Friday, November 22, 2013

Fraud, Breach of Trust, Bribery and Corruption. An Act of Supreme Desperation. It All Points To One Person.

Trying to make sense of the Wright-Duffy-Harper scandal is not easy.  That's because so many aspects of it make no sense.  We're all trying very hard to draw conclusions when there may be a lot of facts we still haven't heard.

With the exception of Mike Duffy, the stories seem to be falling apart.   Harper’s accounts have been convoluted, inconsistent and contradictory.  First, Wright acted alone, went rogue so to speak.  No one else in the PMO knew anything about it.   Then, after Wright’s statement to the RCMP,  it was four PMO staffers in on it.  Still Harper says he knew nothing until May 15th.

Wright’s e-mails indicate that he did speak to Harper but Wright ties those to the aborted proposal that the CPC pay $32K, not the subsequent deal to cover $90K plus $13K in Payne’s legal fees.  That sounds like a distinction without a difference.  (Either way, Wright contends that Harper was aware that Duffy would be receiving a gift of money in connection with his office - bribery and corruption)

Harper's claim to have known nothing might be remotely plausible if it wasn’t for Perrin.  He was legal counsel to the prime minister.  His fiduciary duty was plain.  Yet he facilitated this deal, wrote the letter of undertakings to Payne, and yet never breathed a word of this potentially explosive deal to the prime minister?   That defies all reason.   Then, a month after the money is exchanged, Perrin hightails it back to Vancouver.  That has the appearance of Perrin bolting from Ottawa.  Perhaps that had been in the works long in advance and had nothing to do with Wright-Duffy-Harper.  It just looks bad in the circumstances.

Perrin has said he had nothing to do with the bribe which is a telling statement if Perrin negotiated the deal that saw the funds transmitted to Duffy's lawyer.  That is what Wright maintains and constable Horton agrees.

As the investigator, Horton, laid it out, the money was a bribe.  It’s prohibited under the Parliament of Canada Act.   Wright must have known that.   Perrin obviously had to have known that.  These two guys aren’t rubes from the back woods.  They knew that there were way too many people in on this.  Duffy, Payne, Wright, Perrin, van Hemmen, Woodcock, LeBreton, LeBreton’s aides (Montgomery?),  Stewart-Olsen, Tkachuk, Gerstein, Arthur Hamilton, Ray Novak and probably the odd support staff.  That’s a baker's dozen for starters.

How could Wright and Perrin have believed this wouldn’t leak out?  You would have to be brain dead to realize that many people were in on it and then assume it would remain secret for more than a month or two.  They even asked how many people Duffy intended to tell.  How could two astute types like Wright and Perrin not have failed to realize the explosive ramifications of this?  Impossible.  All of this strongly suggests this was not entirely of their own doing.   This is an act of supreme hubris and that points to just one person, doesn’t it?   Were they all pressured into this? This is beginning to look like the handiwork of the Smartest Man in the Room(tm).

Why did they do this for/to Mike Duffy?  Was his prowess at fund raising and electioneering remotely worth the risks this scheme entailed?  Harper did try to intercede on behalf of Wallin when he said both she and Mike Duffy met the residency requirements and again when he said he had reviewed Wallin’s expenses and found nothing out of the ordinary.  Beyond that she never received any “special handling.”  Later she got worked over by Ray Novak and forced to leave caucus.

Contrast that to what they did for Duffy.  It wasn’t just the money.  As constable Horton points out, the top aides in the PMO, in conjunction with three top Tory senators, set out to corrupt the Senate itself.  They threatened to use the residency issue as a club to oust Duffy if he didn’t play ball.   They tried to interfere with Deloittes and, when that failed, they laundered the audit report themselves.  That is pretty clear corruption by the PMO and by the Tory Senate leadership including Stewart-Olsen who is directly tied to Stephen Harper.

Did they really go to these lengths to protect the Golden Goose or was there more to it?  Do they perceive Duffy not only as an asset but also as a potential threat?  Does MD perhaps have the goods on them as some in the media have suggested?  Does he know where the bodies are buried?

