Stephen Harper: ‘No’

An unequivocal answer about Mike Duffy


Sean Kilpatrick/CP

In his interview with Global, the Prime Minister was asked whether he was aware at the time of a plan to have the Conservative party reimburse Mike Duffy for his questionable expenses. According to the transcript distributed by Global, Mr. Harper’s first word in response was, “no.”

The idea that the Conservative party might assist Mr. Duffy seems to have been revealed in July.

Thomas Mulcair asked about Mr. Harper’s knowledge of that possibility on November 5

Mr. Mulcair. Was the Prime Minister aware of the initial plan hatched by his chief of staff and his chief fundraiser to reimburse Senator Duffy’s expenses with Conservative Party money? Was he aware of Senator Gerstein’s plan, yes or no?

Mr. Harper. Mr. Speaker, my position has been clear from the beginning. I told Mr. Duffy that I expected him to reimburse his inappropriate expenses. I was told that that was what happened. As it turns out, that is not really what happened. That is why Mr. Wright is no longer on the public payroll. Mr. Duffy should not be either.

November 6

Mr. Mulcair. Mr. Speaker, did the Prime Minister know about the plan to use Conservative Party funds to reimburse the illegal expenses of Mike Duffy? No weasel words—yes or no?

Mr. Harper. Mr. Speaker, once again, my clear view on this was that Mr. Duffy’s expenses could not be justified. He had claimed expenses he had not incurred, and I had told him, including telling him directly, that he should repay those funds. I was later told that he had, which, of course, was not true. That is one of the reasons the Senate has acted as it has, and we congratulate it for that action.

November 7

Mr. Mulcair. Did the Prime Minister know that the initial plan of his chief of staff, Nigel Wright, was to use Conservative funds to repay Mike Duffy’s illegal expenses? Did he know that? We are not talking about someone else. We are talking about him.

Mr. Harper. Mr. Speaker, I have been clear from the start. I was clear with Mr. Duffy, with Mr. Wright and with the caucus: Mr. Duffy’s expenses were inappropriate and it was his responsibility to reimburse taxpayers. Mr. Duffy did not do that. He did not reimburse, and to my knowledge, he still has not reimbursed, taxpayers for expenses that were inappropriate. On the contrary, he took a cheque from Mr. Wright to pay those expenses and then claimed he had repaid them himself. For that reason, obviously, Mr. Wright and Mr. Duffy have faced appropriate sanction.

and November 20….

Mr. Mulcair. Mr. Speaker, was the Prime Minister aware of the original plan to pay back Mike Duffy’s expenses using Conservative Party money or not?

Mr. Harper. Mr. Speaker, from the beginning, my position has been that Mr. Duffy had to pay back his own expenses. When I learned that that was not what he had done, I took the appropriate action.

… without getting anything quite so definitive in response. Even after the Prime Minister’s director of communications had made the rounds and seemed to answer the question definitively, Mr. Harper was still apparently unwilling on November 26 to respond with something as definitive as “no” (though there was a “no” that you might be able to read as being in response to that question even if it came in response to another question).  The closest he came to “no” was on December 5, in his final exchange with Mr. Mulcair before the break, when the Prime Minister said that “it was always conveyed to me that Mr. Duffy would repay his own expenses” and that “it was always conveyed to me that it was Mr. Duffy who was going to pay Mr. Duffy’s expenses, not the Conservative Party, not Nigel Wright, not anybody else.”

Over the course of the extended questioning of the Prime Minister, he did show himself willing and able to offer straightforward answers to straightforward questions (on, for example, when he found out about Mr. Wright’s payment to Mr. Duffywhether he discussed the affair in the Senate with Carolyn Stewart Olsenwhat he told Mr. Duffy on February 13whether Mr. Wright had made similar payments to other senatorsthat he didn’t threaten Mr. Duffy with expulsion on February 13that he didn’t say to Mr. Duffy what Mr. Duffy had said he said (on two counts), that, between February and May, Irving Gerstein said nothing to him about the idea of the Conservative party covering Mr. Duffy’s expensesthat he found out on May 15 that the Conservative party had covered Mr. Duffy’s legal expenses and on the circumstances of Benjamin Perrin’s exit from the PMO*).

This one though proved to be a bit of a struggle. Perhaps the charming setting that Global setup for its interview with the Prime Minister proved a more conducive setting.

