Stephen Harper claims that he didn't know what was going on behind the scenes in the Duffy Affair. That claim has always been hard to stomach. Michael Harris writes that, as evidence emerges, it's clear that Harper has been fabricating a narrative:
Duffy’s lawyer, Donald Bayne, read into the record a new wrinkle, yet to be laid down in testimony: Nigel Wright apparently told the RCMP that he advised the prime minister that Duffy’s housing allowance might be acceptable under the Senate’s rules.
“I was aware of the fact that I was pushing very hard to have a caucus member repay a significant amount of money to which he may have been legally entitled,” Wright told police. “I needed the PM to know this just in case it ever came up with someone else who wouldn’t repay, then you have to get kicked out of caucus, whatever, that we are basically forcing someone to repay money that they probably didn’t owe, and I wanted the prime minister to know that and be comfortable with that.”
Obviously, Wright kept Harper informed. And, if Harper didn't know something, it was because he didn't want to know -- or because he thought the information was of no consequence. Duffy's province of residence was of no consequence to Mr. Harper:
Sources say that at the time of his appointment to the Senate, Duffy had asked to be appointed from Ontario, where he had lived for decades. He was worried about blowback if he was appointed from Prince Edward Island, which was little more than the nostalgic homestead of his childhood days — though he did own a cottage and had family ties there. It was the prime minister who apparently insisted that Duffy be appointed from P.E.I., allegedly telling his appointee that his critics “would get over it.”
For the prime minister, the rules have never had any import. Christopher Waddell, Harris' colleague at ipolitcs, wrote this week:
When cornered, the Harper government’s practice is to threaten, intimidate and eliminate — or, if all else fails, to simply ignore the institutions and individuals that try to get in its way. The evidence is so familiar that it scarcely requires repeating: Prime Minister Harper’s bizarre attack on the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, his snide criticisms of President Obama over the Keystone XL project, the baffling decision to kill the long-form census, the serial omnibus bills that have helped turn parliamentary oversight into a bad joke, the serial justice bills that give the middle finger to the Constitution, the throttling of witness testimony at parliamentary committees (read the transcripts on Bill C-51, if you have a strong stomach).
Mike Duffy may be on trial in an Ottawa court room this week. But the prime minister should be next on the docket.