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The buck stops there


The first full weekend of federal election campaigning brought this curious quote from Conservative Leader Stephen Harper.

“The words you are quoting are not my words. They are somebody else’s. I have said repeatedly, and I think the facts are clear, I did not know about — that Mr. Wright had (made a) payment to Mr. Duffy. As soon as I learned that I made that public. Mr. Wright has been clear about that and the very document you are quoting also makes that clear. The RCMP investigated and said that is the case.”
The words reporters were quoting were these: “good to go.” And Harper is right. They weren’t his words. They were those of his former chief of staff, Nigel Wright.
They were uttered in an email exchange between Wright and two lawyers regarding a plan to use Conservative funds to pay off Duffy’s illegitimate Senate expenses. Instead, Wright later cut a personal cheque for $90,000.
The payment is one of the central elements in Mike Duffy’s ongoing fraud trial. Wright is expected to take the stand Wednesday.
Why, though, did Harper single out the actual words Sunday, rather than what they imply?
In February 2013, Wright wrote an email to a lawyer in the Prime Minister’s Office saying he “now has the go-ahead” to keep Duffy from having to pay back any money. As senior staffer, the only “goahead” Wright would presumably need is from Harper himself.
At that point, the money would have been discreetly withdrawn from the party’s own coffers.
Later, still in reference to the plan, Wright emails, “We are good to go from the PM …”
How does one parse such a statement such that it does not suggest the prime minister had direct knowledge? It will be interesting to see how Wright explains it when he takes the stand.
Meanwhile, Harper pointed out that the police have found no reason to suspect his involvement before the fact.
Indeed, RCMP Cpl. Greg Horton wrote in a production order in 2013 there was no evidence Harper was personally involved: “Details of what (Wright) discussed with the Prime Minister are not contained in the emails.”
There seem to be some semantics in play here, on the part of the prime minister and the police. But one thing’s clear: Stephen Harper has categorically denied any prior involvement in the affair. He has decided to take the high ground.
And that high ground could also be his hill to die on.

“The words you are quoting are not my words. They are somebody else’s. I have said repeatedly, and I think the facts are clear, I did not know about — that Mr. Wright had (made a) payment to Mr. Duffy. As soon as I learned that I made that public. Mr. Wright has been clear about that and the very document you are quoting also makes that clear. The RCMP investigated and said that is the case.”
The words reporters were quoting were these: “good to go.” And Harper is right. They weren’t his words. They were those of his former chief of staff, Nigel Wright.
They were uttered in an email exchange between Wright and two lawyers regarding a plan to use Conservative funds to pay off Duffy’s illegitimate Senate expenses. Instead, Wright later cut a personal cheque for $90,000.
The payment is one of the central elements in Mike Duffy’s ongoing fraud trial. Wright is expected to take the stand Wednesday.
Why, though, did Harper single out the actual words Sunday, rather than what they imply?
In February 2013, Wright wrote an email to a lawyer in the Prime Minister’s Office saying he “now has the go-ahead” to keep Duffy from having to pay back any money. As senior staffer, the only “goahead” Wright would presumably need is from Harper himself.
At that point, the money would have been discreetly withdrawn from the party’s own coffers.
Later, still in reference to the plan, Wright emails, “We are good to go from the PM …”
How does one parse such a statement such that it does not suggest the prime minister had direct knowledge? It will be interesting to see how Wright explains it when he takes the stand.
Meanwhile, Harper pointed out that the police have found no reason to suspect his involvement before the fact.
Indeed, RCMP Cpl. Greg Horton wrote in a production order in 2013 there was no evidence Harper was personally involved: “Details of what (Wright) discussed with the Prime Minister are not contained in the emails.”
There seem to be some semantics in play here, on the part of the prime minister and the police. But one thing’s clear: Stephen Harper has categorically denied any prior involvement in the affair. He has decided to take the high ground.
And that high ground could also be his hill to die on.

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