The Duffy Affair: Harper takes a beating in Question Period
For the first time since the scandal broke, Prime Minister Stephen Harper appeared in Question Period to answer the many question opposition leaders had concerning the Duffy affair. NDP leader Thomas Mulcair and Liberal leader Justin Trudeau hammered the government with short concise questions that were difficult to dodge. At times, Harper looked shaken, and still managed to dodge questions.
Questions were thrown at Harper from both Mulcair and Trudeau. When was Harper informed of Nigel Wright’s cheque to Duffy? demanded Mulcair. When did he first speak of the matter to Wright? What directives did he give to Wright? And why did it take days for the prime minister to move from complete support of Wright to accepting his resignation?
Harper was on the defensive and said he only learned of the deal May 15, a day after the news reported the PMO endorsed Nigel Wright’s actions.
Mulcair asked Harper if he had discussed the matter with his former press secretary, Senator Carolyn Stewart Olsen, and if he had raised the issue in cabinet.
Harper replied, “The Senate committee has been very clear, it made its own report on these matters, the government’s position is also extremely well-known. Inappropriate expenditures, when people claim expenditures that they never actually incurred, these are inappropriate and must be repaid to the taxpayers.”
Mulcair asked the question again, saying the question was “simple and straightforward.”
Harper dodged the question yet again. “The Senate committee report is a Senate committee report, it is not a matter of government or cabinet business. That is plainly obvious.”
When Mulcair started asking Harper if statements were correct, Harper stuttered and often said “correct” only to correct himself and say “incorrect” in a low voice.
Trudeau asked his share of questions, demanding Harper release all documentation.
The fact that Harper only found out the morning of May 15 was also subject to question given the news was released on CTV the night before. Trudeau charged, “Is the prime minister so unaware of what’s going on in his own office that he didn’t know about it the night before, when the news broke?”
Trudeau then went on to grill Harper on why it took 5 days for him to accept the resignation of Nigel Wright considering he learned about the scandal on May 15 and also defended him in the beginning. Harper dodged the question saying Wright resigned and will face an investigation.
What do you think of Harper’s dealing in Question Period?