Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Duffy's Testimony Before Canada's Senate

Full Text

Read it.  It's a bombshell that very clearly ties Harper into this whole scheme.  It doesn't make any of the parties involved look good - in fact in many respects it makes Duffy look pretty low too - which is part of the reason I suspect that he is being basically truthful in this speech.

Like you, I took a solemn oath to put the interests of Canadians ahead of all else. However, the sad truth is, I allowed myself to be intimidated into doing what I knew in my heart was wrong out of a fear of losing my job and out of a misguided sense of loyalty.
A promising start to the speech.  I still maintain that Duffy willingly engaged in an act of fraud when he claimed a recreational property on PEI as a primary residence when he's been a resident in Ottawa for decades.
I immediately contacted Nigel Wright, the Prime Minister's chief of staff, and explained that I was doing nothing improper. Nigel Wright emailed me, saying he had my expenses checked and he was satisfied that my accounts were in order, that all was in compliance with Senate rules.
The fact that Duffy's expenses "were within the rules" according to Nigel Wright suggests that the Senate expense rules are far too loose.

The Prime Minister wasn't interested in explanations or the truth. It's not about what you did; it's about the perception of what you did that has been created in the media. The rules are inexplicable to our base.
So Harper's worried about "keeping his base"?  Gosh - isn't that a surprise.  The fact that executing a lie comes so quickly to Harper's mind says a great deal ... and none of it good.

The PMO piled on the pressure. Some honourable senators called me in PEI. One senator in particular left several particularly nasty and menacing messages: Do what the Prime Minister wants. Do it for the PM and for the good of the party. I continued to resist. Finally, the message from the PMO became: Do what we want or else.And what was the "else?" He said the Conservative majority on the steering committee of the Board of Internal Economy, Senator Tkachuk and Senator Stewart Olsen, would issue a press release declaring me unqualified to sit in the Senate.
Here's where there is a large amount of shared poor judgment for both Harper and Duffy.  Duffy knew perfectly well that he wasn't resident in PEI prior to being appointed by Harper, and Harper was clearly willing to engage in the fiction that Duffy was representing PEI.  Further, later in the process, it becomes a handy lever for Harper to use when things get out of control.

Duffy is showing an enormous amount of poor judgment in this whole affair himself.  Harper is demonstrating the pathological dishonesty that has been the hallmark of his rise to power.

There was an undertaking made by the PMO, with the agreement of the Senate leadership, that I would not be audited by Deloitte, that I'd be given a pass; and further, that if this phony scheme ever became public, Senator LeBreton, the Leader of the Government of the day, would whip the Conservative caucus to prevent my expulsion from the chamber. 
PMO officials confided it wasn't easy to get this commitment to do as they were told from Senators LeBreton, Tkachuk and Stewart Olsen, but the email chain shows it took hours of shuttling back and forth as the lawyers checked with their principals about the guarantees they were going to give to ensure that I wasn't censured for going along with this PMO scheme. 
Given all of those emails, you can imagine my shock when I heard there is not a single document about all of this in the PMO, not one. In response to an access to information request, CBC was told there is not a single document related to this matter in the PMO. 
I never believed for a moment that the PMO was being honest with the CBC when it claimed that it had no documents related to the Duffy affair.  This is not a minor "lie".  It speaks to a deliberate effort to cover up what has been going on.  If the PMO truly does not have those documents, it can only be because it has gone on a document shredding spree that would put Oliver North to shame.
Then, in May, after someone leaked selected excerpts of a confidential email I had sent to my lawyer in February, in which I voiced my opposition and concern about the deal, the PMO was back with a vengeance. I was called at home in Cavendish by Ray Novak, senior assistant to the Prime Minister. 
I find it interesting that a confidential e-mail got leaked.  If Duffy used facilities at the Senate to send that e-mail, then it tells us that there is a level of surreptitious surveillance going on in the halls of Parliament that Canadians should be very concerned about indeed.

If Duffy used personal equipment to send that e-mail, then we need to further ask just how much control Harper has over CSEC that this e-mail came to light.

There are two major issues here, and both are issues of unwarranted surveillance.

This motion, put forward by Senator Carignan, is in direct conflict with any sense of fundamental justice. Not only is it a firing without a firing, as Senator Segal has correctly pointed out, it deprives me, not only of a paycheque but of a health plan, of life insurance. This, a guy who came back off sick leave because of serious heart problems. Who is going to buy the heart drugs I need? What kind of a country do we have when the power can override the sick leave provisions of the federal government of Canada Health Care Act or arrangement?
To be honest, I do not like this particular paragraph.  Having worked in private industry as a journalist for decades, Duffy should know full well that paycheques, health plans and life insurance provided by ones employer cease once you have been terminated.  Further, thousands of small business owners and their employees don't make enough money to support those kinds of benefits either.  Duffy is whining about his "entitlements" here, and I see no evidence that he has been fighting to make those available more broadly than himself.

And those same senators who conspired to put me in this corner, conspired to destroy my reputation with Canadians, they are going to sit here in judgment of me? Let me be clear: I have violated no laws. I've followed the rules, and I've got a ton of documentation, including a two-page memo from Senator LeBreton's office about it, and I never received a single note from Senate finance or the leadership that suggested anything in my travels was amiss. 
There's an old saying, Mr. Duffy:  When you lie down with dogs, you wake up with fleas.  You should not be surprised that a PM who was willing to let you lie about residing in PEI when appointing you has appointed other people who are just as willing as he to throw you under the bus.

I am less convinced that Mr. Duffy's actions did not violate any laws.  There have been revelations of all sorts of questionable expense claims, even if we ignore the residency issues.  At the very least, there is a significant degree of question around the fictions used when he was originally appointed.  There are also a fair handful of dubious expense claims to be considered.  Claims which on their own would probably be overlooked by Canadians, but when more fundamental issues are raised about the Senator's legitimacy cannot be ignored.

The upshot of Duffy's speech is that Harper was directly involved from the beginning.  He claims to have significant supporting documentation.  I would hope that he has the gumption to do the right thing, and turn it all over to the RCMP when they come knocking.  Personally, I'd like it all out in the public sphere, but if the RCMP criminal investigation results in actual charges being laid, that wouldn't hurt my feelings too much.

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