Friday, August 14, 2015

The Duffy Archives

I did a search of this blog and came up with a few gems from the past about the Cavendish cottager, one going back to his early days in the Red Chamber in 2009.

His Dwarfship has been running his mouth like a punk on crack ever since he reached the Senate, spewing homo-erotic fantasies of unruly Eastern premiers sporting with each other in bed. If this is what the porcine paddy chooses to mark his first speech in the Senate, one can only shudder to imagine what curious thoughts must go through his tiny warped mind when he's at home, alone.

I mean, let's face it. This is Mike Duffy, the bald little troll himself. But, dirty old man in a raincoat sick as his Senate speech might have been, his performance on the weekend was a gut-buster. He fed a Conservative gathering in Halifax on Saturday this hilarious line about his appointment, "it is not a position I sought, but it is a challenge that I accept with enthusiasm."

On a point of order. About Nigel and his cheque. Duffy maintains that Harper not only knew all about it, he was physically present with Duffy and Wright. Duffy also elaborated on the threat of what would befall him if he didn't play ball.

He was told if he didn't comply, Conservative Senators David Tkachuk and Carolyn Stewart Olsen would issue a press release saying he was ineligible to sit in the Senate because he was not a true resident of P.E.I.

And then there was the Bearded One, Benjamin Perrin, PMO Special Counsel, personal lawyer to the prime minister himself.  Barely two months after Duffy received the cheque, Perrin abruptly quit Ottawa and fled to the safety of his old teaching gig at the University of British Columbia. That never looked good and it smelled even worse.

By now we all know from the email dump that Perrin was in on this, in up to his neck. We don't know everything yet, there's more to come. I've got that from a guy who has read the emails, including at least a few that weren't turned over to the RCMP investigators like the one Don Bayne dropped in Nigel's lap this morning. But, back to Perrin, Wright's unindicted co-conspirator. When the scandal erupted, Perrin released a statement that said this:

“I was not consulted on, and did not participate in, Nigel Wright’s decision to write a personal cheque to reimburse Senator Duffy’s expenses,” Perrin said in a statement.

Okay, so Benny is saying he didn't participate in Nigel's "decision" to write the cheque. But he participated in the deal and was involved throughout, both in transmitting Wright's cheque to Duffy's solicitor, in the strategy to get Duffy to play ball and so much more.

Yes, Perrin was Harper's personal lawyer. There existed a solicitor-client relationship between them, one of the most powerful legal relationship of them all. Within the scope of his activities on behalf of Stephen J. Harper, Perrin gets to keep them secret. They're privileged. The privilege is not the solicitor's, it is the client's. It is Harper's. That is solicitor-client privilege.

But the solicitor-client relationship is about far more than just keeping secrets. It is about a solemn, fiduciary duty owed by the solicitor to his client. The lawyer has a number of obligations to his client some of which bear directly on the shenanigans of the Wright/Duffy business.

It's clear that what was concocted could easily blow up.  One of the emails speaks of a sense that this was going to end up badly. Perrin's foremost duty was to Stephen Harper and that duty extended to not participating in something that could blowback on the prime minister, damage Stephen Harper - especially if he had the slightest reason to believe this was being done without Harper's knowledge. UNLESS Ben Perrin knew that Harper was fully aware of what was going on or had delegated to Nigel Wright the authority to do as he saw fit. In a quirky way it's a bit like Pilate washing his hands in that bowl of water, Harper pretending to absolve himself of any responsibility for what was being done with his blessing.

And not to cut the point too finely but Perrin did know about Nigel's decision long before Wright actually cut the cheque. Nigel wasn't going to write the cheque until Duffy had agreed to the terms. Perrin was involved in negotiating those terms through Duffy's solicitor. Perrin was involved in developing the "strategy" to persuade Duffy to accept the terms. This was all before Nigel Wright actually decided to take pen in hand and put his signature to that cheque. Perrin's statement of denial is really just a long chain of carefully chosen weasel words tidily strung together to convey a misleading contention.

This is probably a good point at which to revisit the RCMP role that led to this flawed investigation and the curious notion of the Immaculate Bribe or Precium Immaculata, the virgin birth of the crime of bribery in which a bribe is criminally accepted that no one actually offered.

