Legally speaking, of course, when we say ‘false’ we actually mean ‘true’
One of the most alarming aspects of the infinitely expanding Senate scandal afflicting Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Tory junta for the better part of the past year is the behaviour of some of the country’s most high-flying law-talking guys.
High on that list is none other than UBC law prof and erstwhile advisor to PM Stephen Harper on all things public law-related, Professor Ben Perrin. Avid LOON readers will have already reviewed our background post about Prof. Perrin from earlier this year.
But very recently Perrin’s name has resurfaced in the swirling vortex that is the seemingly relentless Senate-PMO-Conservative Party of Canada scandal. Indeed, if six months of the Duffygate shenanigans have established no other lasting political laws, it’s that who goes around comes around.
In this case (please pardon the recurring if unconscious legal vernacular), the suspended disbelief centres upon a spate of e-mails sought by the indefatigable RCMP Senate scandal investigator Gary Horton. The stalwart Senate sniffer dog wishes to lay his serge-trimmed mitts upon said digital missives–proclaimed MIA last week by the “bureaucracy”– to ascertain the W5 concerning the cheque for ninety grand cut by the PM’s erstwhile chief-of-staff turned scapegoat, Nigel Wright. He of the U. of T. common law baccalaureate and a LL.M. from Harvard Law to boot.
Perrin v. Straw Man
In Perrin’s case, his debut as a participant of some note in this crucial nub of the Senate scandal stems from a “breaking news” report broadcast on May 20th this year on the Bellmedia conglomerate’s CTV News television and internet outlets. The down-home anchor Lisa Laflamme provided the dramatic intro for Ottawa bureau chief Doug Fife who was on hand with a late-breaking “scoop” on the Duffygate matter, the web version of which went as follows:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s former special counsel and legal adviser worked on the legal deal between Nigel Wright and Sen. Mike Duffy’s lawyer that called for Wright to help Duffy pay off $90,000 in invalid expense claims, CTV News has learned. Sources told CTV…that back in February, Benjamin Perrin helped draft the letter of understanding that called for Duffy to publicly declare that he would repay the money. In return, sources say, Wright would give a personal cheque to Duffy to cover the $90,000. Sources say the agreement also stipulated that a Senate investigation into expense claims would go easy on Duffy. The Prime Minister’s Office insists that neither Perrin nor Wright told Harper about the payout to Duffy or about any aspects of the secret arrangement.
And as Canadians went to bed that Victoria Day long weekend, wondering what further secrets awaited telling in the fairy tale Nation’s Capital, they began to see a troubling indicator. Emerging from within the thick mist of “media lines” and good old-fashioned P.R. bafflegab that had blanketed the PMO’s gloomy digs inside the Langevin Block was the disconcerting figure of that old bogey from the
Teapot Dome Munsinger Watergate Sponsorship Scandal, the lying political leader…
For contrary to what their straight-shooting, “accountability”-touting Prime Minister had been spinning in three successive federal election campaigns, it now appeared inevitable and undeniable to everyone but Stephen Harper that their neocon evangelist from Leaside was connected inextricably to the web of deceit surrounding his chief-of-staff’s pro bono payout of $90,000 to one Michael Duffy, the Honourable Senator from Cavendish-Green Gables-Area 51.
Paging Izzy Stone!
And yet, the very next day, if not sooner, Professor Benjamin Perrin of the University of British Columbia Faculty of Law issued the following statement:
Last night’s CTV story in relation to me, which is based on unattributed sources, is false. I was not consulted on, and did not participate in, Nigel Wright’s decision to write a personal cheque to reimburse Senator Duffy’s expenses. I have never communicated with the Prime Minister on this matter. In all my work, I have been committed to making our country a better place and I hope my record of service speaks for itself.
And so the PM’s erstwhile expert on all things criminal law-related, to name but one subheading of expertise on his impressive resumé, appeared, at least, to be unequivocally denying, even repudiating the very crux of the CTV story.
