CALGARY — Conservative Party delegates say they want the prime minister to come clean about what he knew about the Senate scandal so the country and the party can move on to other things.
"Stephen (Harper) should just come out and say, you know what we have some dirty laundry. Yup, I tried to hide it. But you know what...I can't. I didn't think I was hurting the country by doing it, but obviously now, we have to clean it up," Zweitse de Wit said.
Harper is scheduled to give a keynote address to some 3,000 delegates and observers at the party's biennial convention in Calgary Friday evening.
De Wit, a delegate from Nanaimo Alberni, said people make mistakes but it doesn't mean the party or the country should destroy the prime minister.
He doesn't blame Harper but believes the three senators in the middle of the scandal, Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau, should go and that the prime minister should repeat that message on Friday.
"It's not shame on Stephen Harper, it's shame on Duffy. And Pamela Wallin. And Pat," de Wit said. "They're an embarrassment for all of us."
"Stephen Harper can appoint people but their conduct is their personal responsibility," he said.
Macleod, Alta., delegate Wendy Adam called the whole Senate affair "a mess."
"I would give my eye and teeth if (Harper) stood up there and said 'Look, you know, I've spun this long enough. I don’t know everything that's happened. But I’m going to shut up about it and I'm going to let the judicial process play out,'" Adam said.
Maybe Duffy, Wallin and Brazeau deserve to be destroyed, or maybe they don't, Adam said. "Everyone is entitled to have their day in court not stirring (by) the spin doctor… (Harper) shouldn't have been spinning this," she said.
Not everyone agrees, of course. Vaughan, Ont., delegate Santhikumar Chandrasekharan believes the prime minister knew nothing about the $90,000 payment by his former chief of staff Nigel Wright to Duffy and that Harper should avoid the topic completely during his Friday speech.
"He doesn’t know anything. He has a lot of affairs to do, a lot of work to do," Chandrasekharan said. He blamed the media for implicating the prime minister in the scandal.
"One hundred per cent I believe (the prime minister was not involved)," he said. "Definitely he need not talk. I don't know if he's going to talk, but he need not talk about this."
Kitchener Centre delegate, and former Mountie, William Gillissie said he would have liked to see a bit of a free vote in the Senate after the RCMP had completed their investigation. That would have been the Reform thing to do, he said.
The longtime Reform turned Canadian Alliance supporter said Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau's message — repeated Wednesday evening at the Calgary Italian Club — about the Conservative government forgetting who sent them to Ottawa, resonates with him.
"I feel that a lot of the Reform and Alliance principles that were so important to some of the base, seem to be missing," he said.
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Prime Minister Stephen Harper, question period, Feb. 13
"In terms of Sen. Wallin, I have looked at the numbers. Her travel costs are comparable to any parliamentarian travelling from that particular area of the country over that period of time. For instance, last year Sen. Wallin spent almost half of her time in the province she represents in the Senate. The costs are to travel to and from that province, as any similar parliamentarian would do."
Wallin speaking Wednesday in her own defence
"By throwing a member of this Senate under the bus, finding her guilty without a fair hearing such as any other Canadian could expect — a right guaranteed us by the charter — to proceed without the evidence having been adduced and considered on which the charge in the motion is based, is a fundamental affront to Canadian democracy and makes a mockery of this chamber. This charade is supposedly about preserving the reputation of this place, but the real intent is to remove a perceived liability — namely, me."
Harper on Wallin's expenses, question period, Feb. 14
"The senator and all other senators and members of the House are fully prepared and committed to have an examination of expenses to ensure that they are appropriate. That is the commitment the government has made in both chambers, a commitment we will keep."
Harper in question period on May 28 on when he learned that former chief of staff Nigel Wright personally wrote a $90,000 cheque to cover Sen. Mike Duffy's expenses
"Mr. Speaker, I have been very clear on this question. This matter came to my attention two weeks ago, after speculation appeared in the media. On Wednesday, May 15, I was told about it. At that very moment, I demanded that my office ensure that the public was informed, and it was informed appropriately."
Duffy in the Senate on Oct. 22
"I made one last effort. I said: 'I don't believe I owe anything, and besides which, I don't have $90,000.' 'Don't worry,' Nigel said. 'I'll write the cheque.'"
Harper in question period, May 28
"As I have said repeatedly, my first knowledge of this was on the date and at the time indicated. Prior to that point in time, it was my understanding that Mr. Duffy had paid back his own expenses."
Harper in question period, May 28
"If the leader of the NDP is suggesting I had any information to the contrary from Mr. Wright prior to this, that is completely false. I learned of this on May 15 and immediately made this information public, as I have said many times."
Harper in question period, June 4
"Mr. Speaker, that information was already made public on Feb. 13, and I have been very clear about this. Mr. Duffy approached me after a caucus meeting to discuss this matter. From the beginning, my position has been clear: any inappropriate expenses should be refunded to taxpayers by the senators concerned."
Duffy in his Oct. 22 Senate speech
"I've violated no laws, I've followed the rules."
NDP Leader Tom Mulcair in question period June 4
"Mr. Speaker, why then did the Prime Minister, last week, deny instructing any members of his personnel to settle the Mike Duffy matter when he gave that order with that personnel present in the room at a caucus meeting in February of this year?"
Harper, in reply to Mulcair in question period June 4
"Mr. Speaker, it was my view from the beginning that any inappropriate expenses by any senator should be repaid by the senator, not by somebody else. That was very clear. Those are the facts obviously before us. As I say, my statements on this matter have been very clear and very consistent."
Harper in question period June 5 explaining his meeting with Duffy
"Mr. Duffy was seeking clarification on remarks I had made to this effect in caucus and I was adamant that any inappropriate expenses had to be reimbursed by him."
Duffy in the Senate Oct. 22
"So after caucus on Feb. 13 of this year, I met the prime minister and Nigel Wright, just the three of us. I said that despite the smear in the papers, I had not broken the rules, but the prime minister wasn't interested in explanations or the truth. It's not about what you did; it's about the perception of what you did that has been created in the media."
Harper in question period Oct. 23, referring to Duffy's account of the Feb. 13 meeting
"No, Mr. Speaker I absolutely did not say that."
Duffy to the Senate on Oct. 22
"I argued: I'm just following the rules like all of the others. But it didn't work. I was ordered by the prime minister: Pay the money back, end of discussion. Nigel Wright was present throughout, just the three of us."
Harper in question period on June 5
"I have made it very clear what my views were to all my staff and to our caucus. We expect inappropriate expenses to be reimbursed and I would expect they would be reimbursed by the person who incurred them. I would certainly not expect them to be reimbursed by somebody else."
Harper in question period on June 5
"Mr. Speaker, as I have indicated, Mr. Wright informed me of his personal cheque on May 15. This was an error in judgment. He indicated he did this because he believed that taxpayers should be reimbursed and he was prepared to ensure that happened, as in fact it did happen. However, obviously this was an error in judgment for many reasons that have already been outlined and for that reason, I accepted his resignation."
Harper at a news conference on July 6 in Calgary
"I think if you read the affidavit it makes very clear that the decision to pay money to Mr. Duffy out of Mr Wright’s personal funds was made solely by Mr. Wright and was his responsibility. Obviously, had I known about this earlier I would never have allowed this to take place. When I answered questions about this in the House of Commons I answered questions to the best of my knowledge."