You got a sense that this was going to be a political operation when someone in the senior ranks of the RCMP leaked an email from Commissioner Bob Paulson strictly forbidding his senior officers from any contact with any MPs or Senators without the approval of the office that reported to Public Safety Minister, Vic Toews.  Ouch..ssss... feel the burn?

And what of the investigating officer, Corporal Greg Horton.

In his Information, Horton relates a letter received from Nigel Wright's counsel stating that four senior officials of the Prime Minister's Office - the Chief of Staff, the Assistant Chief of Staff, the Director of Issue Management and the Chief Counsel who was also Harper's personal legal adviser, were all aware of the Wright-Duffy deal.

But here's the thing. Horton then seems to accept their implausible assertion that Harper knew nothing of it. He gives no basis for that except the assertions of people who were either principals in or privy to the commission of an apparent and serious crime. It's as though the fix was in.

And it wouldn't be fair to pass up the slithering senatorial snakes, David Tkachuk and Carolyn Stewart-Olsen, loyal unto death Harper shills and Masters of the Universe or at least the Internal Economy Committee where they dutifully laundered Duffy's audit report at the express direction of the PMO. 

All three reports acknowledged the auditors from Deloitte found that criteria for determining primary residence, which must be at least 100 kilometres away from Parliament Hill for senators to be eligible for up to $22,000 in annual living expenses, to be lacking in the rules and guidelines.

Two of the reports — the ones addressing the expenses of Harb and Brazeau — disagreed with that finding and concluded the forms senators sign when declaring their primary and secondary residences in order to receive the living allowance is clear enough for them to have known better.

“Your subcommittee considers this language to be unambiguous and, plainly, if a senator resides primarily in the (National Capital Region), he or she should not be claiming living expenses for the (National Capital Region),” read the reports for Harb and Brazeau.

The report tabled on Duffy does not express any disagreement with this finding of ambiguity by Deloitte and even goes so far as to say that the committee is addressing the issue.

And, to add a touch of hilarity to the saga of Tkachuk and Stewart-Olsen, there's this bit of "balls of brass" denialism.

At this point, kids, I don't want to inflict any more eye strain upon you.  If you really need more go here, here, or here.

In conclusion I'd like to repost a reader participation piece from October, 2013, "A Show of Hands, Please." If you played before, please feel free to play again.

Hands up everybody who believes Nigel Wright was the lone gunman, that he acted alone in his under-the-table deal to funnel money to Mike Duffy.

Hands up everybody who believes Nigel Wright and Mike Duffy are old jogging buddies.

Hands up everybody who believes Nigel Wright and Mike Duffy are old pals from their university days.

Hands up everybody who believes Nigel Wright bails out MPs and Senators with money problems, 90-grand at a pop, just because.

Hands up everybody who believes Nigel Wright, as chief of staff to prime minister Harper, would pull this skulduggery behind his boss's back without so much as a 'by your leave.'

Hands up everybody who believes Benjamin Perrin, PMO chief legal counsel and personal legal advisor to the prime minister, upon learning of the under-the-table deal to funnel money to Mike Duffy, would have cooperated with Nigel Wright and would have chosen to conceal that from the most important client he will have in his life and thereby breach his most fundamental professional obligations to that most important client for all time.

Hands up everyone who believes that Woodcock and van Hemmen would also have dummied up to keep Stephen Harper in the dark about this potentially explosive gambit.

Hands up everyone who believes that top Tory senators, getting wind of the deal and agreeing to launder committee reports concerning their investigation into Mike Duffy, would go to such great, personal risk without assurances that their prime minister was directing the operation.

Hands up everyone who believes that Wright, Perrin, Woodcock, van Hemmen, as well as senators LeBreton, Tkachuk and Stewart-Olsen knew fully what was going on but Stephen Harper knew nothing.

Hands up everyone who believes Stephen Harper only discovered the existence of the Wright-Duffy affair after it broke in public.

Hands up everyone who believes that Stephen Harper wasn't trying to hide anything when all e-mails, documents, memos, phone messages, voice mails and documents of any possible description pertaining to Wright-Duffy mysteriously vanished from the prime minister's office.

