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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Harper told Duffy to do the right thing 

In spite of all the tut-tutting in the press about how Harper is now directly involved in the Duffy scandal, what we've seen so far isn't going to stick.
Today's story is about Duffy telling the Senate that Harper ordered him to pay back the money.
Well, basically, what's wrong with that?
Duffy SHOULD have paid back the money willingly.
I don't care why Duffy ever thought it was perfectly OK for him to claim expenses for living in his own home -- anybody with a working brain should have known that wasn't acceptable.
To hear him tell it, Duffy thought it was honourable to resist what Harper wanted him to do.
I said I didn’t believe I’d broken the rules and that to repay would be an admission of guilt. Canadians know me as an honest guy. To pay back money I didn’t owe would destroy my reputation.
Yes, Duffy actually said that.  In February. To continue:
The PMO piled on the pressure. Some honourable senators called me in P.E.I. One senator in particular left several particularly nasty and menacing messages: Do what the prime minister wants. Do it for the PM and for the good of the party. I continued to resist. Finally, the message from the PMO became: Do what we want or else.
And what was the “else”? He said the Conservative majority on the steering committee of the Board of Internal Economy, Sen. Tkachuk and Sen. Stewart Olsen, would issue a press release declaring me unqualified to sit in the Senate. However, if you do what we want, the prime minister will publicly confirm that you’re entitled to sit as a senator from P.E.I. and you won’t lose your seat. Tkachuk and Stewart Olsen are ready to make that press release now. I said: They don’t have the power to do that. He said: Agree to what we want right now or else.
I made one last effort. I said: I don’t believe I owe anything, and besides which, I don’t have $90,000. Don’t worry, Nigel said, I’ll write the cheque. Let the lawyers handle the details; you just follow the plan and we’ll keep Carolyn Stewart Olsen and David Tkachuk at bay.
So Duffy was muscled and maneuvered into paying back the money.
If Harper had told Duffy just to keep the money and let the PMO cover it up, then that would have been malfeasance on Harper's part.
Instead, Harper told Duffy to pay it back. I can't see that Canadians will think there is a scandal in Harper doing that.

UPDATE:  Some good comments that questioned my dismissive tone -- while I still believe if the story stops here there will not be long-term repercussions on Harper, I also agree that there seems to have been a massive cover-up in the Prime Minister's Office about this (no emails, continued attempts to hide things, etc) which leads to the conclusion there is more going on here than just Harper telling Duffy to pay back the money.

Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers | 16 comments

16 Comments:

I think,

Duffy's position is that he believed that he had done nothing wrong, in claiming his expenses,

and (remember, this is prior to the hearings, testimony and audits) the PMO's Office, the Whips, House and Senate, promised to misuse their power to make the whole thing go away, as if nothing had ever happened,

all he had to do was pay back the money.

To put it another way, say Revinue Canada audits you and says you owe $90,000 for undeclared blogger benifits, (free chocolate bars, a comped coffee or two, advice on a good restaurant if you are so lucky),

Most of us would take the fight to the next level, ( a face to face audit, maybe with a tax accountant on our side), to at least find out why the positions are so out of whack,....

The audit showed that Duffy done wrong, but before that, the PMO offered to disappear the whole thing,......

By Blogger Jay Farquharson, at 1:31 am  

Sorry, Cathie but what Harper said is not what this scandal is about. But Steve Harper thanks you for your support.

Look, if that was all it was - Harper telling Duffy to repay an allowance - there would be no story.

It's when Harper and Wright brought the Duffy problem in house, inside the PMO, that the corruption happened, that laws were broken in a conspiracy that extended from the prime minister's own office into the ranks of senior Tory senators.

Ask yourself this. Why, after Nigel Wright's departure, was Harper's PMO cleansed of all documentary traces - memos, e-mails, everything? What's in the binder of documents that Nigel Wright handed over to the RCMP? What's in the raft of documents that Duffy and his counsel are holding?

If you knew a fraction of what's in those documents, you wouldn't be taking such a dismissive attitude about this. I haven't read the documents but I've spoken with people - solid Tories - who have. I've been told there are smoking gun documents that have Harper's fingerprints all over them.

All is not what it appears, Cathie.

By Blogger The Mound of Sound, at 1:58 am  

Cathie:

I am in complete agreement with Mound of Sound on this one, and I think your idea of how it will be perceived won't occur because of the way Harper stonewalled and reacted at every chance to act like someone guilty hiding their guilt ever since the 90 grand "gift" (or as I see it bribe) came to light. What has now been shown is that Harper was far more aware of what was going on in this matter than he has acknowledged, and it contradicts his earlier denials of any in depth involvement at any level in the matter. Once is becomes clear he was more deeply involved then it also makes it more apparent that he likely was involved in the wrongdoing that followed too.

