Okay, it's not Mike Duffy. We won't hear much of him again until the election is over.
Today's fare is more like a light lunch, maybe just a handful of trail mix. It's Bruce Carson time!
The two-time jailbird, fraudster and, naturally, top Harper aide goes back to his old stomping grounds today, the prisoner's box in an Ottawa criminal court, to stand trial for influence peddling in connection with a scheme to flog water filtration gear to First Nations reserves.
Carson raises memories of Harper's standard modus operandi when he's been caught out with dirty hands. It goes like this. He begins with a floater lie. If that works, fine. If it doesn't sell, he backpeddles - a bit. He tosses in a glimmer of truth. If that flops he backpeddles again, adding a little more truth. Eventually the whole thing comes to a dreary end, the scandal deflates and Harper skulks away into the shadows.
When the Carson scandal erupted it began with questions about how a guy, twice imprisoned for fraud, could be allowed into Harper's inner sanctum, the Prime Minister's Office. Harper's first response was "who knew?" If he'd only known there was no way an ex-con like Carson would have been allowed to set foot in the hallowed PMO. Then he began pointing fingers at the Privy Council or the RCMP for letting him down, failing to properly vet Carson, dropping the ball. (Remember, the RCMP back then was being run by a veteran Tory backroom boy, Bill Elliott). Finally Harper had to admit that, well, he'd known just a little bit of Carson's sordid past but he thought the guy deserved a second chance and so he took Bad Bruce in. But, if he'd known the guy's full record, he would have never, ever, not ever let him in.
It's the standard tale. A layer of bullshit reinforced with another layer of bullshit and finally smothered in an even thicker layer of bullshit.
The thing is, even Harper's lies were irreconcilable. No one asked why he lied to us when he first said that no one knew. You would have thought when he finally admitted to having known about at least some of Carson's record, someone would have asked why he denied it at the start. No one ever seemed to ask why those responsible for vetting Carson didn't send up flares or, indeed, whether they had. No one asked whether Harper derailed the entire vetting process to get his preferred guy into the PMO. It's not hard to run a criminal records check and, in Carson's case, it would have triggered all the alarms.
Here's the thing. Ottawa is literally bursting at the seams with veteran, lifelong Tory insiders, guys who've been with the party as far back as Diefenbaker and Stanfield. I know some of them. They all get together. They socialize. They lunch. They frequent the same clubs. I know a few of these guys. One of them told me that he and two others I know were alarmed when they got word that Carson was being hired and they each got ahold of senior Harper aides and said don't hire this guy, he's bent, he's a crook.
Harper didn't need the RCMP to vet Carson. He didn't need the Privy Council to vet Carson. The PMO switchboard was flooded with calls. That's all he needed. He knew everything there was to know about Bruce Carson, serial jailbird. With that public record knowledge only one person could have brought Carson in to the PMO, his accomplice, the PM himself.
Which brings me to a pair of letters in today's TorStar from Bob Walsh of Connecticut and Margaret Perrault of North Bay. Do you see a pattern here?
PM insists Wright alone was to blame, Sept. 8
So, Prime Minister Stephen Harper insists that Nigel Wright was alone to blame for the Duffy affair. As Adam blamed Eve, Richard Nixon blamed John Dean, Bill Clinton blamed “that woman,” now Stephen Harper blames Nigel Wright.
Great theatre but it is unclear whether it is a comedy or a tragedy.
Mr. Harper has cemented a legacy for himself as believing Canadians are idiots. Mr. Wright has created a legacy as one of the great dupes in Canadian political history.
The Germans have a word for what we feel about this, fremdschämen: to be embarrassed because someone else has embarrassed himself, and doesn’t notice.
Bob Walsh, Wilton, CT