It is fitting that the Conservative Convention kicks off on October 31st because this Senate mess is scaring the Prime Minister and his base of core supporters. As party members begin to arrive in Calgary on Wednesday, it will quickly become evident if they will be out for blood.
We suggested yesterday that the Prime Minister needed to get out in front of this mess and quickly limit the damage that the Senate Three have caused. That was before yesterday afternoon’s bombshell by Duffy about there being a second check by the Conservative Party for $13k and that the RBC Loan ruse was crafted by the PMO. The plot and deceit has become thicker. The latest revelations would certainly lead one to believe that the PMO and Conservative Party were working together to rectify Duffy’s expense embarrassment before Prime Minster Harper became aware of the payments orchestrated by former Chief of Staff Wright.
There are two issues that need to be examined: 1) If the Prime Minister wasn’t aware of what was going on behind the scenes with Wright / Duffy until the spring, we need a full accounting of everything that Wright and the Conservative Party was engaged in to make the issue of Duffy’s expenses go away; 2) Once the PM became aware of what was going on, what actions did he and the PMO take to resolve the expense repayment plan. It would appear that after Harper became aware of the $90k check to Duffy, the PMO has been engaged to trying to cover-up this issue.
Prime Minister Harper was doing the local radio circuit yesterday speaking directly to Canadians and bypassing the national press on the Hill. He will certainly be grilled in Question Period today. If the status quo remains until the convention begins in Calgary (no more bombshells), it would be hard to imagine that Harper would not use the keynote address with cameras running to speak not only to party members but also to Canadians.
Nigel Wright has shown a large lapse of judgment if in fact he was the author of Duffy’s expense repayment plan. The leadership within the Conservative party also has shown poor judgment. Prime Minister Harper has shown poor leadership in how he has dealt with this issue and the fact that there has only been one dismissal / resignation. The PMO needs to be cleaned-up. The party membership will be demanding this action at a minimum. This is no longer a Senate scandal but rather a PMO scandal.
Finally there is Mike Duffy. At a minimum he went along and participated with the PMO if we accept his version of the story. He came across as arrogant during his Senate speech yesterday and reminded us of another Atlantic Canadian politician who stated ‘he was entitled to his entitlements.’ Duffy provides further proof that the Senate needs to be reformed or abolished.
There are only two more days to Halloween. Conservative party members were initially expecting to be treated by Harper and use the convention as a kick-off to the next federal election in two years. Instead they are feeling tricked by the Prime Minister and his staff. Harper has a limited amount of time to fix this mess before this permanently haunts the Party and the calls for him to step aside begin.