Monday, October 21, 2013

Duffy Strikes Back



The game may well and truly be afoot.

Senator Mike Duffy, his lawyers (and others) have all the e-mails in the Wright-Duffy affair and they are said to reveal how ruthlessly the Cavendish Cottager has been thrown under the Conservative Party bus.

Senator Mike Duffy's living expenses were "cleared from Day 1" by then Senate government leader Marjory LeBreton's office, and when they later became controversial, Duffy was pressured to take a deal from the Prime Minister's Office, his lawyer told a news conference Monday.
Lawyer Donald Bayne on Monday read from emails between Duffy and LeBreton's office as well as Prime Minister Stephen Harper's former chief of staff Nigel Wright and others, to support his claim that Duffy did not knowingly break Senate rules.
And, when the growing scandal became politically explosive, Duffy was "in effect" told by the PMO not to cooperate with auditors, Bayne said.
Bayne said the PMO told Duffy "the Tory base" was offended by his residency claims and he would have to repay money for all four years of secondary housing claims for his Ottawa home. Duffy's objections to repaying money he did not believe he owed, said Bayne, were greeted by "threats and pressure from the PMO."
One of those threats, said Bayne, was that Senators David Tkachuk and Carolyn Stewart Olsen, who held the majority on a Senate subcommittee, would declare Duffy's Senate appointment constitutionally invalid if he refused to co-operate with accepting a payment from Nigel Wright.
The PMO, Bayne said, came up with a "scenario' and communication lines for Duffy to use with the media about how to explain why he was paying back the expense money. "It was a political tactic forced on him by the PMO," Bayne said.
What I'm hearing is that Nigel Wright has spilled everything to the RCMP which is said to leave Harper appointee, Commissioner Paulson, with his own nuts in a vice.

Paulson tipped his hand on how he planned to play this scandal - or rather it was tipped for him - when, back in April, someone leaked Paulson's internal e-mail forbidding senior RCMP officers from speaking with MPs or senators without the boss's prior consent.  There are some who think Paulson may be instrumental in confining the investigation to Duffy and Wright and steering it well clear of Harper - classic damage control.

People are beginning to ask about the whereabouts of Benjamin Perrin who was chief legal counsel to the PMO and Harper's personal legal advisor during the Wright-Duffy transaction. Perrin left the PMO the month before the scandal broke, returning to the UBC law school. The web site shows him on the faculty teaching international, constitutional and criminal law.

Nigel Wright, Benjamin Perrin, Chris Woodcock, David van Hemmen (fingered by Wright), senators Irving Gerstein, Marjory LeBreton, David Tkachuk, Carolyn Stewart-Olsen, and, of course, the senator for Prince Edward Island hisself, Michael Dennis Duffy - not to mention half of Conservative Ottawa - and the only person who didn't know anything about it, not a word, was Stephen Joseph Harper, the biggest control freak in Canada's prime ministerial history.  Yeah, Steve,sure.

The law appears to state that giving or lending money to a sitting senator or immediate family member in connection with his office is an offence.  As Duffy's lawyer explains it, however, this is more than a gift of money.  It sounds much more like extorting Duffy to take the money on conditions as to its use and his future conduct on pain of losing his seat if he didn't comply.   Extorting a senator to accept a bribe.  Now that would be one for the books.

15 comments:

e.a.f. said...

while Duffy and Wallin were running up expenses, which we are told now, they weren't entitled to, they were fund raising for the federal Conservatives.

So if Duffy and Wallin were "illegally" expensing these travels, will the federal Conservative Party be returning the money Duffy and Wallin raised for them? Just wanted to know.

Owen Gray said...

The control freak has lost control of this one, Mound. And there will be hell to pay. But, this time, Mr. Harper will be on the receiving end.

Lorne said...

I guess Mr. Harper has now realized how hard it is to hire good and discrete help these days, Mound.

The Mound of Sound said...

It may be too early to say with any confidence that old
Beelzebub has lost control of this one, Owen. The RCMP brass are past masters at skulduggery. Look at how Zacardelli gamed the election to help Harper take power with his fake Goodale scandal. Later on he absolutely refused to be questioned on that.

We don't know if and how far Paulson would be willing to go to insulate Harper from the Duffy-Wright investigation.

Lorne, I think the fact is that Harper had good help, the best in fact in Wright and Perrin. Don't forget this whole thing blew up due only to a leaked Duffy e-mail. If Duffy had dummied up - as he was told to do - instead of gossiping to his old chums, we probably would never have known a thing about this.

