, “I am reminded once again of the old saying, ‘When you throw mud, you lose ground.’ ”

So at least after six months of this the Prime Minister still maintains his robust sense of humour and generous appreciation for irony.

Mr. Trudeau then wondered about the Prime Minister’s judgment of Mr. Gerstein and then Mr. Mulcair proceeded with a series of yes or no questions seemingly intended to ascertain precisely what it was the Prime Minister knew about whatever was going on within the Prime Minister’s Office.

And Tuesday was, relatively speaking, a good day. If only by a margin of 1.4 percentage points. In a riding a Conservative won two years ago by 39.4 percentage points.

It must be noted that as he sat in the House of Commons this week, Mr. Harper still led a side that still had to be considered the odds-on favourite to win the most seats in a general election in 2015. There are any number of reasons to believe he and his party will recover from this dreadful year. They are still raising the most money, still hovering within general reach of another majority government, still tested and experienced and blessed of the advantage of incumbency and still looking across the aisle at two rookie leaders. And at least until the orange team or the red team have proven capable of victory, or at least until the polls put the Conservatives under 20% or so, the blue team must be considered most likely to emerge victorious.

But an anonymous Conservative MP has suggested the Prime Minister might have to go if charges are laid. And unnamed Conservative MPs are apparently willing to agree with a suggestion that there are problems in the PMO. And the Ghost of Conservative Past is musing in the pages of the Toronto Star. And a member of the riding association in Pontiac is demanding answers.

And at some point all governments exhaust the electorate or fall apart or both. And so even if it’s still easy to see how Mr. Harper might still win (again), it’s perhaps easier than it’s ever been to see how he might not.

Yesterday, Mr. Mulcair returned to the details of the discussions within the PMO and to what precisely Mr. Harper had given Mr. Wright approval on February 22 and then Mr. Trudeau returned to this matter of Mr. Gerstein.

In response, as he had the day before, Mr. Harper noted that it was “two individuals” who were currently the subject of RCMP investigations.

Mr. Mulcair now made his move.

“Mr. Speaker, is that the Prime Minister’s code of ethics, the Criminal Code?” he wondered aloud, smiling slightly and staring directly at Mr. Harper. “In other words, if one is not under criminal investigation by the RCMP, no matter how reprehensible it is not really wrong. Is that the standard that he is holding the government to?”

The New Democrats stood and cheered their man’s bewilderment. The Conservatives yapped and heckled. Mr. Mulcair might’ve left things there, but he apparently had another question he actually intended to put to the Prime Minister.

“What is the ethical difference between a $90,000 cheque from Nigel Wright and a $32,000 cheque from the Conservative party?” he added. “Here is a hint. The answer is not $58,000.”

Once more the New Democrats stood and cheered.

Up came Mr. Harper.

“Mr. Speaker there are two individuals—”

“Ohh!” moaned the New Democrats.

“—who are responsible for the payment in question, a payment that was made without authority and that was not properly reported or disclosed,” Mr. Harper explained, as the other side yapped and heckled.

Now he began to jab the air in front of him.

“In this party, we hold those who undertake actions responsible for their own actions,” he declared. “Unlike the leader of the NDP, we don’t slander a whole bunch of other people—”

“Hahaha!” laughed the New Democrats, drowning out the Prime Minister as he then attempted to make reference to the envelope Mr. Mulcair was presented with in 1994 and compelling the Speaker to intervene.

“Mr. Speaker, as soon as I became aware of this information I revealed it publicly and gave all of the information to investigators,” Mr. Harper added when order had been restored. “We do not do what the leader of the NDP does, forget for 17 years to provide this information to the…”

The end of his sentence was overwhelmed by the cheers of his caucus.

“Good to go!” Mr. Mulcair responded with a grin.

The Conservatives yapped and the NDP leader proceeded to press the matter of Mr. Duffy’s residency and that matter’s involvement in the PMO’s machinations. Mr. Harper stood and and chopped his right hand and stressed that the RCMP had found that the Prime Minister was unaware of any payment to Mr. Duffy.

“If the leader of the NDP had any honesty, he would accept that judgment,” the Prime Minister ventured.

The Conservatives stood and cheered and then Mr. Mulcair stood and turned to what the RCMP documents said of Mr. Gerstein. The NDP leader mocked the Prime Minister’s disapproval and then jabbed his finger and wondered why the senator was still a member of the Conservative caucus.

“Mr. Speaker, once again, there are two individuals under investigation, and of course it is not that individual,” the Prime Minister explained, perhaps coming unfortunately close to confirming Mr. Mulcair’s chiding about the Criminal Code.

Mr. Harper now chided Mr. Mulcair for having had legal fees covered by his party and the Conservatives stood and cheered and Mr. Mulcair stood and waited and then shouted across the aisle.

“Mr. Speaker, the only reason there was no payment from the Conservative Party was because the price was too high,” Mr. Mulcair offered. “Are we talking principle or price?”

He held his stare on the Prime Minister as he returned to his seat. Mr. Harper stood and stressed the inappropriateness of the actions of Mr. Wright and Mr. Duffy. Mr. Mulcair stood and and chopped his hand and shouted a question about why no one else had been fired. Mr. Harper pumped his fist and chopped his hand and testified that “when presented with the facts, we have taken appropriate action.”

