Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Senate expenses scandal: Snippets from the Mounties

They're on the march ... to protect our democracy
A bombshell burst in Ottawa today when the Mounties filed a request for a search warrant dealing with the Duffy expenses scandal.

Reading that request is interesting. I include a few snippets that caught my eye.

Overall, my impression from the sketchy information in the document (which is  based on interviews by the RCMP of certain people as well as certain emails), is that Nigel Wright worked hard to protect the Conservative government from the embarrassment caused by Senator Duffy’s expense claims. He tried hard to reason with Duffy, only to find out that Duffy was a moving target. He became angry with Duffy’s claims for meals and other items, and believed that the honourable thing for the Senator to do was to pay expenses he had improperly claimed.

In all his attempts to manage the matter, neither Wright nor anyone else involved (judging from the document) thought to consider the legal framework governing how the Senate works. And so laws were broken.

Another conclusion I have reached is this: I would be very surprised if there are not further charges proposed by the RCMP against others involved in this sorry saga.

Here are the snippets from the Mounties request filed in court:

The summary of the conclusions reached by the Mounties:

Concerns voiced by Senator Frum and going down in flames:

Nigel Wright's anger over Senator Duffy's claims for meals:

Senator Duffy's two versions about knowing the $90,000 "gift" was coming from Nigel Wright:

Nigel Wright's statement to Duffy that "the PMO would look after having the money reimbursed" to Duffy if he paid the expenses (who was Wright referring to when he said "the PMO"?):

 Wright on March 8 about his personal payment of Duffy's $90,000 expenses - the earliest mention of the date he so decided (who else did Wright tell about this decision on or before or after this date?):

Wright says on February 22 the Prime Minister was not told by Wright about Wright's decision to pay Duffy's $90,000 expenses:

Rogers says in a masterly understatement "This is epic":

Wright's feeling that things will "end badly":

The most explosive statement in my view ("we are good to go from the PM") - ably used by Mulcair in today's grilling of an evasive Prime Minister Harper during Question Period:

Conservative Senators would agree not to let the audit firm pursue its investigation if Duffy fessed up and repaid the $90,000 (were any laws broken by such an agreement, if it existed? - we will soon know if any Senators are charged):

The smoking gun - when did the PM find out from Wright about Wright's decision to pay Duffy's $90,000 expenses - this bookend date of May 14 leaves open the question of such knowledge before this date. Also, not the careful words Wright uses: the PM "knows in broad terms only" - he then uses co-signing of a loan as an example of a "specific" fact unknown to the PM. What exactly did Wright tell the PM, and when?:

Was this the first time Duffy wanted to be reimbursed? Who knew about his desire to pay but be repaid, and when did they know?:

The quid pro quo from the Conservative senators if Duffy repaid and shut up:

Duffy's reluctance to "take the dive":

How much did Senator LeBron know - the Mounties' view:

The mysterious RBC loan that Senator Duffy was taking out - whose idea was it: the PMO as Duffy claims, or a Duffy brainwave:

Duffy: Don't tell the RCMP; Wright: No way we agree to that:

Senator Montgomery on why senators should not compromise themselves:

None of the Senators (except Senator Montgomery) involved can claim with a straight face that they belong to a body of sober, independent, second thought. They seem to be more conscious of the interests of the party they belong to, than of the august body of Parliament.

This scandal should be a clear indication that we need to break the hold of political parties over patronage appointments to the Senate. We need people chosen by non-politicians, to represent the citizens in this second chamber.

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