Harper’s Halloween Horror.

Oct 29

Embattled former Conservative Senator Mike Duffy continues to make life miserable for Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his staff.

Only a week after Duffy claimed in the Senate it was all Harper’s and the PMO’s idea to have the PM’s now-former chief of staff Nigel Wright pay off Duffy’s $90,000 in fraudulent living expenses, this week he claimed he also received over $13K from Wright to cover his legal expenses.

Harper initially claimed Wright acted on his own, that he only learned about the $90K payment when it was reported by the media last spring, and that no one else in the PMO knew about it.

Since then, Wright (the subject of an RCMP investigation) claimed he told Conservative senator Irving Gerstein, Wright’s assistant David van Hemmen, former PMO staffer David Woodcock and Harper’s former legal advisor Benjamin Perrin after the payment.

Duffy also alleged Conservative Party lawyer Alex Hamilton was also part of the scheme.

The Harper government was facing enough embarrassment from the investigation into the dubious living expense claims of former Conservative senators Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau. Duffy’s claims and the widening RCMP investigation into Wright’s role in paying off those expenses threaten to do more than merely embarrass the Prime Minister.

Questions are now being raised about how much Harper truly knew about Wright’s actions. The PM’s claim he knew nothing until learning about it via media reports is growing increasingly shaky as his side of the story – and that of the PMO – begins to change.

Duffy professes his innocence, claiming he was coached by the PMO about what to say over how he got the $90K from Wright. He claimed he reluctantly went along with the scheme, fearing the Senate leadership and the PMO would destroy his credibility. He also says he has copies of e-mail exchanges between himself and the PMO to substantiate his claims.

Once again, of course, Duffy is trying to play the victim by refusing to admit any wrongdoing on his part with his questionable expense claims. Few Canadians are buying the act, but there is growing interest in what he’s revealing over the PMO’s supposed role in paying off those expenses.

Mike Duffy (r) is increasingly becoming a thorn in Stephen Harper's side.

Mike Duffy (r) is increasingly becoming a thorn in Stephen Harper’s side.

Harper, meanwhile, clumsily attempted to dismiss Duffy’s claims in a recent radio interview by saying Wright was “dismissed” for his actions, which counters his original story that Wright supposedly re-signed several days following the revelation of his payment to Duffy.

Factor that into the growing number of people within the PMO and Senate Leadership who apparently knew about Wright’s payment to Duffy, and the Conservatives storyline appears to be unraveling.

Either Harper was being deliberately kept in the dark by the PMO over how they were handling Duffy, or the PM and his staff are frantically trying to cover their butts.

It appears there will be more tricks than treats heading Harper’s way in the coming days.

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