Now Mr. Mulcair returned to the RCMP filing and an email from Mr. Wright suggesting that Mr. Harper had been somehow aware of how Mr. Wright had “personally assisted” Mr. Duffy.

“What did the Prime Minister know about the personal assistance that Mr. Wright gave Mr. Duffy?” Mr. Mulcair wondered.

“One clear answer for once,” he begged.

Mr. Harper ventured he had “addressed that issue on many occasions” and then reminded everyone that the RCMP had been very clear about his relative ignorance.

There was a question then about Carolyn Stewart Olsen (and then two about the chair of the Mint) and then Mr. Trudeau was back on his feet, attempting to join the cross-examination of Stephen Harper.

“Mr. Speaker,” the Liberal leader suggested, “the Prime Minister continues to puzzle Canadians with his support of Irving Gerstein in the Senate.”

Mr. Harper would now attempt to clarify for Canadians precisely what matters here.

“Mr. Speaker, I simply point out what the real issue here is,” the Prime Minister explained. “The real issue is that Senator Duffy made inappropriate expense claims and claimed publicly that he had repaid them, when he knew that was not the case. It was in fact Mr. Wright who repaid them, and Mr. Wright and Mr. Duffy did not properly disclose this transaction. When we became aware of that, we made sure that it was reported publicly. We have taken the appropriate action and it is those two individuals who are under investigation for this particular affair.”

In a way, Mr. Harper is quite right about the real issue here. In various other ways, we are well past that.


 

The sketch: Stephen Harper, circa the fourth week of November 2013

  1. What is the media so afraid of? Why does the media not want to talk about page 61 of the ITO report, which states:

    e. Mr.Wright stated that Senator Duffy had a liability of
    approximately $30,000 regarding residency, and an additional $12,000 in
    legal expenses. Mr.Wright suggested that the Conservative Fund pay this
    obligation.

    f.He(Senator Gerstein) stated that it is something he
    would consider. The reason that he wanted to consider it was because
    his role as Chair of the fund is specifically to bring revenue to the
    party. Their relationship with their donors and the integrity of the
    fund is of critical importance;

    g. He did not have difficulty
    with paying the legal fees because the fund as looked after legal funds
    for other party members in the past. He did have concerns about the
    optics of paying the $30,000 relating to expense claims;

    • Hi Francien, how are you doing.
      Here’s the funny thing about Page 61: it is not the RCMP’s findings, it’s a summary of the RCMP’s interview with Senator Gerstein. So according to Sen. Gerstein, he advised he would ‘consider’ it, and later emphatically stated he would not cover the cost.
      Maybe you should go to page 12 of the ITO (item e). There, Wright’s lawyers state ‘The Conservative Party was initially going to repay the money for Senator Duffy from a Conservative Fund, when it was believed that the amount he owed was approximately $32,000. The fund is controlled by Senator Gerstein;”
      Or perhaps you should go to page 17 of the ITO, which is Nigel Wright’s interview iwth the RCMP (starting at item x)
      “x. Senator Gerstein, chair of the Conservative Fund, had previously approaced Mr. Wright and asked if he could assist in any way. The Conservative Fund is used for various things, including sometimes paying for legal fees. There was a suggestion that perhaps the fund could help by paying for Senator Duffy since the claims were in error;
      y. On Feb 22, 2013, Mr. Wright called Gerstein, updated him on the situation and asked if the fund would pay the $32,000 plus interest. Gerstein confirmed it would. Mr. Wright in turn informed some of his staff of this decision. Mr. Wright stressed, they would cover the costs of housing claim errors only, nothing else;”
      So Francien, in short, WHY ARE YOU AFRAID TO DISCUSS PAGES 12 and 17?

      • P.S. I find it interesting Francien that since I wrote my post (a mere 27 minutes ago), you’ve posted your original comment not once, twice, 3, 4, but 5 times over on the National Post. Even though I have proven your comment as hokum.
        Perhaps you should come back here and refute what I say, rather than troll on the National Post.

        • Ooh, reading your comments are fun. Francien Verhoeven, from 2 hours ago:
          “Nowhere in the ITO report is Gerstein quoted as saying that he DID agree to pay the #32,000, yet, members of the media and the opposition leaders pretend that Gerstein HAD approved the payment of $32,000 out of party funds.”
          YOU LIE. Read pages 12 and 17.

          • The not ready for prime time players have a new production of “Animal Farm ” Francien is the best “Squealer “ever !

        • Francien just likes to see her post counts going up.. 14000+ posts already and counting.

          • You are right, some posters, like her, should just be ignored.

        • I don’t know how to break this to you T_O_M, but Francien is a gutless partisan shill harpercrite, masquerading as a fair and balanced “philosopher.”
          Her “schtick” is an endless rant of half truths and deceits that have more than a ring of gish gallop to them. She fancies herself an author, but the hooey she shovels on the blogs is as tenable as doomsday end of the world pamphlets. Quite frankly, she has alI the credibility of a lesser Paul Calandra.
          I used to take the time to debate with her, but now just wipe her posts off my shoes, like I would a misstep in a cow pasture. And while I am amused watching you rub her nose in her own harpocrisy, I suggest you keep an eye on your boots lest they get weighed down with her cow flop philosophy.

          • Word.

