Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Will Mike Duffy Call the Next Election?

Sure, it sounds far fetched, but the opposition parties had better be prepared for Harper to call a snap election.

Word I'm getting from Ottawa is that the evidence in the Duffy trial will directly implicate the prime minister in the under-the-table payment/bribery scheme.  If that happens, Stephen Harper's political career is essentially over.

Duffy is pushing for an early trial date, the sooner the better.  Given his circumstances - the cost, two open-heart surgeries, stress - he's apt to get a receptive response from the court.

From Harper's perspective the Duffy trial is a matter of optics and, for SJH, none of the possibilities is good, not good at all.  Harper is already damaged goods and, even if he escapes efforts to compel him to testify, what remains of his reputation will become a political pinata in the course of the trial.

The question becomes how badly does Harper want another term as prime minister?  His odds aren't good in any event but he's still got a shot, perhaps a minority at best, if he can trigger an election before the trial gets underway.

My take on it is that Harper will do a Mulroney.  He'll see the writing on the wall and bail out, leaving his successor to go up in flames.

I am left wondering whether these side pressures played a role in Harper's decision to ink the FIPA deal with his kindred spirits, the politburo in Beijing. He's done his damage.  Why hang around to take the heat for the fallout?


Unknown said...

Hi Mound
Interesting article.I think his arrogance including his presumption that Canadians are stupid will make him think that he can control the info that will come out of the Duffy trial.He will do anything and I mean anything to stay in power.He's also in huge denial about what he thinks Canadians think of him. I hope you're right though. I would love to see him slither away.

Kirbycairo said...

Sorry, I feel compelled to be a broken record again. Harper will NEVER leave office voluntarily, and I have my doubts he will even leave freely after an election loss. However, I have no inside info concerning the Duffy trial and if there is seriously implicating evidence I see Harper actually extending the fall of the writ till well after next October. (I think technically he could hold out an extra year depending on the number of parliaments he holds.)

Though, I agree that his future looks bleak - no matter what evidence emerges from the Duffy trial Harper looks bad, he will no doubt lose more SCofC cases (including one that may emerge about the constitutionality of FIPA), the Senate audit will make things worse, the job situation is not getting better, etc. etc. But Harper is too far gone to think that any of this can hurt him. Only a Nixonian level of trouble will even begin to stir Harper.

(But I hope your scenario turns out wiser and more accurate than mine.)

Anonymous said...

The ugly fact is that Harper can also choose to wait out the Duffy dirt. He constitutionally has until May 2, 2016 to keep the reins in his hands without an election.

The Mound of Sound said...

Hi Pamela. I doubt that even Harper believes he can control the evidence in the Duffy trial. Much depends on whether there really is a "smoking gun" and how well Mr. Bayne can wade through the witnesses.

It's amazing how much hinges on that first e-mail leaked to CTV. It provides the context, the parties and the time frame and we know it was contemporaneous with the events. The subsequent documents which apparently include records and correspondence from Duffy's solicitor, Janet Payne(?), and similar documents from Harper's counsel, Ben Perrin, plus hundreds of e-mails simply corroborate the original e-mail.

I don't know but this has the potential to turn into a real barn burner. Expect the unexpected.

Kirby, I hope you're not right. I too think of him as a wanton power abuser but there are limits beyond which even Harper cannot venture.

Anon, I don't think Harper can wait out the Duffy blowback. There are others waiting in line for the Tory leadership, at least one of which has an active organization doing a fair bit of fundraising (or at least so I'm told).

Imagine a crime to which Harper was a participant but for which only Duffy, the one bribed, is convicted.

This idea that Wright didn't benefit from the bribe is nonsense. Wright purchased a benefit for Harper and the CPC. Wright coughed up money to make a serious problem "go away" and it might well have except for Duffy's foolish e-mail. That the benefit he set out to and did obtain didn't go to him personally is irrelevant.

CuJoYYC said...

"He constitutionally has until May 2, 2016 to keep the reins in his hands without an election."

And that would put him past Chr├ętien in terms of time in office. Though I'm sure his goal would be to last longer than Pierre Trudeau, he may be satisfied breaking his own election law again just to ensure that he passes Chr├ętien.

the salamander said...

.. too many fronts for Harper..

Duffy is a huge one..
Justin Trudeau another.
Oops, here comes Pamela Wallin..
Uh.. what's this? A runaway evangelical rump?

And gee Steve.. you're one email or document away
from a truly black legacy being exposed of systemic electoral fraud organized and executed on your watch, by your Party with your CIMS database, donated dollars and your collection of disturbed campaigners and volunteers, hired live/robo callers and 'officials'

Askingtherightquestions said...

Mound, how do you see this synching with FIPA and the Northern Gateway? As much as the Duffy and Wright affair is a basic affront, the China FIPA would appear to have large, constitutional problems related to provincial and individual rights. This is a minefield just waiting to explode under Herr Harper IMHO.

The Mound of Sound said...

If Harper's negatives get much higher, and I think they will, the pressure from inside caucus and the party on him to "go quietly for the good of all" will ramp up. With Novak as chief of staff and others "in short pants" staffing Festung Harper, the PMO has lost the A-List talent Harper would need to lead his party in a new and tough general election.

