In 2011, Stephen Harper was found in contempt of Parliament. At the time, he defined contempt as "being outvoted." And, having won the subsequent election, he proceeded on the assumption that "contempt" was a meaningless concept. What mattered was winning.
After Mike Duffy's speech in the Senate yesterday, Mr. Harper will be forced to re-examine his definition of contempt. For, as Michael den Tandt writes, his house of cards is falling apart:
Here’s where this leads: If Duffy’s story is true, and he can indeed prove it, then the entire senior Conservative power structure in Ottawa is on trial. And if, as [Duffy's lawyer, Donald] Bayne has hinted, there’s evidence the prime minister knew of the Wright-Duffy deal before May 15 — when he has said repeatedly he did not know — then Harper himself will be irreparably damaged.
Den Tandt believes that the only way out is a public inquiry, where all the principals -- including Mr. Harper -- must testify under oath:
There’s just one way to get to the bottom of it. The principals — including Wright, Duffy, former PMO director of issues management Chris Woodcock, LeBreton, former PMO lawyer Benjamin Perrin and indeed Harper himself, as well as Brazeau and Wallin — must tell their stories under oath, in a public forum. Emails and documents must be made public. If there’s been lying or other wrongdoing, those responsible must take their lumps — up to and including the PM himself.
But that's the last thing Stephen Harper wants. He knows what the Gomery Inquiry did to the Liberals. Without it, Stephen Harper would not be prime minister. And Mr. Harper is not one for testifying under oath. He will do anything and everything to make sure that doesn't happen.
One thing is certain. The prime minister is going to be schooled in the difference between "contempt" and "contemptible." And, this time, he's going to be on the receiving end.