          • Haha, yes Pickngrin, I’m fully aware of Francien’s M.O.; I’ve had run-ins with her in the past It’s usually my habit to avoid her also; in this case, though, I just couldn’t resist given how absolutely factually wrong she is.

        • That is because she shares the same ethical guidelines of the CPC. She’s not interested in the truth. Gerstein’s statements to the police are contradicted by actual documents. Rob Ford didn’t smoke crack either–until he did. The same will hold for Gertstein.

        • Mat lock, by now you must know than Fran has few thoughts of her own. She cannot defend her positions because she works off Harpers talking points.

        • “Francien Verhoeven” needs to be blocked from posting for repeating falsehoods after repeated correction. It’s obvious the purpose of these posts is distraction, not finding facts.

      • Hmmmm. It occurs to me that Gerstien is the CHAIR of the Conservative fund. That means that he alone could not approve the spending but would need approval from the rest of the fund’s board. Were they consulted? How many of them approved the spending? The circle might be wider.

    • Francien Verhoeven – Paul Calandra of the comment boards

    • Francien do you even realize your constant foolish blathering is hurting your cause, not helping it?

      • Maybe she is just following the example set by the Conservatives. They keep repeating the same lies over and over again, and it worked for them for a long time, and may work again.

        • That is exactly what

          Francien Verhoeven is doing.

          And it worked for Goebbels too, for a time.

    • Francine your blind support for the Conservatives is making you look foolish. If even once you would acknowledge the PM ans his Caucus had done some things wrong maybe people would stop laughing at you. Trained seals are entertaining, but in the end, should not be taken seriously.

  2. Harper is a liar plain and simple. And now it’s coming out that he’s helping the US with their peeping tom activities.

    • All the “eyes” countries (Canada, US, Australia, New Zealand, UK) have done this.

      All their governments collaborated with foreign powers to spy on their own citizens, and that of other countries they had treaties with. These countries have no legal legitimacy, as no governments elsewhere can deal with them and know themselves not to be misled and spied on. Germany and Brazil in particular show little sign of allowing the English speaking countries to for instance keep running the Internet.

      And there are consequences beyond that:

      The UK may well be broken up and cease to exist next year if the Scots vote to separate. Quebec will be wise to do the same and remove more power from these renegade “governments”. Australia and New Zealand could suddenly shift policies, as NZ did on nuclear power and warships. Perhaps then the US, isolated, would have to deal with its own secession movements who want no part of global empire.

  3. When the Wright-Duffy issue hit the news, MacDonald spoke for the Prime Minister and said that Nigel had Stephen Harper’s full support and there would be no resignation.
    Then when Nigel resigned, MacDonald spoke for the Prime Minister and said that the resignation was accepted with great regret, Nigel was a great Canadian etc.

    Now we know, that Stephen Harper fired the devious Wright on the spot. (Francien, please help me out if I have got this wrong.) The PM took a while to tell us, but when he did he was clear. I am not entirely clear why Jason MacDonald was not fired on the spot for lying to the public about what Stephen Harper had so clearly said and done. I do feel great empathy for Mr. Harper, suddenly surrounded by people not telling the truth, not being forthcoming. I guess it would have been Nigel’s job to fire Jason and with Nigel gone Jason’s transgression just fell between the cracks.

    Still given Harper’s travails of managing the PMO, it is worth considering the track record. Jason MacDonald has a strong history of lying, so whatever he says we should not believe. Stephen Harper always tells the truth, and would prefer to say nothing rather than lie. So we ignore Jason MacDonald and wait for Harper to tell the truth. How long could it take?

    • Then there was talk show weekend of Pierre Poilievre.

      • That period between Wright’s payment being made public until he “resigned” almost a week later and how PP was sent out everywhere to cover it lives on in my memory as one of the most bizarre spin jobs I have ever seen in over 35 years of watching politics. I found it so at the time (since it was obvious that the taxpayer was never going to be on the hook, such an idiotic notion that was) and as this scandal has unraveled only found it more and more so. Whenever poltiicos come out about how honourable everyone is being about something so obviously questionable you know there is something seriously sketchy going on indeed.

        Scotian

    • “Stephen Harper always tells the truth, and would prefer to say nothing rather than lie.”

      Except of course in court under oath, where, as in the Cadman case re the tape of himself admitting knowing of “financial considerations” to Cadman (a bribe), he lied and claimed the tape was forged. A judge found no evidence of that, and the tape is still in evidence of bribery and perjury.

      Any sane person would prefer to say nothing rather than lie, as lies are easier to detect and they nail you down to a single false story you are unlikely to maintain consistency with later. That’s not a moral but tactical legal preference, to avoid a statement under oath if you can avoid it.

      Accordingly LeBreton pulls out 1610 precedents from the House of Lords to claim the Senate itself is a court, legally, and so keep this bribery matter from the real court. It’s a transparent and obvious attempt to avoid a repeat of the Cadman fiasco.

    • Ok Ok … cue the Adolph Hitler meme Youtube Video of the last hours in the Bunker.

