Thursday, April 21, 2016
DDD - Duffy's Date with Destiny, But Who's That Sitting Beside Him in the Prisoner's Dock?
Scorecard: Aquitted: 31, Convicted: 0
Mike Duffy isn't the only Conservative on trial today. With him in the prisoner's dock are Stephen Harper, Nigel Wright and the cast and crew of Harper's PMO.
From the conflicting evidence given during the six-week trial, it was obvious that somebody was telling the truth and somebody, or a lot of somebodies, were, shall we say, less than truthful. We've already got a hint how that's likely to play out. That came when the presiding judge, Justice Charles Vaillancourt, found the Cavendish Cottager to have been an "overall credible witness."
The judge also pointed out that on a number of charges the Crown chose not to lead evidence or even cross-examine Duffy which means that, left uncontradicted, Duffy's account stands.
What I'm waiting for is the point at which Justice Vaillancourt gets to the hand grenade in the story - Benjamin Perrin, former counsel to the Harper PMO and Harper's personal lawyer. Among other things, Perrin testified that it was clear what Nigel Wright's "good to go" email meant - that Stephen Harper had approved Wright's 90K payment to Duffy. With that bit of evidence, Perrin not only contradicted Nigel Wright but also the evidence of Harper's sockpuppet/valet, Ray Novak.
You may recall that, during the election campaign, Perrin made it known just what he thought of Stephen Harper when he issued a blunt statement that the prime minister and "lost the moral authority to govern."
It's Perrin's evidence that defines this entire prosecution, not as a run of the mill criminal case, but as a political show trial aimed at transforming Duffy into Harper's sacrificial goat.
Duffy may still be convicted for funneling Senate monies to his disabled pal. That might explain why judge Vaillancourt described him as an overall credible witness.
UPDATE - well, that's it then. 31 acquittals, straight across the board. The most impressive aspect to that is the rarity of it. Who gets charged with 31-crimes and gets found not guilty on every last count? But this judge, Vaillancourt, went further than that. Time and again he found nothing wrong in Duffy's conduct. That's not an acquittal. It's exoneration.
This raises the question that won't go away. When there was no blameworthy conduct, nothing approaching criminal conduct, in so many of these charges, whose idea was it to lay the charges? Why did the Crown even proceed? Who was pushing this all along? Yeah, you're right.
What now? There's a dandy tort anchored in the ancient Common Law, the tort of "malicious prosecution." A 31 to zero acquittal outcome certainly establishes a prima facie case of malicious prosecution. Not even one conviction? None?
And who will be the defendants? Stephen Harper, Nigel Wright, Ray Novak, LeBreton, Tkachuk and Stewart-Olsen, Hamilton? Probably. Ooh, we might finally get to see Stephen Harper being cross-examined under oath.