I'm told that, after Harper turned on Wright, the PMO has become a Chernobyl for top talent. And now we're getting the kiss and tell stuff - first Tom Flanagan, then Bruce Carson and I'm sure there'll be a post-trial tell all when Duffy concludes.

Harper has demonstrated, repeatedly, that he has no loyalty to others and that's a lesson that sinks in deeply with his MPs. Despite their paucity of talent they too have career aspirations that they're probably not interested in sacrificing so that they can fall on their emperor's sword.

Tories have a habit of eating their dead that goes back as far as Diefenbaker and beyond and John D., for all his faults, was an honourable man, something that cannot be said for an opportunistic dissembler like Harper. Rolling stones gather no moss nor do sociopaths.

The Mound of Sound said...

@ ATRQ - sorry I missed your point. How does it synch? It certainly does in timing. With FIPA signed and the Northern Gateway path utterly deregulated, what more can Harper really do for the Oil Patch? He's tried to brow beat the Supreme Court - didn't work, actually backfired on Harper badly. He's gutted the environmental review/protection; coastal fisheries and navigation safety processes.

I suspect the old "chair kicker" started out with an image of his own omnipotence driving this through and steamrollering public and constitutional opposition only to watch the court curb his excesses at every turn.

Electorally, Harper must have thought that he'd grow his base but that seems to have stagnated and, now, some of that support is bleeding out to Trudeau. After you've passed your zenith what's left but rationalization?

You're right, Harper is facing a minefield. So why would he tempt fate and stroll on in when his odds of emerging triumphant are so poor and he has other options in the private sector?

deb said...

Yeah I suspect Jason Kenny and others will push harper out before there is no party left to run. But Harper is a meglomaniac and he really believes he is omnipotent. He made it thru every scandal so far and robocalls is long past, and he still stands. I guess there is nothing else to do strategically as he sold the entire country. But he does love the power, and thats the key.

Will he crave the power enough to self destruct in office. I hope so, I really do as he deserves to go down as teh worst primeminister ever. And if he overstays his welcome his minions and his political adversaries will tear him apart.

If he was honorable enough to step down his footnote will be that guy who found a boat:P I would prefer the former.

Askingtherightquestions said...

Sorry Mound, I wasn't very clear - what do you think is going to happen to FIPA? Will it be court challenged as the POS it is? I think many citizens are finally going to lose it (once it becomes more widely known). I cannot believe many in BC will take it lying down when Sino-Petro-Tar decides that the Northern Gateway WILL be built as recommended.

The Mound of Sound said...

@ deb. If you want to step up to the top tiers of the private sector, it's good to go while you're undefeated. Once the public turns on you, the prospect of getting turfed out in disgrace undercuts your marketability. I don't think that will be lost on Harper. Could be wrong but, if I was in his spot, I'd bail.

ATRQ - sure it'll be challenged and by parties at all levels from individuals to private groups/NGOs to municipal and provincial governments. And, yes, it will also stoke fury and indignation here in British Columbia. As I've written before there are plenty of coastal BC'ers just like me, lifelong law-abiding grey hairs with no experience of civil disobedience who will take a stand against Northern Gateway and take the consequences. Our kids and loved ones won't put up with it and that will, I truly believe, snowball on the Conservatives in BC for a very long time to come.

deb said...

yes Mound, you of sound mind and rational thought, see the prospects for a corrupt PM like Harper and if Harper listened to the more talented advisors, he will go. But I just think the guy must be mentally deficient or insane, as what he does and how he behaves defies reason. Yeah I guess stepping down if you are sane person with some idea of how you will spend your days out of office.
Lets hope it happens, though it still would be delightful to see Harper trip on his gigantic ego and fall to the groundfloor.
and as for the FIPA and how it affects northern gateway....yes we all will stand together in BC and protest, but what our govts at all levels will tell us, is thanks to Harper it will cost billions to get out from under such a ridiculous trade agreement:(
so BC might just get screwed no matter what, thanks to Harper being clever enough to beat the system.
and did you see that Trudeau voted with the CONs against Elizabeth Mays and Mulcairs motion against the deal and allow for more time and debate since their is a FN court Challenge. I just dont get how Harper plows through these crazy deals like a tinpot dictator.

The Mound of Sound said...

@ Sam. My oldest Ottawa Tory friend, an insider going back to the Stanfield-era, thought Harper would retire this summer. He's of the view that Mrs. H. has plans to be somewhere well clear of Ottawa before very long.

He's in a world of diminishing returns and steadily worsening problems. We know the Tories legislative agenda is empty. They're just focusing on the election and, beyond that, they're empty suits.

If Duffy's lawyer, Bayne, is right and there is a smoking gun that ties Harper to the Wright-Duffy deal, I would assume Harper knows about it and can do the math on what it means for his career.

@ deb. Harper is really not "clever" so much as he is utterly unprincipled and supremely opportunistic.

All I can say about Trudeau and FIPA is that I'm glad he showed his hand well in advance of the election. If nothing else it puts my mind at ease over parting company with the LPC after 40-years as a loyal supporter. I'm very comfortable now with the Greens.