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Ray Novak may soon go the way of Nigel Wright

At every pit stop and press conference from London to Surrey, Harper was dogged with contradictory court testimony that he deflected with a single, repetitive phrase.

The Hill Times photo by Jake Wright
PMO chief of staff Ray Novak. With contradictions piling up, it seems inevitable that another Harper chief of staff will soon bite the dust, writes Sheila Copps.

Will Ray Novak really end up as the last man standing?

Notwithstanding Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s protestations to the contrary, it seems inevitable that Novak will eventually follow in the footsteps of Nigel Wright.

In fact, when asked specifically whether he had confidence in his current chief of staff, Harper left himself a bolt-hole large enough to drive a chief of staff through.

Harper said that as long as someone is working for him, he has confidence in them. His comments were eerily similar to the less-than-vigorous earlier defence of Nigel Wright, before the former chief was thrown under the bus.

Novak will very shortly likely take one for the team. The contradictions uncovered following the Wright testimony will be too numerous to ignore.

Novak will follow the example of former chief of staff Wright, in offering his resignation, which the Prime Minister will grudgingly accept. 

Then, if that doesn’t kill the Senate scandal, Harper will morph the resignation into a firing, just as he did with Wright’s wrongdoing. 

Harper will craft his words carefully, just as his team did in explaining to the Canadian public how Mike Duffy repaid his dubious expenses. And if the words don’t fit the situation, he will redraft them. 

Harper chooses his words carefully, setting the scene to sack Novak if necessary, but keep him if firing is not necessary. 

At every pit stop and press conference from London to Surrey, Harper was dogged with contradictory court testimony that he deflected with a single, repetitive phrase: “There are two people, in my judgment, who are responsible…These are the two people who are responsible and they have been held accountable.”

But even that statement is a masterful example of how Harper’s team can plan to twist the truth. Last week on a televised political panel, the Prime Minister’s pit bull, Paul Calandra, went even further, claiming, “Nigel Wright didn’t seem to have a problem with that [the cover-up] and that’s why Nigel Wright is in front of the court along with Mr. Duffy.” Calandra’s statement wrongfully implied that Wright was joining disgraced Duffy in the trial when his purpose, as a witness for the Crown, was to build a case against the Senator. 

To that end, Wright proved to be more of a liability than an asset. He started off by telling the court that he did not think Duffy’s payment was illegal. Wright’s six days of testimony actually did more to buttress the defence’s position than it did to incriminate Duffy. It also exposed the depths to which the Prime Minister’s Office was prepared to go in an effort to conceal the deal.

With an email trail outlining the code of silence orchestrated by the Prime Minister’s Office and imposed on Duffy, it is hard to understand how police could charge one man and exonerate another. 

At one point, the Crown lawyer protested that the defence was asking questions that were targeted more for politics than the courtroom.

That courtroom complaint could just as easily have stood as a byline for the whole orchestrated circus. 

The Duffy trial is nothing if not political, and the laying of charges against him but not Wright is inexplicable. 

If we review the treatment of this whole file, there are plenty of unanswered questions outstanding. How could the Royal Canadian Mounted Police claim that the Prime Minister knew of the payment “in broad terms only” when they never interviewed him?

Did police simply ignore the statement provided by Harper’s personal lawyer, who claimed in “black and white” that Harper’s closest political ally, Ray Novak, was present and knowledgeable about the Duffy payment? 

Independent audits were tampered with, Senate books were cooked, and Duffy and other Senators were browbeaten into political submission. 

All this, with no one in the Prime Minister’s entourage taking any responsibility for the mess created by their cover-up.  

The PMO media machine piled in to discredit Duffy and others. It further decided to throw the whole Senate into a state of disrepute. Now the Prime Minister is claiming the institution is rotten and he is the one to fix it. The fact that his own office created the Senate mess is lost in his new narrative. 

At the end of the day, Duffy will likely be exonerated, but the public is left wondering about all politicians. 

