POLITICS

Ray Novak's Messages Should Be Investigated, Liberals Urge RCMP

08/21/2015 12:23 EDT | Updated 08/21/2016 05:59 EDT
OTTAWA — The Liberals are asking the RCMP to investigate messages sent to and from Stephen Harper's chief of staff, saying they may be relevant to Mike Duffy's trial.

Liberal candidate Dominic LeBlanc sent a letter to the RCMP and the information commissioner, asking them to look into text messages and BlackBerry PIN messages sent and received by Ray Novak.

Duffy's trial this week heard that Novak was present for discussions about a controversial $90,000 payment in 2013 by Harper's previous chief of staff, Nigel Wright, to cover Duffy's questionable expenses.

The testimony contradicts assertions from Harper and the Conservative campaign about what Novak knew about the repayment scheme.

The Liberals are asking the RCMP and information commissioner to ensure Novak's BlackBerry messages and texts are preserved and not deleted, given their potential significance.

Earlier this week the NDP sent a letter to the RCMP commissioner, asking him to consider laying charges against Wright and up to a dozen other staffers in the Prime Minister's Office for their alleged roles in covering up the Duffy expenses scandal.

LeBlanc's full letter to Paulson:

Dear Commissioners Paulson and Legault,

In light of troubling new evidence about Prime Minister Harper’s Office, revealed at Senator Duffy’s criminal trial, I respectfully request that you investigate potential PINs, text messages, and BlackBerry messages sent and received by Ray Novak, Mr. Harper’s Chief of Staff, and ensure their preservation as possible evidence relevant to these criminal proceedings.

E-mails and testimony recently entered into evidence in Court appear to show that past and present Harper staff members Nigel Wright, Ray Novak, and Benjamin Perrin repeatedly discussed the Wright-Duffy cheque scheme over a period of several months. Mr. Novak, himself, is identified on 151 different e-mails that were entered into evidence in Court.

Furthermore, evidence suggests these e-mail records produced thus far may not tell the complete story. Specifically, new testimony may indicate that Mr. Wright and Mr. Novak communicated via BlackBerry PINs and BlackBerry messages in the past, and as recently as two weeks ago.

Given that certain PINs, text messages, or BlackBerry messages could be relevant to the criminal trial, I am requesting that any necessary steps be taken to ensure that these potentially relevant communications are preserved and not deleted or destroyed.

Commissioner Legault, you have recently expressed concern about the preservation of records in the Prime Minister’s Department (PCO): "There was no evidence of [an] oversight mechanism in place to ensure that emails were being retained and saved as appropriate," says a report on the investigation. “As such, it is possible for an employee to delete sensitive information, records with business value and other records that they feel are superfluous with or without intention."… [Legault’s] investigation was triggered in late 2013 by the sudden re-appearance of a series of sensitive emails by Benjamin Perrin, senior legal counsel to Harper, which the RCMP required as evidence for its probe of the Duffy affair. (CBC News, June 28, 2015)

The documents in question include an e-mail sent by Mr. Wright to Mr. Perrin and Mr. Novak on March 6, 2013, at 2:58 p.m., referencing “our internal exchanges on having Irving speak with Sen. Marshall, who, we now believe, chairs the subcommittee that gave the mandate to Deloitte regarding Sen. Duffy and would presumably be the source of any authority if felt it needed to interpret whether that mandate can be discharged in the way that we have discussed.” In that same e-mail, Mr. Wright then asked, “Ben, are you not on any of those emails or PINs?”

Mr. Wright also testified, on August 18, 2015, that he kept in touch with Mr. Novak and that, furthermore, they have exchanged BlackBerry messages as recently as “probably about two weeks ago.”

“In court today, Wright told Bayne that he had last spoken to Novak in May or June. But when pressed on when he last communicated with Novak, Wright said it was about two weeks ago. He said it was through BlackBerry messages…” (CBC News, August 18, 2015)

This timeline may suggest that Mr. Wright and Mr. Novak communicated just days before Mr. Wright first took the stand in Mr. Duffy’s trial.

The Criminal Code of Canada prohibits the destruction of evidence related to an ongoing judicial proceeding: “Every one who wilfully attempts in any manner … to obstruct, pervert or defeat the course of justice is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years.” (Criminal Code of Canada, Section 139)

Canadians must be assured that all relevant information is in the hands of investigators and prosecutors. Liberals have also called on the Prime Minister to preserve any such records that may be in the hands of either the Prime Minister’s Office or the Conservative Party of Canada as Mr. Novak’s employers.

Thank you for your consideration of this request.

Sincerely,

Hon. Dominic LeBlanc

Liberal candidate for Beauséjour

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