The Duffy Affair: NDP calls for RCMP probe

Julian Wolfe
May 20th, 2013

The NDP are calling for a probe into the $90,172 cheque former Chief of Staff Nigel Wright gave disgraced former Conservative senator Mike Duffy in the midst of a senate spending scandal. The scandal has since evolved, particularly since CTV learned that Duffy’s actions were linked to an agreement that saw the government cover up his fraudulent housing allowance claims.

Many questions remain unanswered, particularly pertaining to why the cheque was given and how much Prime Minister Stephen Harper actually knew about the affair. While the implicated Conservatives insist Harper didn’t know, it is hard to believe considering the firm grip of control he has on the government and “not knowing” will hardly be a valid excuse to Canadians when Harper charged in 2006 that former Prime Ministers Jean Chretien’s and Paul Martin’s unknowing wouldn’t whitewash.

Speaking of whitewash, CTV learned the audit obtained by the senate was whitewashed by Conservatives before it was released in an effort to protect Duffy and follow through with the agreement on February 20. Many still don’t know what the agreement entailed and this is why an investigation is necessary.

At a press conference this afternoon, NDP ethics critic Charlie Angus said he wrote to RCMP commissioner  Robert Paulson asking for an investigation.

“I am concerned that such acts may violate the laws that the RCMP is charged with upholding and enforcing. I request that the RCMP take these concerns into account, investigate promptly and take all appropriate action,” Angus writes in the letter.

The Conservatives aren’t the only party facing scrutiny about possible corruption. NDP leader Thomas Mulcair has questions to answer to pertaining to why he waited 17 years to report that arrested Laval Mayor Gilles Vaillancourt tried to give him a brown envelope, which he rejected, when he was a minister in Quebec’s Liberal government.

Considering the current scandal involves the Conservatives and they need to be held accountable, there is no use focusing on the NDP’s affairs for now as we want answers from a government that will use almost anything to dodge them – even a media lockdown as they showed when Nigel Wright resigned yesterday.

At the conference, Angus urged Harper to “come clean” about what he knew of the affair. Harper has been notably silent throughout the entire affair.

Angus also wants to know about the validity of Wright’s claim in his resignation. “I did not advise the prime minister of the means by which Senator Duffy’s expenses were repaid, either before or after the fact,” Wright said in his resignation statement.

“Stephen Harper is famous for his control over his government and MPs,” said Angus. “And we’re expected to believe that [he was unaware that] his chief of staff was negotiating a secret deal to pay off Mr. Duffy?”

Canadians aren’t buying it either as the hashtag #PMHarperMustResign trended on twitter.

Angus also referred to an email where Duffy said “I stayed silent on the orders of the PMO” and wants to know if Senators were told to go easy on him.

“The Senate has shown absolutely no leadership on this…they have been pitiful in their response,” noted Angus. “It seems that they’re more interested in protecting their own. So I ask the Senate: ‘Where are you guys?'”

Angus also noted Duffy was the only senator offered a bailout while other Conservative senators face the same housing allowance issues. “We know this kind of payment wasn’t offered to Patrick Brazeau.”

“Something was offered to Mike Duffy, we don’t know yet,” said Angus. “The question that has to be answered is: What was the $90,000 payment for and were there other senators involved? … Whether or not they changed the findings [of their report on Duffy] to go easy on one of their political pals is a major major breach of public trust.”

Angus said Harper needs to come clean and reveal his role in the deal.

“Canadians deserve the truth – something they have not gotten yet from the prime minister or the Conservatives.”

Harper campaigned in 2006 on accountability telling Canadians:

“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.”

It is ironic the tough on crime Prime Minister needed the NDP to go to the RCMP for him. One would think that with Robocall and now The Duffy Affair, an innocent Prime Minister with integrity would call a public inquiry and lay down the law as Harper promised but nothing has happened.

It is too late for Harper to fix his image, his credibility is gone on this matter and Canadians aren’t buying their talking points. It turns out something Harper once said about the Liberals now applies to him.

“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.

What do you think will come of an RCMP investigation? Will it happen? What will it reveal about the internal dealings of the PMO with Duffy?

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On Monday, the longest campaign in modern history will come to a close and if current polls are any indication, Canada may be seeing a change in government after 9 years of Conservative rule under the leadership of Stephen Harper. Accountability was his calling card in 2006 and today, accountability may very well be one of the defining reasons for his departure.

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Prime Minister Stephen Harper left Rideau Hall this morning with Governor General David Johnston’s approval to drop the writ and Canadians are now officially headed to the polls on October 19. For the first time since fixed election date legislation was brought in by the Conservative government, a fixed election date has been followed.

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