The Duffy Affair: Harper attacks opposition in Question Period

Julian Wolfe
May 30th, 2013

The barrage of opposition questions came again today but rather than stutter and be caught off guard, Prime Minister Stephen Harper fought back, changing the topic and responding with direct attacks on his opponents. NDP leader Thomas Mulcair was able to get through a bulk of his list of questions and like Tuesday, they were sharp and concise.

“Who in the Prime Minister’s Office has a copy of that email?” Mulcair asked.

“Mr. Speaker, this is an email, I understand, of Mr. Duffy, a former Conservative senator … As we know well, the activities of Mr. Duffy are being looked into by the appropriate authorities and of course any and all information we have will be shared with the authorities,” Harper replied.

As the interrogation continued, Harper filled the gaps by pointing seven times to revelations that Mulcair was almost bribed by former Mayor of Laval 17 years ago during his time as a Quebec minister. Mulcair hadn’t contacted authorities until recently, prompting a barrage of attacks. Harper then went after Trudeau charging he was refusing to deal with a scandal involving the husband of a Liberal senator who has $1.8 million stored in offshore bank accounts.

Mulcair’s statements today insisted he would “continue to hold [Harper’s] feet to the fire.”

“[Harper] would have us believe this was just between Nigel Wright and Mike Duffy,” Mulcair said, adding he believes there’s sufficient grounds to believe others were involved.

When Mulcair was asked about his thoughts on Duffy’s rejected claims, he replied, “If someone’s expense claims are being consistently rejected, that sets off a yellow light on the dashboard, if not a red one.”

Mulcair accused Harper of not being serious with senate reform, adding it costs taxpayers $100 million to upkeep.

Trudeau told reporters Harper is only able “to block, to obfuscate,” adding that he still wonders why the PMO defended Nigel Wright and why it took Harper 5 days to accept his resignation upon learning he did something wrong.

Conservatives defended Harper.

“The PM had nothing to do with this. I think that’s very clear,” said Sault Ste. Marie MP Brian Hayes.

“The prime minister was truthful. He was honest and told us exactly what happened,” echoed Jay Aspin, MP for Nipissing-Timiskaming.

But NDP Ethics critic Charlie Angus fired back.

“For crying out loud, even the senators are saying this stinks to high heaven. They said there was major inappropriate spending by Mike Duffy. Now Nigel Wright was in contact with the Senate. They were talking about what was going on, so certainly the prime minister must have known that these were really dodgy expense claims and then the secret cheque was cut to cover all this up,” Angus said.

Angus concluded, with the police being called in by the senate to look over the affair, how can the prime minister continue to see the affair as “no big deal?”

What do you think of Harper’s decision to attack the opposition? Was it standard protocol or an attempt to dodge questions he didn’t like?

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