Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Bunker Buster

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The conventional wisdom these days seems to hold that Stephen Harper will never testify at Mike Duffy's trial. But Scott Reid, who used to be Paul Martin's director of communications, knows what kind of damage scandal can do to a prime minister's future. He writes that no one should underestimate the havoc Duffy can wreck on Harper:

Imagine all of this unfolding in public – again. Except this time with added rigour and filled-in details. Not leaked out in spastic bursts through media reports, but explored carefully and transparently according to the rules of court. Imagine Nigel Wright’s testimony – as he’s compelled under oath to describe what conversations he had, with whom, and when.

For Harper, this situation is a blazing bonfire of political risk. The best-case scenarios are nerve-fraying. What might happen in the worst of all worlds is the stuff of horror films. The government may want to believe they’ve put this behind them but as this week’s brief pre-trial appearance reminds us, it’s back. Mike Duffy, the good senator from Just-Make-It-Out-To-Cash, is fighting for his freedom – and he is pointed at this government like a loaded weapon.

Any trial is also bound to explore questions that have so far gone unanswered. What sort of deal was originally cut with Duffy for partisan versus Parliamentary service? Why were the Conservatives willing to quietly vanish his expenses when they were thought to be only $30,000? How does that square with later denunciations of his profligate ways? What lies behind that email reporting the prime minister to be ‘good to go’?

In the end, Reid speculates, Harper may decide to get out of town. If he left by Christmas, his party still might have enough time to rehabilitate itself. After all, Dalton McGuinty's departure allowed Kathleen Wynne to win the next election.

However you look at it, Duffy is a precision guided missile aimed straight at Harper's bunker -- the kind of weapon the Americans call a "bunker buster." In the end, Duffy may not just destroy the bunker. He may destroy the prime minister.


16 comments:

Rural said...

Harper is far to arrogant to quit Owen, its all about himself not the party or the country!

Owen Gray said...

Quite true, Rural. But Harper is no profile in courage. If he left, it wouldn't be the first time.

Remember how he left the Reform Party when things stopped going his way.

Pamela Mac Neil said...

I wonder what the chances are Owen of Duffy negotiating a deal before the trial. If he can walk away with no jail time, he may take it.

Owen Gray said...

That's possible, Pam. His first priority is to get himself off the hook. I suspect it all depends on how badly Duffy wants his piece of flesh.

Toby said...

What are the odds that Duffy will suffer a premature heart attack or suspicious accident? Is Harper desperate enough to cross the line? Should Duffy be worried?

Owen Gray said...

Duffy's health is precarious, Toby. But I doubt Harper is that desperate.

thwap said...

harper pursues policies (tar sands, cutting meat inspectors, gutting rail safety, wars) that he KNOWS will kill people.

He would have no compunction against killing Duffy.

None whatsoever.

With Duffy, the problem is that unless he can get Duffy to move to a reserve near the tar-sands, or deliberately feed him a sandwich with tainted meat, or put him in the way of a runaway freight-train, ... harper will have to hire a hit-man. And that's too risky for a coward like harper.

Watching harper and baird embarrass themselves before the world with their empty blustering on the Ukraine crisis, I'm more certain than ever that harper was actually stupid enough to get himself into deep shit here.

What will save him will be Duffy settling out of court.

Which will be just another crooked pay-off for these empty-headed scum-bags.

Toby said...

Owen said, "Duffy's health is precarious, Toby. But I doubt Harper is that desperate."

My suspicion is that Pamela is right that there will be another attempt to bribe Duffy however, unlike Basi and Virk in the BC Rail case, Duffy is too old to cop a guilty plea and go to jail. Harper is under pressure to shut duffy up, one way or another.

As I write this CBC radio says the Duffy trial will be come in April. Will Harper call an early election?

Owen Gray said...

Good question, Toby. Originally "early" meant a spring election. Increasingly, Harper is boxed in.

Now "early" might mean before Christmas. But that would make the man who said he believed in fixed election dates look ridiculous.

Harper's choices are being narrowed to two options: defeat or resignation.

Owen Gray said...

As you and Pam suggest, thwap, that may be how this ends -- for Duffy.

But, as I wrote to Toby, Harper may have finally painted himself into a corner -- unless he decides to make a quick exit.

The Mound of Sound said...

I think if Harper had any intention of leading his party into the next election he would have brought some A-list talent in by now to run his PMO. People with clout, highly placed and well connected, need to ride herd on the caucus and riding associations, liaise with the benefactors, plot strategy and platforms.
Ray Novak, the kid who slept in rooms above the garage at 24 Sussex Drive? No, that's a caretaker PMO, a dockside crew barely capable of taking telephone messages.

Anonymous said...

All dictators have egos, as huge as Mount Everest. Stalin, Hitler and Mussolini refused to resign, even when their countries were pounded into rubble. Harper's ego is even larger than Mount Everest.

Dictators are also very vindictive. They don't call Harper, vindictive little Stevie for nothing.

BC too had an extremely vindictive Premier, Gordon Campbell, he works for Harper.

Dictators are always, behind your back cabal. They have their criminals and degenerates, to do their dirty work for them. Harper has a list of degenerates, as long as his arm.

Harper will have to get Duffy off, as he did Nigel Wright. Duffy is harboring a deep grudge and an anger against Harper. The Duff hasn't said why and that is Duffy's leverage.

Don't even doubt Harper's dark personality. He is one evil s.o.b.

Owen Gray said...

My hunch, Anon, is that Harper will regret the day -- if he doesn't already -- that he made an enemy of Duffy.

Owen Gray said...

It may be that he can no longer attract top talent, Mound. Having seen what happened to Nigel Wright, anyone who was truly gifted would steer clear of a sinking ship.

mogs moglio said...

Another possibility Harper and Nigel make the deal; Nigel goes down saves Duff and Harper is protected through lying under oath by a real right wing conservative Nigel.

http://www.torontolife.com/informer/features/2014/03/25/nigel-wright-golden-boy-to-fall-guy/3/

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/nigel-wright-will-be-paid-severance-after-resigning-from-pmo-job/article12279786/

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/ex-harper-chief-of-staff-nigel-wright-rejoins-onex/article18995914/

Owen Gray said...

There has been speculation for some time, Mogs, that Wright will play Sydney Carton for Harper.

Perhaps Harper is hoping that will happen. Somehow I don't think Wright's that stupid.