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.
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