By Blogger Scotian, at 2:34 am  

I actually need to comment, on my comment,

According to Duffy, DeLoite's report said that his housing claims were with in the rules,....

and as Duffy has claimed e-mails, reports and minutes that the PMO's office says do not exist,

question one is will the media follow up on this and keep the spotlight on a corrupt and Watergate like PMO Office,

question two is, how will this play in Harperland. I suspect not great, but not crippling. Win at all costs is a Con core value and has been adopted by many Con Core Supporters,

and question three is, given the possibility of the Deloitte report going public, what games is the Senate Commitee playing and how far are they willing to try to take it?

By Blogger Jay Farquharson, at 2:51 am  

Cathie:

Duffy's appointments was unconstitutional. He did not appoint himself.

Please blame the perpetrator.

By Blogger rumleyfips, at 7:54 am  

We have included your post in our "Around the Blogs" section at Looniepolitics.com

By Blogger Robert Wood, at 10:42 am  

I can't find the links, but I think that Duffy and Wallin are both on record more than once saying that they initially questioned whether certain expenses were allowable and either the PMO or some head of senate told them they were.
I don't think Duffy comes out of this looking very smart no matter how much benefit of the doubt one gives him, but to my eye, his calling foul comes from having been given the go-ahead on those expenses.

By Blogger karen, at 11:06 am  

OK, points taken.
I get it now -- its the cover-up that indicates something is rotten here. I'll add an update to the post, too.

By Blogger CathiefromCanada, at 11:38 am  

Meh....90g's paid back to taxpayers...funny scandal. I miss the old days where actual money was stolen from taxpayers for seat bribing like Adscam, or, Irish Brian taking bags of cash for "consulting"...this paying back money scandal sucks. There will be no "smoking gun", there will be no charges, and that sucks too. All this for 90 freakin' g's that went back to the taxpayers...they cant even do a scandal right. Unless its all on the same video that has Ford smoking crack that thousands say they saw and does exist but no one seems to now where it is because all those people who saw it didnt have the where with all to copy it or something high tech like that.
Vote Liberal...when we take your money we dont give it back!!
Duffy's getting what he deserves cuz he's a big mouthed blowhard. The PM is getting what he deserves too, you want to play with the media like he does your bound to get slapped now and then by them, but, scandal and coverup?? I miss the old days man.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:51 pm  

I'm no fan of his royal highness Harper, but in this case, regardless of cover-up/shredded emails/tight-lipped PMO kiddies, I will take 3 thieves having to give back their ill gained loot, over turn the other cheek logic, any day. Harper actually did the right thing her, IMHO....but somehow managed to f'k that up too....at least in the execution.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:04 pm  

It never cease to amaze me how so many people seem to find money corruption so horrible yet fail to understand that abuse of power corruption is not only worse it is also far more inherently dangerous to the citizenry than simple financial theft can ever be. What makes what happened with Duffy and Wright and Harper so egregious is that there was a clear bribe given by a PM's Chief of Staff to a sitting legislator (it doesn't matter why, the act itself is inherently indefensible) Senator Duffy in violation of the law both civil and likely criminal, and the idea that any PM's CoS would act so reflects very badly on the judgment of the man that hired him at the absolute minimum if he truly was unaware (and the 4 days defending him for doing so before accepting his resignation, not firing him even then makes that very difficult to find credible) or worse was at the direction of the PM making him a co-conspirator. That is a scandal far worse than any money scandal could ever be, and anyone that claims to have any understanding of politics that does not recognize this is either a partisan shill blinded by that, a liar, or an ignorant fool, no other definition is possible.

I said the preceding because scandals are about corruption, and while yes stealing tax dollars is bad, stealing rights, powers, and due process is far worse, and one does not need to be some sort of political scientist or genius to understand this. That is a basic precept of democratic governance and has been for not just decades but centuries now. My whole opposition to Harper was rooted in recognizing that his corruption wouldn't be about money, it would be about things far more precious for any democratic system of government, and he has shown that if anything I was underestimating just how bad he would be in this regard.

The Senate scandal with Harper shows how his judgment works, or rather does not works, from how he appoints, who he appoints, and what mattered most to him in those he appoints, not just to the Senate but also to his closet staff as well. It reveals a PM that literally places personal fealty above all other considerations including the rule of law, and that the rule of omerta applies as well against the very people that are the citizenry of this nation he is supposedly governing in the name of. To not understand how serious a scandal that is shows tremendous ignorance of the most basic civics of how our system of government is designed to operate, and anyone that has such also shows that their opinions on such have no credibility either. It does not matter who the person is or what their party is, in a democratic system of government citizens are supposed to place the process above the person(s) that operate it because without the process we are back to the rule of might makes right, which is inherently anti-democratic in the truest sense of the word.

