11.02.2013 09:42 PM

In Sunday’s Sun: an open letter to Conservative delegates

Dear Conservative Party delegates:

We hope you enjoyed your convention in Calgary!

We would recommend where to get the best pizza (Michael’s, on Tenth Ave.), or the best burgers (Peter’s, on Sixteenth Ave.). But, after the Parliamentary session you’ve had, we suspect none of you are in the mood for a festive meal.

You’ve seen your party slip in the polls. You’ve seen caucus members openly castigating each other. You’ve seen your former luminaries – Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau, who your party rewarded with Senate appointments – round on your party, and spill lots of Tory blood.

Most notably, you’ve seen your leader turn like a cornered, wounded dog on his former Chief of Staff, Nigel Wright. Five months ago, Stephen Harper – your leader, not mine – defended Wright in the then-embryonic Senate scandal.

On Tuesday, Harper was a changed man, and it was ugly. When asked about the $90,000 Wright gave to Duffy to cover questionable expenses and protect his leader, Harper was vicious. “One person [is] responsible for this deception that person is Mr. Wright. It is Mr. Wright by his own admission!” Harper thundered.

It was an extraordinary spectacle, and not merely because Harper knows that his authority is slipping away. It was extraordinary because Nigel Wright is no ordinary Conservative.

Full disclosure: my ex-wife was Wright’s partner for many years. They met in the office of Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.

Wright and I didn’t socialize, me being a hardcore Alberta Liberal, and him being a hardcore Ontario Conservative. We weren’t friends.

I didn’t ask my wife-to-be much about him. But, eventually, I learned a few things. A picture emerged.

Nigel Wright was adopted and brought up in a loving, good family. His parents were not wealthy, and Wright worked hard for everything that he got. He was a deeply religious Anglican who, for a time, contemplated the priesthood.

He devoted himself to his studies, and charitable causes, his faith and – almost as much – the Conservative Party.

Wright conquered on Bay Street as a lawyer and a deal-maker, to be sure, becoming a millionaire at a very young age. But blue Tory blood ran through his veins – and there are only a handful of unelected people in this country who gave as much to conservative causes. Fundraising, policy, organization: Nigel Wright did it all.

On Tuesday, while Stephen Harper cast him as a liar and a wrong-doer in the privileged confines of the House of Commons, Nigel Wright maintained a stoic silence, as he has throughout this sordid affair. While the most powerful man in Canada attempted to destroy his reputation, Wright said nothing.

Unable to believe what I was witnessing, I tweeted that he needed to fight back. Part of my motivation for doing so was empathy: during the federal Liberal civil wars, some of Paul Martin’s thugs had attempted to destroy the reputations of those of us who remained loyal to Jean Chretien. I knew a little of what Wright must be feeling.

But, mostly, I could not believe that this was happening – of all people – to Nigel Wright. If there is anyone of my generation who has devoted themselves more selflessly to the Conservative Party, I do not know who it is.

It goes without saying: I don’t know the full facts in the Senate scandal, which has become a cancer on the government. But I do know that blaming Nigel Wright for all of it is not merely dishonest – it is disgusting.

That man who you cheered and applauded in Calgary, this weekend, Tory faithful? He’s not the formerly young Conservative aide from Calgary. He’s a career Ottawa politician, and all he cares about is his survival.

He doesn’t care about anything else, Conservative delegates. Take my word for it: if he could turn on Nigel Wright, he could turn on someone else, too.

You, for example.




  1. Ridiculosity says:

    Loyalty to the country always. Loyalty to the government when it deserves it. – Mark Twain

  2. Don MacLachlan says:

    I’ve heard, of course, of players and politicians “taking one for the team”. But in stabbing Wright in the front, Harper is GIVING one . . . for . . . what??????

