March 3, 2016

Senate payment scandal turns into Harper scam

In a parliamentary democracy, buck stops at the Prime Minister’s desk. No wonder the fire ignited by the discovery of improper expenses by Senators from the Conservative denomination has hit the Prime Minister’s doorstep at last. This morning, Stephen Harper’s embattled chief of staff, Nigel Wright (above), resigned over his role in helping Senator Mike Duffy repay over $90,000 of improper Senate expenses.

Harper’s longtime political confidant – and political secretary since 2008 –  Ray Novak has been named as Wright’s replacement.

The PM will be out of the country when the parliament sits on Tuesday, but the debate over the revelation that Wright wrote Duffy a personal cheque to cover a $90,000 repayment for the alleged improper Senate expenses will keep getting louder.

Opposition parties have already demanded a full investigation by the House’s ethics committee as well as the RCMP to ascertain whether the PM asked Wright to pay the money, and why?

NDP ethics critic Charlie Angus said, “Wright’s resignation still leaves a number of unanswered questions about the details of his $90,000 cheque to Duffy.This is a party and a government that is in full-fledged panic. They tossed Pamela Wallin overboard on Friday, they tossed Duffy over on Thursday; Nigel Wright was the obvious next choice.”

Angus added,  “What they need to understand is that this isn’t going away. This is a scandal that is tied directly to the prime minister now and it involves very, very serious allegations.”

The PM too expressed his reaction over the Wright’s resignation saga. “I accept that Nigel believed he was acting in the public interest, but I understand the decision he has taken to resign,” Harper said, adding, “I want to thank Nigel for his tremendous contribution to our Government over the past two and a half years.”

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