From testimony that’s been emerging at the Mike Duffy trial in Ottawa it seems that everyone and their dog in the Prime Minister’s Office knew of the plan that was hatched whereby former chief of staff Nigel Wright would cut a check for $90,000 from his own bank account to cover the disgraced senator’s improperly claimed living and personal expenses.
Here’s a Toronto Star report that lists a good dozen or so high-profile Conservatives who either participated in or were aware of the plan which was devised to short-circuit an audit that was underway into Duffy’s expense claims and deflect blame away from the Conservatives and the PMO for first appointing Duffy as a senator, and then using him as a pitchman for the party at numerous events across the country on the public dime.
Current chief of staff Ray Novak is one of the aforementioned Conservatives who was apparently in the loop. He’s been described as Stephen Harper’s closest friend and ally, and in denying that Novak knew anything about the Wright payment, Tory campaign spokesman Kory Teneycke has previously said, “it’s unfathomable that Ray would be aware of a payment … and not tell the prime minister.”
Yet, according the Wonderland world that the Conservative hierarchy inhabits, that’s apparently what happened. Novak did know, and he, along with dozens of other PMO staffers and upper echelon Conservatives, didn’t tell the prime minister.
Writing in the National Post yesterday, Andrew Coyne penned this very moving and heart-felt column sympathizing with Stephen Harper at the extreme sense of betrayal and confusion he must be feeling now that it is emerging that he was the victim of a party-wide conspiracy to keep the whole sordid truth of l’Affaire Duffy from his delicate ears. Truly, it is one of the more Shakespearean moments in Canadian political history, and our sympathy and condolences also go out to the prime minister at this time.