Okay, let me count the hands. Hey, how come there's no hands? None, not one, really? Alright, let's try this one.

Hands up everyone who believes Steve Harper was in on this from the start and approved the Wright cheque and later saw to it that his PMO was sanitized to remove any paper trail.

Oh, okay. There you all are. Nice to see so many still with us.

And, with that, goodnight everyone, adieu.


the salamander said...

.. Outstanding .. !

Ideally many many Mainstream Media folks are sniffing the blood trail and will follow it, baying and snapping..
The emails to Duffy by McGregor pre publication re PEI health card and residency were fine examples and of course then came the publication etc.. so we know mainstream journos can do it.

Andrew Coyne has recognized and written re how its really all about the audit. Its the audit that had to be quashed, buried or laundered completely. He asks why? And implies it would reveal the Harper mendacity of naming Senators purely as fundraisers for Harper.

I believe there is more to it even than that. Is it possible that a 'going squirrely' Duffy could blow open other Harper secrets? Even cause the collapse of the Harper Government? What to make of the farcical bribe charge only on Duffy? Is the RCMP truly this complicit and in the bag for Harper and his Immaculate Deception ?

ron wilton said...

Correct me if I am wrong but I recall 'Rosy' at some point referring to Corporal Horton as Sargeant Horton.

Has his diligence(or failure to find a briber) earned him a promotion in the ranks of the Royal Conservative Mounted Police?

rumleyfips said...

A few of small points amid a torrent of info.

Wright always believed , and apparently still does , that Duffy committed no breach of either the rules or the law. He seems content, however, to let Duffy be convicted for something he doesn't believe he did. I guess only a good Christian would know about bearing false witness.

Canadian's have the right of mobility. Duffy could move. When one moves full time to a summer residence, it is usually winterised . Duffy did just that to the tune of $100,000+.

Senators are expected to be in Ottawa to attend sessions and can be penalised for not showing up. How then can this time be used against Duffy : he cannot break the laws of physics and be in two places at once. His yearly Florida holiday ( something many Canadians take ) seems to be used to minimise his primary residence time.

The Mound of Sound said...

@ Sal. I wrote a response to your comment but, naturally, I got carried away and it exceeded Blogger's limits. Here it is, in parts.

Part One.

Hi, Sal. The "redacted email" hit that Wright took yesterday was a body blow to Nigel Wright but just the start. There are two bigger hits, two that I know of, that will come when others are called to the stand. They pertain to other key players on Team Harper and I expect they'll dwarf anything we've yet seen. I expect there are several others.

I began this anthology with that post about Duffy's first speech in the Senate to remind us that the Cavendish Cottager deserves no sympathy from us. He was an odious bugger from the outset. I was particularly saddened at the way Duffy, once appointed, demeaned his former colleagues after having worked among them for decades. It was such a classless thing to do made worse because it was so gratuitous. Now that Nemesis arrives in the wake of Duffy's Hubris, he has no friends in the Fourth Estate.

Duffy richly deserves whatever fate befalls him. That said, Duffy's excesses have exposed Harper and his inner sanctum as being every bit as corrupt and venal as the Senator for Prince Edward Island. Their scheming, manipulations and corruption were crafted to remain behind closed doors, never glimpsed by the public eye, never even the stuff of suspicion.

I have long considered Harper's greatest, most powerful skill, the one he wields to such great effect, to be his astonishing ability to manipulate and ultimately corrupt whatever he touches. Harper believes both power and order emanate from his fingertips. It's why he finds the Charter and the Supreme Court so infuriating. I am amazed at how so many Canadians have a poor to non-existent grasp of the deep contempt Harper has for constitutional, liberal democracy. That his PMO should be hideously corrupt, unhesitant to splash about in the murky waters between the simply mean and the outright criminal, is a mirror of the man it serves. However his corrupting tentacles have also reached deeply into the public service, to some extent even the armed forces, and fullsomely through the state police and security apparatus. Who could be surprised that the Senate of Canada would become Harper's personal puppet show, rotten to its beating, Tory heart.

The Mound of Sound said...

Part Two.

