Tory MP Dean Del Mastro has a message for any Canadian doubting Prime Minister Stephen Harper in light of the Duffy-Wright scandal that has dominated headlines for weeks.
"We have in Stephen Harper the most ethical prime minister that I believe this country has ever had," he told Evan Solomon on CBC’s "Power & Politics."
Del Mastro was on the show Wednesday to demand Elections Canada either lay a charge or clear his name over court documents which suggest he exceeded his 2008 campaign expense limit and then filed a false document.
But the prime minister's parliamentary secretary was also asked about the "barrage of criticism" over Harper’s handling of the scandal that sparked the resignation of his former chief of staff, Nigel Wright.
Solomon asked Del Mastro if he buys the explanation Harper only learned on May 15 of the infamous $90,000 cheque Wright cut to embattled Senator Mike Duffy.
"In this situation, Mr. Wright made a terrible mistake," Del Mastro said. "I think it’s a horrible judgment error on his part."
When pressed as to why the cheque hasn’t been released to clear up unanswered questions, Del Mastro suggested Canadians already have the answers they need.
"Nigel Wright has indicated he paid this out of his personal funds," he said.
Del Mastro added Wright is entirely committed to cooperating with Mary Dawson, the ethics commissioner, and "anyone else" on this issue.
"He’s going to provide all the relevant documents which means all of these things will be public," Del Mastro said. "And I think, frankly, he knows full well that’s going to be the case, that this cheque will become a matter of public knowledge and in the fullness of time all these questions will be answered."
Del Mastro ended the interview with another tip of the hat to his boss.
"The prime minister has a very important job to do on behalf of all Canadians and I think he’s doing an outstanding job of it, leading Canada’s economy and frankly providing the kind of leadership he was elected to provide," he said.
But while Del Mastro may be buying Harper’s unequivocal position he had no prior knowledge of Wright’s decision to cut Duffy a cheque, it appears most Canadians don’t feel the same.
An Ipsos Reid poll released in late May reveals that just 13 per cent of Canadians are convinced the prime minister had "no knowledge of the gift and was deliberately kept in the dark" by his former right-hand man.
Also on HuffPost:
1) He probably took a BIG pay cut
It is believed that Wright was <a href="http://thewalrus.ca/mister-right/?ref=2011.04-politics-mister-right&page=" target="_blank">earning more than $2 million</a> in salary and bonuses at Onex, but made around $300,000 working on Parliament Hill.
2) He's unmarried
Along with John Baird, Jason Kenney, and James Moore, Wright was one of four <a href="http://www2.macleans.ca/2011/09/12/harper%E2%80%99s-single-white-males/" target="_blank">“single, white males”</a> profiled in Maclean’s magazine in 2011 as holding immense power in Harper’s inner circle. Moore has since tied the knot.
3) He's a big runner
Wright would apparently run a half-marathon each morning before starting a <a href="http://thewalrus.ca/mister-right/?ref=2011.04-politics-mister-right&page=" target="_blank">14-hour work day at Onex.</a> <a href="http://www2.macleans.ca/2011/09/12/harper%E2%80%99s-single-white-males/" target="_blank">He has kept that pace after he began working in Ottawa</a>. He is said to be fond of telling a story of once being surrounded by several snarling dogs during an early morning run - <a href="http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2010/09/28/travers_nigel_wrights_job_is_to_restore_order_to_pmo.html" target="_blank">a perfect metaphor for politics.</a>
4) Harper isn’t the first PM he's worked for
Wright was a <a href="http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/story/2010/09/24/harper-chief-of-staff.html" target="_blank">speechwriter and policy adviser</a> to former prime minister Brian Mulroney. He was also <a href="http://www.theglobeandmail.com/commentary/editorials/wright-you-are-mr-harper/article1380288/" target="_blank">policy co-ordinator</a> for Kim Campbell's leadership campaign.
