Tuesday, April 07, 2015
Can Duffy Shred Nigel Wright's "Goody Two-Shoes" Routine?
Nigel Wright's 'gift' of $90K to senator Mike Duffy was a bribe when it was pocketed by Duffy but not when it was given by Wright. Most of us are finding that pretty hard to square and it is. The logic by which Duffy is culpable and Wright is not reflects how far the RCMP is prepared to bend over backwards to make some cherry-picked facts suit their narrative.
It sounds as though they're charging Duffy with extortion, not bribery. Duffy strong-armed the money out of Wright's chequebook, they would have us believe. But that's a different section of the Criminal Code of Canada.
Besides, why let Nigel Wright off the hook at all? Oh, I see. Charging Wright with bribery would have exposed others in the PMO to criminal jeopardy. Benjamin Perrin for starters and even Old Beelzebub himself, Stephen Harper. The rumours are that Wright made it well known around Ottawa that he wasn't going down alone on this so, take him off the hook and everybody's off the hook - except Ol' Duff. Even out here on the wet coast you could hear the collective sigh of relief.
To get this to stand up at trial you have to keep Wright virginal, above reproach - just like Caesar's wife. He was only trying to do the right thing. Duffy was raising proper hell and so Wright did what he thought was the answer, handing over $90K. No corrupt intent on the part of Mr. Wright, ergo no crime except for Duffy's.
I don't know how hard you have to struggle to keep the facts at bay but, in this case, it must be almost Herculean. The Crown needs to keep this very simple. Duffy snarls, Wright cuts the cheque. Nothing to see here, keep moving.
But there is more, a lot more and it goes to whether Nigel Wright's Goody Two-Shoes image is a highly self-serving scam. There was a quid pro quo to this deal, one the RCMP chose not to notice. Duffy got the money but on very clear terms dictated by the Prime Minister's Office. These were terms plainly intended to benefit the Conservative Party if not the prime minister personally.
In emails, Wright called the brewing controversy, "our public agony," and spoke of Conservatives "circling the wagons."
One of the most revealing sets of internal emails filed in court involved the manipulation of a Senate committee, one drafting a report on Duffy's expenses in the spring of 2013.
PMO staffers set about ensuring the committee remove any negative language from the report on Duffy, and at one point discussed how to get an independent audit firm to refrain from drawing any conclusions on Duffy's residency status...
"Do I need to call Marjory [LeBreton]?" Wright asked in an email. "They think they're hurting Duffy, but they will end up hurting the prime minister instead."
Duffy was also coached by PMO staff on what to say to the media about the repayment of his expenses.
"It's a scenario, in Nigel Wright's own words, that was created for Sen. Duffy not because he had anything to hide or he'd made inappropriate claims, but because the PMO had decided they wanted to sweep a political embarrassment to their Tory bse under the rug," [defence counsel Don] Bayne said in 2013.
Oddly enough, what may save Duffy's hide (on the main charge, at least), is the very same email that sets these events in motion. This whole business would likely have died a natural death at an early stage but for a stupid email Duffy sent to his 'confidantes' at the very time the deal was being put in place.
Duffy's email said the PMO was giving him the cash to clear his tab with the Senate. It listed the conditions imposed - that he was to make no public statements and he was to stop cooperating with the Senate-appointed auditors. For doing this, the PMO would intervene to ensure the Senate audit report "went easy on" Duffy.
Nigel Wright wasn't trying to bail out an old pal. Wright didn't even like Duffy. He didn't shell out the cash for his own benefit either. You could conclude he was acting as an agent for a third party and it wasn't Benjamin Perrin either. Wright was creating a smokescreen for the party and, logic screams, for the very guy he was working for, Stephen Joseph Harper. "Uncle Joe" Harper, Comrade Steve hisself.
This was the email leaked to CTV's Bob Fife. It's the match that sparked the wildfire that brings us to where we are today. What makes that email so critical are its contents - it described the deal that transpired - and when the email was sent - back when the parties thought they could keep a lid on the deal. This didn't come out after the fact. It wasn't contrived after the fact to suit anyone's narrative. It conforms to the known events. That could make it the "magic bullet" when it comes to assessing credibility and resolving contradictions and inconsistencies.
Duffy's story, as we know it, comports with the magic bullet email. Wright's story doesn't even though his emails also seem to corroborate some of Duffy's statements.
How this will play out in court is unclear but one thing is inescapable - there's been an awful lot of very high-level, Hall of Fame-grade Turd Polishing at both the political and investigatory levels to contrive this result.