The shrapnel from the Clusterduff explosion continues to ricochet around the capital as Parliament resumes today. Over in the PMO, the latest casualty is the former special council and legal advisor, Benjamin Perrin (who actually left in April to return to teaching law), who drafted the agreement between Nigel Wright and Senator Mike Duffy. But Perrin and Wright assert that Harper wasn’t told – because, plausible deniability, I guess. While the Senate is going to be seized with the audit reports and the proposed new rules, now that they’ve had the week to look them over, the House is going to be some kind of fun, as the NDP bray about ethics and accountability, and Harper, well, heads to Peru and then a Pacific summit (that was all pre-arranged long before any of this broke, before any of you start getting any ideas about this foreign travel being a little too convenient). The NDP have decided to ride the ethics train and demand that the RCMP look into the Nigel Wright/Mike Duffy affair, because they’re apparently not content to let the Conservatives continue to self-immolate. They also seem to be oblivious to the obvious Conservative counter-offensive about Thomas Mulcair’s decades of curious silence about the attempted bribery that he declined in 1994. (I’ve been told that the Liberals will stay out of this in QP, since they are content to let said self-immolation continue unaided – we shall see). Harper is going to have an emergency caucus meeting in the morning before he heads off to Peru (though apparently nobody told Finance Committee, who are still slated to meet early). The opening portion of said meeting will be open to the media, but he won’t take any questions, which could be a long and uncomfortable silence for all the journalists travelling with him if he decides to sequester himself.
While Senator Duffy remains silent, not speaking to media upon his return to Ottawa, Conservative MP Joan Crockatt was tweeting about ethics on Sunday, which created a huge backlash. According to Crockatt, apparently the resignations show a commitment to the “highest ethical standards” – only to insist that the comments were “misunderstood” after being blasted by replies. Apparently accepting the resignations was the right thing to do. Um, still not sure how that demonstrates the highest ethical standards. Liberal Senator George Baker says the scandal has smeared all of Parliament Hill and wants everyone to throw open their books. Andrew Coyne remains incredulous that Wright could not have known what he was about to do was unethical and illegal, and remains curious about just what the deal with Duffy was.
And in case you were wondering if you can fire a Senator, well yes, kinda, as the Senate is the master of its own destiny and could theoretically do it. But they would likely want to ensure that due process was exhausted first before taking such a measure, though that’s not to say that they may not decide to suspend certain senators under a cloud of suspicion at the moment – which would also put their expenses under tight lock – until more audits are completed and answers found. Oh, and Duffy may have indeed broken the law as well as Ethics regulations, if you look at Sec. 119 of the Criminal Code.
Oh, look, the NDP are launching their own positive ads to pump up Thomas Mulcair. And it’s his family talking about what a great guy he is, because we know that means everything when it comes to showcasing political leadership. Shockingly, Andrew Coyne is not a fan.
Bob Rae writes on Huffington Post about 1982 patriation of the constitution and the issue of Chief Justice Bora Laskin from the position of someone who as there, was involved, knew all of the players, and he throws more than a few punches about the conspiracy theories being offered by Quebec separatists and endorsed by the NDP – and he gets in a few good kicks at the Sherbrooke Declaration while he’s at it.
And those Economic Action Plan™ ads touting the Canada Jobs Grant* (subject to Parliamentary approval)? Are even more offside, since they’re not only subject to passage by Parliament, but also by buy-in from the provinces, and Quebec is not only saying no, but a number of other provinces are unlikely to be able to afford to buy-in. So yeah, there may be a problem.