  3. Arnold Murphy says:

    Harper is not a true leader, he is neither benign nor does he care for his people.
    Confucian Rule of Virtue

    Thinkers cannot prevent asking what human nature is when they ponder on how to administer a state and foster social development. It is essential for them to understand and grasp human nature in order to devise practicable administrative measures. Confucius and Mencius contended that human being share a similar and good nature, and that each individual has the potentiality for being virtuous.(3) Hence the best way to govern is to set moral models for the masses to follow and to strengthen moral education.

    Since Confucius and Mencius deemed that human nature is good and that everyone can be upright, they underlined the role of rulers’ personality for society: the performance of the social ruling-body can help the common people to change their behaviour.(4) Accordingly, Confucius posed an idea that the populace would follow the rulers without being ordered and behave in terms of morality as long as the rulers are virtuous, or be disobedient and even vicious if the rulers are wicked. Mencius similarly maintained that the destiny of a country lies in the words and deeds of the ruling-body and that the personality of those in power affects social safety. Therefore, both Confucius and Mencius held that the rulers must govern themselves to be excellent in speech and conduct in order to ensure social stability.

    According to Confucius and Mencius, the virtue of the rulers is symbolised by being benevolent towards their subordinates. Confucius demanded that the rulers love their people, pay respect to the needs of the people, and not impose their dislikes upon them. Mencius attached great importance to benevolence and said that humankind is benevolent by nature, and will not be truly human if the virtue of benevolence is abandoned. He contended that those in power can be benevolent as long as they want to be and that they can bring the country into great harmony only when they govern by means of being beneficent to the people.http://www.international-relations.com/wbcm5-1/wbrule.htm

    • Arnold Murphy says:

      Harper is the king who seeks profit above all else, in that he has shown those below him that fidelity is not in his nature. In this Nigel Wright should find comfort, there is no bond of loyalty here only the motive of profit.” Mencius replied, ‘Why must your Majesty use that word “profit?” What I am provided with, are counsels to benevolence and righteousness, and these are my only topics. ‘If your Majesty say, “What is to be done to profit my kingdom?” the great officers will say, “What is to be done to profit our families?” and the inferior officers and the common people will say, “What is to be done to profit our persons?” Superiors and inferiors will try to snatch this profit the one from the other, and the kingdom will be endangered. In the kingdom of ten thousand chariots, the murderer of his sovereign shall be the chief of a family of a thousand chariots. In the kingdom of a thousand chariots, the murderer of his prince shall be the chief of a family of a hundred chariots. To have a thousand in ten thousand, and a hundred in a thousand, cannot be said not to be a large allotment, but if righteousness be put last, and profit be put first, they will not be satisfied without snatching all. There never has been a benevolent man who neglected his parents. There never has been a righteous man who made his sovereign an after consideration. Let your Majesty also say, “Benevolence and righteousness, and let these be your only themes.” Why must you use that word – “profit?”.’ “

  4. Ronald O'Dowd says:


    My view is that Harper got rolled at least initially. However, there is absolutely no proof that anyone specifically did the rolling. Scapegoating Wright strikes me as wrong. This started long before cheques were written. Reminds me of Montreal City Hall. Being out of the loop is not necessarily a positive experience.

  5. smelter rat says:

    Seems like Senator Gerstein stuck the shiv in himself today, and may have fatally wounded PMSH as well.

    • Matt says:

      Don’t believe the new media spin. They’re all saying the CPC initial thought of the party covering Duffy’s expenses is a NEW revelation.

      Not so much.

      It was widely reported back in JULY they considered cosidered paying it off when the thought it was $32,000, but changed their mind when it was discovered the total was $90,000.


      • Mark W says:

        It wasn’t just the growing bill that killed the June proposal to pay by the CPC. There were other factors as well.

        The CPC was publicly saying “Why should we pay a bill that we question? After all, if there were actual wrong-doing, the RCMP would have laid charges, right?”

        Privately, many small CPC donors were upset that their donations (given to “beat the Liberals”) would be used for this purpose.

        Thirdly, some Party strategists thought it would give the CPC a ‘black eye’ to bail out Duffy publicly. They preferred to do so by a quiet ‘passing of the hat’ and make it a ‘gift’ from an appreciative Party – one that would not be publicly revealed.

