Sunday, December 01, 2013

At Last, Harper PMO Coughs Up Perrin E-mails.

Will miracles never cease?  An act of outright resurrection in the prime minister's office.   E-mails once pronounced deleted have been raised from the dead.

The e-mails are those of Benjamin Perrin, former PMO chief counsel and legal adviser to Stephen J. Harper himself.

The lost are now found.  It was all a mix-up, a simple error, could happen to anyone.  At least that's the cover story for why the PMO told the RCMP that the Perrin e-mails pertaining to the Wright-Duffy-Harper under-the-table cash scandal had been deleted.  It's not clear whether the PMO got that idea from Benny or someone else cooked up the story.

You may recall that Perrin has only addressed the affair once and that was to deny any and all personal involvement.   Somewhat later Perrin was fingered by disgraced former chief of staff, Nigel Wright, as one of four top PMO aides in on the deal.  Eventually it was revealed that Perrin in fact negotiated the deal with Duffy's lawyer, Janet Payne, and created a paper trail of correspondence and e-mails.

Which begs the question of what young professor Benny had in his highly-educated mind when he issued his pretty unequivocal denial.  It sounds like the sort of thing one might expect from a person in panic at being caught in the headlights on a dark road.

It's interesting that the Privy Council Office letter notifying the RCMP of the discovery of Perrin's e-mails is shown as copied to Robert W. Staley of the law firm, Bennett Jones.   Could be that Perrin has also lawyered up.


Boris said...

Note also that this comes at a time when the PM is and his cover band are out of the country on tour in Israel/Palestine, and Jordan.

the salamander said...

.. CTV reports Perrin, Woodcock and Rogers are now represented by Bay St law firms instead of government solicitors. Of course Arthur Hamilton has disappeared suddenly.. and these three PMO stalwarts may be dragged into a criminal case, not Hamilton's expertise yet.. and he would almost certainly be 'named' in evidence.. and must recuse.

One suspects an unmentioned back up set of emails has surfaced.. or been suggested via back channels. in which case, the PMO via the PCO is 'forked' .. in a lose/lose situation, and must release the identical but 'inadvertantly not revealed' PCO held Perrin emails re another ligigation matter that will of course... allow for redaction or legal whitholding of certain non related emails or those related to national security..

Its a flaming stinking crock.. Harper/PMO dodgeball and absolute obstruction, delay, legal gaming and denials.. One must also ask, where are the corresponding binders and folders and case files of hard copy of PMO emails re Canadian Government communications? And .. regarding this 'other litigation' involving Benjamin Perrin. Am I mistaken, or was Perrin's first and only job, straight out of law school.. as a Reform Party policy wonk intern? One would certainly think so.. !

CuJoYYC said...

Perrin. Just another career politician that the Reform types once claimed they loathed. Ah, but that was then and this is now.

Ah the Reform/Alliance career politicians who believe so strongly in the private sector free market without actually ever working in said private sector. Why do so many free market fundamentalists not rely on the free market for their own income, but are first in line with their snouts in the public trough?

Stephen Harper - career politician, academic
Tom Flanagan - career academic
Jason Kenney - career politician, lifelong political hack
Rob Anders - career politician and formerly "a foreign political saboteur"
Ted "Freddie Lee" Morton - career academic and politician
Barry Cooper - career academic
Rainer Knopff - career academic
David Bercuson - career academic
John Baird - career politician, lifelong political hack
Pierre Poilievre - career politician, lifelong political hack
Jim Flaherty - has never met a budget that he could balance
Tony Clement - career politician and lifelong political hack
Tenured and/or pensioned for life with many double and triple dippers all drinking heartily from the public trough.

Pity the poor publicly paid political and academic elites. Now, if only we can get this message out to their myopic anti-itellectual, anti-career politico base. Maybe, just maybe some of them will see the hypocrisy of their voting intentions.

Owen Gray said...

Harper believes he can put this to bed. He's delusional.

LeDaro said...

