10.29.2013 07:25 PM

I’ve changed my mind

I’m doing Sunday’s column about what Stephen Harper did to Nigel Wright in the House this afternoon.

I’ve seen some appalling stuff in Ottawa, over the years, but that ranked up there. Disgusting and dishonest.


  1. Michael S says:

    Nigel Wright is a multimillionaire with lots of powerful rich friends, right?


    • LD says:

      It’s one thing to be thrown under a bus. It’s quite another to drive the bus back and forth over him, while yelling negative things about his character. Mr. Kinsella is correct, what we witnessed in QP today by the PM was disgusting and dishonest.

  2. David_M says:

    Ya, I have to believe at some point Nigel Wright is going to say – enough.

  3. Riaz Khan says:

    But hey, at least Canadians did not elect that elitist snob from Harvard who was just supposed to be visiting…. Iggy you are just doing fine.

  4. deb s says:

    wonder who helped Harper formulate his talking pts, hmmmm. The PM just cannot take responsibility for his behaviour…yet they expect the duffster too. hah.

  5. BOOOOO!!! I was genuinely looking forward to reading your thoughts on robocalls!

  6. Arnold Murphy says:

    I can only imagine Wright is contemplating what possible ramifications this could have, maybe he is planning a trip to a non-extradition country. But if I were him, I would be talking with the RCMP and getting out from underneath what in my opinion is an organized criminal act. Because its not just about the fraud, the cover-up or the Senate. Its about the appearance of impropriety that is building against him, if as Harper alleges Wright did all this on his own it is devastating and criminal. As a staffer, even the Chief of Staff he could not think to get away with a convoluted conspiracy to cover up what he described as a smear attack but what any lawyer would know is in fact having a guilty client. There is no deference that would have extended to Wright by Harper that would have allowed Wright to think he was above the law, indeed in his statement of “who do they think they are dealing with” and I may be paraphrasing he seems very comfortable alluding to the deference that the Senate is supposed to yield to him. I find that unbelievable, in fact it is implausible that he would not be directly relaying the sentiment of the PM. And in that, he should realize and rationalize that indeed he has been and will be abandoned in the future. It is fortunate for Canadians that only a fool would not secret such documents to counter any allegations should they become exaggerated purposely to apply leverage with such tools that the Organized Criminal Legislation brings. Even Duffy was able to come up with some if not all of the pieces to the puzzle, but in that he has left room for Mr. Wright to either corroborate or deny, in that denial though he will be throwing away or at least hampering his own future defense. I suggest he contemplate the scenario I have outline where the RCMP move to make this case about the groups activities, because now that Mr. Harper has hung him out to dry he should be able to see the writing on the wall.

  7. .. no worries re Nigel ..

    http://t.co/m88rPc4M1A – by Amy MacPherson

    Looks like he’ll be managing the CPP
    yes.. the Canada Pension Plan..
    from the private end ..

    Read all about it ..

  8. Kev says:

    Harper,, disgusting and dishonest?

    I hope that’s not a recent discovery.

  9. Anon says:

    I’m still wondering whether or not there actually is a check, with Nigel signature on it, for 90g’s. Has anyone bothered looking into the accounts receivable of the Senate, to make sure that it arrived?.

    • Attack! says:

      The RCMP’s affidavit / production order apparently had a photocopy or stub of a CIBC bank draft for a little over $90k made out to Duffy’s lawyer, that was provided to them via Wright’s lawyer. Senator Tkachuk of the audit committee claimed to have received an RBC cheque from Duffy, but when reporters submitted requests (incl Access to Info) for it later, they got the runaround between the Receiver General (who said they had no record of a deposit for that specific amount; they just get monthly totals from each dep’t) & the Senate, who’s been unable to prove they did have & deposit it.

      • Anon says:

        Strange then, why Duffy would disclose to the public only one of the checks and the least sordid of the two. However, he did suggest that there were more to come.

  10. david ray says:

    it’s one thing to throw Wright under the bus but Lord does Harper have to keep driving back and forth over the body. I hope Wright is writing his book as fast as he can but at the rate things are unraveling there may be no story to tell.

  11. Matt says:

    I know I’m in the minority here but I really do think Harper was kept in the dark.

    If he knew all this, then he would have to have known Duffy would release the paper trail.