*Note: This is not intended as a complete list of Mr. Harper’s straightforward answers. It’s mostly drawn from a tally I’d been working on earlier.


Stephen Harper: ‘No’

  1. The question is ambiguous.

    “Did the Prime Minister know that the initial plan
    of his chief of staff, Nigel Wright, was to use Conservative funds to
    repay Mike Duffy’s illegal expenses? ”

    Obviously, eventually, everyone was aware of that plan, when the media found out. The question is missing a date. The key is, when was he aware? That is why the answer is phrased the way it is, it is phrased to remove the uncertainty around timelines.

    • How does the answer remove uncertainty around timelines without making any references to a timeline, or dates, or time generally?

    • Define ‘the initial plan’. The first moment it was discussed? When it was ‘approved’? Approved by whom? What was ‘approved’? What authority approved it? Lots of uncertainties . . .

      • Yes. Those ARE the questions Harper and PMO won’t answer.

        • It wouldn’t matter what he said, the Harper Haters wouldn’t believe him. He could be asked if the sky was blue, answer with a yes, and the HH would scream ‘He’s Lying!!”

  2. This comment was deleted.

    • and your point is? certainly not very clear, obviously.

      • Harper said “know” but media interprets as “no”. That’s what he means

  3. Mr. MaGoo PMSH: “I have no clue what’s going on under my nose in my own office. Trust me, I’m just that incompetent.”

    • This is a guy who created a Ministry of Truth that scripts every word Con ministers and MPs say to the press — the most obsessive-compulsive micro-managing PM in history. Harper not only knew, it was done under his orders.

      • Did you order the Code Red?

        You’re Goddamn right I did!

    • Our loopy leader’s refrains:
      I was out of the loop,
      Nigel Wright threw me for a loop.

  4. He knew.

    • Clearly.

    • …. from the very beginning, and he helped orchestrate the cover-up, the whitewashing of the audit, and interfered in the senate committees investigations. His hands are all over the current cover-up of the cover-up, his gang of 59 were appointed for one purpose, to do his bidding, and to campaign for the party at the taxpayers expense.

  5. This comment was deleted.

    • What the hell was that, just there?

      • Mr. Civil, once again, my clear view on this was that Stand was indicating that journalist Wells sometimes swings on vines and yells at the top of his lungs. (perhaps he misses Kady which would be understandable). Mr. Stand is clear and has told him, including telling him directly, that he should not put on goalie pads and go to Chicago. If Mr Stand was later told that he had, which, of course, was not true then this is clear. That is one of the reasons Mr. Stand has written as he has, and we congratulate him for that action.

        • Thanks for clearing that up. I hope you will stick around for the rebuttal – we may need your help again.

        • Somewhat clearer, thanks.

      • His logo is small and difficult to read. But if you look closely, it doesn’t say “Propaganda Watch” it says “Propaganda, Watch!”

    • brilliant, absolutely brilliant!

  6. This becoming more than boring. Can we not all agree Duffy was the problem and whatever means were taken to rectify the problem they are now over and let us get back to real issues of government. The economy and the welfare of the Canadian nation. Move on Mulcair tell us something new……………………

    • err.. no.
      The PMO paid a sitting Senator for his silence; conspired to pervert an official audit; sought to acquire confidential information about an audit before it’s release date; caused a sitting Prime Minister to speak falsehoods in the House of Commons; conspired to subvert the independence of the Senate as an independent place of opinion.

      Duffy was the tip of the iceberg and it’s only Harper gov shills who want this to go away quickly and for folk not to look too closely at this.

      The RCMP are investigating and that means it will not go away soon. It may take some time, but there will be a report and charges will be laid.

      • You are entitled to your opinion. That’s all it is until you or someone proves it.
        I know, I know, this is all part of the “hidden agenda”. You would do well to stop sourcing your info from the Toronto Star or CBC.
        By the way, have you sent in your membership dues for the NDP this year. I hear they are alittle short of cash these days and can use your help.


        • And you should lay off the Sun News Network for a while, You’re sounding prime ministerial.

        • Be not afraid of the truth, it will set you free.

        • I really wish all that was opinion, but it isn’t it is fact. It has been put before a judge and used as grounds to accept resignations/dismiss people and to effect disciplinary measures against numerous people.

