|Nigel, I need to see you in my lair.|
The Senate administration had hired the auditing firm Deloitte to look into the expense claims of senators Patrick Brazeau and Mac Harb, as well as those of Mr. Duffy. But the PMO and senior Conservative officials defended Mr. Duffy in the early stages of the controversy, in order to keep him quiet.
“A purpose of this is to put Mike in a different bucket and to prevent him from going squirrely in a bunch of weekend panel shows,” former PMO chief of staff Nigel Wright said in an e-mail to colleagues on Feb. 7, 2013.
Mr. Wright’s e-mail, which went to PMO colleagues Chris Woodcock, Ray Novak, Andrew MacDougall and Joanne McNamara, added: “Mike is very pleased with this so it will give us a little bit of time if [Conservative senator David Tkachuk] can pull it off.”
In an e-mail on the same day, Chris Montgomery, a staffer in Conservative senator Marjory LeBreton’s office, told Mr. Wright a plan to get outside legal advice on Mr. Duffy’s residency issues was designed to “protect senator Duffy.”
The newly released documents reinforce the notion the PMO and the Conservative Party initially went to great lengths to contain the political damage flowing from expenses claimed by Mr. Duffy after his 2008 appointment to the Senate.
The Globe & Mail account mistakenly contends that Duffy became persona non grata with the Harper regime when it was discovered that Nigel Wright had coughed up $90-grand. That's a red herring. The Duffy-Harper split came following the leak of Duffy's ill-advised e-mail to as yet unidentified confidantes in which he boasted of the PMO bail out deal. It was when that e-mail fell into the hands of CTV's Bob Fife that Duffy's usefulness to Harper crashed and burned. No leak - no scandal - business as usual.
“The report, we’ve learned through the investigation, had made its ways to the PMO, to their office, and, I guess, revisions, what they wanted to have written in the report, was done,” Corporal Jolette told Mr. O’Brien during their interview. “Throughout our investigation, like I said, we’ve learned that PMO has had a lot of communication with the diverse senators who were involved in these committees and sub-committees.”
Mr. O’Brien confirmed that he received a visit at his offices on May 8 from Mr. Tkachuk, before a Senate sub-committee held a formal discussion on the Deloitte audit.
“Senator Tkachuk came in here after 4 [p.m.], he wanted to look at this and he reviewed it and he said, ‘Carolyn and I would like two more changes,’” Mr. O’Brien told the RCMP.
Mr. O’Brien said the portions of the report that were deleted referred to Mr. Duffy’s travels between Ottawa and PEI and his “continued presence in Ottawa,” which raised questions about the legitimacy of his expense claims.
“That was a confidential report, I’m surprised it was shared so widely,” Mr. O’Brien added about the PMO’s involvement in the matter.
Now, through all this, you must believe that the greatest micro-manager in Canadian prime ministerial history knew virtually nothing about the chicanery going on in the adjacent office that bears his name, the Prime Minister's Office. What a load of bullshit.