Duffy says Conservatives covered his legal bills by Bruce Campion-Smith, The Canadian Press, October 28, 2013, The Toronto Star
“Are we independent senators or PMO puppets,” Duffy said.
Mike Duffy: 2 Cheques Were Given To Me By PMO by The Canadian Press, October 28, 2013, Huffingtonpost.ca
Sen. Mike Duffy is dispensing more bombshell revelations in the Senate, this time about a second payment related to his ongoing expense scandal. Duffy says Conservative party lawyer Arthur Hamilton was involved in a scheme to cover his $13,560 legal bill. Duffy says Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s former chief of staff, Nigel Wright, had to “coax” him into agreeing to pay back $90,000 in disputed expense claims. It was the revelation that Wright himself paid back Duffy’s expenses that brought the Senate scandal to the prime minister’s front door. “Not only that, but when I insisted on written guarantees that repaying money I didn’t owe would not be seen by the Senate as a guilty plea, Nigel Wright arranged to have my legal fees paid,” Duffy told a rapt upper chamber. “That’s right. One cheque from Nigel Wright? No, ladies and gentlemen, there were two cheques, at least two cheques.” An audible gasp went up from the gathered senators.
“The PMO, listen to this, had the Conservative party’s lawyer Arthur Hamilton pay my legal fees. He paid for my lawyer. Arthur Hamilton. A cheque for $13,560. That’s right, senators, not one payment, but two.”
The revelations kept coming. “I’ve never seen a cheque from Nigel Wright,” Duffy added. “But I do have the cheque stub and transmittal letter from Arthur Hamilton, the Conservative party’s lawyer.” Duffy says the payments were part of an elaborate plan orchestrated by the Prime Minister’s Office to make the controversy over his expenses go away. And he says even the story cooked up about Duffy borrowing the $90,000 from a bank was scripted up by the PMO, and he has the email to prove it. Harper used Duffy’s claim of remortgaging his own home as proof the senator’s words could not be trusted last week. He says he was well within the rules in filing his expenses, and that the true amount of claims that were in violation of the rules totalled less than $500. [Emphasis added]
Harper suggests he fired chief of staff for $90,000 cheque to Duffy by Steven Chase, October 28, 2013, The Globe and Mail
Stephen Harper is changing the story on how his chief aide left the Prime Minister’s office after it was revealed Nigel Wright personally bailed out beleaguered Senator Mike Duffy. Mr. Harper revealed Monday morning in a Halifax radio interview that Mr. Wright was fired from his job as chief of staff in the PMO. Previously the Conservative Leader has always said the Bay Street executive resigned the top job in the Prime Minister’s office.
”I think the responsibility whenever things go wrong is for us to take appropriate action,” Mr. Harper told News 95.7 Halifax. “As you know I had a chief of staff who made an inappropriate payment to Mr. Duffy. He was dismissed.” Mr. Wright exited federal politics in May after the PMO admitted he’d personally intervened in Mr. Duffy’s expense controversy after the PEI politician stood accused of padding his expense account. Mr. Wright, a wealthy businessman, dipped into his own funds [or taken indirectly from the Canadian public’s funds, how much more for continued obedience and silence?] to repay the more than $90,000 that Mr. Duffy reimbursed to taxpayers after controversy over his expense claims.
In May, Mr. Harper said the repayment was Mr. Wright’s “personal decision, and he did this in capacity as chief of staff, so he is solely responsible, and that is why he’s resigned.” Mr. Harper added that he would not have approved of the bailout had he known about it. “Had I obviously been consulted … I would not have agreed, and it is obviously for those reasons that I accepted Mr. Wright’s resignation.” The Halifax interview was with Jordi Morgan, one-time Canadian Alliance candidate who also once worked for Mr. Harper’s office when the Calgary MP was Leader of the Opposition. Mr. Harper has been searching out friendly interviews in recent days. He also spoke to former Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory, who now hosts a Toronto Radio show, on Friday. [Emphasis added]
Harper says chief of staff Wright ‘dismissed’ over $90,000 cheque, not resigned by The Canadian Press, October 28, 2013, Calgary Herald
The prime minister says his chief of staff was “dismissed” earlier this year after writing a $90,000 cheque to pay back Sen. Mike Duffy’s inappropriate expenses. Stephen Harper’s comment on a Halifax radio show today is at odds with his statement in May that Nigel Wright resigned over the payment.
“I had a chief of staff who made an inappropriate payment to Mr. Duffy — he was dismissed,” Harper said in the interview.
The claim adds a new twist to a complex saga that is expected to take a new turn this week, with the Senate voting on whether to suspend without pay Duffy and two other senators — Pam Wallin and Patrick Brazeau — over inappropriate expenses. Some senators have said the trio deserve a full hearing and due process, and there are suggestions the Senate leadership may soften the motion. But Harper today called on the Senate to press for full suspension, saying the standard for being booted out of the upper chamber should be higher than simply being convicted of a crime. Harper said having misappropriated hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars is reason enough for tough action. “There has been a view in the Senate, a long historic view, and there’s a few people who still believe it, even in our party, that the only standard for sitting in the Senate is that you’ve not been convicted of a crime,” he said. “And I’m sorry, that is just not good enough.” [Emphasis added]
Mike Duffy says Prime Minister’s Office arranged second cheque to cover his legal fees by Andrea Hill, Lee Berthhiaume, Mike de Souza and Jason Fekete, Postmedia News, October 28, 2013, Calgary Herald
Sen. Mike Duffy told a spellbound upper chamber Monday that the prime minister’s former chief of staff, who paid him $90,000 to cover his housing expenses, had also arranged a second cheque to pay his legal bills. With the Senate in an unusual Monday sitting to discuss punishment for Duffy and two other senators over spending irregularities, Duffy said the Prime Minister’s Office had directed its lawyer, Arthur Hamilton, to have his legal bills paid, amounting to $13,560. Duffy argued that Stephen Harper’s office must have felt he had done no wrong if it was willing to pay his legal tab. “He would never had done it if he felt my expense claims were improper,” Duffy thundered. He said the “monstrous fraud” around his expenses “was the PMO’s creation from start to finish.”