And the more that evidentiary contradictions mount, the more it seems inevitable that another Harper chief of staff will soon bite the dust. 

Sheila Copps is a former Jean Chrétien-era Cabinet minister and a former deputy prime minister.

news@hilltimes.com

The Hill Times


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Ray Novak may soon go the way of Nigel Wright

At every pit stop and press conference from London to Surrey, Harper was dogged with contradictory court testimony that he deflected with a single, repetitive phrase.

The Hill Times photo by Jake Wright
PMO chief of staff Ray Novak. With contradictions piling up, it seems inevitable that another Harper chief of staff will soon bite the dust, writes Sheila Copps.

Will Ray Novak really end up as the last man standing?

Notwithstanding Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s protestations to the contrary, it seems inevitable that Novak will eventually follow in the footsteps of Nigel Wright.

In fact, when asked specifically whether he had confidence in his current chief of staff, Harper left himself a bolt-hole large enough to drive a chief of staff through.

Harper said that as long as someone is working for him, he has confidence in them. His comments were eerily similar to the less-than-vigorous earlier defence of Nigel Wright, before the former chief was thrown under the bus.

Novak will very shortly likely take one for the team. The contradictions uncovered following the Wright testimony will be too numerous to ignore.

Novak will follow the example of former chief of staff Wright, in offering his resignation, which the Prime Minister will grudgingly accept. 

Then, if that doesn’t kill the Senate scandal, Harper will morph the resignation into a firing, just as he did with Wright’s wrongdoing. 

Harper will craft his words carefully, just as his team did in explaining to the Canadian public how Mike Duffy repaid his dubious expenses. And if the words don’t fit the situation, he will redraft them. 

Harper chooses his words carefully, setting the scene to sack Novak if necessary, but keep him if firing is not necessary. 

At every pit stop and press conference from London to Surrey, Harper was dogged with contradictory court testimony that he deflected with a single, repetitive phrase: “There are two people, in my judgment, who are responsible…These are the two people who are responsible and they have been held accountable.”

But even that statement is a masterful example of how Harper’s team can plan to twist the truth. Last week on a televised political panel, the Prime Minister’s pit bull, Paul Calandra, went even further, claiming, “Nigel Wright didn’t seem to have a problem with that [the cover-up] and that’s why Nigel Wright is in front of the court along with Mr. Duffy.” Calandra’s statement wrongfully implied that Wright was joining disgraced Duffy in the trial when his purpose, as a witness for the Crown, was to build a case against the Senator. 

To that end, Wright proved to be more of a liability than an asset. He started off by telling the court that he did not think Duffy’s payment was illegal. Wright’s six days of testimony actually did more to buttress the defence’s position than it did to incriminate Duffy. It also exposed the depths to which the Prime Minister’s Office was prepared to go in an effort to conceal the deal.

With an email trail outlining the code of silence orchestrated by the Prime Minister’s Office and imposed on Duffy, it is hard to understand how police could charge one man and exonerate another. 

At one point, the Crown lawyer protested that the defence was asking questions that were targeted more for politics than the courtroom.

That courtroom complaint could just as easily have stood as a byline for the whole orchestrated circus. 

The Duffy trial is nothing if not political, and the laying of charges against him but not Wright is inexplicable. 

If we review the treatment of this whole file, there are plenty of unanswered questions outstanding. How could the Royal Canadian Mounted Police claim that the Prime Minister knew of the payment “in broad terms only” when they never interviewed him?

Did police simply ignore the statement provided by Harper’s personal lawyer, who claimed in “black and white” that Harper’s closest political ally, Ray Novak, was present and knowledgeable about the Duffy payment? 

Independent audits were tampered with, Senate books were cooked, and Duffy and other Senators were browbeaten into political submission. 

All this, with no one in the Prime Minister’s entourage taking any responsibility for the mess created by their cover-up.  

