Thursday, May 16, 2013
Follow the Piggy - He Might Lead You to Sussex Drive
It begins (for our purposes) when senator Mike Duffy has a brown hemorrhage on realizing there is going to be a forensic audit of his expenses triggered by questions about the legitimacy of his housing allowance claims. That sends him into a panic trying to get PEI to get him a health care card via Fed Ex Overnight, yada, yada, yada. That doesn't work.
Duffy comes clean with the PMO (if they don't already know) that it's more than just the housing allowance. There's also the expenses for a Florida vacation he had reimbursed out of the public purse. But wait, there's more. All that tireless work he did attending Conservative fundraisers and supporting Tory candidates on the campaign trail - yep, them too.
So, Mike Duffy, Stephen Harper's most productive little piggy, bares his soul... to Harper's Chief of Staff, Nigel Wright. And this is where a small problem might just turn into a huge problem for those at the very top.
At this point, I want to tell you a fairy tale. Chief of Staff Wright, on learning that Duffy has repeatedly raided the collection plate, absolutely does not go to the guy he works for and says, "Boss, we've got a huge problem here. Duffy's been milking the public purse. The auditors are hot on his heels."
But Nigel Wright doesn't do that although Wright would almost certainly have to do that so Steve could decide whether to hand Duffy a Tory blue pink slip. No, not at all. Wright, instead, makes sure Steve has no say in the matter and simply hands Duffy a cheque, drawn on his very own account, and a bag of magical dust to make it all go away. And then Wright, knowing that the auditors are going to have plenty of questions about all of these "misunderstandings" orders Duffy to remain silent. And Wright does this entirely of his own initiative without Harper knowing anything, nothing at all about any of it.
And they all lived happily ever after - not. Because this isn't a fairy tale. What it actually is isn't exactly clear but it is coming to look a lot like Harper's right hand man knew Duffy had misappropriated public money (call that what you will) and then conspired with Duffy to conceal it from the auditors and who knows who else might look into it, maybe the police?
At this point we get into books that deal with questions of "over five thousand dollars" or "under five thousand dollars."
Hmm, I wonder how many Blackberrys have ended up at the bottom of the Rideau river over this? Just a silly thought.
And it all might have worked out just fine - if Duffy didn't spill all the details to his close buddies in Ottawa (a small phonebook's worth), one or more of whom sent Duffy's e-mails to CTV.
Which brings us to the real question: was there a conspiracy to conceal evidence of a something untoward and was the PMO a party to it? How could Nigel Wright have done something as high-risk as this without informing his boss? Wright would have had to make tough calls that can only be made by a prime minister including whether Duffy should stay or had to go. The details may have been Wright's work but it's almost inconceivable that he did it without the directing hand of the Boss, the biggest control freak in the realm. Or might this be part fact, part figment of Duffy's fervid imagination?
So many questions, so few answers. Maybe if we wait long enough Mike Duffy will spill the rest of this story but if I was him I'd stay a safe distance from the cliffs above the Ottawa river for a while.