Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Did Nigel Wright Do Something Illegal?

I accidently started a discussion on Twitter the other day.  I merely made a comment in a conversation between some other people hoping they could clarify a question I had.  I can’t even remember the question but it had to do with the payment that Nigel Wright made to cover Mike Duffy’s debt in the Senate.

Some other people noticed my comment and entered into a discussion covering a wide range of scenarios and imaginings about the Duffy Affair and Nigel Wright’s role in it.  Fortunately they left my @canada_bearcat in their tweets so I got to see what they were thinking.

Keep in mind I have no more knowledge of the legal system or how things work in the political arena than anyone else.  I’m just asking questions, hoping to figure things out or find someone who can give the real answers.

The story so far:

We all know Senator Mike Duffy is being investigated by the RCMP as part of the Senate Scandal revolving around him.  There appear to be a couple of layers of possible fraud committed by Mike Duffy and a possibly illegal “gift” that he received.

The first being the expenses he claimed because his “home” was in PEI even though most people knew he had lived in Ottawa going back into the 1970s.

The second would be the improper per diem expenses that he claimed while vacationing in Florida and while he was crisscrossing the country during the 2011 election.

And then there is the acceptance of a “gift” of $90,176.00 from Nigel Wright to cover his list of improper expenses.  In exchange for the money, Duffy was to repay the debt and remain quiet on the whole affair and in return the Senate would “go easy” on him.

The consensus was that Duffy could be in very deep trouble but that Wright may just be a witness because there is no real benefit to him by making the payment.

I wonder at this because from where I sit, there would have been a benefit had this played out the way they had hoped.

As it sits right now, a private citizen gave a sitting Senator money to get out of an embarrassing situation, but is only because there have been no charges laid against anyone yet.  If the RCMP decides to charge Duffy with fraud and with receiving the “gift” then I think this becomes a different kettle of fish.

Nigel Wright is more than just a smart businessman, he is a lawyer with two legal degrees and has been working in the back rooms of conservative politics going back to the Unite the Right Movement.  He was also a founding Director of the Conservative Fund Canada, the money making machine for the Harper Party.  To say he had a vested interest in having the Duffy Affair “just go away” would likely be an understatement.

The cheque that Wright wrote was not a gift to help out a friend who was in a bit of a jam, the cheque was written to cover up a potential crime and to secure Duffy’s silence in that crime.  Isn’t that aiding and abetting after the fact?  Or does that only apply if the RCMP decides to charge Duffy for his misdeeds?

I don’t know how the legal system works in this case, but I know where my ethical compass points.  If there were crimes committed in the Senate, then Nigel had a hand in them too.

The roots on this run deep, and the tendrils reach all through the government.  With the involvement of Wright and Senator Irv Gerstein in the conspiracy to cover up the Duffy Affair, we delve into the inner sanctum of the Harper Party, the foundation that the whole party is built on.  That being the Conservative Fund Canada who considered paying Duffy’s expenses back until they realized how much it would cost.

Through Wright we have several top PMO people with knowledge of the affair including former PMO legal advisor Perrin who still maintains that he was not involved.

From the PMO we move back to the Senate and the Internal Economy Committee headed by Senator Tkachuk who admits that the committee was talking with the PMO when the Deloitte audit was ongoing.

Not surprisingly, when Duffy showed up with the cash, the committee report did in fact go easy on him.  Who gave the order?  Was there a conspiracy involving several layers of the Harper Party to try and push the Duffy Affair under the carpet and cover up the possible crimes here?  And who told Mike how much he owed?  Did he get the heads up from a Senate colleague or someone in the PMO?

It appears that everything will hinge on whether or not the RCMP decides to lay charges against Mike Duffy and what those charges are.

I guess we’ll have to wait and see…


PS, it still bothers me that with all these top Harper Party people involved in this scandal, no one (according to SH) bothered to tell “the Boss” what was going on…hmmm.

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