  4. As I understand it the issue is no longer what Harper would wish, that Duffy stretched the expenses (one commenter elsewhere speculated the reason might be Duffy was given a promise he could do this in order to make up the difference between what he made with CTV and what he would make as a senator).
    In fact the issue really is that the PMO attempted to manipulate the senate, and attempted to alter or cancel an audit by a non-government firm. Both were attempts to influence the actions of independent organizations. That is why the RCMP are talking about breach of trust rather than payment of expenses.
    Harper is also doing what he loves to do: hearing only what he wants – the RCMP said there is no evidence in writing that the PM knew. Harper dropped the “in writing” and claims he has been exonerated. Harper needs to remember that being found “not guilty” is not the same as being innocent.

    • Speaking of hearing only what you want to hear….

      How about coming up with even a shred of evidence to backup your accusations, rather than the speculations of some anonymous Liberal internet troll?

      Being found “not guilty” is the same thing as being found innocent in the eyes of the law. It’s certainly not the same as being found “guilty”, which is what you’re suggesting.

      • Because when you campaign for 6 years on your government being a moral exemplar and ethical paragon, and now the best you can do is brag “Well I haven’t actually been arrested!” you have reeeeeally lowered your bar. Mulcair is actually right on, on that point.

        And when you govern Canada for 6 years as the most hands-on, micro-managing Prime Minister the country has ever known — even scientists can’t discuss their scientific findings to the media without clearance from the PMO — the idea that he did NOT know what half a dozen other people were doing in HIS OWN OFFICE is impossible for me to believe.

        • You either agree with the Conservative view, or you support pedophiles……. are against the military…… back an illegal coalition…….. want to impose a $25 gazillion carbon tax are just plain wrong

          • We are all radicals, heretics, witches, warlocks, “environmentalists” and welfare bums too. If you listen to Sun News, that is.

        • I’m guessing you’re one of those people who never believed anything Harper said from the beginning of time though, so your opinion doesn’t matter.

          • Yeah, you spot a liar for a liar “so your opinion doesn’t matter.” Only those who were deluded by lies and frauds have opinions that matter.

            Quack quack.

            Quack.

      • Being found not guilty can mean there was insufficient evidence for proof of guilt. http :/ /www.thestar.com/news/canada/2013/05/23/robocalls_widespread_but_thinly_scattered_vote_suppression_didnt_affect_election_judge_rules.html

        Judge Richard Mosley wrote: “I find that electoral fraud occurred during the 41st General Election,”

        http :/ /www.greenparty.ca/media-release/2013-05-24/judge-agrees-2011-election-plagued-fraud-conservatives-implicated

        Yet that does not stop the Conservatives from claiming they were innocent.

        “The Conservative Party of Canada released a statement saying the decision concluded “there was no wrongdoing by the Conservative party or any of the candidates or campaign teams targeted” by the lawsuit.”

      • Rick Owen is another shill for crime. This claim is absolute nonsense:

        “Being found “not guilty” is the same thing as being found innocent in
        the eyes of the law. It’s certainly not the same as being found
        “guilty”, which is what you’re suggesting.”

        The criminal law finds no one “innocent”, merely finds that there is no evidence beyond a reasonable doubt to convict. That is not vindication morally. Nor legally, as the O.J. Simpson case and others (where civil liability was established when criminal liability failed).

        A class action suit against the Conservative Party of Canada and its media and corporate supporters for systematic subversion of Canadian democracy is quite likely, whether or not criminal liabilities are established. Certainly no one can press libel/defamation suits against those, like me, who claim that the Conservative Party is systematically criminal in nature, and cite these specific incidents as evidence of that.

        We can prove that to balance of probabilities right now. And we can say it’s fact, because a reasonable person can and would conclude that it is.

        That makes Harper’s continuation in government untenable, and risks the viability of the Conservative Party of Canada itself. Which may be a good thing. Perhaps time to add the “Progressive” back and elect some leader who has some credibility in legal and diplomatic matters.

      • Not Guilty is only useful if it is the verdict in a Criminal trial. Harper has not been found innocent by any means. The only fact is that the two who are currently ‘at risk’ of conviction under the CCC have not revealed their ‘hole cards’. Harper is currently at the stage of ‘not yet questioned (under caution) by the RCMP’.

        Do you think that Duffy and Wright were out drinking with Rob Ford when the Cadman affair was playing out? Either of them could have ‘accidentally’ recorded every conversation with Harper and could have copies of those files complete with suitable provenance to satisfy the rules of evidence.

  5. 20 questions about a ‘party’ plan that never came to fruition,
    and the media herald the Opposition of holding PM to account….
    the AG just reported on a dozen files and concerns that reflect on the government and affect Canadians,
    yet the Opps want to know when PM knew the ‘party’ was willing to pay for a plan that never happened.
    Fail for the Opps.
    Fail for the media.

    • “Fail for the Opps.”
      When the report came out Monday, there were 15 questions in Monday’s Question Period on the AG report. Mulcair’s led with his first 3 questions being on the AG report rather than the Senate scandal.
      Fail for sharon wilson.

      • And then back to questions about a ‘party’ plan that never happened, which is not part of the RCMP investigation.
        That is a failure to conduct the Nation’s business due to the obsession the Opps and their media have to hang something, anything on Harper.
        ….Well carry on then, spend the next 2 years parsing emails on how the CPC spends it’s donor dollars, while PMSH and his Ministers run the country.
        When in the voter booth, do you think Canadians will be making their choice based on Gerstien’s almost plan to pay Duffy’s bill – or thinking about taxes, jobs and safety…???

