Two senators rip into him
What a week!
It was a week of hell for the Prime Minister who faced brutal attacks from two of his most loyal former senators, Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin, a pair he appointed to the Senate, whose charm and wit brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars for him in election contributions over the years.
They slashed and mashed him all week, comparing his Canada to Iraq and Iran and called him another Vladimir Putin and the organizer of a monstrous scheme to dump them illegally from the Senate.
After they had finished their attacks delivered before a packed house in the Senate, Canadians began thinking another Charbonneau or Gomery Inquiry Commission might get to the bottom of the scandal and find out what really went on in the prime minister’s office.
Not that Harper had not tried to avoid going in over his head. Back in June he shut down Parliament, hoping the scandal would wear itself out during the summer. And he even took off for Peru to avoid the heat.
Then two weeks ago with the scandal still as strong as ever, he trotted off to Europe to sign a free trade agreement that he could easily have signed in May, but chose to wait until things calmed down. They never had.
Now, with the scandal still going full tilt, who cares about a future free-trade agreement with Europe?
And who cares either about the throne speech he kept bragging about?
This week began on Monday with a press conference by noted criminal lawyer Donald Bayne, hired by Mike Duffy to rip into Harper. He did with gusto.
Bayne says he’s got copies of hundreds of incriminating e-mails between his client Duffy and Harper’s office. Harper has always maintained there is no paper trail. We’ll find out when the cops get to the documents.
Duffy and Wallin are both highly skilled former television journalists who have excellent turns of phrase, as when Duffy accused "children in shorts down the hall" in the Prime Minister's Office of having engineered the whole “monstrous” scheme. He said they tried to threaten and intimidate him.
Duffy said Tuesday in a very emotional presentation in the Senate that Harper’s chief of staff Nigel Wright told him at a meeting last December that his expense accounts were in good order.
But by February of this year, after the Senate scandal story broke in the news media, and fearing the prime minister’s office would be drawn into the mess, Harper decided Duffy would have to cover his expense accounts.
Duffy told the Senate that Harper was not at all interested in whether or not Senate rules had been broken. All Harper cared about was how the "base of the Conservative Party would take it."
At first Harper by stayed silent this week, and refused to answer questions in Parliament, even as he was drawn ever deeper into the scandal.
But by Wednesday he did a full about turn and defended himself, answering every question in Parliament – 20 questions in 20 minutes -- but revealed little new information.
Harper may have seen the writing on the wall. It was a tough, emotional attack against Duffy, painting him as a guy who takes money that’s not his and doesn’t want to give it back when he’s caught.
Who knows who Harper convinced, but at least Harper showed he isn’t about to quit the fight.