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THE DUFFY TRIAL
Some years ago, I had the privilege of being the Chief of Staff to Frank Miller, both when he was Premier of Ontario and as Leader of the Opposition. It was a relatively short tenure but I learned a lot! The most important part of the job was protecting the Boss; keeping his political agenda front and centre and managing any problems that arose to get in the way.
I could write a book (although I won’t) about some of those problems and what we had to do to deal with them, in a manner that did not embarrass the Leader. Sometimes, while the Premier was aware of the issues, it was not always in his best interest to be totally aware of the solutions. At times therefore, it was necessary for me and others in our office to go out on a limb and do what we believed had to be done, in a manner that provided deniability to the person we worked for. It was part of the job then and in spite of attempts in the name of political expediency, to turn the Duffy trial into the Harper trial, it is part of the job now, as it has been in any political leaders office, in any Party, for decades.
It came as no surprise to me this past week therefore, when Nigel Wright, former Chief of Staff to Prime Minister Stephen Harper swore under oath, that the Prime Minister was not aware that he (Wright) had written a $90,000. cheque to Duffy to cover what were believed to be improper expenses claimed by Senator Duffy. To be sure, Wright’s decision was a questionable one, one which he now regrets and one which he made entirely on his own, according to his testimony.
So now, the trial takes a different tack as Duffy’s lawyer, Don Bayne, puts it to Nigel Wright on cross examination, that he (Wright) masterminded a coverup to force Duffy to repay expenses that may not have been inappropriate, simply, to save the Prime Minister from embarrassment. Wright of course denies this but that doesn’t stop the media from reporting that the Duffy trial heard there was a massive coverup. It was not evidence, it was simply an accusation by a defence lawyer to make his client look like a victim rather than a criminal, and of course the media ate it up.
The ‘meat’ of the scandal is fairly simple. Mike Duffy, a Senator appointed by Harper was found by a Senate Committee to have submitted about $90,000. in inappropriate expenses. The Prime Minister told Duffy to pay it back. Duffy did not want to and could not afford to do so. Nigel Wright wrote him a cheque. The Prime Minister was told the matter had been resolved without giving him the details. Then all Hell broke loose and everyone forgot that 30 other Senators, many of them Liberals, also got caught with their hands in the cookie jar.To me this is a classic example of issue management, a legitimate practise in every political office, going terribly wrong. Mistakes were made and people were held accountable. That is as it should be.
Because we are in a Federal election campaign, the trial will continue to be about the Harper Government and not about the man who is charged with a criminal offense. The irony however, is that this so called scandal is all about insisting, that money taken inappropriately from the taxpayer, be given back. Now that’s a switch!
It was a shock to read last week that Ontario’s deficit is projected by the end of the year, to reach 8.5 billion dollars. I am told this is about six hundred million dollars more than thecombined deficits of the federal government, the nine other Canadian provinces and our three territories. The Ontario Liberal Government headed by Kathleen Wynn is driving us to the poor house. This is the same Premier by the way that is knee deep in the campaign to defeat Stephen Harper, while Rome is burning in her own province under her leadership.
No wonder municipalities across Ontario think it is OK to go on spending money like they had it. The Wynn Government is setting an example and leading the way. Time to sound the alarm bells, I say!
WHERE IS THE DUMP TRUMP CAMPAIGN?
It is difficult to tell whether the Republican Primary race in the United States is a serious election campaign for the highest office in the land, or just a bizarre reality show. A number of my American friends take their politics very seriously and I can only believe the Trump extravaganza must be unsettling for them.
It is hard to understand why Donald Trump continues to head the polls in the GOP Primary race. Perhaps it’s his slogan, “Make America Great Again”. Perhaps it’s his celebrity profile. Maybe people just enjoy the entertainment. But surely, very few people really believe that he has what it takes to be the President of the United States!
By his own admission, Donald Trump is a whiner. To many, he also comes across as a bully, slashing anyone, friend or foe, who dares to differ with him. All that may be fair ball and the reason he manages to stay in front of the Republican race. But when he continues to make what many believe to be racist remarks and when he attacks women in unspeakable ways, he needs to be stopped.
The truth of the matter is, I believe, that the Republican Party is afraid of Donald Trump and that is likely, just fine with him. My bet is the Party Pooh-bahs wish he would go away but are afraid to make him go away in case he runs against them as a third Party candidate and guarantees the election of a Democratic President. In my view they should call his bluff and call it soon.
First of all, Donald Trump is not going to run as a third party candidate. His entire brand is about being a winner. He will not run to lose. If he gets dumped from the Republican slate, he can whine that he would have won, but he cannot do that running as a third Party candidate. He would be running to lose.
Second, the Republican Party is getting splashed with Trump’s brush. Democrats are quick to says Trump only reflects general Republican views. Trump’s remarks against women are particularly offensive. Women do not need to be “looked after” by Trump or any other man and this remark, along with his other crude aspersions, will drive women away from the Republican Party in droves, if immediate steps are not taken to repudiate his sexist remarks.
In my view, The Republican Party should take Trump off the stage…literally. They should make the clear statement that he does not stand for what they stand for and that his behaviour is unacceptable for a Republican candidate. They have little to fear. They can’t win with him and they might win without him.
A SHORTER BLOG
Yes, it is a shorter Blog this week. Not much is happening. Other than the politicians and the lawyers, most people are at the beach. Can’t say that I blame them. It’s the dog days of summer!
Main image credit: Freeimages.com/Marek Wojtal