When Benjamin Perrin realized that deleted e-mails can be recovered from a hard disk he decided to make the e-mails available anyway. The saga of Senate and PMO brings out ongoing twists and turns. It is looking more interesting than Watergate now. Written letters can be destroyed but destroying e-mails is not that easy.

Dana said...

Re-written, redacted and cleansed to protect Il Duce.

Anonymous said...

I had posted elsewhere last week the question how Perrin would expect to mount his legal defence if all his emails had been lost. Interesting that suddenly, praise the Lord, and Harper (?), his emails have been resurrected just when taxpayers found out that they will be paying the legal defence for Perrin and the other PMO staffers (Woodcock, Rogers).

Question though is, why would anyone have any confidence that these resurrected emails have not been doctored in favor of whoever (Perrin, Harper, PMO)?

Also, it would seem that the only way for Perrin to avoid professional sanction for failing to inform Harper about the Duffy bailout scheme is to demonstrate in these emails that he did do so. But then, that would mean Harper would be on the hook, so I doubt that this would be the case. So, why produce the emails now? Guess we will find out(provided that the emails are genuine).

On the matter of Jesus and Harper, however, the former could only raise Lazarus but not his emails. Harper and his PCO/PMO, on the other hand seem to be able to raise not only Perrin, but also all his emails as well. Impressive, no?

bluegreenblogger said...

One thing that has struck me is the fact that Perrin is Harpers Lawyer, and legal counsel for the PMO. I am wondering if client solicitor privelidges apply to his communications with either of his clients? I am not a lawyer, so I really do not know what happens with commmunications like that when they are uncoverd. Maybe it will turn out that Perrin emails will be deemed to be inadmissable. They are bound to be very damning though.cyoung 21

The Mound of Sound said...

A couple of points that haven't been factored in yet. First is the timing of the disclosure.

The Privy Council letter indicates that the missing e-mails were "found" after the RCMP made further demands last week. That could mean that disclosure was not entirely voluntary.

Harper may have realized/been told that the game was up on the Perrin e-mails; that the RCMP was not going to go away. The cover story that they had been discovered in some "litigation hold" seems a tad implausible.

Harper yields ground only when his hand is forced. It was only after Nigel Wright fingered other top PMO aides that Harper stopped claiming it was a deal strictly between Wright and Duffy and no one else knew a thing.

The other point is whether there's any sign of e-mails, memos, etc. from Perrin to Harper. If such documents exist I would expect Harper to assert solicitor-client privilege in respect of them. The Perrin e-mails, when they are turned over, should tell us if there's going to be a privilege fight.

The Mound of Sound said...

@Boris - yes Harper is delighted to have received a timely invitation to take the waters in Israel. Canada's holy father in the Holy Land what could be more perfect? He'll probably be bitter that, if only he'd had a better father, he could have been divine too.

The Mound of Sound said...

@ Sal. I suspect you're on the right track. The RCMP does seem to have been pressuring the PMO for these documents, suggesting they knew them to still exist.

Then there's the high likelihood that Perrin kept a set for his council when he bolted from Ottawa like a scalded cat in the aftermath of the Duffy-Wright cash deal. I'm sure his counsel has a complete set.

The Mound of Sound said...

@ CuJo - very nice rogues gallery there. Years ago I did a post about the number of front bench Tories that had no post-secondary education and the surprising number (like LeBreton) who didn't graduate high school either.

The Mound of Sound said...

@ Owen. Harper may be descending into some sort of psychoses. A lesser fiend would have cracked by now.

@ LD. These e-mails appear to have come from the PMO. Perrin probably has his own copies which could make him a threat to Harper if the boss tries to make a human sacrifice out of him as he has so many others.

Perrin's name never crosses Harper's lips. I wonder what understanding those two reached when Perrin hightailed it out of Ottawa.

The Mound of Sound said...

Dana, there's a huge risk in altering documents you cough up in the course of a police investigation. People go to jail for that sort of obstruction.

You can redact to your heart's content and fight that out in court but concealing or altering documents is insanely risky especially if someone else, like Perrin, might also have copies of the originals.

