Monday, March 16, 2015

Stephen Harper, Mike Duffy, and the PMO Nightmare

Stephen Harper's PMO is one of the most sinister organizations in Canada, and one of the most secretive.

No decent Canadian has ever been able to penetrate its murky darkness, or know exactly how it works. Or how its monstrous master controls his faithful fanatics.

But now all that is about to change, and for Harper and those fanatics it must be a real nightmare.

Because as Michael Harris writes, the Mike Duffy trial is about to blow their secret world wide open.

For the first time since this circus began back in 2013, PMO staffers will not have the option of offering ‘scenarios’ — the lovely euphemism to describe the oft-fictitious claims of their boss. They will take the stand under oath. This time around it’s truth or consequences – the consequences being perjury.

The practitioners of the Big Lie are going to have to tell the truth, for once. And it could be a real pain Bayne in the ass. 

For the collection of PMO staffers who offer evidence against Duffy, it will be a new experience to deal with a grand inquisitor like Donald Bayne. Bayne, the accused’s lawyer, is not a member of the press who can be put off with a load of pre-fabricated flapdoodle from the Langevin Block. He is a detail man who is relentless, and who knows the criminal law and how to get answers to his questions.

More importantly, he has a wagonload of emails between his client and the PMO, as well as other evidence, to direct that razor-sharp mind of his. Bayne is someone who demands your “A” game. People like Benjamin Perrin, the PM’s former legal advisor, and Ray Novak, his current chief of staff, had better bring theirs.

Since it seems clear that Ol' Duff got exactly the lawyer he wanted...

And it will be fascinating to hear what  Ray Novak, Harper's Robin, has to say about his Batty Man...

Especially since he knows him so well, and is always fixing little problems for him, as well fetching him stuff like coffee and donuts.

But of course, as Harris points out, the key witness will be Nigel Wright.

The most critical witness from the PMO of the day will be Nigel Wright, the PM’s former chief-of-staff. Wright is a titan compared to the many political hacks who will testify against Duffy. He is also a gifted negotiator and a lawyer. 

And Wright is something else that Stephen Harper probably doesn’t understand. Though deeply loyal to the Conservative party, he will not lie for the Prime Minister. According to the people who know him best, Wright is a deeply religious man who will answer truthfully any question put to him under oath.

Who apparently won't lie to his god, or the judge, about what Harper meant when he said the Duffy payoff was "good to go."

And is apparently VERY upset that after Great Leader said his loyal servant had resigned, he later claimed he had fired him...

Initially, the prime minister said that Wright continued to enjoy his “full confidence” after the $90,000 gift from his chief of staff to Duffy became public. There would be no resignation. A few days after that, Harper “reluctantly” accepted Wright’s decision to go. 

A few weeks later, Harper claimed that Wright had been “dismissed” for concluding a deal that the PM would never have approved had he known about it, and which was concealed from him.

And apparently his lawyers are also very upset:

When the PM came up with the firing story on that radio show, Wright’s lawyers responded with a chilling comment. They had nothing to say “at this time” about the prime minister’s latest version of events.

So it remains to be seen who Ol' Nige hurts more, Ol' Duff or his Ol' Boss.

And since others in the PMO gang may be forced to tell the truth whether they like it or not...

It could get UGLY.

And whatever happens, the PMO will be exposed, the curtain will be pulled away at last, the Cons will look less like a government and more like a criminal conspiracy. 

And Harper could end up looking like Richard Nixon...

And hopefully suffer the same fate.

Raised up by war.

And brought down by scandal...

Please click here to recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers.


  1. I'm buying a new bag of popcorn. :) This beats Gomery.

    BTW you say, "Or how its monstrous master controls his faithful fanatics."

    At an overall policy level, presumably, he does but given the number of gaffes the short pants have pulled off in the last few years it may be that he has less operational control than he or his CofS should have on rank and file members. An excess of zeal may carry them way past even what even Harper would think was discrete.

    Have a look at under Pre-1905. These guys were unquestionably loyal to the Tzar but some activities look like they actually help achieve the revolution.

    1. hi's hard to say these days who is really running the PMO. Harper is spending a lot of time on the road so the young fanatics may be out of control. And since they are zealots, and not particularly bright, they may be taking the PMO beyond what even Harper might want. But they are all his acolytes and he is ultimately responsible...

  2. We still have not resolved the Afghan Detainee Affair.
    Harper prorogued parliament .
    No consequences for the war crime of handing detainees over for certain torture!!
    Maybe an arrest Harper campaign similar to the arrest Blair Campaign.