  6. Brad Young says:

    I have a question. Did Steve take the government jet? If he did , is the conservative party going to reimburse us, the taxpayers? This is a partisan event.

    We would not want the world to see our dear leader as an eliitest.

    • steve says:

      How come the PM of England flys commercial, and does not take his Limos to India?

      • Ronald O'Dowd says:


        Cameron used luxury charter jets to fly to Africa for bilateral meetings. Expensive.

        • Richard Smiley says:

          Once, when my parents were flying to Australia, they were told “no hand baggage. Everything must be checked”. When they got off the plane, to be met by my brother, he told them why: Prince Phillip had gotten off the flight ahead of them. Of course, Phillip is only a royal consort. Harper is the son of heaven.

  7. Scotian says:

    Well said Warren, very well said indeed. I have not had anywhere near the level of access to the man or his closest associates as you have, but his name had cropped up on my radar well before he became Harper’s CoS because of all that work within the Canadian Conservative movement you refer to, and what I’d gathered about the man is in complete accordance with what you described. I have never bought that this was Wright’s idea alone, let alone that he would take such a clearly dangerous action (and not just to him personally but to his government, party, and movement) in part because of that awareness, so watching Harper besmirch him so completely, well as you said Warren, if he could do that to Nigel Wright he could and would do it to anyone he felt the need to. It is one thing to sacrifice a CoS’s position for political necessity, that is a risk of the job, but to be accused of criminal wrongdoing and being a nefarious manipulator of a hapless trusting PM to concoct your criminal scheme, that strikes me as a bit outside the usual range of risks any CoS should be expecting to run.

    Harper has shown beyond any doubt that loyalty to him is like that of a mafioso to his Don, one way and absolute and to be expected to suffer any consequence to protect the Don, as well as to obey the Omerta code of silence. I have never been so ashamed, offended, disgusted and infuriated by a sitting PM as I have become with Harper even above and beyond my original opposition to him, I expect his to be so harsh to his enemies, but to his closest allies who have given at least as much to his movement and party as Wright has, that kind of treacherous behaviour is something truly a depth sunken to beyond anything I know of by any PM past.

  8. Mike Sloan says:

    I’m not surprised by your assessment of Nigel Wright. My intuition was much the same. He’s not a bad guy. He just got involved with bad people. He’s remained silent, but if this attack on him continues, he has to respond. Not because it would be a big news story, (and it would,) but because he doesn’t deserve this. He apparently runs a half-marathon every day. That’s extraordinary discipline that few of us could stick to.

    I wish he would just stand up and speak the truth. My sense is that he really does not enjoy being in the limelight, but deserves a fair hearing.

    • Robin says:

      Nigel Wright may eventually be subpoenaed to testify under oath in a court of law. The truth will come out. Harper is praying every night that Wright doesn’t testify until after the October, 2015 fixed date election.

  9. Kev says:

    I only know Nigel Wright second- and third-hand by reputation.

    Which is to say: a lot of people who were, or otherwise would have been, Harper Conservatives, are, this week, something else – in vote intent, in financial support, in organizational talent.

  10. Geoffrey L. says:

    “A King who builds the perfect fortress also builds the perfect prison.”
    Some wise guy

  11. Fraternite says:

    I still think Wright is in on the theatre — it’s a role he signed up for when he became CoS and it’s in his character to play the scapegoat faithfully.

    More to the point, we know other folks (like Gerstein, Hamilton, etc.) also knew about the payments, but Harper has no fury for them when of course he should be equally upset with them. Wright’s silence has allowed Harper to pin full blame for the “deception” on him, and I don’t think that’s an accident.

    All these guys bleed Conservative and spent a decade and a half together transforming the Party from a bunch of populist blowhards into a first-class machine that earned its way into office. They were and will remain allies, friends, and protectors of their creation. Anything less simply underestimates them (again).