    People are saying the Senate motion to suspend was Harper’s idea. But why would he have it introduced now (i know some say to get it out before the convention) and take all the attention away from CETA, the largest free trade deal in Canada’s history.

    It just doesn’t make sense.

    I have been told by someone close to the CPC that Arther Hamilton, the Conservative party lawyer named by Duffy yesterday for the second cheque will be dumped in the not to distant future.

    • Maybe Harper was actually ‘in the dark’ before any story broke, but that is irrelevant at this point. It is the cover-up dude. He simply must have been aware of the details of the paper trail before this week. That is probably why he prorogued, split for Europe in a hurry, and in general made himself conspicuously absent. Because there is no solution to the mess he is in, given that paper trail exists, and Duffy ain’t playing ball. So he tried to brazen it out, because he is out of options, knows what Duffy had, and has yet to come. Delay is Harpers friend now, on the barest chance that something will pop up that changes the channel.

  12. Matt says:

    That should read Arthur Hamilton, not Arther

  13. e.a.f. says:

    It was entertaining to hear Harper first say Wright had resigned, etc and then to have him say Wright was fired. Harper is saying what he thinks will work for him and itsn’t too interested in anything else. It maybe that harper truly does believe he is greater than the rest of them. That it is o.k. for him to do this because he will led all of out of the wilderness. Who knows what goes on in stevie’s mind.

    Wright does not strike me as a man who will “write a book”. He seems more like a man who will find something else to do, which he enjoys. He seems like a man who won’t be writing any more cheques for any conservatives and most likely his friends won’t either. I am sure Mr. Wright comes with a circle of friends and family who do not appreciate what Harper has said about Mr. Wright. Harper would have been smarter to stay with the “resignation” theme. Harper doesn’t understand people like Wright don’t get fired.

  14. CuJoYYC says:

    “Real friends stab you in the front.”
    – John Davis

    Nigel must be Harper’s GREATEST friend.

  15. sean says:

    Changed my mind about Senator Marjory LeBreton. She always seemed (to me) to be one of the more reasonable and responsible people of that odious gang of thugs. She’s blown her reputation to smithereens with this mess. Watching her defend this shit all week, she has displayed herself for the pitiful numbskull she truly is.

  16. Jnap says:

    maybe every time Harper drives the bus over Nigel, he has to promise another concession for the latter’s business interests? Everything is a trade, in politics.

  17. MoS says:

    Why would Harper change course of Nigel Wright after all these months? Because he knows what is in the e-mails that Wright handed over to the RCMP and that Duffy is poised to release. Harper knows they contain references to the prime minister approving/directing the payoffs and Harper now knows that Wright won’t perjure himself to save Harper’s ass. He has no choice but to rewrite the narrative, try to cast Wright as a perfidious rogue, and claim that he fired him on the spot. For Stephen Harper, Wright is now radioactive. It’s pathetic to watch. Remember Don Bayne stating that there were documents that tied Harper to this whole business? He wasn’t blowing smoke, there are such documents.

    Ask yourself why Harper, after all these months, is suddenly so obsessed with getting Duffy turfed from the Senate immediately or sooner. Harper has gone rabid on this. Why would anyone want to try to silence a wrongdoer just when he’s starting to spill his guts and produce documents? That doesn’t make any sense – unless you have great fear of what those documents reveal. It’s not a confession on Harper’s part but it’s awfully close. We may be watching the prime ministerial equivalent of a worm squirming on a hook.

    • Why you ask? In two words, Parliamentary Priviledge. Duffy, Wallin and Brazeau are free to table whatever they want, and make any allegations their hearts desire from the floor of the Senate. Even if the proof is less than airtight, they can get their interpretation of events into a very bright spotlight long before any court dates are set for a proper trial. The biggest mistake of all was to try and turf all three Senators. Three sets of tongues wagging at once. Three sets of facts to weave and bob around. Kindergarten lesson of real-politik. Divide and conquor. Imagine Brazeau and Wallin were flinging mud at Duffy all week instead of the PMO….

