When it came out that the RCMP was officially investigating the Duffy-Wright scandal, a lot of Canadians hoped it would be the chance for the truth to come out about what really was happening on Parliament Hill. Of course, while there is still a lot of be uncovered, the first bit of information to come out of the investigation has been a major revelation.
It seems the Conservatives were getting ready to use their own funds to bail out Duffy's spending, to the tune of $32,000. As we've talked about before on the blog, this runs counter to the government's call to prevent taxpayers being on the hook, since part of those funds come from tax dollars. So, there's one strike against the conservative defence.
When they found out the $90,000 price tag for his expenses, the conservatives balked at repayment and Nigel Wright stepped up to cover the money. It had been another defence for the conservatives that Wright and Duffy were friends and it was a gift with no strings attached. But now, it seems Wright has admitted that he and Duffy weren't exactly "friends", and the money came with a caveat that Duffy would stop talking to the media and the Senate would whitewash their audit report when it came to Duffy's file.
There's too many strikes there to even count.
Then comes the truly shocking revelation. Harper has maintained that he knew nothing of the Wright payment until the story broke in the media; though it seems the Prime Minister's Office was neck deep in the affair since the beginning. Four people within the PMO, including Wright, a lawyer, a communications officer, and the head of the Conservative Heritage Fund (another Senator) were all aware of the deal.
I've made this argument before, and it must be made again, Harper is either involved or ignorant at this point. For four members of his staff, and a key Senator in his party, to have awareness of this issue while keeping the Prime Minister in the dark suggests that only one of those two options is the truth. Either Harper was well aware of the troubles with Duffy, and the steps being taken by his office and party to deal with them, which means the Prime Minister has also been lying to Canadians since this scandal broke.
OR Harper was truly left in the dark by what is supposed to be his closest advisors, party members, and fellow Conservative teammates.
Is it wrong that I don't know which of this scenarios is the worst of the two? Yes, it would be bad to have a Prime Minister commit Nixonian levels of deceit while in office; but the other scenario suggests that Canadians are being controlled outside of their elected officials, since it would seem power does not reside with the Prime Minister but with his bureaucratic staff...which is also quite a harrowing thought.
Which brings me to the Harper Government's response to all of this thus far: talk about everything else.
In addition to failed attempts to smear Mulcair and Trudeau, the Harper Government has now been teasing the upcoming cabinet shuffle and tried to focus attention on the coming changes to the front bench.
The Conservative website has also rebranded the party as "Canada's Founding Party", due to the connection John A. MacDonald and Confederation (ignoring that MacDonald sat as Liberal-Conservative MP), and the connections to Free Trade (ignoring that Mulroney and his PCs opposed free trade during his first term as PM, and only took it has a mantra when the liberals started successfully running with the issue).
Not to mention that everyone has generally accepted that the Progressive Conservatives were the successors of the party of John A. MacDonald, and that party was ultimately destroyed by the Reform/Canadian Alliance that merged with it.
There's also the notion that I've mentioned before on this blog; numerous historical party leaders would likely feel out of step with their counterparts of today. And while Harper's team may be trying to "save the brand" by harkening back to their so-called forerunners, I don't think Canadians are going to swallow the pablum the Harper Team is shilling.
At least, one can hope.