(OTTAWA) - Even knocking on doors in my own riding, questions about Mike Duffy and Nigel Wright and the trial keep popping up on the doorstep. Many people have asked me if there is an easy place to go to get the key information. Here we go!
On December 21, 2008, Stephen Harper made an unprecedented 18 Senate appointments in one day. The list included three senators who did not live where the constitution required they live. Patrick Brazeau did not live in Quebec, Mike Duffy was not resident of PEI – as constitutionally required, and Pamela Wallin did not live in her province of birth, Saskatchewan.
It was likely this mix up would come to grief. The on-going saga of Mike Duffy is really about rules not followed, corners cut and the corrupting influence of Harper’s office.
Look how Harper’s story has changed. First Stephen Harper said Mike Duffy had paid the money back. Then CTV news learned the $90,000 used by Duffy to pay back his expenses came from the private funds of Harper’s Chief of Staff. He initially defended Wright. Then on May 19, 2013, Harper released this statement: “It is with great regret that I have accepted the resignation of Nigel Wright as my Chief of Staff. I accept that Nigel believed he was acting in the public interest, but I understand the decision he has taken to resign. I want to thank Nigel for his tremendous contribution to our Government over the past two and a half years.”
The story wouldn’t die. By October, Harper changed his story. Suddenly Wright was not the noble servant acting in what he thought was the public interest. The tone of voice when Harper referred to Wright in Parliament changed to the way one speaks of someone caught cheating and fired for cause. On October 29, 2013, Harper said this in Question Period: “On our side there is one person responsible for this deception and that person is Mr. Wright. It is Mr. Wright by his own admission...Mr. Duffy took $90,000 of expense money he did not actually incur. He was told to pay it back. He committed to paying it back. He said publicly he had paid it back....That turned out … to be a story told by Mr. Duffy and Mr. Wright. As a consequence, Mr. Wright no longer works on the public payroll...”
So then it was one person in his office who knew – the disgraced former chief of staff Nigel Wright, well and firmly thrown under the bus. No one else knew.
But the Duffy trial had brought to light strings of emails and previous statements to the RCMP that implicate numerous people in the Prime Minister’s office, including his former legal counsel Benjamin Perrin and his current chief of staff Ray Novak.
Last week, on August 14, 2015, Harper had changed the story once again. Who knew what Duffy and Wright had done? One person or two? Five or ten? Now Harper says the “vast majority” of his staff thought Duffy had used his own money to repay the debt. (“that is what the majority of our staff also believed was the case.”)
Since Harper made it appear he fired Wright (which he hadn’t) the media question, also raised by other party leaders is “will you fire Novak?”
We don’t know if Novak lied to his boss. If so, strange his boss keeps him on. Far more likely Novak is, like Nigel Wright and others before him, a loyal soldier prepared to be sacrificed to protect the leader from his own actions.
The person who should be fired is Stephen Harper.