The Duffy Affair: Just how many more could there be?

Julian Wolfe
October 26th, 2013

There is no going back on The Duffy Affair, the breach of trust and scar to the Conservative brand will last a while. The story is on people’s minds and despite an aggressive effort to get it off the agenda, the fall session of Parliament is picking up where the spring session left off – in an interrogation room setting with an opposition playing whack a mole with a defiant prime minister.

To think the initial news of a $90,000 cheque disrupted the subtle flow of politics in Ottawa, it would have never been known if it weren’t for a leak to an experienced and well-networked journalist. As time evolved, more leaks were made, expanding the scandal to more people and more clout. Again, we see information that would have been deeply under the rug if it weren’t for the right openings in a tightly sealed gate.

This begs the question: How far does this scandal reach?

The only people who can tell you how deep the mess is are the people who made it and these people either aren’t talking or are in the process of back-room deals trying to cover it up.

The story from May has changed. Mike Duffy went from a state of avoiding the media and being called honourable for repaying $90,000 in inappropriate housing claims to the criminal of the hour conspiring behind closed doors to fraud taxpayers and today is the victim trying to save his job. They say when your livelihood is in danger, you’re more likely to sing like a canary and if the chain of events continue, Duffy’s bombshell allegation that Prime Minister Stephen Harper threatened him to repay the money is only just the beginning.

Duffy affirmed that whatever paper trail the PMO refused to pull up is either in the hands of the RCMP or his lawyers and deleting emails is only as effective as finding their meta data traced back in the roots of servers.

Harper’s attitude has also changed on the matter. Progressing from a story that isolated the scandal to “a matter [Nigel Wright] kept to himself” to a scenario where Wright told “only a few people.” A contradiction from a man who has hid behind trade deals and parliamentary secretaries, along with simple and pointed attacks to the opposition.

This isn’t the only contradiction Harper has made. In the Wallin Affair, Harper said, “In terms of Senator [Pamela] Wallin, I have looked at the numbers, her travel costs are comparable to any parliamentarian travelling from that particular area of the country over that period of time.” However, senate audits have found her owing to be staggering.

Add to the scandal, Patrick Brazeau who is rigorously fighting for his political life and has recently said Canadians have something to be worried about with Harper’s conduct throughout the scandal, adding that Harper has “lost [his] vote.”

While the Duffy Affair is the big story because it hit the PMO hard, allegations read the same people involved with the Duffy Affair are implicated in the Brazeau and Wallin affairs. On a rare Friday sitting, Brazeau dropped a bombshell after the new senate leader Claude Carignan offered an easier ride for apologizing to Canadians.

While this scandal has hit the airwaves and kitchen tables across the country, this abuse in taxpayer money isn’t new to the Conservatives. Canadians were outraged when Bev Oda changed hotels on taxpayer’s dime to get $16 orange juice and 5-star service. The Conservatives didn’t look any better when then-Defence Minister Peter MacKay changed his hotel suite, and when he started using taxpayer-funded helicopters for free rides. Going back a bit more, how have the gazebos in Tony Clement’s riding been fairing with funds that were allocated to border security? It appears hundreds of thousands of dollars in misused senate allowance is only part of a trend, albeit one with much more embarrassing consequences.

Harper too enjoyed this kind of luxury, using his taxpayer funded jet on occasions to take his family to sporting events – although he claims to have refunded the consumer cost of the flights.

In a time when Canadians are met with a government that has campaigned relentlessly on accountability and instead decided to build firewalls and hide, it is hard to distinguish truth from lies and everything in-between. Duffy has yet to add substance to his claim that Harper threatened him, but already we see Harper responded to the bait. When it came time to look strong, of course Harper told Duffy his actions were wrong, but did Harper sing the same tune this spring when he offloaded the scandal to Nigel Wright?

However, let’s return to the root of the scandal. Would we have known if it weren’t for the leak? Likely not? Was there an attempt to cover up the scandal? Very likely. Given this, what are the odds there is more under wraps  we don’t know of? That, only time can tell.

It is without saying then, that as easily as this scandal can be isolated to the handful of senators and PMO staff currently under scrutiny, it can be a chronic issue and there are many layers to dig before reaching the truth. Is this scandal isolated or chronic?

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   Categories: Accountability, Featured, Government Mismanagement, Integrity, Scandal, The Duffy Affair

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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.

In its length, in its cost and in its debate schedule, this election is unusual. The first and possibly only real debate of the campaign ended and here are the highlights of what happened.

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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