OTTAWA – Canada’s ethics commissioner says former prime minister Stephen Harper’s chief of staff violated federal rules, including the Parliament of Canada Act, when he tried to help pay off Mike Duffy’s Senate expenses.
In a report today, Mary Dawson says Nigel Wright shouldn’t have pressed the Conservative party’s chief bagman for cash to cover Duffy’s bills, which were under political and legal scrutiny in 2013.
Dawson says Wright improperly used his position in the Prime Minister’s Office to further Duffy’s private interests in contravention of ethics rules when he asked the party for financial help.
That plan failed to produce the funds Wright needed to make a political problem go away, so he eventually used $90,000 of his own money to pay off Duffy’s expenses.
Wright was never charged as part of the RCMP investigation into the Duffy affair, but Dawson says she considers his actions “undoubtedly improper” and a violation of ethics rules, as well as the Parliament of Canada Act.
An Ontario court judge acquitted Duffy on 31 charges in a lengthy ruling that was highly critical of the actions of Wright and others inside Harper’s office.