Thursday, October 31, 2013

Nigel, Nigel, Come In Nigel

TorStar's Chantel Hebert ponders whether former Harper chief of staff, Nigel Wright, will turn out to be the man who takes down our prime minister.

Once known around Ottawa as "Mr. Integrity", Wright has been supposedly laying low since he was fired resigned over the Wright-Duffy scandal.  No one seems to know much about the former PMO Wunderkind since he left Parliament Hill in May.  It's a safe bet that he's back in Toronto making millions and wondering why he got involved with that lying, manipulative, self-serving bastard in the first place.

Hebert seemed to be trying to flush Wright out of the weeds with this line:

Only a saint or alternatively someone with a guilty conscience would continue to play dead as his former boss wreaks irreparable damage on his or her reputation.

Sorry, Chantal, that's way too obvious.  Look at it this way.  Nigel is super-connected.  You have to be to make the kind of money he earns.  In Toronto, super-connected comes in two flavours - Conservative and Liberal.  Ideally, if you play your cards Wright, you can have a bit of both.

Nigel is a young man.  He has a long and productive life ahead of him. Storming back to Ottawa with sword raised to smite a lying prime minister would probably be seen by Wright's partners as bad for business.

Stephen Harper isn't playing to the Bay Street crowd when he turns on Wright.  Shifty is playing to the Gullibillies, the Conservative base who desperately need to believe all this is not happening.  No way, no sir, not Steve Harper.  No.   They're not exactly on the same cocktail circuit as Nigel.

None of this is to say that we've heard the end of Nigel Wright.  Hardly. There are said to exist, in various hands including the RCMP's, copies of electronic communications, contemporaneous to the events, that indicate Mr. Harper, contrary to his wobbly denials, was fully aware and approved of the Wright-Duffy, under-the-table cash deal.

If these accounts are true, all and sundry are waiting to learn whether Shifty can figure out some way to keep those messages from ever surfacing in public.  That will influence how events and players go forward.

Wouldn't you love to know how many times Shifty has conferred, either telephonically or in person, with his pet RCMP Commish Paulson over the past couple of months?  I'll wager they don't communicate via e-mail or letter.

That said, I still think Hebert is on to something.  It is time to focus on Nigel Wright.  Tie Harper down.  Keep NigelWright alive in Question Period.  Force Harper to squirm on the resigned/fired issue.  Clarify Wright's supposed 'deception.'   Deceiving is a deliberate misleading.  It's intentional.  Harper is contending that Wright intentionally misled him. Why would he do that?  To what end?  When Wright knew that so many others knew, how could he assume he could conceal the truth from Harper?  Now it seems there were a dozen people, key Tories all, in on it. Did they all deceive Shifty too?   They must have done just that.  And what fate befell them?

A few have resigned from posts and committees - LeBreton, Stewart-Olsen, Tkachuk, Woodcock - but that seemed to have happened as the flames began to lick at their feet.  Harper didn't take their scalps.

What Harper is alleging is actually a conspiracy by a dozen top Tories to deceive him.  A conspiracy, a solemn pact, to mention nothing about any aspect of this backroom deal to the prime minister.  What are these people, Druids?

This is Ottawa, a place where nothing is secret that is known by three people.  Duffy, keep a secret, really?  We don't even know how many Ottawans received the e-mail that broke this scandal, the one that was leaked to CTV's Bob Fife.   Hell, that could be half of Conservative Ottawa.

When you put it all together, Harper is saying that he was one of the few Conservatives in Ottawa who didn't know.  Even though it was all going on just a few doors down the hall from his own desk.

Explore, develop, confront and by all means keep the pressure on Stephen Harper in Question Period.   Bang that gong until his ears bleed.

Meanwhile, check out what Nigel is up to these days.  Is he getting any business from prominent Conservatives or even the party itself?  Has he truly become persona non grata in Conservative circles?  Who knows where that could lead.


deb said...

I had wondered if Nigel had agreed to this thorough beating in the media...knowing it might come to this. He is powerful enough in his circle to ride it out. But still Harper is only showing others, staff and supporters how nasty he can be. Also if anyone has half a brain...they have to see that Harper is either a complete liar...or a complete incompetent. At this pt, im not sure either is a category he can afford to be lumped in. People, including conservatives are sick of the scandal.

Dana said...

Wright is just as much of a cowardly, immoral, thuggish swine as his master. "Mr Integrity" is now pointedly a satirical nickname.

Owen Gray said...

I suspect that the emails Duffy doesn't have are in Wright's possession.

And that cache -- taken together -- connects all the dots.

The Mound of Sound said...

It's really too early to pass judgment on Wright but that moment probably isn't far off. I'd like to see him answer a few questions under oath first.

Don't forget, Wright has been interrogated by RCMP investigators already. What and how much he told them we don't know but I'm hearing that he's acutely aware that perjury or obstruction in this situation carries a heavy risk of incarceration and he's not prepared to do time to save Harper's ass.

Harper's hard turn against Wright was obviously deliberate and, hence, calculated to achieve something. It could be that Steve senses he needs to cast Wright the villain to appease the Gullibillies, his base.

If anyone can convincingly finger Steve as a party to the under-the-table cash deal it is Wright.

Always bear in mind that all of Steve's options for his narrative now are implausible. That's why he can't keep his lies straight any longer. So now it all comes down to math. What can he say that will be accepted, even if reluctantly, by the greatest number of supporters? Who cares what you think? You won't be voting Conservative anyway.

Lorne said...

Perjury only becomes a concern if the RCMP are asking the right questions, Mound. From what I have read, they did not even know about the second cheque that Wright arranged to pay Duffy's legal fees. Perhaps they didn't know because they didn't want to ask any hard questions that might implicate Paulson's real boss?

The Mound of Sound said...

Owen, you're probably right on connecting the dots. Duffy has a number of documents but Wright probably has others that Duffy hasn't seen.

Lorne, the questions Wright would have to fear aren't those from the cops. In fact, as I recall it now, he hasn't spoken with investigators. They had to deal with Wright's lawyers. Shrewd dude. He's most vulnerable if he's made a witness in proceedings brought against Duffy should that happen. In effect, Wright may be enough reason for Harper to ensure Duffy is never charged with anything.

Purple library guy said...

You may be right about the idea that going all righteous wrath on establishment politicians (except if they start talking about transaction taxes or higher corporate taxes or something) is generally considered gauche in upper business circles.

Still, I can't help wondering if the inducements to silence might be a bit more . . . tangible. Like maybe an assurance of a quiet fat contract or three a year down the road (no later 'cause the chances of Stevie boy winning the election are looking thin). Or a warning next time the Bank of Canada plans an important move. Without that, I can see Wright getting a bit shirty, whether overtly or covertly.

Dana said...

Even under oath I wouldn't believe Harper.

And if Mr. Integrity has to be under oath in order for him to be believed then integrity means something altogether different than any dictionary definition I've ever read.

Anonymous said...

It was the former PMO CoS who decided, for whatever reason, to pull the plug on the incumbent PM.