Duffy is certainly a fitting petard on which to hoist Harper and his High Priests in the PMO, the Senate and the Conservative Party. They're mainly sophisticated people. They knew what they were doing and they did it without complaint. A genuine pack of scoundrels.

What Don Bayne appears to be doing is to lift the veil to reveal Harper's web of corruption. Just as all roads lead to Rome, all of these tendrils lead straight back to one man pulling levers behind an emerald curtain.

My guess on the "squirrely" reference is that they were afraid Duffy would go on TV and lay out how he became a Senator, Harper's assurance that he met the residency requirements, others who were in the very same boat on residency (Carolyn Stewart-Olsen among them), how his expenses were regularly vetted and approved (remember how Harper publicly vouchsafed Wallin's expenses?). There was a deal, a pact. Duffy would get a cushy and modestly prestigious job to age 75, a pension most would envy, and, what he desired most, a spot in the limelight, perpetual celebrity.

There may have been some "dark secrets" that he knew that they feared he might expose if he felt the need for exoneration, vengeance. Duffy alluded to such things in his parting speech in the Senate. I don't know what they are or even if they might come out in the course of this trial although I'd be surprised.

The Mound of Sound said...

Part Three

I do think we'll see more torpedoes in the water as Bayne works his way through the Crown's witnesses. I think I know a bit of what he's got loaded in the forward tubes and waiting for Marjory LeBreton, Stewart-Olsen, Ben Perrin, Ray Novak and Arthur Hamilton (who I think could be heading for a rough patch with his own Law Society).

I've never done a trial of this magnitude so I'm intrigued by how Don Bayne is going to keep it out of the doldrums. Some time ago I wrote that, when it comes to the protracted and complicated, Canadians have the attention span of mid-to-high order primates.

I expect there'll be a thoroughly self-serving book coming out of Duffy on this. What remains to be seen is whether he'll be typing it at home or in his cell.

The Mound of Sound said...

Ron, I find that interesting. That would raise eyebrows. Horton gets promoted as his recompense for doing just the perfect investigation?

If so, I'd be surprised if Don Bayne didn't find some way to get that into the trial record. Stay tuned. I will.

The Mound of Sound said...

@ Rumley. Wright knew that there was a special deal between Harper and Duffy (and to a lesser extent, Wallin). They weren't appointed to the Senate as much as they were hired and, of the two, Duffy proved to be the hog who laid nothing but golden eggs for Harper and his caucus.

Duffy was in huge demand by Tory candidates during campaigns. For reasons I could never quite understand he was a real celebrity that ordinary Canadians flocked to see and hear. He was also worth his considerable weight in contribution cheques at fundraisers between elections. It was the PMO and the Conservative Party that kept Duffy on the road, criss-crossing the country, so much that he narrowly missed the days in-province to meet PEI residency requirements.

In other words, it was the PMO and the Conservative Party that were Duffy's undoing on the housing allowance problem. They were the sine qua non of the dilemma.

Carolyn Stewart-Olsen was likewise a "hired" senator. She was a Harper loyalist going back to the Reform Party days. She worked her way into Harper's PMO and became one of the few people he would really trust. Harper got her into the Senate, I suspect, to be his political commissar (think "Hunt for Red October"), Harper's eyes and ears to keep tabs on his flock of aging senatorial geese.

She had the same residency situation as Duffy and Wallin. She had her husband pick up a property in New Brunswick. Unlike Duffy she wasn't in great demand for appearances in distant ridings and so she did meet the residency requirements to qualify for the housing allowance.

The Mound of Sound said...

Rumley, Part Two.

Duffy (and Wallin) got carried away dipping into the petty cash box. Expensing Florida holidays is a bit much after all.

Other expenses were incurred not on behalf of the Senate but the Conservative Party and should have been paid by the party. However Harper has established a culture of using the taxpayers to fund such things as hundreds of millions of dollars in thinly disguised government (campaign) TV ads. Duffy did pretty much the same thing for a few grand here and a few grand there.

Now it must be said that Duffy and Wallin were well experienced in this sort of in-house larceny from their days in the upper ranks of Canadian broadcasting. Especially once you break into a national-level position, you can genuinely lard your pantry when it comes to the old expense account. Their Senate shenanigans were just a continuation, old hat.

rumleyfips said...