To wit, Perrin had released a forceful, succinct and seemingly unequivocal no-if’s-ands-or-buts denial of any suggestion he was involved in the facilitation–legal or otherwise–of the stinky, unsavoury Wright-Duffy cheque caper which was by now welded to the foundation of the RCMP’s criminal investigation of Nigel Wright and the benificent bank draft.
Or had he?
Unfortunately, for those born after the Nixon era–when I.F. Stone’s Weekly was the only available device for dissembling and decoding government double-talk, media-manipulations, deceptions, and outright lies—Perrin’s carefully crafted statement was, in fact, a denial of something he had never been accused of in the first instance.
By referring specifically to “Nigel Wright’s decision to write a personal cheque” and not the question of whether he was involved in the PMO-based agreement and “arrangement” whereby the cheque to Duffy was to issue, Perrin lawyerishly sidestepped a flat-out nosestretcher, i.e., that he was not involved in any way, shape, form, etc. in the unseemly affair, full stop, cease and desist, you cads, “I’m calling my lawyers….”
But six months later, as we prepare to deck the halls and plough the front walk, with the benefit of cynicism and hindsight, and the recent publication of RCMP Cpl. Horton’s November 17, 2013 production and search warrant informations we can now, to borrow a judge’s turn-of-phrase, find as a fact that the esteemed human trafficking expert-turned PMO consigliere was playing with words in order to blow smoke up the nation’s behind.
Failing to Ask the “Right” Questions and Getting the “Wrong” Answers…
So for the second time in recent memory, reliance upon an overly precise interpretation of the stated message–what might be disparaged as “semantics” or “word games”–is being relied upon to sidestep a thorny implication. Not, in this instance, that the PMO’s law-talking guys are smoking crack, but that they had anything remotely to do with the Nigel Wright affair.
Was there any reasonable doubt in Perrin’s mind when he issued his “denial” that the news report’s most cogent element–namely, that Perrin’s involvement in the Wright-Duffy cheque scam–ran counter to the PM’s faltering but repetitious “media line” that the Duffy bailout was a private deal struck between two consenting parsliamentarians with no knowledge on the part of the PM?
And was Ben Perrin genuinely concerned or legitimately indignanat that anyone with an iota of brain capacity would, after hearing the CTV report, impute any participation by him in Nigel Wright’s “decision” to cut the cheque?
So through the fine-print obfuscation of his own ostensible “denial,” Prof. Perrin was able to cast himself in the role of a victim of a “false” allegation–albeit, false not because it was alleged by the CTV news story, but because any suggestion or implication that he, Perrin, was being blamed by the media for the “decision” to cut Duffy’s cheque came from him alone.
Perrin’s denunciation of the CTV News report was, to employ a law school-ism, a classic “straw man” argument.
That artifice set out in his terse denial thus enabled Perrin to present himself as a wrongly accused person waxing indignant about any suggestion that he had “communicated with the Prime Minister on this matter” when, in point of fact, the CTV story’s central thesis concerned his being involved with Nigel Wright in the drafting of the cheque agreement and not with whether he spoke directly to the PM about it. He didn’t have to, he was dealing directly with Nigel Wright!
To be sure, the most cursory review of the Duffygate e-mails to date provide more than reasonable grounds for inferring that Prof. Perrin was, as of late February of 2013, and along with untold others in the shrinking circle of trust of PM Harper, up to his equivocating maw in the negotiation, drafting or, dare we say, “arrangements” for the execution of the Duffy $90,000 cheque (choose one) agreement/deal/contract/boondoggle/legerdemain/bad idea/potentially criminal act.
To wit, as they say in classier law offices, LOON’s own word processing analysts estimate that there are no fewer than 50 separate references to Professor Perrin liberally (oops) distributed throughout the 77 odd pages of Cpl. Horton’s ITO.
