If the Mike Duffy scandal has shown us anything, it's how easily - and successfully - Stephen Harper and his minions lie. They've almost elevated lying to an art form.
Perhaps it can be put down to hubris that follows years of watching one scandal after another magically slide off the prime minister's back into oblivion but the pattern of lying by just about everybody involved in this fiasco points to a culture of people who consider themselves beyond accountability.
Duffy showed his contempt for accountability in the haphazard way he went about establishing Prince Edward Island residency after his appointment. He got a P.E.I. driver's licence, that's it. If he'd just spent one more month a year at his Cavendish cottage he could have claimed to be ordinarily resident in the province he swore to represent. He could have qualified to vote there and to get a P.E.I. healthcare card. He could have gone legit but why bother?
Duffy's arrogance came through when he put a noose around his and Nigel Wright's necks in an e-mail he sent to friends telling them that the PMO was covering his expenses tab and would ensure that the Senate report "went easy on" him. He assumed that people of his stature don't get caught by careless boasts in their e-mails. The e-mail almost seemed like Duffy telling his confidantes, "don't worry, my people in the PMO have this covered. See, I really am that important to the prime minister."
And now it's the prime minister, Sideshow Steve himself, in the crosshairs. His instincts, when the Duffy-Wright deal was exposed, was to distance himself from it as quickly and absolutely as possible. In two brief sentences, he laid it all at the feet of Nigel Wright:
"Those were his decisions. They were not communicated to me or to members of my office."
Even if it wasn't really believable, Harper had Wright saying the same thing as he silently fell on his sword. The prime minister knew nothing of this. Except that the prime minister and his chief of staff were flat out lying.
When Harper said no one in the PMO but Wright was privy to the Duffy business he tripped himself up. Harper must have spoken with all those people about the Duffy-Wright deal and they must have told him they knew nothing about it, nada, zilch. Which means either they lied through their teeth to the prime minister or they told him the truth and it's Steve lying through his teeth.
The Information sworn by RCMP corporal Greg Horton on June 24th shows that Wright's lawyers have told the police that plenty of senior people in the Prime Minister's Office were privy to the Wright-Duffy deal.
In a letter from Wright's counsel, Peter Mantas, the RCMP are advised that Wright says three senior PMO officials, David van Hemmen (Wright's assistant), Benjamin Perrin (Chief Counsel and Harper's personal legal advisor), and Chris Woodcock (Director of Issues Management) were all made aware of the Duffy deal. They all knew. It has been rumoured that Perrin even drafted the "letter of understanding" that accompanied Nigel Wright's cheque when it was delivered, undoubtedly "in trust", to Duffy's lawyer, Janice Payne.
It is inconceivable that lawyer Perrin, personal legal advisor to the prime minister of Canada, would do this behind Sideshow Steve's back unless he was specifically instructed by his most important client ever not to mention anything about it. In other words, if Perrin didn't tell Harper, if Chief of Staff Wright didn't tell Harper, if Director of Issues Management Woodcock didn't tell Harper about this dangerous issue and the curious way it was being managed, it could only have been on direct instructions from Harper himself not to mention it.