        • “When in the voter booth, do you think Canadians will be making their choice based on Gerstien’s almost plan to pay Duffy’s bill – or thinking about taxes, jobs and safety…???”
          Reviewing the byelection results, across the 4 ridings the Liberals obtained 44,546 votes. The Conservatives got 29,107 votes.
          Based on your logic, right now seems they care about Gerstein’s plan.

          • Harper has p*ss*d in the gift horses corn flakes. The Cons risk is that Al Qaeda (The Base) will stop donating to the party.

        • A more interesting way to contrast:
          The 4 byelection ridings results from the 2011 general election:
          Liberals: 42,909 votes
          CPC: 66,164 votes
          2013 byelection results across the 4 ridings:
          Liberals: 44,546 votes
          CPC: 29,107 votes
          It seems a LOT of people right now care about Gerstein’s plan.

          • CPC held onto both of their seats.
            So if you want to read something into the by election results it is that even with all the stars lined up and Dippers moving to the LPC, Trudeau still couldn’t steal a seat.

          • Trudeau managed to steal the Labrador seat from CPC, didn’t he?

          • Some local background about Labrador would be useful. Yvonne Jones won the election because she was a popular Member of the House of Assembly for years and years. She was interim leader of the (four seat) Opposition after Danny Williams massacred the provincial Liberals about eight years ago. She stepped down as leader to fight breast cancer and survived. She saw a chance to defeat Penashue in the by-election and jumped on it. He was seen as an inept (just another Harper bobblehead) cabinet minister across the whole province. He was only in Cabinet because he was the only Conservative MP elected from the province.

            You can’t call that a theft by Trudeau. Now get used to watching Yvonne Jones (ech!) on TV but don’t worry about her being Cabinet material because there are four other Liberal sure seats in NL. Mount Pearl will probably go back to the Grits next time because Ryan Cleary looks like a fish out of water in Ottawa. Jack Harris will win St John’s East until he chooses to retire. This is not because St. John’s is particularly NDP (traditionally PC) but he was a very well respected (singleton) NDP MHA for many years.

          • You have a short memory, sharon. Recall Trudeau stole Labrador from Harper.
            There are a lot of CPC swing ridings out there that didn’t win by the vast margins they won in Brandon-Souris and Provencher in 2011. If the CPC vote falls in their swing ridings by the same margins they fell in the ‘safe’ Manitoba ridings, they’re in real trouble.
            Does Chris Alexander still win Ajax-Pickering by a mere 3000 votes in 2015?
            Does Bal Gosal still win Bramalea-Gore-Malton with a mere 539 vote margin in 2015?
            Does Joe Daniel still win Don Valley-East by 870 votes in 2015?
            Does John Carmichael still win Don Valley-West by 611 votes in 2015?
            Does Joe Oliver still win Eglinton-Lawrence by 4062 votes in 2015?
            Does Ted Opitz still win Etobicoke Centre by a landslide of 26 votes in 2015?
            Does Bernard Trottier still win Etobicoke Lakeshore by 2849 in 2015?
            Sure, the CPC held on to two rural Manitoba seats, squeakers as they may be. I’m not convinced they’ll hold on to a lot of other seats in 2015.

          • We shouldn’t even bother having an election in 2015. We should just declare Justin Trudeau Prime Minister right now.

          • Important things to note: Canadians did not turn to the NDP to strike at the Cons. They voted Liberal. The best result that Mulcair can get would follow the same path that Harper did with the Progressive Conservative Party. We all know that the NDP result n 2011 was a reaction to the death of Layton and lingering disenchantment with the Liberals.

            Why are the Connies whinging about a handsome leader? Have they forgotten Western Canada’s contribution to the Federal Beauty Pageant? Where is Stockboy these days anyway?

        • So the bar for ethical behaviour is now whether or not it results in a criminal investigation? Anything less and we’re good to go?

    • A Conservative named David Sachs on Don martin tonight. (Thur) Have a go at him. He was devastating! Some of the insiders are starting to have doubts.

      • He had an oped in the Ottawa Citizen earlier this week — I highly recommend it.

  6. Harper – just tell the truth.
    Thank goodness we have a leader of the quality of Tom Mulcair probing for the truth.

    • Well here’s the thing rfaris. The only way Harper (or whoever) will tell the truth is if they are under oath.

      Perhaps its time for your glories leader to stop grandstanding and join Trudeau in getting these guys and girls under oath. He has, in the past, thought testifying under oath wasn’t necessary.

      Everyday it is becoming more apparent that QP is not the proper venue to get to the bottom of this whole sordid affair.

      • RCMP have already cleared PM of knowing about the plan and the payment after looking thru 260,000 pieces of evidence.
        Duffy lied to Canadians, it’s all there.

        Mulcair and Trudeau should drop this obsession of gotcha on PM Harper, let the RCMP do their job and move onto issues that matter in the lives of Canadians.

        • Because that’s what Opposition Harper would have done….

        • No they didn’t. Stop making stuff up.

      • There’s nothing magical about an oath. Unless Harper believes they’ll catch him perjuring himself, he’ll lie there too.

