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.

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