5) He almost became a priest
Wright considered joining the Anglican priesthood as a young man. <a href="http://thewalrus.ca/mister-right/?ref=2011.04-politics-mister-right&page=" target="_blank">He is currently a subdeacon at St. Thomas’s Anglican Church in Toronto. </a>
6) He was the subject of a conflict of interest probe
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/01/08/nigel-wright-conflict-of-interest-chief-of-staff_n_2435040.html" target="_blank">The federal ethics watchdog cleared Wright of conflict of interest allegations in January. </a> Ethics commissioner Mary Dawson investigated Wright after it was reported he was lobbied on three occasions by Barrick Gold Corp, despite deep personal connections to the company’s founding family. Dawson found there was no violation of the Conflict of Interest Act.
Next: Wright Helps Duffy Reaction
Also, not for naught: what the hell is Mike Duffy doing with his money that he can't pay back his improper expenses?
Mike Duffy: "I stayed silent on the orders of the PMO." For whatever reason, the sentence just sends chills up my spine.
Mike Duffy is such an idiot. I wish Frank Magazine was still around to really savage him properly.
There's only one explanation - Wright expected SEX in return for his gift of $90K to Mike Duffy. Happens all the time. #cdnpoli
Welfare cheats are kicked out for $90 but PM Harper gave Mike Duffy Senate job and he cheated $90,000 #cdnpoli #HarperHistory #BadEconomy
Karma, Mike Duffy. Karma. #CutTheChequeNigel
This Mike Duffy story just keeps getting better and @RobertFife hasn't slept in 5 days!
The $90,172 Nigel Wright covered considered a gift that Sen. Mike Duffy will have to pay taxes on. #cdnpoli
Why didn't Mike Duffy mortgage his PEI house to pay for the $90,000 repayment? #cdnpoli #CPC #cronyism
Next: If I Had $90,000
#IfIHad90000 I'd buy you a nice fur coat, just like Tom Flanagan's (because that's cruel) #cdnpoli
#ifihad90000 I'd buy an economic action plan ad. Jk, those cost millions... like twenty!
#ifihad90000 I'd buy you a blue vest, but not a real blue vest that's cruel. And I don't actually wear vests, my warm centrist persona does.
#ifIhad90000 I sure in hell wouldn't be giving it to Mike Duffy! #Cdnpoli
. #ifIhad90000 I'd fund a War of 1812 #cbc miniseries that was historically accurate - and to be proactive, one on WWI as well.
#ifihad90000 I'd buy a mediocre journalist and make him into a senator.
#IfIHad90000 I’d have one of Canada’s search & rescue helicopters pick me & my pals up to go fishing
#IfIHad90000 I'd buy an Economic Action Plan ad, But not a real Economic Action Plan ad because that's cruel
#IfIHad90000 I’d buy property in PEI and I would actually spend time there too
#IfIHad90000 I'd buy you less than 1/10 of one percent of an F-35, because those things are crazy expensive / Like a Picasso or a Garfunkel
#IfIHad90000 We wouldn't have to eat PEI Lobster / But we would eat PEI Lobster / Of course we would, we'd fly it in
#IfIHad90000 I'd buy you membership in the UN Convention to Combat Desertification / Haven't you always wanted a talkfest?
#IfIHad90000 I'd still eat at Hy's..lunch AND supper..what's Kraft Dinner?
I'd buy you a panda. Haven't you always wanted a panda? #IfIHad90000
#IfIHad90000 I'd buy Condy's looooooooove (as in Rice, ya'know!) #EhMacKay
Aside from poking fun at Duffy, I imagine the hashtag #IfIHad90000 will have a lot of people contemplating Dijon Ketchup & tree forts today
Perhaps I'm the only one who wonders why a 67-year old making a 6 figure salary is in such a precarious financial situation... #ifihad90000
#IfIhad90000 Well, I’d buy you a monkey, Haven’t you always wanted a monkey? #NamedDuffyOfCourse #TrueLyrics
#IfIHad90000 I'd buy a potato patch, (but not a real potato patch, that's cruel) ... #EhMacKey