    • Scotian says:

      I am in agreement with MoS here, there has to be a reason Harper made this rather significant change in his approach to Wright, and the only thing that makes sense is that Wright will not go beyond the current public silence he has currently been following to refusing to answer questions from legal authorities or worse lying to them in defence of the Harper claims Wright “acted alone” as the architect of this dastardly scheme to bribe a sitting Senator. What we are seeing now from Harper isn’t merely taking the bus and running back and forth on the body, it is carefully putting the body underneath the wheels, locking the bus in place, and spinning the wheels over the body spraying the pieces all about (and yes I know that is a very disgusting image, so is what we are seeing Harper do to his former CoS that he and his CPC friends had spent so much time and effort after he resigned, and yes that is what I believe happened, not his firing as Harper now claims, still defending his character and ethical integrity as such a decent ethical man who made an honest mistake of judgment with the best of intentions). Yes it is the role of staffers and especially a CoS to take the hit whenever a political scandal gets too close to their principal and resign, but there is a massive difference between expecting to wear a political stain for a time and wearing what could well be the stain of a criminal investigation process and potential conviction for your principal, and if Wright really is the kind of man people aside from the Harper/CPC loyalists have said over the past several months I really have a hard time believing he will be the fall person for actual legal charge issues.

      What one also cannot forget is that there are two basic paths to handle political scandals like this, either come forward with everything and take the hit, or do what we are seeing from the PM and take the damage from it because you are convinced it is still the lesser damage approach. Given how damaging what we have seen already has become and is likely to continue being what can be so damaging from being exposed that makes this the better path to take? The only thing at this point that comes to my mind is genuine criminal behaviour by the PM in that he knew of this deal beforehand, he approved this deal to try and get a political scandal off his plate before it did too much damage to him and his political brand, and that once the initial whitewashing plan failed and became public (thanks in no small part to that Lib Senator unwilling to give unanimous consent to tabling the whitewash report in that subcommittee on the Internal Economy committee back last May) chose the path of the classic cover-up that we see from all powerful people that engage in criminal conduct whenever it starts to become a public/legal problem for them.

      Wright may well be the keystone in this arch, and if he isn’t willing to bear all the weight then this whole thing could collapse around Harper, and if that is the case he has to discredit Wright as totally as he can, because clearly Wright would know exactly what Harper knew and could not be dismissed as not having that knowledge because of his proximity AND the intimacy inherent in his position as CoS. Anything Wright says Harper knew would be taken as convincing for that reason even without a paper trail to follow it, and when you combine this with the clearly idiotic cornering of the Senators with that de facto expulsions without actual expulsion motion in the Senate a couple of weeks back we see the portrait of a very desperate PM Harper. What one has to wonder is what does he know that makes him so desperate at this point in time that we on the outside do not?

      • david ray says:

        this ain’t a scandal
        it’s the feather on the scale
        that finally kills the king
        and sends his friends to jail
        maybe not with bars
        but the smirk will soon be gone
        cause the world can’t stand a jerk
        who thought he did no wrong.

        and sends a few court jesters

        off to jail.

  18. J.W. says:

    How many have been destroyed like this?
    I recall the nuclear agency woman in Harper’s early days; they put on a show trial and tried to destroy her reputation.
    Even Helena Geurgis maybe not that great a member or minister who made mistakes, but a decent Simcoe County girl who was crushed in a bloody, dirty political sideshow and cruel attention getter.
    There’s more.

  19. Jason says:

    Maybe I’m old fashioned, or just plain dumb…

    But loyalty is a two way street. I think this is Harper’s greatest character flaw. He demands high level of loyalty from others, but doesn’t offer it in return. Just ask Nigel Wright, or that kid from the Robocalls fiasco. Or the three Senators about to get thrown out.

    The second a person becomes even a bit of a liability, it seems as though Harper throws them under the bus.

    (and I used to be a member of his party, supported him in the leadership race, etc.)

  20. I wonder if Wright knew and agreed to go under the bus this week? After all, Chief of Staff is expected to keep a sharp sword handy to fall on should the candidate need a scapegoat. Wright will be forever associated with this scandal, so provided he does not end up in jail, or fined large sums of money, whats the difference between hung to dry politely, or a vigorous and and zealous lynching? Maybe he put his own head on the block this week?