Scotian said...

I've maintained all along that there was no way that Wright would act as he did without at the very least a general permission given by his boss, no CoS would in such a position. Yes, they can have broad latitude in their powers to act as the alter ego for their boss, but they must also because of that closely conform with what they know to be the wishes of their boss, which means they must when starting/creating policy and matters that carry clear potential risks at least get some sort of consent first, even if it is along the lines of "There is a problem with Duffy that could cause major problems for the government, do I have authority to take any actions I deem necessary?" type of conversation. Which I might add I do not believe would be the case with Harper given his well known and lengthy track record of micromanaging his affairs in political life both before becoming PM as well as after. No I think Harper was far more informed than has yet to be proven (IOW yes I think Harper is lying without any restraint, he has proven in the past to be willing to say whatever he feels he has to for political protection, why should now be any different).

What this latest round is all about is Duffy firing back at Harper for Harper throwing him under the bus and trying to cut Duffy's financial resources to reduce his ability to fight back, something which should have been entirely foreseeable. Also, given Duffy's background in media it would be shocking if he didn't have a large paper trail and know how to use it to best effect against Harper, something which I would have thought obvious to Harper which makes me wonder why the Harperites went as far as they did to get him (and the other two Wallin and Brazeau) denied his salary as a sitting Senator. This was what I expected as soon as I heard about that move over the weekend.

All along Duffy had been a big fish within the CPC pond, because of how powerful a resource for fundraising and media control/presence he represented. I did find it interesting that after this latest round Normal Spectre tweeted that this may be when we saw the beginning of the end of Harper's Prime Ministership though. Given Spectre's own understanding of the role of a CoS to a sitting PM I think that is a very interesting comment indeed.

Purple library guy said...

Interesting comment, Scotian.
But please don't use "both . . . as well as" constructions. You're better than that. I stand on guard for "both . . . and". Or "as well as" by itself. But not the two together.
Sorry, just taking the pet peeve for a walk here.

Scotian said...

PLG:

*SIGH*

REALLY?!?

I wrote several very snarky retorts and then erased them as unworthy of me, and disrespectful of the blogger whose place we are in. Take that to mean I am getting tired of your apparent inability to let go of a grudge you appear to have formed last spring when I took a strongly different view on a process issue than you did. As I recall it was regarding the different ways for voting reformation, where I favoured the transferable/ranking vote as the most practical and you clearly favoured PR and took sharp exception to what I said regarding its practicality in the Canadian context given its history so far here. You have ever since managed to find the rare comments I make these days and have something negative to say about them, though usually about the content and not the format as you did here. You need to stop taking things quite so personally and forming/holding grudges for so long based off of one political disagreement is hardly the act of a mature person in my view. Please, let it go already.

MoS:

Sorry about this, but this has been getting slowly more and more irritating, especially since I rarely stick my head up anymore in the political blogosphere. I would much prefer to limit my arguments to matters of political content instead of such personalities, if I want personalities I can always find places online that host/thrive on such brawling, however it is not my preference, especially not when one is dealing with serious issues such as these.

Getting back to the actual theme of the comment, as I said before I think this was timed both because of the vote in the Senate starting tomorrow, but I also think Duffy wanted to ruin Harper's triumphant return to Parliament with CETA in hand too. I strongly suspect Duffy is mightily offended at being treated so shabbily by Harper. For a man of his importance and significance to the Canadian political world (as Duffy sees himself of course, not how I or most people likely do) to be so treated, well the bile and bitterness forming cannot be minor, and needs expression too. I really think Norman Spectre may have been correct, but seeing what Harper has managed to survive to this date over the past quarter century I assume nothing on that score anymore.

The Mound of Sound said...

@ Scotian. Thanks for the heads up on the Spector tweets. I looked them up and found them quite interesting.

It's telling that Harper's opposition on this is from a cadre within his own party, a Conservative insurgency. The Liberals and NDP have virtually no hand in this whatsoever. If Harper falls it will be an end befitting a parliamentary Julius Caesar.

What came out today was a game changer. Up to this point it was Nigel Wright stupidly trying to make good the loss to taxpayers caused by Duffy. Bad Duffy, bad Duffy. Stupid Wright. In the Court of Public Opinion, no harm, no foul.

That all changed today when Duffy's lawyer alleged the Cavendish Cottager was blackmailed into the PMO bailout deal. Do as we say or we'll have you disqualified as a senator for PEI and you'll be out. That injects a strong element of criminality into this business.

