Friday, August 21, 2015
The Duffy Cover-Up: Why the RCMP Must Explain Itself
Now that we know that Stephen Harper's lawyer believed that Nigel Wright had Harper sign off on a five-point plan to payoff Mike Duffy.
That good to go really meant good to go. And now that we know this:
Donald Bayne, Duffy’s defence lawyer, read from the transcript of a police interview Perrin did a year ago: “He [Wright] was explicit the prime minister approved of the responses to Ms. Payne [Duffy’s lawyer], so as I said at the time, the prime minister had approved all of the five points articulated by Mr. Wright.”
“That was an accurate statement,” Bayne asked. “You said that to the police?” “Yes,” replied Perrin.
I think it's about time that the RCMP be asked to explain why it didn't charge Wright, or Stephen Harper's intimate advisor Ray Novak.
Thursday, Perrin described in detail a conference call on March 22, 2013, in which Wright told Janice Payne, Duffy’s then-lawyer, he intended to pay Duffy’s $90,000 tab from his own personal bank account. Ray Novak, at the time Harper’s principal secretary, was is the room and on the call, Perrin said.
His confirmation of Novak’s presence is significant because Novak has told the police he didn’t know about Wright’s $90,000 cheque and Harper has said repeatedly since the events that members of his senior staff other than Wright were not aware of the arrangement.
For considering what we now know about the role of the two men in this obvious cover-up attempt, the NDP is right to ask the RCMP to re-open the case.
The NDP wants the RCMP to consider laying charges against Nigel Wright and up to a dozen other staffers in the Prime Minister's Office for their part in covering up the scandal over Sen. Mike Duffy's expenses.
In a letter to RCMP commissioner Bob Paulson, NDP ethics critic Charlie Angus says testimony at the Duffy trial has produced significant new evidence about the role played by Wright, Stephen Harper's former chief of staff.
Or at the very least explain why the RCMP chose to proceed in this manner:
All the charges facing Duffy were laid under the Criminal Code. The RCMP did not lay any charges under the Parliament of Canada Act, even though some legal experts have argued it would have provided an easier route to a conviction.
The act specifies that no senator shall receive compensation for services rendered in relation to any matter or controversy before the Senate; it also makes it illegal for anyone to offer such compensation.
For if they had invoked the Parliament of Canada Act, Wright, Novak, and all the others would almost certainly have been charged.
And the NDP is also right to point out that RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson also promised he would explain the reasoning of his investigators.
Commissioner Paulson promises the public will eventually get an unprecedented look at the conclusions of his investigative team, hoping that shining a light on the process will put an end to questions about the RCMP’s independence.
“We suspected some illicit activity to have taken place. We have investigated that. We have considered the Parliament of Canada Act, considered the Criminal Code, considered every element of this thing,” he says. “Our reasoning, our analysis and ultimately our conclusions will be available for people to beat around the bush.”
But that was over a year ago, we're still waiting.
And until we can hear that reasoning, and measure it against what we know now, Paulson's words will ring hollow.
“The investigative team has done a very good job at exploring all of the corners and all of the shadows,” he says. “Maybe we’ll be judged in history to have been wrong, and it will be because maybe we weren’t smart enough or didn’t do something right. But not because we’re crooked.”
And sound suspiciously like what Stephen Harper has been claiming...
And that's simply not good enough.
For if it walks like a cover-up, and it quacks like a cover-up, it probably is a cover-up.
The truth must come out.
And the RCMP must explain itself...
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