CALGARY — Stephen Harper’s troops are lining up firmly behind him.
The Prime Minister may not have provided any answers or shown any remorse about a Senate scandal that has his party sinking in the polls, but his caucus and delegates at the biennial Conservative convention say he didn't need to.
Harper delivered a rallying speech Friday at the BMO Convention Centre in Calgary. In it, he mocked his opposition, praised the government’s economic record and said senators Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau had to go.
But he showed zero contrition about an affair that continues to dominate question period and overshadowed much of the party's convention.
“The Senate should do the right thing now and suspend those senators without pay!” Harper told a crowd of 3,000, according to estimates from Conservative party officials.
“Canadians expect, I expect, that people be held accountable,” he said.
The three senators that Harper appointed to the upper chamber are alleged to have spent tens of thousands of dollars of taxpayers money — $140,000 in Wallin's case — in ineligible expense claims.
Ontario MP Bernard Trottier told reporters Saturday there was no need for the prime minister to apologize. Harper “is a man who is very ethical, so we need to punish the people who deliberately cheated with their spending,” Trottier said.
“If there were errors maybe it was in the hiring (of) people like Nigel Wright,” he said. “Men who have a good character but made errors, and we find that in all organizations.”
Wright is Harper’s former chief of staff and the man who wrote Duffy, a sitting legislator, a $90,000 cheque to cover his secondary housing expenses.
“I don’t know what else the prime minister can say," Treasury Board President Tony Clement said. "He’s been very clear that he expects certain standards of propriety from all parliamentarians and if those are violated, he expects there to be sanctions. I think that’s what the Canadian people expect, and that’s what the Conservative Party of Canada expects.”
“Why should it be his fault?” Infrastructure Minister Denis Lebel said when asked if the prime minister should take responsibility. “If there are some senators who don’t know where they live, that’s the prime minister’s fault?”
Lebel walked away when asked about Nigel Wright.
Senator Claude Carignan, the government’s leader in the Senate who led the charge to suspend Wallin, Duffy and Brazeau without pay but toyed with the idea of offering them leniency before being rebuked by the PMO , said he was “completely” in agreement with Harper.
“The senators had to be suspended without pay and that we needed to take our responsibilities. The message is clear,” he said.
The prime minister didn’t need to tell the party or the country he was sorry, Carignan added.
“The only prime minister who appointed senators who are in prison right now is Jean Chrétien,” Carignan said, referencing the six-month jail term Liberal Senator Raymond Lavigne received after he was convicted of fraud.
“And I’ve never heard him say he’s sorry.”
In his speech Friday, Harper blamed the courts for holding up his Senate reform plans. He blamed Liberal senators for preventing the suspension of his misbehaving senators. And he blamed his opponents for casting him as nasty and ruthless for wanting to take decisive action on Duffy, Wallin and Brazeau by booting them from office.
Liberal MP Joyce Murray told The Huffington Post Canada Harper should have cleared the air and taken personal responsibility for what happened on his watch.
“It was widely expected that he wouldn’t, and he didn’t. In fact, he ended his speech by saying I don’t care what other people think. It’s classic Stephen Harper,” she said.
It’s not in Harper’s DNA to show regret, said NDP MP Nathan Cullen. “Never having to say you’re sorry and never having to admit you’re wrong seems to be who Stephen Harper is,” he told HuffPost.
“A small amount of humility, contrition would be a great investment in gaining back some of the lost ground on credibility,” Cullen said. He added that if faced with a similar situation, he would have been open with his members.
The opposition may have wanted to see the prime minister in a weakened position in front of his base, but his supporters certainly didn’t.
In an interview, Ontario delegate Carol Stuart said Harper did what he had to do considering the circumstances.
“I think he confronted the problem,” she said. “Everyone knows he hired them, but he had the guts to come out and say this is wrong, there is a problem here and we have to fix it… And if I can’t fix it, they are going to have to fix it themselves."
The Senate scandal has thrown some dirt and “unfortunately tarnished” the party, said B.C. delegate Steven Austin. But the senators are to blame for their situation, not the prime minister, he said.
“This scandal has no direct effect on the vast majority of Canadians, except maybe those living in the national capital region,” Austin said.
Saskatchewan delegate Daniel Caswell told HuffPost the prime minister’s speech was better than he expected.
“I think he did a good job of outlining the successes of the Conservative party and I think with the whole Senate thing, he did a good job of drawing a line in the sand,” Caswell said.
Caswell wasn’t looking for Harper to take responsibility, he said. “This speech was about getting people excited about what the party has done… The base needed to be reminded of the successes we have had. I think that’s really what was good about it.”
