Wednesday, August 12, 2015
A Bit of the Cross-Examination I'd Love to Put to Nigel Wright.
I'm not Donald Bayne. I haven't had access to the documents or weeks to prepare for the cross examination of Nigel Wright. These are, however, some of the questions I would put to this witness:
Mister Wright, you were the Chief of Staff to Prime Minister Harper. You're the top aide to the prime minister, his right hand man and yet, despite your email to the contrary, you maintain that you lied to Mr. Harper, concealed critical information and peddled half truths relating to a scandal about to engulf Mr. Harper and his party.Was that your job and, if so, on whose authority did you keep Mr. Harper in the dark, even misled?
How often would Mr. Harper meet with you on each day? Did you have a standard, scheduled meeting? Were there other, unscheduled meetings? Were these sessions issue focused or were they wide ranging? Did you chat about personal matters, general interest stuff, the goings on in your daily lives? So you would have these various meetings with the one man to whom you answer and never let out a peep about what was going on with Duffy? How many weeks was that or was it months?
You talked with Benjamin Perrin about this. You were both in on it. That's plain from your emails and Perrin's emails and other correspondence. Did you discuss how the prime minister's lawyer would get away with concealing these events from the one person to whom he owes such a clear and powerful professional duty? Wasn't it obvious that, if this matter ever leaked out to the public, it could have enormous adverse ramifications to the prime minister? Did you and Mr. Perrin, of your own volition, put Mr. Harper in such enormous jeopardy? For whose benefit, yours, Mr. Harper's, senator Duffy's?
You testified that you did all this out of a sense of obligation. Did Mr. Perrin act out of some similar obligation to Mr. Duffy? What possible obligation did Mr. Perrin have to Duffy? What interest of Mr. Perrin's was served by him keeping his client in the dark on such a potentially volatile issue?
If Mr. Harper, the legendary micro-manager, truly did not know anything about this is this something you pulled behind his back? Did you act contrary to your duty to your prime minister or did you do this skulduggery with his tacit approval and authority? Was this an act of treachery, the dealings of a rogue agent running the prime minister's office?
Or is this simply the best narrative you can come up with that comports, no matter how awkwardly and unconvincingly, with the facts you cannot deny?
When you and your cohort, Mr. Harper's legal counsel, Benjamin Perrin, wrote those emails did you imagine that they might somehow surface in a court of law? You're both skilled lawyers. You have a Masters of Laws from Harvard, Perrin is a law professor. The judge is also a lawyer. Do you expect him to believe that two highly accomplished lawyers, such as yourself and Mr. Perrin, would write emails of this nature if they believed they were acting legitimately?
Was it Mr. Perrin's involvement in your scheme that led to his abrupt, unexpected departure from the PMO just a couple of weeks later and his return to the University of British Columbia? Why else would he have left under such bizarre circumstances?
As two such highly educated legal professionals did it not dawn on either of you that you were participating in a scheme that could be considered criminal? Did you not consider this some form of bribery or, if not bribery, extortion on the part of the senator? Are those not matters of such import that you would have no choice but to divulge them to the prime minister? Are crimes or quasi-crimes regularly commissioned or perpetrated in the Prime Minister's Office as this one, by your account, seems to have been?
If this was a legitimate transaction, why on earth would you go to such apparently Herculean lengths to keep Mr. Harper in the dark about what you were doing? Just what was it you didn't want to leave any record of him knowing?
When, as your emails plainly indicate, you decided to run roughshod over the Tory Senate leadership and senator LeBreton in particular, do you expect anyone to believe that you also did that behind Mr. Harper's back? Do you maintain and expect anyone to believe that none of those senators - LeBreton, Tkachuk, Stewart-Olsen - or any of the others in on this also dummied up and never let Mr. Harper in on your scheme? Half the Tory caucus and the Conservative Party executive must have known what was going on but you insist that Mr. Harper knew nothing, no one told him anything. How often did you keep Mr. Harper in the dark and about what matters? Who decided what would be concealed from the prime minister, when Mr. Harper would be deliberately misled? Does he delegate that authority to his Chief of Staff? Is it an implied authority? Or are you simply, hands down, the worst, most duplicitous, untrustworthy, irresponsible Chief of Staff in the history of Canadian politics?
Was there an alternate channel of communication whereby Mr. Harper could be kept up to date yet maintain a pretense of plausible deniability? Might someone else, such as Arthur Hamilton, been the canary singing in Mr. Harper's ear?
It's difficult, bordering on impossible, to believe that a sophisticated, highly intelligent, accomplished and supposedly straight arrow guy like you can stand here and say that this one time he went full bore "rogue." That just makes no sense.