The Duffy Affair: PMO Chief of Staff Nigel Wright resigns
Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s chief of staff Nigel Wright resigned this morning in the wake of controversy surrounding disgraced Senator Mike Duffy’s housing allowance scandal. After receiving the full confidence of the PMO, Wright has resigned, raising a lot of doubts and questions on what happened and the integrity of the Harper government.
Wright said he resigned “in light of the controversy surrounding my handling of matters involving Senator Duffy.”
“My actions were intended solely to secure the repayment of funds, which I considered to be in the public interest, and I accept sole responsibility.
“I did not advise the prime minister of the means by which Senator Duffy’s expenses were repaid, either before or after the fact.”
Harper accepted Wright’s resignation saying, “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 Conservatives promised in 2006 to run an honest and ethical government, however, it is clear this promise was broken. On November 30, 2005, Harper told the electorate:
“There’s going to be a new code on Parliament Hill: bend the rules, you will be punished; break the law, you will be charged; abuse the public trust, you will go to prison. If you behave unethically or dishonestly then do not expect a reward from this Prime Minister of Canada.”
The Conservatives have taken all the stops to try to sweep the scandal under the rug. Wright’s payment of Duffy’s $90,172 housing allowance is rewarding Duffy for fraudulent conduct.
Harper appointed Duffy in 2008 who then claimed $90,172 in inappropriate housing expenses. Duffy tried to dodge the issue, saying the media should be doing “adult work” and contradicting himself in statements. After a meeting February 20 with Wright who paid off his dues and had the government whitewash the audit to remove crucial details about Duffy. Meanwhile, the government sold Duffy as the example of “leadership” and said he did the “honourable thing to do.”
Harper has remained silent on the matter and no one in political circles believe he was unaware of what was happening.
Wright’s resignation raises more questions than answers. What do the Conservatives have to hide? What does Stephen Harper know about the affair? Why did statements last week give Wright full confidence? Is this just another attempt to sweep the matter under the rug? Who will answer questions if they’ve resigned and want to sweep the matter under the rug?
A full judicial inquiry is necessary to hold these people and this government accountable. Simple resignations and having other people pay money that was defrauded from the Canadian people is not a punishment and does not prove the government is serious about being accountable.
Harper said in 2005 that he would bring down the law on government officials who break the law and act unethically – where is he now?
The Conservatives tried to sweep the matter under the rug, rather than apply the accountability measures they long promised to do. While the Conservatives think they can sweep the matter under the rug by disassociating themselves with a scandal that happened inside the top of Conservative ranks only raises more questions and doubts on the integrity of the party.
“When does a government decide it’s time to become accountable? After 10 years? After they’ve proven how reckless they can be with our money? Maybe it’s when Canadians for good reason begin to question their accountability. I believe that when a government has to decide to become accountable, it’s time to demand a higher standard of government. It’s time to demand better.”
Stephen Harper, 2004 accountability campaign.
Is Nigel Wright’s resignation another attempt to sweep scandal under the rug? Should a full public inquiry be called?