The PMO media machine piled in to discredit Duffy and others. It further decided to throw the whole Senate into a state of disrepute. Now the Prime Minister is claiming the institution is rotten and he is the one to fix it. The fact that his own office created the Senate mess is lost in his new narrative. 

At the end of the day, Duffy will likely be exonerated, but the public is left wondering about all politicians. 

And the more that evidentiary contradictions mount, the more it seems inevitable that another Harper chief of staff will soon bite the dust. 

Sheila Copps is a former Jean Chrétien-era Cabinet minister and a former deputy prime minister.

news@hilltimes.com

The Hill Times

  
Parliamentary Calendar
Tuesday, September 1, 2015
HILL LIFE & PEOPLE SLIDESHOWS
MPs, federal candidates take part in Ottawa's Capital Pride Parade, Aug. 23 Aug. 24, 2015

The Hill Times photograph by Rachel Aiello

On Sunday, Aug. 23 Ottawa celebrated its 30th annual pride march through downtown. All four main political parties had a contingent in the parade, with the Liberals first in the line of marchers. Here Orleans candidate Andrew Leslie and a slightly hidden Ottawa South MP David McGuinty walk together, alongside dozens of supporters. 

The Hill Times photograph by Rachel Aiello

Ottawa Centre Liberal candidate Catherine McKenna. 

The Hill Times photograph by Rachel Aiello

More Liberal supporters march in the parade. Liberal MPP for Ottawa Centre Yasir Naqvi, Ottawa-West Nepean candidate Anita Vandenbeld, Kanata-Carleton candidate Karen McCrimmon, and Hull-Alymer candidate Greg Fergus were marching too. 

The Hill Times photograph by Rachel Aiello

The local Green party contingent in the parade threw their support around Kanata-Carleton candidate Andrew West. 

The Hill Times photograph by Rachel Aiello

The New Democrats making their way onto the parade route, flanked by local unions UFCW Locals 175 & 633, and the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC). 

The Hill Times photograph by Rachel Aiello

NDP candidate for Orleans Nancy Tremblay was all smiles next to Ottawa Centre MP Paul Dewar. 

The Hill Times photograph by Rachel Aiello

Paul Dewar and the NDP supporters were yelling "Happy Pride" as they marched. Carleton candidate kc Larocque, Kanata-Carleton candidate John Hansen, Ottawa South candidate George Brown, and Nepean candidate Sean Devine were there, too. 

The Hill Times photograph by Rachel Aiello

Despite a petition looking to ban the LGBTory contingent from marching in the parade, about two-dozen supporters took part, holding signs that included "I kissed a Tory and I liked it," and "I am Conservative, I support trans rights." The latter was inspired by backlash over Bill C-279,  the trans bill of rights that was killed by Conservative Senators during the last session of Parliament. 

The Hill Times photograph by Rachel Aiello

Nepean Carleton MPP Lisa MacLeod, and Ottawa Centre federal candidate Damian Konstantinakos (far right) were the only politicians The Hill Times spotted among the LGBTory contingent.

Ontario Conservative MPP Lisa MacLeod. She also marched earlier this summer in the Toronto Pride Parade alongside Ontario PC leader Patrick Brown. 

The Hill Times photograph by Rachel Aiello

The LGBTorys were joined by Melissa Hudson, the chair of Trans-Action Group, a non-profit focused on Transgender health and employment. As well, some marchers carried signs, seen above, that list the 18 federal MPs past and present who "stand with" the LGBTorys. 

The Hill Times photograph by Rachel Aiello

The LGBTory contingent calls themselves the 'Rainbow Conservatives of Canada" according to a handout they had at their tent set up as part of the street fair alongside the parade. All parties had sign-up lists at their booths, looking to gain supporters and volunteers. On the handout, it says they want to "break the left wing monopoly on the LGBT community," and includes quotes from former Foreign Affairs minister John Baird, and former VP of the Ottawa Centre Conservative Association Fred Litwin

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