Ben Perrin used to be a legal adviser in the Prime Minister’s Office. Now, he’s an associate professor of law at the University of British Columbia. His name’s been raised, repeatedly, in the House of Commons as parliamentarians bicker about the Wright-Duffy affair. RCMP documents released last week suggest Perrin played some role in negotiating a deal that saw ex-PMO chief of staff Nigel Wright pay Sen. Mike Duffy’s improperly claimed expenses. None of that’s been proven in court, but the allegations were enough to pique the interest of another professor of law.
Amir Attaran, who teaches at the University of Ottawa and also holds a Canada Research Chair, filed a complaint with the law societies in Ontario and British Columbia—the two provinces where Perrin’s licenced to practice. Attaran says Perrin, and Duffy lawyer Janice Payne,“violated the ethics of the profession” when they allegedly negotiated the terms of the Wright-Duffy payoff. Yikes.
This afternoon, expect the government to virtually ignore the complaint. Attaran’s no rookie when it comes to clashing with the governing party, and small-c conservatives are no fan of the law prof down the road from Parliament Hill. In 2007, Attaran famously claimed that Afghan detainees, captured by Canadian troops, were transferred to other forces and tortured. The allegations resurfaced in 2010. Each time, a fracas ensued. Brian Lilley and Ezra Levant dismissed Attaran’s claims as a smear job. In 2011, an anonymous researcher filed information requests with Attaran’s university. They asked about his personal expenses. Attaran said the requests, which also targeted law prof Errol Mendes, were politically motivated. Both have long been treated by the Tories as Liberal hacks.
All that to say: If something is going to raise the tenor of debate in the House of Commons, Attaran’s most recent complaint isn’t it.
Maclean’s is your home for the daily political theatre that is Question Period, when MPs trade barbs and take names for 45 minutes every day. If you’ve never watched, check out our primer, which we produced with J-Source. Today, QP runs from 2:15 p.m. until just past 3. We tell you who to watch, we stream it live, and we liveblog all the action. The whole thing only matters if you participate. Chime in on Twitter with #QP.
Stephen Harper will continue to issue denials related to the Wright-Duffy affair. His parliamentary secretary, Paul Calandra, will continue to issue similar denials.