According to the Canadian Press, “The prime minister’s chief of staff went to Stephen Harper for approval of a secret plan that would have seen the Conservative party repay Mike Duffy’s contested expenses and whitewash a Senate report, new RCMP documents suggest.”
According to the article by Jennifer Ditchburn and Steve Rennie, published today:
When the party balked at the ultimate total of Duffy’s $90,000 bill, however, Nigel Wright paid the bill himself — apparently without Harper’s knowledge. Harper has called that a “deception.”
But emails included in Wednesday’s new RCMP court filings quote Wright as getting a green light from Harper when the original plan was to have the party pay. The plan was to be kept secret.
“I do want to speak to the PM before everything is considered final,” Wright wrote in one February dispatch. An hour later, he followed up: “We are good to go from the PM…”
Despite the predictable denials of the Prime Minster and his staff, it is beginning to look like Mr. Harper was involved in a plot that would appear to any reasonable person to violate Criminal Code provisions that prohibit bribery of public office holders. Here is the section of the Criminal Code that seems to be applicable.
Bribery of judicial officers, etc.
119. (1) Every one is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years who
(a) being the holder of a judicial office, or being a member of Parliament or of the legislature of a province, directly or indirectly, corruptly accepts, obtains, agrees to accept or attempts to obtain, for themselves or another person, any money, valuable consideration, office, place or employment in respect of anything done or omitted or to be done or omitted by them in their official capacity, or
(b) directly or indirectly, corruptly gives or offers to a person mentioned in paragraph (a), or to anyone for the benefit of that person, any money, valuable consideration, office, place or employment in respect of anything done or omitted or to be done or omitted by that person in their official capacity.
This new revelation is strongly reminiscent of the Cadman Affair. In 2005, the minority Liberal government of Paul Martin was in deep trouble. The Tories were intent on bringing them down, but the vote would be close. In Like a Rock: The Chuck Cadman Story, Vancouver writer Tom Zytaruk told the story of attempts by Conservative Party officials to offer financial inducements to independent MP Chuck Cadman in return for his support in bringing down the Liberals. The Tories were unsuccessful in getting Cadman’s support. However, an interview with Stephen Harper conducted by Zytaruk makes it clear that Harper was aware of his Party’s efforts to buy Cadman’s vote.
Here is a transcript of this interview. You can listen to the Harper-Zytaruk interview here.
Zytaruk: “I mean, there was an insurance policy for a million dollars. Do you know anything about that?”
Harper: “I don’t know the details. I know that there were discussions, uh, this is not for publication?”
Zytaruk: “This (inaudible) for the book. Not for the newspaper. This is for the book.”
Harper: “Um, I don’t know the details. I can tell you that I had told the individuals, I mean, they wanted to do it. But I told them they were wasting their time. I said Chuck had made up his mind, he was going to vote with the Liberals and I knew why and I respected the decision. But they were just, they were convinced there was, there were financial issues. There may or may not have been, but I said that’s not, you know, I mean, I, that’s not going to change.”
Zytaruk: “You said (inaudible) beforehand and stuff? It wasn’t even a party guy, or maybe some friends, if it was people actually in the party?”
Harper: “No, no, they were legitimately representing the party. I said don’t press him. I mean, you have this theory that it’s, you know, financial insecurity and, you know, just, you know, if that’s what you’re saying, make that case but don’t press it. I don’t think, my view was, my view had been for two or three weeks preceding it, was that Chuck was not going to force an election. I just, we had all kinds of our guys were calling him, and trying to persuade him, I mean, but I just had concluded that’s where he stood and respected that.”
Zytaruk: “Thank you for that. And when (inaudible).”
Harper: “But the, uh, the offer to Chuck was that it was only to replace financial considerations he might lose due to an election.”
Zytaruk: “Oh, OK.”
Harper: “OK? That’s my understanding of what they were talking about.”
Zytaruk: “But, the thing is, though, you made it clear you weren’t big on the idea in the first place?”
Harper: “Well, I just thought Chuck had made up his mind, in my own view …”
Zytaruk: “Oh, okay. So, it’s not like, he’s like, (inaudible).”
Harper: “I talked to Chuck myself. I talked to (inaudible). You know, I talked to him, oh, two or three weeks before that, and then several weeks before that. I mean, you know, I kind of had a sense of where he was going.”
Zytaruk: “Well, thank you very much.”
In both cases, it appears that Mr. Harper was aware of plans by his Conservative Party associates to bribe a judicial office holder. In the most recent instance, he is said to have given the green light to a plan to pay Duffy off. In the former, he admitted that he knew about the plan to buy Cadman’s support.
Surely, by now there are grounds for criminal charges.