Harper targeted in allegations raised in The Duffy Affair
The Duffy Affair exploded with controversy Tuesday when disgraced senator Mike Duffy implicated Prime Minister Stephen Harper in the scandal in a speech to the senate to save his job. The speech has led a domino effect exposing over a dozen Conservative insiders who knew of the affair – despite Harper’s claims that former Chief of Staff Nigel Wright acted alone.
“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’s been created in the media. The rules are inexplicable to our base”’ Duffy said as the embattled senator and his lawyer fight to defend his political life from the serious breech of trust he has been accused of committing.
While Harper has isolated the scandal to his former chief of staff, Duffy depicts a more sinister picture. When Harper told him to repay the expenses, Duffy complained he didn’t have the money and he followed the rules. This lead to the threat of his seat as Harper told Duffy senators David Tkachuk and Carolyn Stewart Olsen would announce the following morning to the Press that he was ineligible for his PEI senate seat because he lived in Ottawa.
Despite Harper’s threat, Duffy continued to protest until “Nigel Wright said, ‘Don’t worry, I’ll write the cheque,'” as Duffy states.
When the news learned of the cheque, “The PMO came back with a vengeance”, Duffy said, “the deal was off.”
The intimidation continued as Harper’s current chief of staff Ray Novak threatened Duffy to resign as a Conservative senator or be fired.
Pressure didn’t only come from Novak, Duffy claims former Senate leader Marjory LeBreton said, “You’ve got to do this Mike, do what I’m telling you, quit the caucus within the next 90 minutes. It is the only way to save your paycheque.”
Duffy also alleges the $90,000 silence agreement was made by “the several lawyers involved who were taking instructions from their clients — lawyers for the PMO, for the Conservative Party and me.”
This created a paper-trail which Duffy said was definitely in the hands of lawyers and the RCMP if it isn’t in the hands of the PMO. “If they’re not in the PMO, they’re in the hands of my lawyers and I suspect in the hands of the RCMP.”
The bombshell has led to new questions aimed at Harper in question period which led to a contradicition in what Harper has been saying. From the beginning of the scandal, Harper said Nigel Wright acted alone in the Duffy Affair and he was the only one who had the details.
In yesterday’s question period, Harper responded to hammering from Official Opposition leader Thomas Mulcair stating, “Mr. Wright made this decision. He has been very clear. He informed very few people. It was his own decision and his own initiative.
“Any insinuation or any suggestion that I knew or would have known is incorrect. As soon as I knew, I made this information available to the public and took the appropriate action.”
Mulcair released a statement pointing to a contradiction on whether Harper directly named Duffy in a Conservative caucus meeting.
“Last May, the Prime Minister’s Office published details of the Conservative caucus meeting on February 13. The Prime Minister’s own spokesperson said, ‘The Prime Minister did not mention Duffy or any other senator by name,’” Mulcair said.
“Yesterday, the Prime Minister claimed that he did single out Mike Duffy by name. Both of those things cannot be true. Which one is true, which one is false? He is changing versions again.”
Harper replied stating Duffy was named in caucus.
“In response, I was extremely clear. I said, ‘You cannot claim expenses you did not incur,’” Harper said. “That message was also delivered personally to Mr. Duffy at the end of the meeting.”
What do you think of bombshell allegations of Harper’s involvement in The Duffy Affair? What do you think of Harper’s overall method of dealing with the questions?