  12. .. the man has turned on Canada and Canadians .. so what is the surprise ?
    .. expect even worse .. he’s a sociopath with a loyal and oblivious following ..

  13. david ray says:

    there must be a sign on Harper’s desk that says

    “the bus never stops here.”

    but it might be circling the block
    looking for that last parking spot

  14. Matt says:

    Why is Wright remaining silent?

    All I can think of is:

    1) Harper’s allegations are true

    2) Wright is ridiculously loyal to the party and would rather see his own reputation sullied over the party’s.

    Does anyone even know where he is? I heard he moved to Las Vegas after he left/was dismissed from the PMO.

    • david ray says:

      Why say anything? From what I’ve read he’s got tons of fuck you money. The truth will leak out after Harper and his goons self-destruct and we’ll be hearing about someone else doing the same thing for another party who is walking among us even as we vent our rage. Same shit, different pile.

    • Rosemarie says:

      Mr. Wright is still in Ottawa cooperating with the RCMP investigation and volunteering at a local soup kitchen according to eye witnesses. He is probably the most loyal former employee Harper has ever had. I sincerely hope he will soon see that he owes more to the party than to one of the most self serving PMs that we have ever seen. The truth will bring Harper down.

    • Darren says:

      You can’t win a fight with a Skunk.

      Wright is smart enough to know that.

      Everything about the corruption of politicians eventually comes out when some cleaver writer writes the tell all book after these scumbags leave office. It won’t be any different here.

      It might take 2 years, it might take 10, but Wrights story will be published. The truth will come out.

      It always does.

  15. Marc-Andre Chiasson says:

    My take on things: Harper told Wright to solve the Duffy problem then walked out of the room. What was implied but not actually stated was “…through any means necessary”. That then brought into play the quaint government concept of Plausible Deniability which means…protect your leader at all costs so that what he does not know, he cannot be blamed for. However, in my opinion, that clashes directly with the other quaint government concept of Ministerial Responsibility whereby whether or not said Minister knows about an action or a decision taken by a subordinate, he/she is ultimately responsible for its consequences. Harper has conveniently forgotten the first…and ignored the second.

    • Steven says:

      Plausible deniability.

      It reminds me of the scene in Godfather II where Michael Coleone tells his henchman, “make sure that nothing happens to Fredo while our Mother is still alive…”

  16. Paul says:

    I wouldnt worry to much about Nigel Wright – he’s a big boy who can fight his won battles – funny how all these liberals feel so bad for him for no other purpose then to get those mean old conservatives…come on guys ..the WE love you Nigel schtick , stand up for your self is a little much. If he feels he needs to he will …he’s not a cornered dog like Duffy and Wallin , he a is a very bright professional , grounded guy …

    • Matt says:

      When someone falls out of favour with a party, it’s pretty much standard practise for the other guys to turn that person into a victim. All parties do it.

      For months the opposition called for Helena Guergis’ head on a plate. The when Harper kicked her out of caucus, the opposition turned her into a victim.

      When NDPers Hyer and Rafferty were heavily sanctioned by interm leader Nycole Turmel for voting in favour of scrapping the long gun registry, the CPC played them as victims.

      When Chretien booted John Nunziata for ripping Chretien for breaking his promis to scrap the GST, I’m sure the opposition played him up as a victim.

    • Mark W says:

      The bigger problem here as far as the perceptions of Nigel Wright go is that “you can’t win a fight in a barnyard without getting $#!te on yourself too”. If Wright responds, he gets smeared for being disloyal (and branded a liar). If he doesn’t, he gets smeared as a manipulative, deceitful SoB. The question remains – when does the #2 smearing become enough to justify the risk of #1 smearing?

