Stephen Harper doesn't like questions. He doesn't take them. In Question Period, he dodges them. On tough days, he doesn't show up. When things really get uncomfortable, he prorogues parliament and nobody shows up.
But Mike Duffy's trial starts in three weeks. Harper will not show up to answer questions. But his PMO staff will have to be there to answer questions. Michael Harris writes:
The questioning will be direct and unavoidable — the opposite of Question Period, and those exercises in stand-up comedy that go by the name of “press conference” in the Harper era. 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.
Most importantly, Nigel Wright had better bring his:
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.
And there are two questions which Wright will have to answer:
What did the “good to go from the PM” email mean? If it means what even recent speakers of the English language would be entitled to conclude, it means that Stephen Harper approved the deal he later pretended to know nothing about. It would be Harper’s Richard Nixon moment: the leader of the country caught out knowingly and deliberately misleading the nation.
But there is at least one other question that could have serious consequences for this Prime Minister. Did Harper or did he not fire Wright, as he claimed on a Halifax radio show weeks after CTV’s Bob Fife broke the story of “Duffygate”?
It will be interesting to hear Wright's answers -- and Harper's responses.