Mike Duffy's cheque to the Government of Canada after receiving this
amount from Nigel Wright. It all looks like Duffy paid it himself. Note the
Prince Edward Island address on this cheque a transparent
attempt to establish his principal residence in that province when it
is common knowledge that Duffy lives permanently in Ottawa
and has done so for over 30 years.
Duffy trial: Nigel Wright testimony sullies the Harper Government and calls into question Wright’s squeaky clean straight shooting reputation.
Nigel Wright is that kind of person who projects that he is above the fray and tensions of normal life. His ascetic devotion to running a half marathon each morning and his crisp persona as he enters court for the Duffy trial belies a political operative whose main operation with Duffy was to make an embarrassing problem go away.
When he quotes the New Testament that good works are to be done but not seen that hides the fact that he ponied up over $90,000 of his own funds in the service of Stephen Harper. Such loyalty is surely designed to be rewarded in heaven. Instead of being grateful, Stephen Harper hung Nigel Wright out to dry with either a resignation or a firing. We still don’t know which it was.
The Teflon around Stephen Harper is wearing off. The machinations of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to make this Duffy thing go away is over the top. Memos, back biting, control of Senators and what is worst the Prime Minister’s own lawyer Benjamin Perrin in the thick of it all, makes for a turgid lack of perspective by a lot of people operating for Stephen Harper.
If Benjamin Perrin knew about the Duffy cheque from Nigel Wright he was obligated by his professional lawyer-client relationship with Stephen Harper to tell him what was going down after Nigel Wright decided to financially buy Duffy out of his troubles. Perrin should be disciplined by the Law Society. The whole affair smells of too much power concentrated in the PMO. It is now obvious that they couldn't see the wood for the trees and in the process lost their moral compass.
The PMO is no nine to five job. People serve at the pleasure of the Prime Minister. They serve long hours and in a tense environment. In short they play with political power and they wield it in this case in Stephen Harper’s name. They are adjutants to the Prime Minister. Their job is to control information, put out fires, tell a consistent message and keep members of parliament in the House of Commons and the Senate on the same page as their boss.
The reputation of the PMO is that they are sharp young things who work unreasonable hours seven days a week 24 hours a day to impart the Prime Minister’s narrative to Canadians. They are politicos and in a word propagandists. One of their key jobs is to protect the Prime Minister from criticism.
When the Senate scandal broke and Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau became a problem over their expenses the Prime Minister needed to be distanced from the fray even if he appointed these three to the Senate and had used them widely to fund raise and for the Conservatives and to spread his right wing agenda for Canada.
The way Stephen Harper works is if anyone gets off message, or creates embarrassments for him they have to fall on their swords. Nigel Wright returned to the private sector after Harper fired/accepted his resignation. Onyx sent him to mange their operations in the United Kingdom.
Mike Duffy who seems confused by what the Senate told him could be expenses and the optics of his expenses in the PMO and the potential embarrassment to Stephen Harper. Normally these expense wrangles when they happen can be ironed out by the Senate itself. However in this instance, the PMO and Nigel Wright got involved and not only for Duffy but also Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau.
The PMO influence from the beginning of this sad affair meant that the routine became a Stephen Harper priority which could only be satisfied by a very public suspension of these three Conservative notables. These operations by the PMO on Stephen Harper’s behalf were done partially to show that the Government is on top of the Senate Reform file something they promised to do over 10 years ago when they came to power.
Stephen Harper’s current stance on the Senate is not to fill over 20 vacancies. This must be his Senate reform policy for the moment since his appointees Duffy, Wallin and Brazeau have left such a bad taste in the public’s mouth that no one wants to open this can of worms further except the New Democrats who want to abolish the Senate a policy designed to create a Constitutional crisis.
One of the reasons why this kind of thing happens is the PMO has lost touch with the purpose of government which of course is to serve Canadians. They see Canadians, even members of Parliament, even Conservatives, as an enemy to be manipulated and controlled. They have a nasty message that anyone who counters their point of view is an enemy.
The PMO is not made up of democrats. Democratic ideas for this group is now seen as weak, wet and without substance. They hold that whatever is needed to stay in power is what they do. They are pragmatic, mean and loyal to Stephen Harper’s right wing ideas for Canada.
When Nigel Wright testifies as an alleged man of rectitude in court this week remember who he agreed to work for and who he agreed to protect from the Senate expense scandal. He thought he could buy Duffy and that didn’t work. He thought he could distance Stephen Harper from the fray and that hasn’t worked either. His testimony this week has supported the defence of Mike Duffy because under oath there is no spin on what happened.
The bottom line: The PMO is out of control under Stephen Harper and only his defeat at the polls this fall can rectify this sad fact and his attack on Canadian democracy.