Duffy is at the centre of an investigation around a $90,000 cheque given to him by Nigel Wright, then the prime minister’s top aide, to help pay his housing expenses. Duffy says his expenses were in order but for minor adjustments. “You can’t trust this leadership to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth,” Duffy continued. “Wait until Canadians see the email trail in the hands of my lawyers, and I hope in the hands of the RCMP.” The RCMP is investigating the cheque. Duffy’s latest bombshells rained down on the Senate as the strain within Conservative ranks over the affair continued to show. Earlier in the day, both Conservatives and Liberals had met in their separate caucuses to discuss the fate of Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau. Last week, the Conservative leadership in the Senate proposed motions to suspend the three without pay, privileges or benefits over their spending, a plan backed publicly by Prime Minster Stephen Harper. All three were in the chamber Monday. Duffy said Conservatives who are to gather for their upcoming convention this weekend in Calgary would be shocked if they knew how staffers in Harper’s office had acted toward him, explaining that they gave him a script about paying back his expenses by taking out a loan from the Royal Bank, “minutes” before he did television interviews to talk about repaying his expenses. “That line was written by the PMO to deceive Canadians as to the real source of the $90,000,” said Duffy. “They have no moral compass.”
Monday morning, prior to Duffy’s speech, senators mulled privately what to do about the trio. “Most Canadians probably think there should be some sanction. But they want it to happen after the process,” said Tory Sen. Hugh Segal, on his way into a meeting of Conservatives. “We all take a separate oath to Her Majesty to do our job loyally and honourably; the prime minister’s views are taken very seriously and they are important. But our oath to Her Majesty to do what’s right is actually more important than any other politician.” On the weekend, the government’s Senate leader, Claude Carignan, who had introduced the original motions to suspend, told Radio-Canada that his caucus might craft new plans Monday if there was consensus among party members. Those motions might involve somehow softening the punishment of Wallin and Brazeau, though not necessarily of Duffy. Conservative Sen. Don Plett, a former president of the national party, said in the afternoon that there might still be amendments to the original motions even though nothing was tabled. “I don’t think anybody was expecting what Mr. Duffy had to say.” Asked whether there’s an appetite in Conservative caucus to go forward on the issue, Plett said: “Obviously this will be discussed.” Plett also said he was disappointed with both Duffy’s statement and Duffy’s allegations of the party covering his legal expenses.
Liberals have been pushing to send the entire issue to a Senate committee so a detailed investigation can be undertaken on whether punishing the three senators may have legal implications for an ongoing RCMP investigation, or otherwise violate the senators’ right to a fair hearing. However, one Liberal senator admitted it was unlikely his party has enough Conservative support to push the matter in that direction. Instead, the question was whether the Conservative senators would force a vote later this week on the motions to suspend the three. If such a vote happens, the earliest debate could end would be Thursday or Friday. If the Conservatives propose something besides suspension without pay, it remains unclear how the Liberals will respond. “There are a lot Conservative senators who are very concerned about the way the government proposes to do this, so I hope they’re going to have an opportunity (Monday) to try to persuade the government to change its mind,” said Sen. James Cowan, Liberal leader in the Senate. “I would hope that what they would say is, ‘We need to send this to a committee.’ “ Cowan said the debate was “not a public relations thing, as far as I’m concerned,” adding he was confident Canadians understood what he and the Liberals were trying to accomplish. “I don’t base my positions on email traffic,” he said. “But the emails that I’ve received over the last couple of weeks have been shifting dramatically. “These are individual, thoughtful people who are writing. And the overwhelming majority of them say ‘You’re doing the right thing. Due process is important. And this government motion shouldn’t be supported.’ “
“Due process, due diligence, fairness that’s what it’s all about,” said Liberal Sen. Jim Munson. “We’re not defending the three senators, we’re defending their right to speak and finally they’re speaking.”
Source: Toronto Sun
Hints that the Tory majority in the Senate was thinking of revising senators’ sanctions emerged Friday while the Senate debated the fates of Duffy, Wallin and Brazeau in a rare Friday sitting. During the debate, Brazeau told senators that Carignan offered him a “backroom deal” whereby he would receive a lesser sentence if he apologized in the Senate for his inappropriate spending. Carignan has said Brazeau misunderstood him and there was no “deal.” While the Prime Minister’s Office would not comment on activities of the Conservative Senate caucus, it reiterated its support for the original motions. “We remain firm on this important point: Senators who have already been found to have claimed inappropriate expenses should not be collecting a public paycheque,” said PMO spokesperson Jason MacDonald in an email Sunday. “They know what they did is wrong, that’s why the prime minister supports the Senate motion and wants to see them vote on it.” The Conservative party convention kicks off in Calgary Thursday.
Meanwhile, the prime minister said his chief of staff was “dismissed” earlier this year after writing the $90,000 cheque to pay back Duffy’s inappropriate expenses. Harper’s comment on a Halifax radio show Monday was at odds with his statement in May that Nigel Wright had resigned over the payment. “I had a chief of staff who made an inappropriate payment to Mr. Duffy – he was dismissed,” Harper said in the interview. Cowan said the shift of vocabulary from the prime minister “raises question about what is the real situation, and we’ve been trying to get to that from the beginning.”
“I’m sure the prime minister knows the difference between being dismissed and accepting a resignation.” [Emphasis added]