I wouldn't want to call him at 11 o'clock at night. As a staffer, I would not have made that phone call at 11 o'clock at night, and that is fair. However, the real story begins the next morning on how this was handled when the Prime Minister woke up and found out what Nigel Wright had done.
This is where this story gets interesting. Obviously, on the morning of May 15 all hands were on deck in the Prime Minister's Office, all the suspects who were involved with this: Nigel Wright, Ray Novak, Benjamin Perrin, Chris Woodcock and David van Hemmen. I believe the Prime Minister, too, was involved with this important discussion, because on May 28 in a question in the House of Commons, the Prime Minister stated:
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.
He demanded his office inform the public on May 15. I think he also demanded in that office that morning, of all his staffers, who else knew about this: “Who in this office knew about this transaction? I need to get to the bottom of this”. Obviously, Nigel Wright spoke up and, instead of firing Nigel right there on the spot for betraying the Prime Minister's confidence, he kept him around for another five days. I will come back to that part of the story.
At that critical moment, when the Prime Minister asked who else in the office knew about it, I am sure that these three individuals either said something then to the Prime Minister that they knew something about it or they did not. Either way, they are were part of the cover-up on this whole issue and they all should have been shown the door immediately. Not one of these individuals, one being the Prime Minister's own lawyer in his office, raised his hand and said, “We have a little problem here. I don't think Nigel should have done this”. He did not say anything.
Chris Woodcock, director of issues management for the PMO, was in high gear on May 15, because when this all broke in the morning of May 15, there were emails in which these guys went into full damage control. There is an email dated May 15 in which the secret deal to help Mike Duffy was reported. Woodcock asked Duffy, “Can you confirm whether you advised the Senate ethics officer of any loans/gifts involved in the March 25th repayment?” Woodcock continued to say, “Trying to cover off all the angles”. That is very important. He is trying to cover all the angles.
Obviously, on May 15, Woodcock was part of this and they were trying to cover all the angles. They were trying to cover all the damage control on this particular file. He knew what had gone on. He asked whether Mike Duffy had notified the Senate ethics officer about this $90,000 gift. It was high gear. The Prime Minister, at that particular time, should have shown them all the door. He should have taken charge of the issue and said he knew nothing about this and what they did was wrong. No, that did not happen.
Then we move to May 16, the next day. This had been brewing for a day now, and the Prime Minister's Office was trying to figure out how to get to the bottom of this and how to control this situation.
Then the Prime Minister's communications director, Mr. Andrew MacDougall, who had no knowledge of what had gone on, whose name is not mentioned in any court documents, was doing his job. He came out and made this statement on May 16, the next day—May 14, 15 and now 16:
The Prime Minister has full confidence in Mr. Wright and Mr. Wright is staying on.
The Prime Minister did not get to the bottom of it. He did not ask if it had actually happened. Mr. Wright had the full confidence of the Prime Minister the very next day.
What the Prime Minister's office and Conservatives were trying to do was to see if they could ride out the storm. They wanted to see if they could get through the storm. They did not want to fire anybody or throw anybody under the bus.
Then the story continued to percolate through May 17 and 18. Duffy is kicked out of caucus. Wallin is moved to the side.
Then a number of Conservatives came out to defend Nigel Wright, and they continue to do it to this day. This past weekend the MP for Edmonton—Leduc came out and defended Nigel Wright as an honourable fellow.
The Minister of Employment and Social Development tweeted on May 19:
Very sorry about Nigel Wright's resignation. Brilliant, decent man who made huge sacrifices to go into public service. We need more like him.
This was upon hearing about the resignation of Nigel Wright. It was later that we learned he was dismissed or resigned, a story that keeps changing.
The Minister of Industry came out and said:
Nigel Wright is a great Canadian. Canada is stronger because of his service as Chief of Staff to our Prime Minister.
Then the Minister of State (Democratic Reform) came out and said:
Saddened to hear of Nigel Wright's departure. He is an honourable man, and great Canadian.
Then another MP came out, the member for Calgary Centre, saying that she really felt for Nigel Wright; it was right thing to do.
No, it was not the right thing to do. The right thing would have been, when they first heard about it, to have fired his arse out the door. That would have been the right thing to do, but the Conservatives tried to get through this scandal in five days, trying to see if it would go away.
That is the essence of why we need to get the Prime Minister to come and testify before the ethics committee. It is because of this story. That was May 19.
Then on May 24, the Prime Minister admitted that perhaps he should have accepted the resignation sooner. Well, he should have fired him immediately. If he had no knowledge of what had gone on, and he had not gone along with it, the Prime Minister should have fired him immediately. If he did not fire him, it would lead people to believe that he knew more than he is letting on.
That is where we are coming down to trust. There is a saying out there, “....what a tangled web we weave, When first we practise to deceive”.
It is so true. It can happen in all aspects of politics, when the story starts changing, if one is telling one story to some people and another story to other people, that is the problem. It is the tangled web this Prime Minister weaved for himself. He needs to get out from underneath it. He needs to come clean. He needs to fess up.
One thing that is very honourable in this place is that we sometimes say “I am sorry. I did something wrong”. People should not be punished for saying those things.
That is why this motion is here. I would welcome it before the ethics committee. It is a place for us to get to the bottom of this and make sure trust is regained in our government, trust is regained in parliamentarians.
The electoral district of Calgary Centre (Alberta) has a population of 124,197 with 88,677 registered voters and 245 polling divisions.
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