Duffygate or Senategate has Ottawa Buzzing
OTTAWA – “The PMO, listen to this, had the Conservative party’s lawyer, Arthur Hamilton, pay my legal fees. He paid for my lawyer. Arthur Hamilton, a check, $13,560. That’s right, senators, not one payment, not one payment, but two,” said Senator Michael Duffy speaking today in the Senate.
The usually sleepy Senate was wide awake today with more information being supplied to Senators in the ongoing debate over a motion to suspend Senators Duffy, Wallin and Brazeau. Senator Duffy stated that there was not one payment to him but also that there was a second payment for his legal fees paid.
Senator Duffy told the Senate today, “Wait until Canadians see the email trail in the hands of my lawyers, and I hope in the hands of the RCMP. Those emails, among the PMO, their lawyers, including Ben Perrin, […] the Conservative party’s lawyer Arthur Hamilton was involved, and my lawyer.”
The Prime Minister’s office in a statement says, “Nigel Wright is on the record naming those he informed of his arrangement with Mr. Duffy, and he’s assumed sole responsibility for his actions. The Prime Minister was not aware of the arrangement and had it been presented to him he would not have approved of such a scheme.
“We remain steadfast in our view that Senators who have claimed inappropriate expenses should not be collecting a paycheque from the public. If you have questions about Mr. Duffy’s legal fees you should contact the Party.”
At issue for Prime Minister Harper is that it increasingly appears that the message that his former Chief of Staff Nigel Wright was the sole person who knew about the payment of $90,000 is opening up. While earlier the Prime Minister stated that Mr. Wright had resigned, now the Prime Minister is saying that he dismissed his former Chief of Staff.
The contrasting messages are creating huge apparent gaps in the story that the Opposition in the House of Commons are pouncing on.
NDP Critic Charlie Angus is stating that the “Baker’s dozen” and saying that the issue is that the Conservatives are seemingly “Forgetting it was a back room deal that causes all this problem in the first place.”
The Senate is debating on suspending, without pay the three former Conservative Senators.