        • Harper perjured himself in the Cadman case, claiming a tape was fake. Further, he bribed Dona Cadman to back him up by pretending she had not seen the journalist taking the tape. This is not Harper’s first try at bribery nor perjury.

    • I actually enjoy watching Mulcair in Question Period…even though I’m a Conservative. He does a great job of holding people’s feet to the fire.
      It must bug him to no end, that no matter how well he does in QP, the media insist on focussing their attention on Trudeau….who stammers, mumbles, and just plain stinks in question period.
      Mulcair and the NDP do all the real work……and the shiny pony gets the credit. Got to love the Canadian media.

      • “C’est la vie,” say the old folks, “it goes to show you never can tell.”

      • Shiny pony? Hard to have credibility when you debate at the level of an eight year old.

      • “Mulcair and the NDP do all the real work……and the shiny pony gets the credit. Got to love the Canadian media.”

        Agreed. A clear bias in favour of Liberal and Conservative in all TV media, certainly.

    • Tell the truth about what…? The ‘party’ plans to pick up Duffy’s tab is not under investigation, because it never happened and it is not the business of Parliament.

      • I guess it was discussed in the PMO and the PMO is a government funded office.

      • Tell the truth about what he knew and when he knew it – and how a dozen of his chief subordinates in the PMO and in his caucus – both of which he leads! – were involved in systematic deceit, dishonesty and possible criminal activity.

      • I wonder how the party donors who cheered in Calgary feel about those plans?

      • So Gerstein never called Runia to try to get confidential information on the audit & maybe put the fix in? Gerstein’s hands are dirtier than just a maybe plan to pay Duffy’s bills, sharon. This is way beyond that.

    • That’s why the NDP won seats in the recent by-election. Good job, Tom.

      • Francien, you’re here! Welcome. Did you have a chance to read pages 12 and 17 of the ITO, perchance?

      • The NDP vote increased an average of almost 4% in the two urban ridings – a 4% increase across Canada means the conservatives are toast!

        • It also means that we should only count votes from urban ridings — because urban ridings are progressive, and anything progressive is good.

  7. And as has been amply demonstrated the public could care less and have moved well byond the whole thing, while the ‘Bubble’ keeps bubbleing. Even the pundit shows are not worth watching, I can’t figure out if they’re repeats, PVR’d or what, since there all the same. Please, I’m begging the Lame Stream Media, even those in the MOP (Media Opposition Party) move on! We’re bored with you all.

    • Exactly, the Opps and their media have ground this story into sand in the hour glass,
      making it an issue that will have zero traction in the 2015 election.

      • What flavour is the Kool-Aid today. Is gullible a flavour? Not sure, send me $5.00 and I’ll send you a gullibility test in the mail. Special rate for ReformaCons!

      • Yeh sure: “keep on moving folks.. there’s nothing to see here”.LOL

    • “We’re bored with you all.”
      But yet here you are following everything and making comments! Strange.

    • “We” are are “we”?

      Sure doesn’t seem that way.

  8. Poor Dear Leader. His nose gets a little longer every day. You’d think his improved olfactory senses would be enhanced enough to at least be able to smell his own burning pants!

  9. And all this came to pass because Senator Irving Gerstein was too F’ing cheap to cover Duffy’s expenses. Too funny!

    • That’s what it boils down to. I posted that some days ago. The Conservatives are their own worst enemies. How much did Duffy raise? Half a mil? On 90K is still a pretty good ROI.

      • If he raised a half a million, what percentage of that was refunded to donors in the form of tax credits? Probably more than three hundred thousand. (Tax credit on a federal political donation of $500 is $400 back in your pocket). The taxpayer is also in the hook for his salary as a Senator during the period he acted primarily as a fundraiser pretending to be an influential Senator. We are also on the hook for the present value of future pension payments to the Duffster and his eventual widow.

  10. The buck stops… well, anywhere but here, actually.

  11. The core problem here is Stephen Harper squirming around the rules when they don’t suit his plans. Duffy simply did not qualify to represent PEI as a Senator because his primary residence was and is in Ottawa. It’s not so much the fact that he was illegitimately claiming housing expenses – and the public possibly finding out about it – that had Harper freaked out. It’s the fact that if we homed in on those expense claims, people might figure out that his primary place of residence exposes his ineligibility. Do people really think Harper didn’t know about this when he appointed him?

    • Michael Harris exercpt from earlier today

      “As for Mike Duffy, he has never had a problem building an audience. That’s why 17 Conservative candidates got Duffy to campaign for them in 2011.

      One of his earliest appearances was with then-Conservative candidate Julian Fantino when he ran in a by-election in Vaughan. Fantino’s people went looking for someone to host a live tele-town-hall back in November of 2010, and struck gold — they got Mike Duffy. Duffy had, by then, left the bright lights of television journalism and was employing his talents at special Conservative events and fundraisers as a celebrity senator.

      Duffy went to Fantino’s office and the two men talked to 40,000 homes, with the Fantino campaign expressly banning the media from listening in and reporting on the event. An astonishing 15,000 people stayed on the line for 18 minutes, making the event a big success.

      Corporal Greg Horton, the lead RCMP investigator in the Wright-Duffy affair, is now in possession of a complaint from Vaughan that the Fantino tele-town hall did not show up on Fantino’s election expenses. Did it show up on Duffy’s? No one knows at this point.

