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Harper's Control of Communication Is Breaking Down

08/24/2015 08:28 EDT | Updated 08/24/2016 05:59 EDT
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Benjamin Perrin's testimony that he believes, "Good to go" means Stephen Harper knew about and signed off on the plan to repay Senator Mike Duffy's expenses explodes the secrecy of who knew what. It also cracks open the seemingly impenetrable armour of communications control that the Prime Minister enjoys. Even if Stephen Harper didn't know the exact amount of the cheque, he knew that a cheque was being paid out to Senator Mike Duffy.

Benjamin Perrin worked as both counsel and policy adviser inside the PMO. The most damning part of Perrin's testimony is the conference call between himself, Payne, Wright, and Novak. Perrin says he was blindsided by Nigel Wright saying he was repaying Duffy's expenses. It startled Perrin, and he looked at Novak who wasn't surprised. It also seemed to Perrin that everyone knew about Wright's deal with Duffy and that the conference call was a necessary meeting to finalize the deal.

Novak came in during Perrin's summary.

"At this point, Mr. Wright interjected and said that, 'Sen. Duffy will be going ahead with repaying his expenses because I will be repaying,''' Perrin said, adding that he was surprised.

"And so, because I was so surprised, I looked to my right to see Mr. Novak's reaction, and he didn't have any reaction to that information.''

Right after that, Perrin says the conference call began and the three men on the call were introduced to Payne on the other end. (Huffington Post, 08/20/2015)

The Duffy settlement had allegedly been concocted by the key players before Perrin got in on the meeting. This is in line with Duffy's claim that, "four lawyers were involved in the negotiations in the Wright transaction -- a deal he said he was coerced into taking or be fired." Did Harper know all the small details? Maybe not, but Harper had to know everything that was important to know. Harper can say he didn't know the cheque was for $90,172.42, but Harper knew that a cheque was given to Senator Mike Duffy.

To Canadians, Harper has been vague about what he did know and clear only about what he didn't know. Even with what Harper did know, the story keeps changing. The entire mess has become Canada's Watergate. In Watergate, United States President Richard Nixon was accused of approving wiretaps on his opponents. Nixon claimed he didn't know anything about it. In Canada now, Harper is playing the "only two people knew" card. That's been proven false by a trail of emails.

Stephen Harper has always tried to control communications. For the first time that control is breaking down. Perrin decided to stick with the truth. Perrin may have chosen the moral high ground or, Perrin's motivation may have simply been to save himself from a B.C. Law Society probe and any other legal litigations.

The message is out: "good to go" came from the Prime Minister. Certainly the PMO and Conservative campaign machine will be hard at work on their 3D strategy: distort, distance, distract. It will be up to the opposition parties and media to keep the truth in the light of public scrutiny.

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Nigel Wright Emails In Mike Duffy Case