Friday, August 21, 2015

Ben Perrin Knows What Wright's "Good to Go" Email Meant

To Shifty Harper's former special counsel, when he received Nigel Wright's "good to go" email it meant only one thing - Stephen Harper had cleared Wright's payment to Mike Duffy.

Nigel Wright chose to dismiss the email, in a "the dog ate my homework" way, by saying Harper had merely approved the media lines (why the "n" in lines?), not Wright's under the table, cash for expenses payment.

Let's see. One of these explanations is quite convincing.  One of these explanations borders on the absurd and sounds utterly contrived. And the winner is - Benjamin Perrin.

Members of the PMO, including Wright, had come up with a five-point plan in Feb. 2013 that would see Duffy agree to a deal in which he would admit he had made an unintentional mistake and pledge to repay the expenses, at the time thought to be $32,000.

Part of that plan would see Duffy's expenses covered, not by the senator himself, and that he would be removed from an audit looking into his questionable claims.

"My understanding from that email is that the prime minister himself had approved of the five points that had been set out by Mr. Wright," Perrin said.

On Thursday, Perrin testified that Ray Novak, Harper's chief of staff, was told before and during a 2013 conference call that Wright would personally repay Duffy's expenses, contradicting claims by the Conservative campaign.

The trial, which began April 7 in the Ontario Court of Justice, resumed last Wednesday after breaking on June 18, the second hiatus of the high-profile trial. This third phase will continue until Aug. 28, and, with more time assuredly needed, break until it would resume again in mid-November.

So, to recap. Benjamin Perrin's evidence has Harper's principal secretary, Ray Novak, in on a meeting where Nigel and the magical 90-grand were discussed, taking Perrin but apparently not Novak by surprise.  Which draws the powerful inference that, as Harper's principal secretary and personal sockpuppet/valet, Novak would have told Harper everything and that "good to go" meant exactly what it sounds like - Harper's approval of the whole business.


deb said...

well of course Shifty knew, and if we replayed his first sound byte after Nigel came clean, Shifty was pontificating and commending on how much Nigel Wright was a taxpayers know for paying back evil Duffys expenses.
That line and how he said it means he and his team had the strategy of painting Nigel as a martyr, and then going on with their day.
but of course it was found out that then many could be charged with corruption and interfering with audits and general criminality....and they changed their tune.
Harper knew, and he simply spun it a couple of different ways and then continued with this style, of the two bad guys are caught, nothing to see here, and good thing he has the RCMP at his disposal.
not sure if he has the judge on the payroll, but he most certainly doesnt own Bayne, so we can hope this will fry him.

The Mound of Sound said...

I asked my brother, who still practices in Ontario, about the judge. He said the fellow is really sharp, well respected and an ideal pick to hear this trial.

Northern PoV said...

"Appointed to the bench in 1990 by the NDP government of Bob Rae, Justice Vaillancourt"

Funny, before Harper came along I never looked up the background of a judge.

Scotian said...

Northern PoV:

And doesn't that say it all, really.

crf said...

It is bizarre that the RCMP had these statements from Perrin for years now, and have seemingly done no logical investigation of them.

Perrin says that there was an agreed upon arrangement between PMO and Duffy that Wright would pay Duffy's expenses, to reimburse the Senate, and to keep this arrangement secret. What favour did Mike Duffy give? Where is the bribe? There is no bribe. This deal was done for the favour of all: get the expenses paid (to benefit Duffy and the Senate bean counters and the public treasury), and keep it secret to minimize political fallout (to benefit Harper and the Conservatives and the Senate).

Would you bet the the judge stops the trial soon to remove the bribery charge, as the Crown has made no case of bribery.

As to fraud and the associated breach of trust (as the fraud was public money by a public official), I struggle to see a case to answer. There was a disagreement about with the Senate with Duffy's expenses. Certainly the Senate can deal with this issue, since a lot of it was to do with interpretation of Senate rules.

As far as I can tell, if Duffy goes down on breach of trust then it's a slam dunk to get at least Perrin, Wright, and Novak, with the evidence given so far.

The Mound of Sound said...

The Crown's theory is pretty obscure. They seem to think the mens rea necessary for a bribery prosecution existed in the case of Duffy but not for Wright or his collaborators, the unindicted co-conspirators. Duffy had the "guilty mind" the others did not. That's difficult to swallow especially now that the narrative of what went on within the PMO, who knew what and when, is beginning to unravel. For the Crown's theory to hold any water, Harper's aides would have to have been vestal virgins, their purity unimpeachable.

As Bayne exposes the contradictions in their individual "first person" accounts and demonstrates how easily then corporal Horton was misled, structural damage befalls the Crown's case.

At this point I don't know that the judge would strike the bribery charge. The whole thing is too politically charged for that. That might be seen as the Court laying a smokescreen for an administration that suddenly finds itself in trouble.

At the conclusion of the Crown's case on the main charges, it is open to defence counsel to move for dismissal for "insufficient evidence" or the far more risky "no evidence", the latter being a choice not to call any defence evidence. I think the Court, out of respect for Bayne, would leave that decision up to him.

That's my guess anyway.

Scotian said...


I'm thinking the same thing. No sane judge is going to act to dismiss any sooner than the process allows, and I would be very surprised if Bayne does not not move for such at the end of the Prosecution's case on at least the bribery and related charges given what he has already done to those elements in his crosses.

The Mound of Sound said...

Bayne might try an "insufficient evidence" motion, the safer route. If the motion is denied the defence remains entitled to proceed to call defence witnesses.

I've not followed the proceedings closely enough to know if there are other charges beyond the business currently before the court. Perhaps the Crown might choose to bookend the main charge with the chicken scratch stuff.