      Sooner or later, someone is going to have to explain why the PMO went to such extraordinary lengths to keep Deloitte from poking around in the affairs of the guy with the killer wink.

      That someone should be the prime minister.

      Michael Harris is a writer, journalist, and documentary filmmaker. He was awarded a Doctor of Laws for his “unceasing pursuit of justice for the less fortunate among us.” His eight books include Justice Denied, Unholy Orders, Rare ambition, Lament for an Ocean, and Con Game. His work has sparked four commissions of inquiry, and three of his books have been made into movies. He is currently working on a book about the Harper majority government to be published in the autumn of 2014 by Penguin Canada.”

  12. Does anyone (other than the hard core sheep) believe anything at all that this doofus says anymore? He can wear the brand of ‘the harper government’ because it sure ain’t anything we’d proudly call a Canadian Government.

    • Do you mean “The Base”? Those words that can be translated into Arabic to get … let me see, that would be “Al Qaeda”. That would make Harper the leader of Canada’s homegrown “Al Qaeda”.

  13. Journalists playing detective, prosecutor, and judge. This has reached ridiculous proportions. LET THE RCMP and COURTS decide.

    • Do you think the media should not be permitted to report on allegations of criminal wrongdoing until those allegations are proven?

      • Report the accusations, sure. But reporting as if they’ve already been convicted or conviction is imminent is totally wrong.

        Look at the way the robocalls were covered. The media hyped it up as if every riding in the country had been inundated with illegal robocalls on election day and that the election results would be overturned.

        When it actually was tried in court, *poof* nothing. The entire story was a myth made up by the media.

        • And will you apply the same standards to other crimes? For example, all those reports on Omar Khadr should not have been published until he was convicted according to your standards.

          • Probably not. But you also lose all credibility when you start comparing the PM to a convicted terrorist.

          • You lose credibility when you claim I am saying something I am not.

            I am just wondering where you draw the line. It appears you draw it at the people you support. So now you want special rules for Stephen Harper.

            Tell me, were you outraged at the leaked police report on Goodale that won the conservatives the election in 2006? I am guessing not…

          • You’re claiming that THE only reason the conservatives won the 2006 election was that Goodale thing? I’d put that in 3rd or 4th place at best. How about Gomery/Adscam, GST cut, Jane Creba shooting, etc. etc.?

          • Well I know that Harper exploited that poor girl’s death rather shamelessly, but I would not say it swayed too many voters.

            The polls were showing a Martin minority until the RCMP report was released, and was the final nail in the coffin.

            In any event, my point was that Rick here is being hypocritical. As is anyone else whining about media coverage of allegations unless they did the same in 2005.

          • Why is Khadr being treated so harshly when Canada released an SS officer who was convicted of being responsible for the murders of forty Canadian soldiers in 1944? Kurt Meyer was convicted and sentenced to death. He was a feakin’ SS officer for X sake! Khadr is small potatoes by comparison. A single (unpunished) US Air Force officer killed three more Canadian soldiers than this child soldier killed of theirs.

  14. An excellent summary of what is an obvious criminal conspiracy that would have been the subject of criminal investigations and charges long ago if not for the fact that the criminals issue politically-motivated orders to the RCMP which unlawfully obeys them.

    Harper has done all this before. Remember the bribery in the Cadman case? Harper sent Tom Flanagan and Doug Finley to do his bidding. He learned this time not to admit out loud that he “knew of financial considerations”, i.e. bribes, offered a sitting MP to overthrow a government. Which is a crime. Then Harper lied in court, inducing (with another bribe) Dona Cadman to change her story. Both of them perjured themselves, directly contradicting a credible journalists’ tape that Harper claimed had been fabricated – which a judge found no evidence of. Handy that Cadman died soon after, and now Finley also is dead, leaving only Tom Flanagan and Dona Cadman, two unreliable witnesses. Can’t convict on that, but it certainly passes the “balance of probability” test making it impossible for Harper to sue in civil court again. So let’s say it:

    Harper knew of Conservative bribery. Then and now. The purpose of these Senate sanctions, as Marjory LeBreton has revealed by her use of a 1610 House of Lords precedent, is to define the Senate as a competent court of jurisdiction for this matter. So that Harper will not be called on to perjure himself again in a court with real rules.

    Then there is the criminal conspiracy to throw the 2011 election, especially seats in and around Toronto, with the help of another well known criminal liar: Rob Ford and his “Ford Nation”. But even leaving that aside:

    Those of you who defend Harper and his party with all this evidence and a pattern of prior similar briberies are morally indistinguishable from him, or Duffy, or Flanagan, at this point. I don’t see how anyone could do business with you, collaborate academically with you, or otherwise put a reputation on the line by associating with you. If you have any actual belief in any concept of accountability, you must realize that Harper and his close cronies (Dean del Mastro, Pierre Poilievre, Peter Van Loan) are among the least accountable and most revolting human beings to sit in high office in Canada.

    Harper is a criminal, and you are all accomplices after the fact. Sadly, it will not reach a criminal court, either because of LeBreton’s 1610 gambit, or plain and simple cowardice:

    The RCMP will never prosecute a sitting PM. That is a reason to disband the RCMP, and perhaps the country, as it seems impossible to assert the rule of law over its rulers.

