Sen. Duffy is a worried man
The scandal in the prime minister’s office followed Stephen Harper out to his Calgary convention on the weekend and came back to Ottawa with him.
It was so messy that Harper hid in his office and never showed up in the House of Commons Monday afternoon.
He left it up to his parliamentary secretary Paul Calandra to try to clean the mess.
Calandra just kept repeating the same prepared lines over and over.
The problem began in Calgary on Friday night when Harper chose not to apologize in his speech for the cover-up in his office of the Duffy Senate expenses scandal.
Instead Harper lashed out at his former chief of staff Nigel Wright, accusing him “deception” and blamed him for paying off the Duffy expenses.
Ooops! Harper didn’t realize how popular Wright was among Conservative delegates.
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty praised Wright; Justice Minister Peter MacKay did the same; so did the straight-shooter MP James Rajotte.
Cabinet minister Jason Kenney, who could be taking over Harper’s job someda,y was effusive in his praise. So was Peter Kent, former environment minister. Even Denis LeBel had nice things to say about Wright. And Maxime Bernier said we needed a referendum on the Senate more than anything else.
Didn’t anybody see Wright as part of the Duffy conspiracy? No, apparently not. Surprise for you, Steve!
On Saturday night, Sen. Irving Gerstein, who runs the Conservative Fund Canada, the party’s $14-million election honey pot, came out four-square on Harper’s side. Finally someone.
Except that Gerstein only made things worse for Harper.
Gerstein said that he had made it “absolutely clear” to Nigel Wright that the party would not pay Duffy’s $92,000 Senate expenses.
Everybody in the hall applauded but then they began wondering if Gerstein had tipped off Harper afterwards. Wasn't it Gerstein's duty to tell his boss that the chief of staff was trying to raid the party coffers to buy silence from a senator who had already served himself $92,000 in illegal expense money.
It took only a short time for the meaning of what Gerstein was saying to sink in, but by Monday of this week, Senator Gerstein who had wanted to save Harper’s skin, had become the story of the week and Wright was beginning to look like the hero of the conspiracy.
At the convention Harper had the good sense not to turn against Gerstein, but not enough to get himself out of the mess he'd made for himself.
During his Friday night speech Harper had showed ‘absolutely’ no contrition and added defiantly that he didn’t care what the Opposition thought of him.
He blamed lobbyists, the elites, bureaucrats, the Liberals, the courts, just about anybody. Did he forget the communists?
The Mounties had a gift for Harper on the weekend.
They announced they are investigating new allegations against Sen. Pamela Wallin, a charter member of the Senate trickster trio who worked out of Harper's office until their scam was exposed in the media.
The trio picked up a lot of election campaign cash for Harper, but right now they are costing him plenty of money for lawyers and lost votes.
The scandal, going on for eight months, is still far from over.