    1. hi we haven't, but there are so many other crimes in the past that have been buried in a flood of new ones. I sincerely hope that when the Cons are finally defeated that we will begin a thorough investigation into their years in office. We owe that to their victims, and to history...

  3. Anonymous1:09 PM

    I still can't understand how ol' Nige evaded charges. If I gave a person 90K to save their hide and buy their silence, am I not offering a bribe? Perhaps the RCMP commissioner will enlighten us on this.
    Anyone who still thinks Harper wasn't the maestro of this corrupt orchestra are as dumb as a bag of hammers.

    1. hi anon...he got off because they couldn't prove that there was any personal gain for him. And they chose not to apply another regulation which could have nailed him if not to the extent to the other. But it will be interesting to see how the RCMP has organized its case, so we can see whether this is a real trial or a farce. Still, as I said in my post, whatever the result of the trial, it will damage their image, and whatever Harper says nobody will believe him. So that should damage him further, and be ammunition during the election campaign...

  4. e.a.f.2:41 PM

    Wright may tell the truth, but the rest, will go a la B.C. Rail, I don't remember or words to that effect. They maybe young, but they'll all suffer from a new form of dementia, its sort of a political form of it. However skilled Duffy's lawyer, they will stick to the script, I don't remember, I have no recall. There is nothing they can do about it, when they answer like that. Even if e-mails are produced, they will simply say, that was a long time ago, we were very busy, I don't recall.

    Nothing will be uncovered from the "little shits in short pants". I'm sure more than one will be willing to go to jail to protect, "great leader".

    I think the rules are broad enough for Duffy and his bulk to walk through it and be found not guilty. How much of this Harper will "wear" is to be seen. I do not expect Harper to resign. He will continue right into an election and may even still win. He will play the terror card. He will simply say, I may be a crook, but I can defend you from the terrorists, and win. Just have a look at what happened in Kansas and that governor got re-elected. As Mother always said, there is no accounting for taste.

    1. hi e.a.f...well you are in a pessimistic mood. I'm not saying you are wrong, it could turn out exactly as you suggest from a legal point of view. But remember what we are interested is the political effect and that will not be good for the Cons. And the more murky the situation the more imaginations will run wild, and Harper will not emerge unscathed....

  5. I'm told it won't go well for Harper's then lawyer, Ben Perrin, or for CPC counsel, Arthur Hamilton. Few today remember how quickly Perrin fled Ottawa for the safety of his old job at UBC less than a month after he negotiated the transmission of Wright's cheque to Duffy's then solicitor, Janet Payne. In the legal biz those transactions are papered from both sides confirming terms and imposing undertakings. I seem to recall that, early on, Perrin said he'd had nothing to do with any of it. If what I'm hearing actually comes out at trial, both Perrin and Hamilton may have some explaining to do to their respective law societies. Some time ago the LSBC opened a file on Perrin although I have no idea where it went or if it's still on hold.

    41-days for trial. There are damned few trials that stretch out that long. I had thought there would be some plea bargain on a couple of token charges - no jail time, suspended or conditional sentence - but apparently Duffy's lawyer has said there'll be no deals. I'm told Duffy is confident that, when this is over, he'll be back in the Senate as an independent.

    Most of this trial will hinge on the Duffy e-mail that was leaked to Bob Fife that started this whole thing. What's critical in that e-mail is that it was confidential, it was contemporaneous with events and the four elements mentioned as "the deal" actually occurred. It was not something conveniently invented after the fact.

    1. hi Mound...yes you're right Perrin did flee the coop in an unseemly hurry, and let's not forget the PMO did try to claim that his e-mails had been deleted. Only to "find" them later when the police were about to search their computers. I must confess I have no idea which way the legal aspect of the trial is going to go. But in the run up to an election it's the public perception that counts. It should make the Cons look sleazy, and hopefully put a dent in their numbers...

  6. Anonymous1:51 AM

    As e.a.f. said --- the cynic in me says this will go the way of the BC Rail trial.
    Just before a prime witness was set to testify, a financial payoff was manoeuvred among low-level bureaucrats who then resigned for corporate appointments. The trial was shut-down and we've yet to hear the truth under oath - Prem G Campbell and the BC Liberals sold off BC Rail to cronies. It's all there; everyone knows the truth - but no one is charged; no one is held to account.
    So will go the Duffy trial - try not to get your hopes up on this one.

  7. hi I said above, I'm not expecting to see justice done, all I want is to make the Cons look sleazy, for that will hurt them. And in a close election it could make the difference between victory and defeat....