Maybe someone can help me with a loose end.

Yesterday testimony touched on the cheque going into a Payne & co trust account and another cheque issued to the treasury ; seemingly to keep the funds out of Duffy's hands.

Was the cheque made out to Duffy ? Did the money ever make into a Duffy bank account ? Did Duffy write a cheque to the treasury ?

The Mound of Sound said...

As far as I know the details are only partly known except by the parties and their counsel. We know there were two cheques that went to Duffy's solicitors.

One conveyed Wright's money. That was sent, apparently under Ben Perrin's transmittal letter. That would have been sent in trust and deposited to the firm's trust account. The letter would have specified conditions, "undertakings" prescribing the terms upon which the monies could be released.

The second cheque came from the Conservative Party, apparently from Hamilton, to cover Duffy's legal fees and costs. That would have gone into the firm's general accounts.

I've not seen Perrin's letter. It will become part of the trial record. All I know is that the money went from the PMO to Nelligan O'Brien Payne and, from there, wound up with - I'm not really sure. Would it go to the Official Receiver? Hmm, I'll have to keep an eye out for the details. Who knows?

Anonymous said...

Anyong said...they ought to have gotten rid of Duffy but they didn't and began stick handling him to their chagrin.

Anonymous said...

This is trite but somehow not highlighted enough: the fella who "apparently" did not know what his closest advisers were doing is unfit to taking care of his minions not even mention the country...

Robert said...

So Wright's biblical reference makes me believe he thinks he paid tithes, a contribution....a tax deductible contribution?

And he paid back the money Duffy owed so the Senate is happy but what about the money that Duffy himself benefited from. Why is he able to keep it? Wright paid from his own pocket but what about the benefit to Duffy, does he keep that? Tax free?

The Mound of Sound said...

@ A..non. That does sound obvious, doesn't it? Ol' Shifty wants to be the skipper but doesn't want the responsibility that always falls to the captain of a ship. Think Harry Truman and the sign on his desk "The Buck Stops Here."

The Mound of Sound said...

@ Robert, well you've certainly opened another can of worms.

Let's see. The Crown's theory is that by Duffy taking money from Wright he committed the crime of receiving a bribe. That would make the $90,000 "proceeds of crime."

Proceeds of crime are subject to forfeiture and can be traceable into the hands of the ultimate recipient in some circumstances. Here the ultimate recipient was the government of Canada, a government headed by an individual whose minions were culpable and even orchestrated the impugned transaction.

Could it be argued that the government of Canada cannot claim to have received those monies with clean hands? If so, I suppose the money might be traceable into the government's hands and arguably recoverable. At this point it all gets insanely circular. I think I'm getting a headache.

As for Duffy, perhaps the government should refund Nigel's 90-grand and, instead, levy a charge for that amount plus interest and penalties against Duffy's assets (if there are any not fully encumbered at this point). Now that he's back on the Senate payroll perhaps they could garnishee his stipend.

The Mound of Sound said...

Robert, here's a European Union study on civil forfeiture. The Canadian experience is examined beginning at page 49.

The Mound of Sound said...

Only I expect the feds would try to raise Crown immunity although these are proceeds of crime knowingly received as such as a result of the conspiracy hatched in the PMO.

Unknown said...

Is Duffy charged with bribery or with receiving a bribe? I still don't understand how Nigel not being charged didn't exonerate Duffy. Obviously there is a precedent, because there's now a trial. Are they saying that Duffy was the instigator of the bribe? Bayne seems to be showing that Wright in fact did give Duffy the $90k with conditions, in other words a bribe. Can Wright still be charged?

The Mound of Sound said...

Duffy obviously received a bribe, an "immaculate bribe" in the curious minds of the RCMP. How exactly that works is novel at the very least. It seems to stray into the realm of extortion but that's a different charge under the Criminal Code.

Can Wright still be charged? I see no reason why not although he's probably cinched some sweetheart immunity deal in exchange for returning to Canada to testify.

The entire business is very muddled, enough that my cynical mind wonders whether this isn't set up to end with an acquittal - case closed/scandal resolved sort of thing - that, at this point, would be the best possible outcome for Shifty & his minions.