Prime Minister Stephen Harper plays the keyboard and sings with the band herringbone during the Conservative Convention in Calgary Friday, Nov. 1, 2013.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper plays the keyboard and sings with the band Herringbone during the Conservative Convention in Calgary Friday, Nov. 1, 2013.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper plays the keyboards with a band at Cowboy's bar during the Conservative Convention in Calgary Friday, Nov. 1, 2013.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper plays the keyboard and sings with the band Herringbone during the Conservative Convention in Calgary Friday, Nov. 1, 2013.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, second right, takes a bow after playing keyboards with a band at Cowboy's bar during the Conservative Convention in Calgary Friday, Nov. 1, 2013.
MORE: Memorable Stephen Harper Pictures
Thank God You're Not Wearing Overalls
Prime Minister Stephen Harper gives Taylor Swift the book "Maple Leaf Forever" before her concert at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa. May 20, 2010. Source: <a href="http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/media_gallery.asp?media_category_id=900&media_category_typ_id=6&media_id=5512" target="_blank">Pm.gc.ca</a>
Stephen Harper, his children Ben and Rachel, and wife Laureen cross Abbey Road in 2009. Source: <a href="http://on.fb.me/12OfGXN" target="_blank">Facebook</a>
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Jamie Robinson (guitar) play along with Blue Rodeo's front man Jim Cuddy, and recording artist Jimmy Rankin as they belt out a tune during a Juno Awards reception at 24, Sussex March 31, 2012. Source: <a href="http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/media_gallery.asp?media_category_id=2099&media_category_typ_id=6#cont" target="_blank">Pm.gc.ca</a>
Prime Minister Stephen Harper gets behind the bar at the Victoria pub in Montreal Friday, March 16, 2012 where he stopped in to meet some supporters and have a drink for St. Patricks Day.
Stephen Harper and wife Laureen in 2011. Source: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/pmharper/8472663517/in/photostream" target="_blank">Flickr</a>
You Eat Half, And I'll Eat Half
Conservative leader Stephen Harper and Laureen Harper stand next to a tray of hot cross buns at a bakery in Mississauga, on April 23, 2011.
Stephen Harper with wife Laureen and their chinchilla Charlie. Source: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/pmharper/8425819048/in/photostream" target="_blank">Flickr</a>
Prime Minister Stephen Harper waves after going for an ATV ride as he visits a farm for a campaign event in Wainfleet Ont., on Monday, April 4, 2011.
Nom Nom Nom
Prime Minister Stephen Harper eats maple taffy as he visits a sugar shack in Norbertville, Quebec on Tuesday, April 5, 2011.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper gives his wife Laureen a kiss following a day of G-20 meetings in Toronto. June 27, 2010. Source: <a href="http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/media_gallery.asp?media_category_id=938&media_category_typ_id=6#cont" target="_blank">Pm.gc.ca</a>
Can I Keep Them?
Prime Minister Stephen Harper plays with foster kittens at 24 Sussex. May 1, 2010. Source: <a href="http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/media_gallery.asp?media_category_id=900&media_category_typ_id=6&media_id=5512" target="_blank">Pm.gc.ca</a>
Conservative Leader Stephen Harper throws a small snowball at photographers after talking with reporters at a campaign stop in Guelph, Ontario Saturday, Jan. 21, 2006.
Stephen Harper <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/10/23/harper-wedding-photos-ottawa_n_2006374.html" target="_blank">surprises an Ottawa couple on their wedding day</a> in 2012.
Yep, Definitely A Cat Person
Laureen Harper laughs as she holds a husky dog with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper as they tour Caribou Crossing, Yukon, south of Whitehorse Monday August 20, 2012.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper hams it up with Bonhomme Carnaval in the Prime Minister's Centre Block Office. November 25, 2010. Source: <a href="http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/media_gallery.asp?media_category_id=1238&media_category_typ_id=6#cont" target="_blank">Pm.gc.ca</a>
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, far left, watches a third round match between Agnieszka Radwanska, of Poland, and Serbia's Jelena Jankovic with his children Rachel, center, and Benjamin, right, at the 2012 US Open tennis tournament, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012, in New York.
Psst! I Like Your Hat
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, speaks with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper during Canada Day celebrations on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on July 1, 2011.
Whoops, How Did This Get In Here...
Part of a painting of Prime Minister Stephen Harper fully nude, by Kingston artist Maggie Sutherland, is shown at the Central Kingston public library in Kingston, Ont. on May 18, 2012.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his son Ben watch a bloopers show while attending the Calgary Flames NHL hockey game against the Edmonton Oilers in Calgary, Saturday, April 11, 2009.
In The Key Of C Major
Prime Minister Stephen Harper practices a few chords after arriving at home from work. February 19, 2011. Source: <a href="http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/media_gallery.asp?media_category_id=1457&media_category_typ_id=6#cont" target="_blank">Pm.gc.ca</a>
Love You, Mom
Conservative leader Stephen Harper gets a hug from his mother Margaret during a visit to his campaign office in Calgary, Saturday May 29, 2004.