By Blogger Scotian, at 3:03 pm  

Scotian, I'm not sure how Harper is supposed to be responsible for the actions of all of the people that he appoints. It's like saying the Pope is responsible for hiring all of the priests that abused boys over the years. One would hope that the hiring decision in either case, was based on a lack of evidence of malfeasance at the time of hiring. If humans could foretell the actions of other humans, a lot of marriage would never happen. I think that at the very least, given two roads at his disposal, Harper chose the correct one this time. It's going to be pretty difficult for opponents to convince voters that any action which returns taxpayers money to the treasury, from people who did not deserve to have it in the first place, was a poor decision. I just don't see this doing permanent damage to Harper.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:50 pm  

Anonamous,

the Pope comparison is very apt.

After all, the Pope and the Cardinals didn't hire the abuser Priests,....

but when the first instances of abuse came up, (internally), the Pope and the Cardinals quashed the allegations of abuse,

then when the abuse became public and a police matter, they moved the transferred the Priests to other locals to attempt to stall the criminal investigations,

and then of course, when civil suits started to fly, they hid Church assets due to be paid to the victims, in bogus trusts and moved it offshore,

so, comparing Harper to the past Popes is very apt.

By Blogger Enid, at 12:17 am  

Anon:

I would point out to you that two of the three Senators he hired that are currently under the gun had clear issues about their fitness to be Senators before they were appointed, those being Duffy and Brazeau. Brazeau had already had some significant issues regarding his self control that caused serious legal issues and Duffy was well known for his arrogant and bombastic nature, his inability to truly be a team player when times we hard, and so forth. Even so though your basic premise does not fit, a Pope does not appoint priests there are several levels between the two offices (I was raised RC, spent a decade as an altar-boy and had considered a vocation when I was growing up, so I am very well informed on the nature of the Catholic Church, its structure, strengths, and weaknesses), while in these cases Harper personally appointed each person in question, three for the Senate and one to be his staff alter ego, a more sensitive and responsible job than Chief of Staff for a PM is hard to imagine in our society.

So yes, his clearly bad judgment in these selections can be considered, especially if one is to take Harper at his word about being totally in the dark about Wright's decision to bribe a sitting Senator, and make no mistake that 90 000 dollars *is* a bribe by all reasonable definitions and it was clearly seen as one otherwise Duffy would have reported he got it, AS HE WAS LEGALLY REQUIRED TO DO if it was a true gift/loan. For a PM to hire someone that was his alter ego and representative to not understand just how wrong such a action was, how politically damaging it was, and how illegal it was not just civilly but criminally as well, it is hard to see how that does not reflect on his judgment, and I would be willing to bet real money that there are far more non-partisan swing voters out there at this point feeling the same about what they have seen on this matter.

Thank you for illustrating the point of my prior comment, although I rather doubt that was your intention, although it was your accomplishment, well done.

Enid: You made the only reasonable comparison between Harper and the Pope on my point about judgment and responsibility regarding hire/appointments by these leaders. Thank you very much for that. I find it hard to understand why so many people still will believe whatever they want because it offends their personal beliefs about someone/something rather than being tough minded and willing to face reality as it is even with those you favour/support being in the wrong (as is inevitable at some point, human imperfection being what it is). The comparison between Harper's appointments of the Senators and of Wright as his CoS to the Pope and the priests (who he has no role in hiring, indeed the Pope doesn't do anything like that below the Bishop/Archbishop level, something anyone that knows anything about the RCC would be aware of) made no sense as a defensible comparison. As a comparison of wrongdoing though as you did, now there was a fair comparison, but not what I would suggest was the aim of the anonymous commentator.

By Blogger Scotian, at 1:40 am  

The whole thing stinks on ice. The 3 senators may or may have not done something wrong according to the rules, which were in effect then. The 3 senators would not play ball with the PM and PMO so the PM and crew decided to not just take the ball and go home, they want to take the field also.

Ordering the senate to vote the 3 senators out of their posiitions/pay is a bit much considering there actually isn't any solid evidence. There ought to be a trial first. By trying to expell the 3 senators from the Senate, Harper was trying to be able to say, he didn't have anything to do with it and cleaned it all up. Didn't work. He didn't expect the 3 Senators to fight back and he didn't expect Hugh Segal to object.

This just might be a good time for the old Progressive Conservatives to "shove it" to the man who stole their party. It would look good on him.

All things considered harper hasn't done this country any favours. It doesn't matter how he goes, as long as he goes. This scandal will do nicely.

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