Monday, August 10, 2015
The Sparks Will Fly on Wednesday
Nigel Wright steps into the witness box to re-open the Duffy trial on Wednesday. It's hard to see that there's much middle ground available to Wright. He will either exonerate Stephen Harper, corroborating Harper's claim that he knew nothing about the $90,000 deal, or he'll sink Harper - at least if he tells the truth, the whole truth and nothing but...
The Crown's examination in chief of its star witness probably won't be very exciting. If there are any sparks they'll probably await Wright's cross-examination by Duffy's defence counsel, Don Bayne.
Wright's evidence goes to the main charge faced by Duffy, accepting a bribe. The bribe was the 90-grand and the person giving that bribe was Nigel Wright who, through some twist of investigatorial and prosecutorial logic is not deemed to have been a culpable party to the bribe. It's a theory that brings the crime more in line with extortion than bribery.
My take on it is that the Crown considers Wright blameless because there was nothing received by Wright in exchange for the cheque. However, if Wright was merely acting as a very generous agent for the party and his prime minister, then the benefit received from that bribe by others should also be attributed to Wright.
If I give you a bribe to do something for somebody else, it's still a bribe and I'm legally liable. If I give you a bag of cash to see that a contract goes to Acme Widgets it doesn't matter if I have a direct interest in Acme or its contract. It's still a bribe and I'm criminally liable for making it.
There was consideration for the bribe in the terms attached to the money delivered to Duffy's lawyer. The money was peanuts although perhaps not to Duffy. Yet it was minuscule in the context of the political damage it was intended to avert. The terms are laid out in Duffy's email to his confidantes that somehow managed to find its way into CTV reporter Bob Fife's hands.
Duffy was to do certain things. He was to immediately cease cooperating with the Deloitte auditors. He was to immediately go mute and make no further public statements. For that he was to get 90-grand and a promise that the Senate audit report would "go easy on" Old Duff.
There's the bribe and whoever imposed those terms committed bribery, right Nigel? Getting senators Tkachuk and Stewart-Olsen to launder the Senate audit report was part of that bribe. Take the money, pay it to this party, and I promise you I will corrupt senior members of the Senate in the exercise of their duties. You can't expect to do that and be found blameless. Not even Nigel Wright, not even Stephen Harper.
Wright, Perrin and Harper did what they did not because they believed there was no wrongdoing in it. They did what they did because they believed their skulduggery would never see the light of day. They believed Duffy would honour his promise to dummy up, go mute. Then Duffy's ego got the better of him and he couldn't help himself. He let others in on the deal.
Here's the thing to remember. Duffy's email was sent when the deal was made. It is contemporaneous with the facts and events. What it described actually transpired, every element of it. It wasn't made up after the fact. There was no element of trying to shift blame from Duffy onto someone else. There was no finger pointing. It was a simple narration of a deal that came to pass just as outlined.
The PMO gang didn't believe Duffy would shoot his mouth off. Duffy didn't think any of his confidantes would leak the email to Bob Fife. If any of them had the slightest inkling the deal might be leaked there would have been no deal, Wright would not have written the cheque, Perrin would not have drafted the lawyer's letter that transmitted the cheque to Duffy's solicitor. They would not have left their fingerprints all over this.