The Mound of Sound said...

@ Anon. We can speculate endlessly about how and when these documents were discovered/disclosed. So many possibilities. The fact they were withheld so long still needs explaining. The explanation is a "litigation hold."

Law firms wrestle with this all the time. How long do they keep storing a client's files? How long to keep pleadings. How long to keep correspondence or records? How long to retain evidence? It's expensive to store thousands of boxes of files and documents over many years but it's risky to cull them too quickly.

That Perrin's e-mails were retained is only common sense.

Scotian said...

What I am really bothered by this is that it appears this was from the PCO, not the PMO. That the PCO, where the supposed professionals work out of as opposed to the partisans, where unable to find e-mails the RCMP repeatedly asked for, and yet suddenly found them now? The degree of incompetence or corruption of the Office this suggests is mindblowing for me. This business of unrelated legal action preserving them makes no sense to me in terms of explaining away how they supposedly missed them in the first place either.


As to your point I am with MoS on this one. If there is even the slightest hint of such editing after the fact now that the RCMP are actively investigating that would open up criminal obstruction charges being added. I could buy it if Harper had full control over the RCMP, but I don't think he does, more influence over it than he should yes, but not enough to keep the lid on something like that. If he did there wouldn't be someone acting like Horton on the case already. This does appear to have gone beyond what Harper can control, even if he doesn't seem to realize it yet, although it is an agonizingly slow process.

Scotian said...

I wonder if we should call these documents the "prodigal son" docs given that they were once thought lost but now are found...*dry chuckle*

The Mound of Sound said...

@ Matt. I think you and I touched on the privilege issue a few days back.

The law is not remotely straightforward on privilege. For example, there's a category dealing with "documents prepared in contemplation of litigation."

Communications between Harper and Perrin directly may be privileged but Perrin's communications with others on behalf of Harper would not be.

There is also the potentially more volatile subject of "litigation privilege." It provides blanket protection of communications, documents, etc. relating to litigation. Can you imagine if Perrin or Harper asserted their communications contemplated civil or criminal litigation over Wright-Duffy under-the-table dealings.

There are too many unknowns yet Matt to really come up with useful opinions on this.

Anonymous said...

"Eventually it was revealed that Perrin in fact negotiated the deal with Duffy's lawyer, Janet Payne, and created a paper trail of correspondence and e-mails."

Based on the way these weasels work, and looking at the wording of Perrin's denial ...
I suspect this guy will eventually say "I negotiated the deal for the party to cover the (32k) expense bill and lawyer fees" then deny he knew or sanctioned the personal cheque from Wright.

Not really plausible but he will try real hard to convince a jury (or fellow lawyers at his dis-barment.)

And a rational system would convict him in any case.

Gerstein should go to jail too.
But don't hold your breath... He and Finlay were due for jail in 2011 but paid $50k fine to avoid punishment for the in/out scandal.

Anonymous said...

And of course, we all know none of the email has been tampered with, right?

The Mound of Sound said...

A couple of overlooked points. If privilege exists between Harper and Perrin, that privilege belongs solely to the client, Harper. Harper alone decides whether to assert privilege or waive it.

For Harper, however, the political dimension of shielding himself behind a claim of privilege plainly outweighs the legal aspects. He doesn't need to give the opposition more ammunition that they can use to stoke an already skeptical public. Suddenly you would have a prime minister who has, all along, steadfastly maintained he has nothing to hide showing that he does have information to hide.

Also, there's the privilege exception for issues of crime and fraud. If the documents pertain to the commission of those acts there is no privilege. Otherwise unscrupulous lawyers would be highly rewarded to transact crimes on behalf of criminal clients.

Anonymous said...

MOS and Scotian...I think you are being kind when you say email could not have been tampered with. I don't believe it for one minute that the PMO doesn't have a contact that can do just that...get rid of evidence. has been three months since they couldn't find this batch of email.

Anonymous said...