    • Pretty good post. Problem with ‘conspiracy to throw the … election’. You meant to say ‘cheating in the 2011 election’. Throwing a contest is like a boxer ‘taking a dive’ or losing on purpose. Harper IS ‘throwing (away) Canada’s future but he never threw an election.

      You are right that the RCMP will never collect enough evidence to convict Harper but that isn’t because he would disband the RCMP. He can’t do that because the feds have long-term policing contracts with the provinces and treaty obligations such as Interpol. He COULD (and should) send the Musical Ride nags to the slaughterhouse to get even with the RCMP. He could also make them dress like real policemen instead of a regiment of obsolete mounted lancers from the 18th century.

  15. Apparently Harper doesn’t know whether he knew or not. That could be the only reason he won’t give the simple answer “No.”. The thing that is fanning the flames is his refusal to answer ‘No.’. Of course, he could know that the answer is ‘Yes’ and be honestly pointing out that the RCMP haven’t linked him to the crimes (Only two people are under investigation…). If he were to answer ‘No.’ and he was eventually proven to have lied, it would impeach any testimony he gives in court in the future. He may be hoping for a Brian Mulroney payout after he ‘retires’.

    In summary: If the truth is ‘NO’, he should say so because there is no future downside. If the answer is ‘YES’ he is protecting himself. If he admitted the ‘YES’ he would be finished and the CON brand would be ruined (as if it isn’t all ready). If he lied by saying ‘NO’, there is a downside as he will be on video lying to the Commons and the citizens of Canada. This would ruin any opportunity he will ever have of suing for libel or slander like Mulroney did.

  16. Recap on scandals: Liberal scandals revolve around Liberals using (stealing) taxpayers money to further their political aims (adscam, gun registry boondoggle ect).
    Conservative supposed scandals involve them spending their own money. And in the instant case spending their own money to try to right a wrong.
    Meanwhile what Trudeau knew regarding a member of his caucus being criminally investigated for serial sexual predations, well that’s soooo much less severe than paying the expenses of another. Welcome to the world of Alice in Wonderland of Liberal media frothing in hatred at the …..ahem…wrong sort (read non-progressive) being in power. A world where what one knew about an expense payer is exponentially more devious than knowing about a serial sexual predator. The former deserves wall to wall minute by minute coverage, the latter is promptly swept under the rug.
    How truly sad and pathetic our Liberal media (but I repeat myself) has become.

    • Federal Political Contributions may be entered on Line 409 of your T1 return. The tax credit is calculated as 75 % of the first $400 (contributor receives $300 back from Government of Canada) and 50% of the next $350. The credit is entered on line 410 of the return. The taxpayer effectively pays 63 % of the first $750 donated to a federal political party.

      The whole world is full of Liberals Chuckie. That should tell you something.

  17. good clear writing. I hope that journalism of this non-partisan degree is maintained until the next election or resignation of Mr. Harper.

  18. “Mr. Speaker, is that the Prime Minister’s code of ethics, the Criminal
    Code?” he wondered aloud, smiling slightly and staring directly at Mr.
    Harper. “In other words, if one is not under criminal investigation by
    the RCMP, no matter how reprehensible it is not really wrong. Is that
    the standard that he is holding the government to?”

    Word.

    Yes that is exactly the standard that Harper and his cronies hold themselves to. But even with that grossly low standard they still have to illegally coerce the RCMP into failing in its investigations of themselves. Conservative Party of Canada is about the most organized crime we have seen in Canada, but unlike the tiny Liberal clique that funneled cash into their coffers in Quebec, the top leadership of Conservatives have explicitly known and approved at every step of the way of bribery, perjury, electoral fraud, embezzling, obstruction of justice, corruption of the diplomatic service and courts, and mass murder in Lac Megantic (a deliberate relaxing of rail safety with specific permits to cause fatal rail accidents to enable their friends in industry to push dirty oil pipelines, clear criminal motive and opportunity, thus most likely intent).

    We are dealing with people no better than Nazis morally. Worse, perhaps, when one considers the social and economic turmoil of pre-Nazi Germany versus the relative calm and prosperity and safety of the world that gave rise to Canadian corporate fascists. Nothing more than greed and personal inadequacy seem to guide these scum morally.

    Conservatives are garbage. You have no right to run for election again, anywhere. The courts should dismantle your criminal conspiracy and force a new party to be formed with some semblance of moral responsibility. Oh wait, in BC and Quebec, that already happened – the dirty right wing party had to merge into the Liberals just to manage the impossibility of ever being elected under its own label again.

    • You forgot to mention Saskatchewan in which the Saskatchewan Conservatives under Premier Grant Devine, ended up running the worst government in Saskatchewan’s history, one that left taxpayers with a $14 billion debt.

      The Devine years also brought big scandals. According to a CBC op-ed of April 26, 2007, the first three ministers sworn in during 1982, Eric Bernston, Colin Thatcher and Bob Andrew all ended up convicted of criminal offenses. Thirteen MLAs were implicated in a scheme to syphon off caucus communication money for personal and political purposes. Eight were convicted and more than $800,000 of public money was involved.

      Thus they reincarnated into the Saskatchewan Party.

      Incidentally, it was the fiscal management was the NDP Romanow government of Saskatchewan that brought the province out of years of deep Conservative deficits and corruption.