Aug 19, 2015
By Jane Brown
It was a stunning statement at Mike Duffy’s criminal fraud trial yesterday and one that puts Prime Minister Harper’s new top aide, Ray Novak, in the room when then chief of staff Nigel Wright revealed he was going to give Duffy $90,000 to repay disputed senate expenses.
Duffy’s lawyer, Donald Bayne, read in court excerpts of a statement to the RCMP by Ben Perrin, the former legal counsel to the Prime Minister’s office. Perrin said, “Ray was in the meeting and Ray heard this, and I remember looking at Ray to see his reaction.” He said “Mr Novak’s knowledge of the $90,000 cheque is black and white.”
For days now, Harper and his team have rejected evidence that suggested his current chief of staff was privy to his predecessor Nigel Wright’s secret repayment of Duffy’s contested Senate expenses. Yesterday’s Harper’s spokesperson Kory Teneycke told reporters it is “unfathomable” that Novak would be aware of such a payment and not tell the PM.
The issue drew anger from the prime minister’s supporters in Etobicoke-Centre yesterday, with at least one of them hurling crude insults at reporters who tried to ask about the Duffy trial at the prime minister’s news conference.
Later, Tom Mulcair commented in British Columbia, after his party’s ethics critic Charlie Angus sent a letter to RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson.
In it, Angus asks whether Wright should face criminal charges and whether a dozen Conservative staffers ought to be investigated.
“Charlie Angus was repeating a request that was made before we had the new evidence, but with the new evidence that’s coming out at the Mike Duffy trial, the testimony from Nigel Wright, it seems to us imperative that the RCMP take a new look at the possibility that section 16 of the Parliament of Canada Act was in fact broken,” Mulcair stated.
In Sudbury, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau took a verbal swipe at Harper over the Duffy trial, and also criticized the hecklers, saying the media has to ask tough questions during an election campaign.