We Can't All Grow A Pirate 'Stache Like Trudeau
Prime Minister Stephen Harper holds up a moustache scarf to kick off the start of ‘Movember’, November 1, 2012 Source: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/pmharper/8146161138/in/photostream" target="_blank">Flickr</a>
The Sweet Side Of Politics
Senior Legislative Assistant, Katherine Locke, left, and Government House Leader Special Assistant, Zoe Lawson, show off their House of Commons gingerbread house to Prime Minister Stephen Harper in his office on Dec. 16, 2010. The gingerbread house was filled with rows of gummi bears as members of Parliament. Source: <a href="http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/media_gallery.asp?media_category_id=1355&media_category_typ_id=6#cont" target="_blank">Pm.gc.ca</a>
Prime Minister Stephen Harper waves to tourists as he walks on the beach after the closing of the VI Summit of the Americas on April 15, 2012 in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper plays a game of table tennis with Team Canada's Mo Zhang at Canada House in London on Tuesday, June 5, 2012.
Whaddya Mean It Doesn't Fit?
Prime Minister Stephen Harper tries on an old hockey helmet at he tours the Yukon's Hockey History exhibit at the McBride Museum in Whitehorse, Yukon on Thursday, August 25, 2011.
Stephen Harper, his son Ben, and Wayne Gretzky watch the men's ice hockey team's gold medal game at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Source: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/pmharper/8457917081/in/photostream" target="_blank">Flickr</a>
Who Said Politics Can't Be Fun?
Stephen Harper and his son Ben hit balloons into the crowd after his speech at the party's three-day policy convention in Montreal on Friday March 18, 2005.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, looks up from dishing out pancakes at Stampede breakfast in Calgary, Alta., Sunday, July 10, 2011.
I Spy Something Cute
Stephen Harper welcomes two Chinese pandas at Toronto's Pearson Airport on March 25, 2013. Source: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/pmharper/8588948719/in/photostream" target="_blank">Flickr</a>
A young Stephen Harper.
Just Smile And Back Away Slowly
Clowns ham it up with Prime Minister Stephen Harper at the IAAF World Junior Championships in Moncton, New Brunswick. July 19, 2010. Source: <a href="http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/media_gallery.asp?media_category_id=1037&media_category_typ_id=6#cont" target="_blank">Pm.gc.ca</a>
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, left, throws Senator Gerry St. Germain's cowboy hat into the crowd after presenting him with a new one as his wife Margaret St. Germain, right, laughs during a barbecue at St. Germain's ranch in Surrey, B.C., on Monday August 6, 2012.
Thumbs Up, Up And Away
Prime Minister Stephen Harper gives the thumbs up from the cockpit of his campaign plane as he arrives in Ottawa,Tuesday May 3, 2011.
He's A Belieber
Stephen Harper presents Justin Bieber with a Diamond Jubilee Medal on Nov. 23, 2012. Source: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/pmharper/8212520594/in/photostream" target="_blank">Flickr</a>
I'm With Him
Stephen Harper and Wayne Gretzky, joined by students on an outdoor ice rink in Saskatoon on Feb. 5, 2010. Source: <a href="http://on.fb.me/ZTlKy6" target="_blank"> Facebook</a>
Shhh... This Is The Best Part
Stephen Harper, wife Laureen and Suraksha, Grade 10, visit an IMAX theatre in Bangalore, India on Nov. 8, 2012.
Umm... This Is My Costume
Prime Minister Stephen Harper poses for a photograph with Halloween trick-or-treaters at his official residence in Ottawa, Wednesday, October 31, 2012.
Is It Cold, Or Is It Just Me?
Prime Minister Stephen Harper bundles up in a parka as he tours Frobisher Bay in Iqaluit, Nunavut on Thursday, February 23, 2012.
One Of Harper's Many Hats
Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper adjusts his hat prior to the arrival of Britain's Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, for the official start of the Calgary Stampede parade in Calgary, Alberta, July 8, 2011.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his wife Laureen play with some furry friends at the official opening of the new Ottawa Humane Society facility on July 6, 2011. Source: <a href="http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/media_gallery.asp?media_category_id=1724&media_category_typ_id=6#cont" target="_blank">Pm.gc.ca</a>
Omigod, So Cute
Met Batisse X, official mascot of the Royal 22nd Regiment, prior to welcoming French PM Jean-Marc Ayrault to Ottawa. Source: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/pmharper/8554783327/in/photostream" target="_blank">Flickr</a>
I Can Totally Take You
Prime Minister Stephen Harper receives a cricket lesson from Ankur Biswas, cricket team captain, at the Bishop Cotton Boys School. Source: <a href="http://on.fb.me/12OffwT" target="_blank">Facebook</a>