  17. Chris George says:

    The piece that has been missing right from day one has been to ask just what, exactly, it is that Duffy has on Harper. Are we actually supposed to think that a political operator and control freak like Harper would allow the $32k or the $90k to get by him without his participation? And if by some stretch of the imagination we allow that, why would the party be allowed to pay Duffy’s legal expenses, yet allow Wallin and Brazeau to twist in the wind? I suspect that Duffy has something that would lead to immediate political death for Harper. Harper has taken a long slow road to expulsion. This scandal is not going away any time soon. The difference between allowing Duffy to speak on whatever it is he has in reserve and placating him by all means possible must be worth the political pain to Harper and Conservative party insiders.

    Why is no one in the media asking this obvious question?

  18. JamesM. says:

    What the CPC needs is the second coming of Dalton Camp, maybe Nigel Wright is that guy.

    Joe Clark was as near as I could tell at the time loyal to Mr. Mulroney despite being screwed over big time by him. He only left after Peter McKay sold the party out, which was more than his loyalty could stand I surmise.

  19. debs says:

    this is a funny comparison to what its like listening/watching the harper team in action…lol

  20. Sammy Redford says:

    The Reform Milieu

    The core value of power by any means = making a human sacrifice of Nigel Right (“it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people”). Nigel Right will stoically accept self-sacrifice as part of the Tory code of hounour and muscular Christianity.

    Patrick will fit neatly into the narrative of, as worded by Rex Murphy, “a rude dismissal of Canada’s generosity” – the ungrateful Indian.

    Pamela, whose apparent lack of impulse control has attracted the RCMP, will be propagandized as the “uppity spendthrift” – an archetype that will play well to the Nixonian Con base. Bonus – the press is flaky, especially its female practitioners.

    Duffy is an atavistic expression of old Toryism – hence the push-back. Alas, after far too many years of easy living, this rotund sloth will eventually be devoured by the leaner and Alpha Reform faction wolves. Bonus – the press is corrupt.

    Sadly, they learned all this from the Liberals e.g. Paul Martin, bff of Gadaffi, and orchestrator of bloodless coup complete with “thugs” and goons.

    “You” = the Canadian Nation, whom these jackals would liquidate in a one beat of their oily, black, shriveled hearts.

    Our Shakespearean drama continues to play.

  21. Ian Howard says:

    I don’t know Nigel Wright, and I’m not a fan of Harper’s politics. But what I do know is I’m going to wait for the facts to emerge as usually seems to happen. What I have learned is that politicians have all the failings and virtues common to humanity. If Stephen Harper is lying about Nigel Wright that truth will eventually surface. How you can make a decision based on something your ex wife told you presumably years ago is somewhat of a mystery. News may be a 24/7 business but judgement should be made in the chamber of sober second thought.

  22. e.a.f. says:

    Well now some of us know more about Nigel Wright. Given this bit of information, he does sound better than Harper.

    You make a very good point. If Harper can “turn on Nigel Wright, then he can turn on someone else too”. That was my thought when he turned on Duffy, Wallin, and Brazeau. At the time he had only said Wright had resigned. He hadn’t started his all out caimpaign on Wright.

    Besides all of what has happened, what becomes clear, is Harper turns on everybody in this mess when that is his advantage to do so. You wonder when he will turn on Hugh Segal and the rest of the Con. senators who oppose turfing the 3 senators. It maybe by the time Harper has finished “turning on” everybody who opposes him, he will find it is just him and his body guards standing there. Del Mastro seems to have been turfed out. Will he turn on the cabinet minister who defended Wright’s honour? This is not going to be pretty. But it will show exactly what Harper is and has been. He looks very similar to the extremist teabagging Republicans south of us. Truly scary. Politics is a blood sport, but even blood sports have a couple of rules. Harper doesn’t seen to have any rules or ethics.

    • Paul says:

      Not Hughie Segal… the SNC Lavalin Board member who has been vewwy vewwy quiet…except to defend his fellow Senators ..

  23. Eric Weiss says:

    Peter’s has gone downhill. Clive Burger, Rocky’s Burger bus or Charcutt are way better.

  24. Hunter Mars says:

    We have crossed the Rubicon into unknown territory ..

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