Stephen Harper, Mike Duffy, Nigel Wright and the February 13 meeting

'Was Nigel Wright present at the meeting between the Prime Minister and Mike Duffy or not?'

The Prime Minister’s Office acknowledged on May 31 that the Prime Minister and Mike Duffy had discussed the matter of Mr. Duffy’s expenses on February 13. So that a meeting took place has been known for some time.

Mr. Duffy’s version of events includes some colour that was not included in the official account.

Here again is Mr. Duffy’s account.

So after caucus on Feb. 13 of this year, I met the prime minister and Nigel Wright, just the three of us. I said that despite the smear in the papers, I had not broken the rules, but the prime minister wasn’t interested in explanations or the truth. It’s not about what you did; it’s about the perception of what you did that has been created in the media. The rules are inexplicable to our base. I argued: I’m just following the rules like all of the others. But it didn’t work. I was ordered by the prime minister: Pay the money back, end of discussion. Nigel Wright was present throughout, just the three of us.

And here is the PMO’s account.

“Mr. Duffy approached the prime minister in the caucus room regarding the situation with his expenses. The PM was adamant that he should repay any inappropriate expenses,” Andrew MacDougall, the prime minister’s spokesperson, said Friday.

In his next appearance at Question Period, Mr. Harper explained that Mr. Duffy had “approached me to seek some clarification.” The Prime Minister explained the next day that “Mr. Duffy was seeking clarification on remarks I had made to this effect in caucus and I was adamant that any inappropriate expenses had to be reimbursed by him.” And on June 6, he offered that “our view is that all expenses have to be appropriate, and I mean by that not simply that they respect the rules but that they are defensible to any reasonable person.”

As for Mr. Wright’s presence, the Prime Minister had at least four opportunities to acknowledge it.

Twice on June 4, Thomas Mulcair asked the Prime Minister who was present at that meeting. Neither question received a straight answer.

On June 5, Mr. Mulcair returned to the matter of the meeting and was more direct, asking Mr. Harper if Nigel Wright was present at the meeting. The Prime Minister neither confirmed nor denied Mr. Wright’s presence.

On June 6, Mr. Mulcair tried again, asking the Prime Minister whether Nigel Wright had been present when Mr. Harper instructed Mr. Duffy to repay his expenses. The Prime Minister did not provide a straight answer in response.