Wednesday, November 20, 2013
The Day Stephen Harper's Story Fell Apart
He fought back against his accusers like a cornered animal. He tried to smear them by accusing them of criminal acts, even of being communists.
He fudged his answers, and repeated his talking points over and over again.
But he could not deny the allegations contained in this report.
The RCMP is alleging that Prime Minister Stephen Harper's former chief of staff breached the criminal code when he made a secret $90,000 payment to Senator Mike Duffy in a bid to put a lid on a spending scandal.
Or that while there is no written evidence so far that he knew of the Wright payment, he did know that the Conservative Party was taking steps to solve Duffy's problem by using money from party funds.
The court records suggest that Mr. Harper was briefed on a deal that would have seen the Conservative Party make the reimbursement on Mr. Duffy’s behalf this spring. Mr. Wright said in newly released e-mails that he would “speak to the PM before everything is considered final,” in reference to a proposed five-point deal with Mr. Duffy in place in late February.
That he gave that plan the green light.
On February 22, Mr. Wright sent an email to members of the Prime Minister’s Office stating that he had obtained approval for his plans as long as PMO lawyer Benjamin Perrin and Mr. Duffy’s lawyer, Janice Payne, were on board. “We are good to go from the PM once Ben has his confirmation from Payne,” Mr. Wright wrote.
Even though it was the same plan that Nigel Wright later paid, and if one was a crime so should be the other.
And that later, according to Wright he did know in broad terms that he was assisting Mike Duffy.
When the media asked questions on the matter to the PMO in May, Mr. Wright told his colleagues in an e-mail: “The PM knows, in broad terms only, that I personally assisted Duffy when I was getting him to agree to repay the expenses.” Mr. Harper has always argued that he was not informed – and would not have approved – of Mr. Wright’s decision to repay the expenses on Mr. Duffy’s behalf.
For what does "personally assisted" mean?
Furthermore the report also shows that when Harper claimed that nobody else in the PMO apart from Nigel Wright knew about this plan he was lying. At least twelve top Con operatives were involved.
And that when the Harperites claimed there was no paper trail on the scandal there was in fact one involving more than two thousand e-mails. So as I pointed out last night we still need to know who ordered that they not be made available to reporters who filed access to information requests.
Or came up with the Orwellian story that they didn't exist. Because that in itself will constitute evidence of a cover-up.
And that in the meantime, the evidence appears to show that the PMO was deeply involved in trying to whitewash a Senate report on Duffy.
According to the RCMP, the Prime Minister’s Office faced a “problem” given that the draft audit criticized Mr. Duffy. The Prime Minister's Office then allegedly “influenced senators (David) Tkachuk, (Carolyn) Stewart Olsen, and (Marjory) LeBreton to change the report to reflect wording that the PMO wanted.”
And so was the Conservative's chief bagman Irving Gerstein.
So although there is still no smoking gun, no written evidence, directly linking Harper to the Wright cheque, he cannot escape the responsibility for the actions of his office.
"That's what we have been trying to make Mr. Harper understand from the beginning of this sordid affair," NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair told reporters. "It’s always Stephen Harper that's the source of the problem but he's always looking for someone to blame."
Which has been revealed through the good work of Corporal Horton to be a cesspool of political corruption.
With Stephen I Know Nothing Harper's story hanging by a slender thread.
So: how stands that slender thread after today? Answer: still there, barely, but fraying by the hour.
Whatever might be meant by Wright’s later email to a colleague, that “the PM knows, in broad terms only, that I personally assisted Duffy when I was getting him to agree to repay the expenses,” and regardless of the officer’s statement, offered elsewhere, that “I have seen no evidence to suggest that the Prime Minister was personally involved in the minutiae of those matters,” it seems clear that he knew a great deal more than he has let on. Which was, you will remember, nothing.
A slender thread that is still in danger of snapping, because the RCMP has requested many more e-mails from the Senate.
And all it would take is one of them to further implicate Harper and he will hang with the rest of them.
If you wish to read the RCMP report you can read it here.
But what is already clear is that the moment is approaching when the force will have to lay charges.
This is now a criminal investigation not just into Duffy and Wright's actions, but into Stephen Harper's office, the Con Senate's leaders and what can only be described as a massive cover-up.
This scandal isn't going away.
Try as he might, Stephen Harper cannot wipe the mess that is the Senate spending scandal from his shoe. It has already eclipsed his government’s political agenda and torn a gaping hole in the prime minister’s claim to govern with “integrity and transparency.” Now it threatens to spread further, involving more and more of his top officials and political operatives.
Canadians will NEVER believe that he didn't know what was going on.
And whether by legal means or political ones.
Sooner or later his corruption WILL destroy him....
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