The prime minister has become very erratic.  He’s been repeatedly forced to change his story, especially about Wright and others who were in on this.  He seems to be making a lot of human sacrifices to cover his trail.  In some aspects this resembles the prime minister’s handling of the Bruce Carson scandal.   For the first time in his career, he’s stuck in a scandal he can’t shake, one that won’t fade away.  If he hasn’t already, the prime minister would seem to be at grave risk of becoming ineffective, a liability to his party.  I can’t imagine he has any shortage of enemies and rivals within his own party ranks.

So many loose threads.    So many questions unasked.  I still have the feeling there’s an awful lot we don’t know and may never know.  Has Perrin talked to the RCMP?  Better yet, has he “lawyered up”?

This is definitely the most sordid scandal in Canada's political history.  We can't even guess how much more is to come.

Benjamin Perrin is the key.


Lorne said...

As I watched The National's At Issue panel last night, Mound, it was clear that journalists are just stopping short of calling Harper a liar. If they continue on this track, I hope that whatever remains of Harper's tattered reputation will be irrevocably damaged and that even the most obdurate Conservative defender will see who they really elected to lead this country.

Owen Gray said...

There has to be a lot more than Duffy's senate expenses that these folks wanted to keep under wraps, Mound.

They invested a lot of energy -- and money --in trying to make their troubles go away.

The Mound of Sound said...

Andrew Coyne has an insightful take on Harper's predicament.

The opposition need to focus on building public support for a full enquiry with all the players, Harper included, under oath.

When is constable Horton going to get his chance to interview Perrin and Harper? Would they invoke the protection of the Canada Evidence Act rather than face obstruction charges?

Harper has more than one or two Dalton Camps in his organization, Lorne, waiting to move. There are also people like Kenney and MacKay who see themselves as successors and it's no coincidence they have come to the defence of Nigel Wright.

You might be right there, Owen. There's so much we don't know yet. Horton mentioned something about Wright warning "this is not going to turn out well." That's what you hear from someone who is being ordered to do something he does not want to do.

Wright had to know he was putting a noose around his neck. Perrin had to know the same thing. Under what circumstances would two, A-List guys like these implement a convoluted, harebrained scheme like this that was so likely to explode in their faces?

We know that Nigel Wright wasn't acting out of friendship for Duffy. They weren't friends. When Wright found out the tab that he was going to cover wasn't $32K but $90K he was furious but, still, he went ahead and covered it. That, Owen, is somebody acting under very compelling directives. It almost has a tinge of Balaclava to it. Wright and Perrin mounting their chargers, drawing their sabres and charging straight into the Russian guns.

Kim said...

I completely agree, Perrin and Hamilton are the key.

kootcoot said...

"a full enquiry with all the players, Harper included, under oath."

I've said it before and I'll say it again. I have little (read NO) confidence that an oath means anything to Harper and the slime he consorts with! At best he and they will suffer amnesia like the first one and a half BC Rail trial witnesses, at worst they will just perjure themselves.

Scotian said...


Coyne has been slowly reestablishing credibility with me that he lost when he swallowed Harper's Grewal claims hook, line, and sinker from the outset, and then once the fraud was exposed decided instead of giving a mea culpa for the weeks of attacking Martin and company taking some time off and then pretending nothing ever happened was the way to go. His columns on the process scandals of the Harper government over the past 7 years have done a lot to rehabilitate him with me, but I still find myself reading his material with shall we say a certain degree of caution because of that incident. I can accept someone being wrong, I can accept someone getting too caught up too quickly once in a while, but when you fail to admit to your mistake when it becomes clear that you had done so, now that I find a lot harder to deal with and to forgive.

That having been said, Coyne on At Issue on the National last night said at the end that for him the big outstanding question was why Duffy got this treatment in the first place, a question almost no political journalists and pundits seem to be remembering in all the revelations of late, and that was something I was so glad to see mentioned. His column that you cited and provided the URL for was also a good read, so perhaps it is almost time to finally completely forgive him. Coyne at least appears to understand that process issues matter too, which is more than many of his brethren.