May 16, 2013
By Jane Brown
Senator Mike Duffy has offered his own account of how he managed to repay $90,000 in improper housing expenses — and it contradicts what the Prime Minister’s Office has revealed. C-T-V News says an email has been received from Duffy, saying he took out a loan from the Royal Bank to repay his expenses — and that Stephen Harper’s chief of staff Nigel Wright played no role. But the Prime Minister’s Office says Wright personally covered Duffy’s repayment.
N-D-P Leader Tom Mulcair says this revelation is proof that its time for an independent investigation. “We’re not talking about a missing taxi chit here, we’re talking about 90,000 bucks illegally claimed. So you have to pay it back. He said he was a man of his word. His word didn’t include that the money supposedly came from the chief of staff of the Prime Minister.” One government insider describes it as a gift between friends that occurred without Prime Minister Harper’s knowledge.
A federal ethics watchdog meantime is reviewing a 90-thousand dollar payment from Wright to Duffy. The office of Federal Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson confirms she is looking into the matter.
Nigel Wright and Mike Duffy have known each other since the 1980s, when Wright worked in Prime Minister Mulroney’s office and Duffy was a journalist. Duffy was appointed to the Senate by Prime Minister Harper in 2008. Wright made his fortune working for the private equity firm Onex before returning to Ottawa to take charge of the Prime Minister’s Office in 2011.