Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
RCMP document contradicts PM
Harper's insistence aide acted alone in Duffy affair at issue
OTTAWA -- Stephen Harper is facing accusations he misled Canadians about the Mike Duffy expenses scandal after a court document contradicted the prime minister's version of events.
Under intense questioning about the affair throughout the spring, Harper repeatedly insisted his chief of staff, Nigel Wright, acted on his own when he decided to give Duffy $90,000 to reimburse the Senate for invalid expense claims.
"Those were his decisions. They were not communicated to me or to members of my office," Harper said June 5.
But the RCMP, which has launched a criminal probe, says in a court document that Wright recalls telling three other senior people in the Prime Minister's Office about the transaction.
Wright had not been interviewed by the Mounties at the time the document was filed in court by lead investigator Cpl. Greg Horton on June 24. But the document recounts a June 19 meeting with Wright's lawyers, Patrick McCann and Peter Mantas.
The lawyers told the RCMP Wright recalls telling his assistant, David van Hemmen; Harper's legal adviser, Benjamin Perrin; and Chris Woodcock, director of issues management in the PMO, about his intention to personally give Duffy the money to reimburse the Senate.
-- Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Perrin, who has since left the PMO, has denied he was consulted or participated in any arrangement between Duffy and Wright.
Wright resigned as Harper's chief of staff in May, five days after news of his "gift" to Duffy leaked out.
NDP ethics critic Charlie Angus said the court document shows Harper misled Parliament. "What is very clear is that the prime minister of this country and his key ministers misled Parliament and Canadians about a potentially illegal payout that was organized out of his office," Angus said Friday.
Harper has insisted he knew nothing about the transaction until it was first reported by news media, and Wright's lawyers back up that contention in the court document.
Even so, Angus said Harper had ample opportunity after the news broke to find out the extent of his office's involvement and to provide correct information to Parliament.
"A plan was cooked up with key advisers and key senators to make a political problem go away," Angus said.
"But where the plausible deniability falls apart is when the prime minister starts getting asked questions about what happened. Clearly, then he would've been briefed, so he must have known (the correct facts).
"There's no possible explanation that he would not have been briefed once this story broke, and so it was incumbent on him to come clean with Canadians, and that didn't happen."
Harper spokesman Andrew MacDougall declined to discuss the court documents other than to issue an email statement: "This file was handled by Nigel Wright and he has taken sole responsibility. The (court) affidavit is clear that the prime minister was not aware of the payment."
Wright issued only a terse statement through his lawyer: "I have offered and given my assistance to the investigation and I intend to continue to do so. I have no further comments at this time."
Angus said the document raises disturbing questions about the Tory party's willingness to flout the law.
According to Horton, Wright also told Sen. Irving Gerstein, who controls the ruling party's purse strings, about his intention to give Duffy the money to reimburse the Senate.
Indeed, his lawyers told the RCMP the party was initially prepared to repay the money for Duffy until it discovered the price tag was three times steeper than originally thought.
"When it was realized that the cost was actually $90,000, it was too much money to ask the Conservative party to cover," the document says.
"Wright then offered to cover the cost for Duffy, believing it was the proper ethical decision that taxpayers not be out that amount of money."
Party spokesman Fred DeLorey did not respond directly to questions about the Conservatives' willingness to foot Duffy's bill. He said only: "The Conservative Fund did not pay or reimburse any of the ineligible expenses."
If it was illegal for Wright to give a cash gift to a sitting senator, Angus said it would have been equally illegal for the party to do so.
-- The Canadian Press
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 6, 2013 A4
Please use the form below and let us know.
Having problems with the form?Contact Us Directly
(1 of 12 articles for today)11:03 AM 0
VANCOUVER - A critically ill false killer whale calf rescued off a beach on the west coast of Vancouver Island ...
Photo Store Gallery
- WestJet plane lands safely in Toronto after reporting engine trouble
- Sweeping report released on Toronto police encounters with those in crisis
- Cdn activists to lug jugs of water to Detroit in H2O march to help residents
- Calgary man reunited with his beloved little red Corvette named Betsy
- Fox gets famous after photographed sleeping aboard Ottawa city bus
- Man with air gun arrested at pro-Israel rally held at Calgary Jewish centre
- Canadian-Egyptian journalist, Al-Jazeera colleagues did the 'devil's' job: judge
- Charities may be asked for donor lists under CRA proposal floated by minister
- Defence minister to deploy frigate to Mediterranean for ongoing NATO mission
- Restrictions on transporting firearms to be eased under federal proposal
- Ontario medical student, girlfriend among passengers of doomed Malaysian flight
- Mayor of Montreal-area community dies after being stung by wasps
- Police investigate suspicious death at Pemberton, B.C. Music Festival
- RCMP charge Sen. Mike Duffy with fraud, breach of trust and bribery
- Canadian teacher detained in Jakarta jail on accusations of child sexual assault
- Duffy accused of charging for personal trainer, makeup artist, funeral travel
- Big Lake Ontario shark hoax shows risks posed by viral marketing, experts say
- New report questions Canadian Ukraine election monitoring missions
- Conservative party president's 7-year-old daughter hit by minivan, killed
- RCMP in New Brunswick completes investigation in python deaths, now with Crown
- Family of missing boy, grandparents won't give up on finding them alive
- Moms change diapers, Dads form leaders: Justice minister's emails to staff
- Calgary police confirm violent incident in case of missing boy, grandparents
- $20,000 per person:Activists push for guaranteed minimum income for Canadians
- 'We're lucky to have her in our lives;' baby survives crash that killed mother
- Suspect in case of missing grandparents and child to make court appearance
- Investigators bring in boat in search near Calgary-area acreage in missing family case
- Calgary police say there are other leads in case of missing boy, grandparents
- Police say search near Airdrie part of probe into missing Calgary residents
- Calgary police finish looking for evidence in missing couple's home
Ads by Google