    • deb s says:

      yeah I wondered if Nigel Wright agreed to the public lynching Harper gave him too. I mean Wright has already proven himself in many arenas, he may come out of this fine, saying he took a hit for the king. It might be a badge of honour in his circles. Though that would require many more people being in the know.
      I do wonder how harper got into this mess. I guess he heard what counsel had to say on the duffy affair, rolled the dice and gambled on no one finding out about his dastardly plan. Now that the scandal has hit the light, I guess he is scrambling trying to repair his tattered reputation. He is failing miserably and I hope that continues. I believe Harper may have finally met his political match with Mike Duffy. Duffy has charisma and smarts…Harper…he lacks any charisma and its hurting him.

    • ottlib says:

      Sorry, no one allows themselves to be talked about publically like the way Stephen Harper has been talking about Mr. Wright.

      Mr. Harper is essentially accusing Mr. Wright of committing a crime and then lying about it. Does anybody really think somebody would agree to someone saying that about them? Really?

      Stephen Harper has come unglued. He knows that this scandal has the potential to require him to leave office before the next election under a cloud, which to a man so obsessed with his image and his legacy, must be driving him to distraction. It is showing in the fact that Mr. Harper seems to come up with a different failed strategy each week to attempt to get out from under this.

      No genius, no grand political strategy is behind what Mr. Harper is doing. He is just another politician mired in scandal trying to save his own skin and he does not give a damn who he scorches in the process.

      Incidentally, Mr. Duffy is in the same boat but he knows exactly who he wants to scorch and if you ask me he is doing a pretty good job.

      • deb s says:

        well with that said, then it means Nigel and his expert counsel will be scorching Harper along with Duffy…good I hope he burns him to the pt of never recovering. I do see that harper has become unhinged and losing it…in QP so that can only mean that he will be making even more mistakes. I so hope this brings down Harper and his corrupt govt.

    • Fraternite says:

      This is a good question and at this point I don’t think you can rule it out.

      Nigel Wright has always been the foot soldier par excellence of the Conservative movement, and until there’s an actual reason to think he has stopped being that, I don’t think it’s fair to judge that he’s not doing that. He *is* the type of guy to martyr for the cause.

      The only problem, so far as I see it, is at this point his martyring has only made things worse for Harper, not better. But maybe they both oversaw that…

  21. Domenico says:

    Sign on Harper’s desk: “the buck stops there”

  22. Elizabeth says:

    Well, the first reaction I had to Harper when I saw his face on a billboard was – if humans had hackles on the backs of their necks, mine were standing straight up.

    He proved me right when I saw him bullying Dion in QP. That front on bullying stopped with Ignatieff, for some reason he thought he’d better quit and just use attack ads.

    Typical of bullies, he cannot be trusted, he uses people like mops, and he believes that whatever he wants is what everyone else should want, and if they don’t want that then they can just get lost.

    The whole thing just pisses me off; because I think that Canada has just allowed this crap to happen – how did Duffy get to such heights, why did CBC and CTV keep him going when he really had issues and conflicts with people – and why was Harper just allowed to keep on going? How do they get that far?

  23. Fraternite says:

    Warren, what are the odds that Wright is voluntarily being the scapegoat here? Isn’t that what a CoS is supposed to do, and do we really have evidence at this point that he isn’t on board with the theatre?

    • Fraternite says:

      You know what?

      After a bit of thought, both Hamilton and Wright wrote cheques to make this go away, both are as senior of an insider as you get, and both are party diehards. That Wright has supposedly been thrown under the bus and Hamilton not (yet) thrown under the bus makes no sense if Harper were genuinely upset with both for not doing “the right thing” because both essentially did the same thing, and both were necessarily talking and figuring out what to do.

      Wright’s silence is deafening at this point, and that betrays the PM when combined with Hamilton’s continued presence and influence. Harper isn’t being disloyal by badmouthing Wright; Wright has agreed to fall on his sword and should Hamilton also need to jump on a sword to protect the boss, he’ll be next. So far, it hasn’t become necessary. All this talk about “betrayal” is just more PMO theatre — both Wright and Hamilton were, are, and will always be loyal foot soldiers who will do anything to protect the PM. And in Wright’s case, that meant agreeing to be scapegoated.

  24. Henry Sporn says:

    Another moral of this story is that it’s not a good idea to to f*ck with (i.e. use and then abuse/abandon) high-profile journalists, whether ex- or working. They’re not used to keeping quiet.

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