Thursday, March 05, 2015

Duffy's Sting

It's a tale with two scripts.  One is the story presented by Stephen Harper, his PMO, the RCMP and others.  The other is the account presented by disgraced senator Mike Duffy.  At least one side isn't telling the truth.

Who to believe?  We'll have to wait until all the evidence is in but I figure the truth has come, quite inadvertently, from senator Duffy.

There is one piece of evidence, the unintended disclosure of which, set this whole business in motion.  It's an e-mail - candid, descriptive and, most importantly, contemporaneous with the events.  When Duffy circulated the e-mail to his confidantes he believed, quite mistakenly, that they would hold it in confidence.  That's what confidantes do, isn't it?  Only somehow it wound up in the hands of CTV reporter, Bob Fife, and the rest is history.

The e-mail describes the events that we now know occured.  Duffy, perhaps boastfully, wrote that a deal was in place to make his Senate expenses problem go away.  He described four elements.  He would be given the money to cover his Senate tab.  He was to use that money to cut his own cheque for repayment. In exchange he was to say nothing further publicly and he was to stop co-operating with the audit team appointed by the Senate. He added that, as part of the deal he was also promised that the Senate audit report would "go easy on me."

It was a deal intended to continue Duffy's role as fundraiser for the Harper Conservatives.  Get Duffy off the hook and get him back out on the road where he was worth his considerable weight in campaign cheques.  The guy was an engine for the Tories.  They would point him in the right direction and hand him a ticket.  He'd show up, press the flesh, and collect the money.

It was because Duffy spent so much time on the road, fundraising for the Prince of Darkness, that he narrowly failed to meet the residency requirement that landed him in hot water in the first place.  He couldn't be in Prince Edward Island when he was in Calgary or Moncton or Nunavit.  Without being in PEI for the requisite number of days he wasn't entitled to claim a living expense allowance.

Back to the scandal.  The timing of that ill-fated e-mail is everything.  It happened contemporaneously with the events described.  Duffy said the Senate audit report would go easy on him and it subsequently did when it was laundered by Tory senators Carolyn Stewart-Olsen and David Tkachuk.

It's this promise, allegedly with Harper's knowledge, that constitutes the bribery that the RCMP, so conservatively chooses to ignore.  That was Harper or his very closest aides promising to intervene with, corrupt if you like, the Senate audit process to procure a favourable result for the Senator from Prince Edward Island.  When it comes to that the only conclusion is that the RCMP is choosing to look the other way.  Why?  That's easy.  Where does it lead?

The RCMP has to ignore the audit fixing element for it to justify not charging the principals to the deal - Nigel Wright, Benjamin Perrin, perhaps Harper himself. They've already said that Duffy is to be condemned for accepting a bribe but the people plainly involved in offering and facilitating that bribe - two of them lawyers - are not culpable of any criminal wrongdoing.

A bribe is many things but it's not unilateral.  It requires an offer or demand and acceptance, and the transmission of the bribe from one person, the giver, to another person, the recipient.

It's quite believable that Duffy did resist repaying the housing allowance.  He felt the party was responsible for keeping him on the non-stop. cross-Canada fundraising campaign that prevented him from logging enough days in PEI to meet the requirements.  Long before the expense issue even arose a mutual friend would tell me he worried about the strain that Duffy's party exertions might be taking on the senator's wonky heart.

Wright, Perrin, Harper and others have already made statements that stand to be weighed against that all-important e-mail, the one that wound up in Fife's hands. They tell a considerably different story, that doesn't match Duffy's account.  As I recall it, Perrin, Harper's personal in-house lawyer, at one point said he wasn't involved at all and yet it seems it was Perrin who effected the delivery of Wright's cheque to Duffy's then solicitor.

The Conservatives clearly hope the Duffy trial will put an end to this matter.  It might be just the beginning.


Dana said...

Is Duffy still walking around?


The Mound of Sound said...

What's also amazing, Dana, is how a good number of his fellow senators who once put in the boot have come to realize they're very much in the same boat as Duffy, potentially liable to some of the same charges if he's convicted.

Anonymous said...

That possibly is Harper´s now way of getting rid of the Senate. Anyong.

The Mound of Sound said...

I've wondered about that, Anyong. Watch for the auditors' report into the remaining senators' expenses due out in June.

the salamander said...

.. bravo bravo bravo ..

when I read one of your posts
on this matter ..
I often find a sound in my head..

it goes like this ...
and I close my eyes..
and listen

The Mound of Sound said...

Hey, Sal. Christ, where does this shit end?

the salamander said...

It just gets.. I dunno
to be like the FLQ or Riel..
or the Norwegian Quislings ..

Later.. much later ...
history is like that, y'know

Canadians will remember Harper
and all his complicit lampreys
for f'ing all of us over for suckers

Canada has weathered lots of storms
Harper is a lightweight..
and we have to suffer these fools ..

Scotian said...

That letter has always been why I believe this was a major act of corruption by the PMO, because at the time it described what had actually happened, with the last vote in the Senate subcommittee to close the investigation pending when the story broke, the lone Lib Senator decided not to give unanimous consent to close this file, and then everything started to spill out confirming the letter.

This letter matches all the facts as they are currently known to the wider public despite the spin we have gotten from the Harper government since day one, back when Wright was such an honourable man doing the honourable thing and of course deserved staying put as Chief of Staff for Harper. This letter has held up, unlike all the original claims from the Harper government/PMO, from the time it came into Fife's hands to this day, and that is something that cannot simply be ignored, and I have to believe in a court of law will not be.

This letter is the only reason why I find Duffy's side the more credible, because I normally wouldn't trust him anymore than I would Harper, and that goes back before he left his media job, I had already had serious trust issues with him even before he did the Dion hatchet job. So congrats on remembering to stay focused on what I would suggest is still the most critical piece of evidence we have that a real corruption scheme and bribery offence orchestrated by PMO and almost certainly Harper himself (I do not accept the plausible deniability claim on this one, and didn't even before the "good to go" evidence showed up) occurred here.

Pissing Duffy off may be in the end the greatest mistake politically the Harper machine made, we shall see, but I do not expect him to go down quietly, not with his ego, and not without the decades of political skeletons he almost certain has in his memory to go to, especially on the Harper government itself. Duffy has always been a bloated ego, but he also has been a well connected for decades political journalist nationally, and by putting this all on Duffy under that bus, by nationally humiliating him, they have in effect left him with little reason to restrain himself. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

The Mound of Sound said...

Hi, Scotian. I don't know a lot of people who could come up with the retainer to engage a lawyer of Don Bayne's stature for a 41-day trial. Add to that trial prep, various motions and so on and that swells considerably.

I've been told there's no book deal but I can't imagine who is putting up this sort of money.

Lorne said...

I can't help but think, Mound, when people like Stewart-Olsen and Tkachuk are called upon to testify, there will be a sudden rash of memory 'failures'.

The Mound of Sound said...

Yeah, I've been wondering what sort of spectacle we'll witness when they're called to the stand. What I wouldn't give for a shot at the cross-examination of these characters.

Purple library guy said...

Me too, but it would be a bad idea. I don't expect cross-examinations like,
"I put it to you that you are a lying sack of shit"
would go over well with the judge.

The Mound of Sound said...

Yeah, you're probably right. However the art of great cross-examination is to sink the knife to the hilt without the witness even noticing.