And again MOS...Harper should under no circumstances have the right to privilege when this sort of offense is before the government; when the RCMP are investigating and before the people of this country. It is after all an offense to steal money from the tax payer.

bluegreenblogger said...

I don't think there is any question that there are going to be charges pressed, and a larger group than just Duffy and Wright are going to be at the pointy end of the stick. Where there's smoke, there's fire is a quaint expression, but it is so obviously true here. Else, why so much effort to hide the actual facts from public view, at such a great cost in lost credibility. The real question is: Does any evidence exist to directly implicate Harper? The others are all dead men (and women) walking, dreading the inevitable spotlight on their doings.

The Mound of Sound said...

@ Anon. I thought I had made clear that privilege doesn't extend to any sort of criminal wrongdoing. As for doctoring e-mails and correspondence, sure it can be done but it's very dangerous. You have to be sure you have the only copies and no one can confront you with the originals. You also require great technical skills for alterations and deletions not to be detectable.

@ Matt. I'm less convinced that Duffy or Wright will be prosecuted if Harper can prevent it. I keep hearing from Ottawa that Wright will not lie to protect Harper if he is charged. I would assume the same goes for Perrin.

For them to continue to lie in a criminal prosecution would mean throwing their own careers into real jeopardy to protect a prime minister who is already mortally wounded. I just don't see it.

the salamander said...

.. to think that Benjamin Perrin did not BCC himself or an unknown white knight is almost ludicrous ..

.. to think none of the other 'players' in this fraud would squirrel away email copies via BCC is even more ludicrous..

Thus, any altering, deletion, redaction of emails by PMO or PCO or other operatives opens the door to Obstruction Investigations.

For Harper via PMO or PCO to 'order' cleansing at this stage is foolhardy .. and could only be desperation, evasion & obstruction delays.. for a future battle of lawyers and courts..

Nope .. its denial, delay, obstruct, litigate & business as usual.. for now. Brazen unwillingness to face the scandal.. hang on at all costs..

Watch for rats leaping clear & lawyering up .. The Plague Ship Harper is under bombardment, taking water, and the smoking fetid wreck is over loaded with sacks of shite & dirtbags

Richard said...

There's no way they just "found" them and I say this as a software developer.

I find often when governments create cover stories they may now be modified for modern technology but not in terms of plotline. Their coverups generally derive from a classical view of the way things are done (boxes of paper in storage, for instance).

What exactly is "litigation hold"? I would bet if it's even something at all, it's another database, or at worse.. another server. It's not like there is a lone email sitting on a hard drive in a box, in a room.

I can pretty well guarantee that nothing is ever purged from government servers. They are definitely making backups of their data and when you delete an account from the system it does not get deleted from historical backups. The only way it could turn up 3 months later is because someone actually bothered to look for it.

The Mound of Sound said...

@ Sal. I don't think many grasp the significance of Harper having lost control of the narrative in this scandal so long ago.

When Perrin announced he was never involved in the Wright-Duffy-Harper deal he must have been gambling that Harper would keep a lid on the scandal as he had done so successfully in the past. That Harper had failed became obvious when Wright came out with an account of events that was irreconcilable with the prime minister's self-serving version.

It's important to recall that Perrin made his ill-fated statement prior to Wright dismembering it. It sounds like a blunder of giant proportions for Benjamin Perrin.

The Mound of Sound said...

@ Richard. I don't believe that PMO staff stumbled across these docs any more than you. The PCO letter raises the inference that they were 'discovered' under renewed RCMP pressure. Perhaps investigators told them to produce the documents or else they would toss the PMO and seize the drives. That's my guess.

The Mound of Sound said...

On the e-mail alteration question, I made some enquiries of friends in Ottawa. I'm told that enough of the Perrin e-mails have been in 3rd party hands all along that it's unlikely Harper would risk doctoring what he hands over to the RCMP.

For what it's worth, I'm told in the most enigmatic terms, that Harper won't weather this storm; that there's more to come.

I've also been told that Arthur Hamilton is deeply mired in this scandal and that Senator Gerstein is dragging him under.