Now Duffy's counsel claims to have information that ties Harper directly into these dealings. Is that feasible? Absolutely. If the allegation of extortion is factual, it raises the spectre of a remarkably wide conspiracy that reaches past Wright and his PMO colleagues and extends to senior Tory senators and the Prime Minister.

I'm told the RCMP commish, Paulson, is under a lot of pressure but pressure to do exactly what and from whom isn't clear. My guess is that there aren't many who could bring terrific pressure on Paulson to steer this investigation and those who might would be primarily focused on limiting the scope to just Mike Duffy and Nigel Wright.

Stay tuned.

Scotian said...

MoS:

I hope it is a game changer, but so far we have only the word of Duffy's lawyer that these documents exist as he claims, and that they say what they do, not the actual documents themselves. That limits our ability to call this actual evidence being provided. That said though, (and I grew up in a multi-generational legal family, doctors and lawyers were the two top occupations for three generations so I have some small familiarity with them) lawyers do not make it a habit to make public false claims even in defence of a client. The risks to the professional credibility and ability to even continue to be a practitioner given how the bar association will look upon such behaviour (especially if anyone make a complaint to them about it) makes it very unlikely that any decent layer would take such a chance making this more than just taking what some guy says is true as well. Not quite evidence but more than just hearsay/gossip on the credibility level I would say.

What this release did do though was place the question of who to believe in this, Duffy or Harper, very much out there in the public mind, and scarily enough Duffy appears more credible at this stage then the PM given the non-answers Harper has used ever since his first approach of how all were honourable men acting honourably blew up in his face and cost him a very competent and capable not to mention well regarded CoS in Wright. Harper has acted like the proverbial boy caught with his hand in the cookie jar from the outset, and since the RCMP laid out their own affadavits regarding more than just Wright in the PMO having knowledge despite Harper emphatically claiming otherwise in the House months back Duffy actually is coming off as more credible I believe to most people following this story even at the superficial level.

As to the head of the RCMP being under pressure, if he is trying to protect Harper that pressure could well be from his subordinates who release this or at the least suspect it and are professionally offended by such and could leak it out if he goes too far (or even worse go public with it willing to sacrifice their careers because their professional sense of honour/ethics demands it) in that protection. What Zac did in 2006 is as nothing compared to blocking a legitimate criminal investigation into the PMO and PM, and I cannot bring myself to accept that all of the senior members of the RCMP are both that corrupt and that much aligned to Harper/CPC. I still believe there are many good and true professionals still in that organization as well as those that have shown they should never have been accepted, I have to believe that or what can I believe in where the rule of law being applied is concerned anymore. Yes, I know, I am wildly optimistic, almost Pollyanna like in this regard, but I have known too many decent Mounties in my life to shake it off completely.

I've always maintained it beggared belief that Harper knew nothing about Duffy, Duffy was simply too big a fish in his pond on the fundraising side in Harper's rise to majority government, and the actions taken by Wright were simply too far out there not to have been at the minimum given permission to by Harper. Indeed, I would be more inclined to belief the idea originated from Harper than Wright given what we know about each man. I think these actions taken by Duffy and his layer only make that more and more likely to be proven out, and I hope Spectre is correct, and given his own conservative nature in making such predictions that he did so I think is telling.

Well, see you around, take care.

Anonymous said...

I used to see the Duffster at my local back in the day. He was an egoist, certainly, but he was also a decent guy. A young student bartender brought her parents to the pub just to meet Mike, and he was polite and generous, buying them a drink and spending an hour with them in conversation.

The Mound of Sound said...

All I can say at this point, Scotian, is that there are others who have complete sets of the relevant documents. I know one, possibly two of them. That, of course, is in addition to the PMO, Harper and Harper's current counsel, the RCMP, and who knows how many others. In the Ottawa fishbowl, these things have a way of circulating.

@Anon. You're quite accurate in your depiction of Duffy. I've known him going back to '72 or '73 although we were never much more than friendly acquaintances. He was always very convivial and that served him extremely well in his younger, ambitious days as a journalist and even more so later on. The incident you described comes as no surprise to me.

Purple library guy said...

Scotian: Um, what? No, I've forgotten whatever that was about. I'm just persnickety about certain points of grammar/usage, honest. Sheesh, I wasn't even being nasty about it--I thought a light tone was fairly solidly signalled by such lines as "Just taking the pet peeve out for a walk", "I stand on guard for" and such.

Maybe you should be doing some letting go. Of, uh, whatever we're supposed to be letting go of.

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