Claiming to have risen, against doctor’s orders, from his Heart Institute sick bed under the compulsion to rebut an “avalanche of untruths and character assassination with which I’ve been unfairly and viciously attacked,” Senator Mike Duffy tabled documents confirming that his housing expense claims were in accordance with Senate rules as explained by the Senate’s own expert; that his expense claims were approved by the Prime Ministers Chief of Staff, Nigel Wright; and that as evidence that his repayment of $90,000 in expenses was not an admission of wrongdoing, the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff had not only reimbursed Duffy with the $90,000, but arranged for the payment of Duffy’s legal expenses incurred in negotiating the deal.
According to Duffy, these seemingly crazy transactions took place because Stephen Harper believed that Duffy’s legitimate expense claims would be inexplicable to “the base,” i.e., the Tory rank and file.
In view of the documentation, it is seems unlikely in the extreme that Duffy’s story is a pack of lies. But unless Stephen Harper is able to repudiate Duffy’s account, it is unlikely in the extreme that Harper can lead the Conservatives effectively into another general election campaign.
Think about this: Harper’s staff assured Duffy in writing that his living expense claims were legitimate and consistent with what other Senators were claiming. The Senate Committee on Internal Economy gave him the same assurance in writing. Then Harper turns round and attempts to eviscerate Duffy in public as a scoundrel and thief who should be publicly humiliated, unconstitutionally booted from the Senate and robbed of his livelihood for acting in compliance with the advice of his, the Prime Minister’s, own office.
Who’s the jackass and scoundrel here? Once the facts sink in, the public will be in no doubt. And there is no doubt that the Leader of the Opposition, the Honorable Thomas Mulcaire will ensure that the facts do eventually sink in, even into minds of the members of Harper’s “base.”
Already trailing the Liberals in the opinion polls and barely ahead of the NDP, the Tories look headed for a third-place finish in 2015. A change of leadership might help, but look where that landed the Progressive Conservatives following the Mulroney—Campbell handover.
The Tyee: Stephen Harper’s Gift to Canada
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