Saturday, July 06, 2013

One Lie Too Many for Sideshow Steve?

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.


Owen Gray said...

Harper has been able to slide out of the noose before, Mound. He probably figured this one was a slam dunk, too.

Anonymous said...

"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"

But wouldn't Harper have to have knowledge of the alleged crime in order to direct his staff not to advise him of it any further? Wouldn't this imply that Harper knew it was an alleged criminal act and was possessed of a guilty mind? (IANAL)

The Mound of Sound said...

Owen, I think Harper was caught off-balance. This was never to surface in the first place. Duffy was supposed to shut up. Instead he blabbed it around Ottawa, presumably to puff himself up.

I'm surprised Harper didn't hand Wright a Luger with one bullet in the chamber. He obviously didn't imagine Wright would implicate van Hemmen, Woodcock and, most of all, Perrin, in this scheme. Quite frankly, I'm surprised too.

One interesting line that might explain Wright's cooperation with the RCMP, including his implicating other key PMO officials, is the observation by the corporal that it isn't decided yet whether Wright is simply a witness or a suspect. It sounds as though they're leaving Wright an opening to avoid a career-ending criminal mess.

There's no way Wright's counsel would have written that letter volunteering those names without some quid pro quo from the cops. You don't give up that stuff, information that both contradicts and seems to implicate Harper himself, for free.

The Mound of Sound said...

@ Anon - yes, that would be the only logical conclusion.

CuJoYYC said...

Sweet gift from Nigel. Wait. What? A gift? Riiiight. Because gifts aren't taxable in Canada but I ask you this: When was the last time you received a 'gift' but were told precisely how to spend it? Doesn't such specific direction from the 'gift' giver render it no longer a gift and, therefore, taxable?
"… on condition that Duffy immediately pay back what he owed and stop talking to the media about it." Of course, as you pointed out in your comments, Duffy couldn't keep his mouth shut and chose to, presumably, puff himself up in the eyes of his colleagues.

The guilty always squirm and try to find a way out. That's why they come up with convoluted stories that only make maters worse. If not guilty, then why would they concoct a harebrained excuse such as saving the taxpayers of Canada? Earlier, his communications director Andrew MacDougall said “the government believes that taxpayers should not be on the hook for improper expense claims made by senators.”

I can certainly agree with this sentiment but why not simply let the defrauder, in this case Sen. Duffy, pay back his ill-gotten gain from his own pocket? The taxpayer would still not lose. And if the Harper Gov't™ was so deeply concerned, why was the same offer to protect the taxpayers of Canada not made to Wallin, Brazeau and Harb? Surely they don't expect us to believe that some Senators are more equal than others?

Can we all agree that we're citizens that happen to be taxpayers rather than simply taxpayers to be milked?

Anonymous said...

Cons prefer to talk about taxpayers. Taxpayers include corporations, and that's who the Cons are really accountable to. Citizens... not so much.

Anonymous said...

Puffster knowledge about the dirty Cons laundry was worth 90k and the dossier accumulated by him is capable of finishing Steve's career in a flash.