Senator Irving Gerstein
The Liberal Party is pushing the RCMP to launch a criminal investigation into the finances of the Conservative Party in the case of Senator Mike Duffy.
It began last spring when Nigel Wright, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s chief of staff, handed over out of his own pocket $ 92,172.24 to Senator Mike Duffy to help him pay back money the senator owed to the Senate for improper expense account spending.
Why would somebody in the prime minister’s office give Duffy good money out of his own pocket? Nobody could explain that. They still can’t.
At first the people in the prime minister’s office decided the gift to the senator should come out of the Conservative Party’s bulging election fund. This became known as Plan “A.”
The party’s bag man, millionaire senator Irving Gerstein, who is in charge of the money, went along with the plan, because he thought the senator only needed $32,000.
But then Gerstein discovered Duffy owed $92,172.24. That was something else. No way, said Gerstein. How could he explain that to party rank and file who had donated the money to help elect the Conservative Party candidates, not to pay off Duffy’s debts.
To make matters worse, Senator Duffy told journalists that in return he would keep silent.
So in the prime minister’s office they switched to Plan “B” in which Wright supplied $92,172.24 out of his own pocket.
The RCMP is now targeting Gerstein’s involvement in Plan “A” based on a huge pile of emails they have retrieved from the prime minister’s office.
The scandal in the prime minister’s office has become a matter of law.
Under section 16 of the Parliament of Canada Act, to offer or to promise compensation to any member of the Senate or to influence or attempt to influence either a senator or a member of the Commons is a crime.
In detail, the law is rather clear. It covers any offer or promise of payment "in relation to any bill, proceeding, contract, claim, controversy, or other matter " before the Senate or House of Commons.
The mere offer or promise compensation to a senator prohibited, whether the transaction ever takes place or not, is a criminal act carrying upon conviction a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $ 5,000 fine.
If the RCMP follows through on what the Liberals are asking, it would change the focus of the investigation into the scandal in the Prime Minister's Office to the Senate and on Senator Irving Gerstein.