So, ... the Duffy trial.
There's no question but that Duffy saw the Senate position as a reward for a lifetime in politics and that both he and harper thought that he'd be able to pretend to be a citizen of PEI so as to represent the Island in the Senate, and do party fund-raising while charging it all to the taxpayers as Senatorial duties.
It was hubris.
Of the two of them, Duffy had the less reason to be worried. He was counting on the idea that harper was so powerful that petty little rules weren't going to be an issue. harper had evaded responsibility for bigger crimes, who was going to worry about Mike Duffy being just another patronage appointment to the Senate (an institution filled with cronies on the take)?
stephen harper, on the other hand, should have known better. he was the head honcho. he would have been the guy who'd know whether or not any problems could be taken care of. Maybe he honestly thought that he could appoint high-profile celebrity hacks (and an immature, substance-abusing guy with impulse-control problems) to represent provinces they didn't live in and get them to fund-raise for the Conservative Party on the publics' dime without anyone being able to do anything about it.
But it's like Sun Tzu says: "Victorious generals win first, and then go to war. While defeated generals go to war first and then seek to win." If harper wasn't 100% sure that he could break the law and get away with it, he shouldn't have broken the law.
But, as is his wont, harper did break the law. And then we saw his true level of incapacity didn't we. Used to getting away with lies and non-answers in the House of Commons, harper would blather that he'd looked at Pamela Wallin's expenses and found them to be reasonable. Then, a Senate audit finds out that they were outrageous (the opposite of "reasonable"). harper is forced to lapse into embarrassed, craven silence.
With Duffy on the other hand, harper just slinks away and gets the party to tell his former ally to take it on the chin. Can't really call Duffy a former friend, because nobody really likes stephen harper. But he was an ally. An ally who harper had told was golden. Untouchable. An ally who was benefiting harper through his valuable fund-raising for the party. And harper treated Duffy like he was dog-shit on his shoe.
You know, sometimes its embarrassing, in a colonial kind of way, to know that US-American journalists and celebrities make seven-figure salaries and live in fucking mansions, and then you see a Canadian celebrity-journalist like Duffy, a man who's career spanned decades, owns a big, but otherwise non-descript house in the Ottawa suburbs and he has a little cottage in PEI. But then, it's also a good thing that so many of our elites aren't mega-rich, completely out-of-touch asshole like Tom Friedman or David Gregory. At the very least, it makes them vulnerable.
The party that Duffy was raising money for was prepared to give back $30,000 to get the guy who raised it for them out of trouble. But they balked at $90,000. If the Conservative Party, with all its resources was troubled by $90,000, imagine how Duffy felt! And imagine how he felt about that arrogant, uncaring asshole stephen harper! The man responsible for this mess!
You can bet that Duffy made a huge stink about this. He didn't have ninety-thousand fucking dollars! If he was going to go down for this you can damn-well bet he was going to take everyone else down with him!
Enter genuine millionaire, Nigel Wright, at the time harper's Chief of Staff at the PMO. Wright neither knows, nor likes Duffy. Imagine the conversations that went into getting him to pony-up the $90,000 out of his personal bank account to bail Duffy out.
This whole thing was to buy Duffy's silence to cover up the fraud that was his claiming his fund-raising expenses as being related to his duties as the non-resident Senator from PEI. This is obvious. Everyone knows this. Just like everyone knows that harper knows all about this. Because harper is not that smart a guy and his lies have been so brazen. he's contradicted himself on several occasions.
The prime minister, on the other hand, will be crestfallen that he will in all likelihood not be called as a witness, inasmuch as this would have provided him with the first opportunity he has had to tell his side of the story — not counting the hundreds of questions he has avoided directly answering in the House or the dozens of press conferences he has never held.Andrew Coyne again:
Were he to have the honour of testifying under oath, however, I am confident he would clear up the many questions surrounding his own knowledge of the affair: what Mr. Wright could have meant in February of 2013 when he emailed the other participants in Operation Clusterduff that the PM was “good to go” with their plan, at that time to have the party repay Sen. Duffy; or what Mr. Wright could have meant in May of that year when he told the prime minister’s spokesman that Mr. Harper knew, albeit “in broad terms only,” that he had personally repaid Mr. Duffy’s expenses; both of which remain a puzzle, since the prime minister has vehemently denied knowing one iota of either plan.
The prime minister might also then have the chance to explain why his initial response, when the story broke, was to say he had full confidence in his chief of staff; why he nevertheless agreed, a few days later, to accept his resignation; why that story changed, some weeks after that, to him having fired Mr. Wright; or why he later stopped saying that. He might even be able to explain why, when he repeatedly told Parliament that Mr. Wright acted alone, none of the more than a dozen party and PMO staff now known to have been in on the plan thought to inform him of his error.
And he [harper] is most certainly not responsible for the clandestine campaign, involving officials in his office, the chairman of the Conservative Fund Canada, and several leading Conservative senators, to repay Senator Duffy’s falsely claimed expenses on his behalf and conceal his misdeeds from the public. He is not responsible for his spokesman’s statements, even after the plot had been exposed, praising Mr. Duffy for “doing the right thing” and vouching confidence in his chief of staff, Nigel Wright.harper would like to have avoided this trial. But the nice thing about limits on power and the rule of law is that not even the prime minister is powerful enough to completely evade these things. harper couldn't call an election. he already has a majority and it doesn't matter. The trial is going on.
On the other hand, he is responsible, by his own account, for telling Mr. Duffy to repay his expenses, though he had for months denied having any involvement with the file, and he was briefly responsible for “dismissing” Mr. Wright, though he had earlier claimed he resigned, and though he now seems unwilling to say which version is operable.
And all the breezy, nonsensical, contradictory stories that stephen harper stupidly tried to get away with in Parliament (aided and abetted by the anti-democratic scum-bag, Speaker Scheer) will be tested in court.
The larger point though, is this: How brazen will our elites be in displaying their contempt for the rule of law? How shameless will harpercon supporters be in rationalizing harper's incoherent, contradictory excuses for his behaviour?
I mean, we've already seen that the RCMP is shameless enough to charge Duffy with accepting a bribe, but Family Compact golden-boy, who paid the bribe isn't charged with anything. We've all seen various competent and functioning human beings stating with straight faces that the residency requirement regulations for Senators are arcane and confusing. We've got all the emails from the PMO and the Senate Internal Economy Committee saying they'd all agree to go easy on Duffy's audit. We've got the evidence of harpercon hacks trying to influence the auditors themselves. This is open-and-shut.
But the majority of Canada's elites and media and the voting public has shown themselves incapable of processing the significance of harper's abuse of prorogation, his attack on the principle of responsible government, his demonstrated, inarguable contempt for Parliament, his disregard for financial accountability and his deliberate violation of electoral integrity.
Ours is a sick system. Like some form of deadly terminal stage case of cynicism and apathy. "Outrage" is a word that's tossed around too cheaply. You're clearly not "outraged" if you sit at home and grumble. Will the spitting on the law, on the rules, on the supposed principles that they claim to stand for, and which they will inevitably do to try to escape the blame and the consequences for this sordid mess, trigger genuine outrage in this country?
Let's find out.