          Concrete actions have resulted from all of the above and more are to come.

    • just sweep it under the rug.

  7. What has happened to journalism? What a horrible, horrible written piece!! This is a blog fart! Stinks and is meaningless

    • As indeed is your comment.
      You need not have bothered.

    • You don’t get it. The country’s chief executive officer prevaricates, refusing to answer in the country’s legislature the question that would either exonerate him (no) or likely have him charged for obstruction of justice (yes), and you attack Aaron Wherry for trying to get to the bottom of it? Go home, heartstone.

      • Oh I get it, I am far, far from a fan of Harper!! I just think the article is poorly done. There is an old movie with Clark Gable and Doris day…you and Wherry should watch it. I question what they teach in journalism school.

    • sounds like you just suffered a brain fart

      • probably a brain shart. he likes his own stink.

  8. You can fool some of the people some of the time , but ……………………

  9. I’m starting to think that Harper has pulled this off and by denying over and over, may finally make the question go away even though he clearly knew all about the payment.

    What you have to wonder now, and there would be reporters in Ottawa who would know the answer to this, is how much control does Harper and the PMO actually have over he RCMP. The investigator who has been working on this case could find himself suddenly transferred. Keep an eye on that Ottawa press gallery. Harper acts like he knows the fix is in.

    • Yup, life is just one big Conservative conspiracy, man. Clearly Harper is an evil robot sent from the future by American Republicans to destroy the great Canadian way of life.

      • I’ve often wondered about that!

  10. Brilliant piece from Mr. Wherry !
    Such an enjoyable read. I kept going back and rereading and travelling back in time to the varied links. So interesting.
    I did not think you could exceed the joy of listening to the repetitive questions and answers in Parliament until I read this brilliant essay which allowed me to go back over the past few months and listen again while searching for the Harper response that most closely resembled the answer he gave to Global ( No ! ).
    I will definitely reserve New Year`s Eve for a year end reading of Wherry as he reviews the time Harper responded “Yes “.

  11. Ask the same question a hundred different ways and get the same answer and no one is happy. Get a different answer . . . . to a question worded differently, and it’s an AHA moment.

    Meanwhile, back in Ontario, another billion goes missing, and another 100 wind turbines are built to slice and dice wildlife. But that’s OK, because it’s Liberals doing it. Why is no one rummaging around looking into the antics of the Liberal party president who has become a millionaire because of his involvement in the windmill industry? Just coincidence? I think not!

    • Mr Harper taught me the virtues of deceit, deception, deflection .
      Thank you President Mr. Harper!

      • Are you an American?

        • I’ll be whatever you want me to be, hon

          • I thought it was “Our Home On Native Land”.

          • you’re right!

    • Provincial politics is the next page over. Lost?

    • Do you know what uncle Steve did with the missing $3.1 billion?

      • You are out of the loop. That money has been totally accounted for.

        • You forgot to use your brain. It’s that organ inside your head.

  12. I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop. The question is will it be with a thump or a thud?

  13. While the “house” chases it’s Duffy tail, there is still the small matter of the missing taxpayer’s $3,100,000,000. Where’s that investigation?

    • Maybe it’s going into the 2015 election war chest?

    • Actually, I`ve got it all.

      • Dear Uncle Cawm…

  14. The lies just roll off the tongue, after a bit of practice. And now we are left with the incompetence of this Prime Minister who didn’t have a clue what was happening right under his nose.

  15. Dear Stephen,
    “Maybe it’s time to stop not doing what you pretended you can do and
    can’t, and start doing the thing that you can’t do, but can no longer
    pretend that you can.”
    Jerri Blank

  16. “NO” ..until the video is produced… oh wait.. that was Rob Frod. My mistake!

  17. Slide time bar to begin at 50:19 mark

    Harper said in the Global TV interview that as soon as Wright told him on
    May 15 about Wright’s personal cheque, Harper insisted Wright go
    immediately to Mary Dawson, the ethics commissioner.

    After the clip from Harper’s Global interview was broadcast the other
    night, CBC contacted the office of the ethics commissioner. CBC was told
    Mary Dawson launched her investigation of Wright’s involvement into the
    repayment of Duffy’s expenses ON HER OWN INITIATIVE, under subsection 45
    of the Conflict of Interest Act, and that the examination DID NOT result
    from a request from anyone!