Sympathy for the Devil’s Advocate
- p. 4: After back and forth negotiations between Janice Payne and Benjamin Perrin (legal counsel within the PMO) terms of the agreement were set
- p. 12: refers to a letter copied to David van Hemmen (PMO)Benjamin Perrin (PMO), Chris Woodcock (PMO), and Senator Irving Gerstein, attached to which was a copy of a CIBC bank draft made out to Senator Duffy’s Lawyer (Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP) for $90,172.24, dated March 25, 2013.
- p. 15: “…Sen. Duffy then asked for the name of the legal counsel that his lawyer could speak to on the matter. Mr. Wright advised him that Benjamin Perrin (legal counsel within the PMO) would be the appropriate person; The following morning, Mr. Wright received an e-mail from Senator Duffy, asking to see a legal analysis as to why he was not entitled to the claims. Mr. Wright told Senator Duffy there is no legal analysis, and that he (Wright) wasn’t looking at this from a legal perspective, but rather from a moral perspective of what he should properly claim. By this point Mr. Wright was not happy with Senator Duffy, and was no longer wishing to debate the matter. He told Senator Duffy that from that point on they will deal lawyer to lawyer on the matter (Payne and Perrin)…Around this time, Benjamin Perrin received a call from Janice Payne asking for legal analysis. Her advice to Senator Duffy was that the claims were proper. She said that Senator Tkachuk had contacted Senator Duffy and proposed the same solution set out in the preceding sub-paragraph, including the halting of the Deloitte audit. Senator Duffy however was hesitant to accept that idea as he felt it looked better for his reputation to fight and be vindicated. She also said he did not have the money to repay…”
- p. 17: “…Mr. Wright and Janice Payne spoke on March 22, 2013, the first and only time they spoke. They discussed the entire matter and he provided her an update on everything. He persuaded her that Senator Duffy should repay. Benjamin Perrin participated in this phone call as well. Since the Conservative Fund was not going to pay, and he felt that Senator Duffy legitimately did not have the money to pay,nor the means to obtain the money, Mr. Wright took the decision to personally pay the cost of the debt himself from his own personal finances…”
- p. 19: “…Mr. Perrin became involved after _the February 19, 2013, exchange when Senator Duffy asked for the name of a legal representative who his lawyer could communicate with. Thereinafter, Janice Payne and Benjamin Perrin communicated on this matter; Mr. Perrin was aware of Mr. Wright’s personal decision to pay the money, but was in no way involved in the decision…This material was first reviewed by the PMO to ensure that there were no matters of national security or of privilege. Based on my initial review of the e-mails provided by Nigel Wright, I determined that there was a need to also obtain the e-mails of other PMO employees involved in the communication, specifically Benjamin Perrin, Chris Woodcock…”
- p. 20: “The PMO has also waived solicitor-client privilege for those e-mails. I was advised that the e-mails of Benjamin Perrin were no longer available because he completed his tenure at the PMO in April 2013, before the relation that Mr. Wright reimbursed the money to Senator Duffy. Internal practice within the PMO is that a person’s account and e–mails are removed from the computer server once their employment ends. Upon learning of the allegations, and the subsequent RCMP investigation in May 2013, Prime Minister Harper ordered that all e-mails of PMO staff were to be retained for the RCMP, should they be required….”
- p. 25: “…On February 15, there were e-mail discussions within the PMO about the Senate Rules committee and a proposed definition of residency, Nigel Wright e-mailed Benjamin Perrin and wrote: am gravely concerned that Sen. Duffy would be considered a resident of Ontario under this IT B. Possibly Sen. Patterson in BC too. If this were adopted as the Senate’s view about whether the constitutional qualification were met, the consequences are obvious…”
- p. 28: “…On February 20, Nigel Wright sent an e-mail to Chris Woodcock, Benjamin Duffy and other PMO employees: have spoken again with Sen. Duffy. Tomorrow morning I shall receive by courier redacted copies of his diaries and other info to back up his claim to have (as opposed to his home in Cavendish) as his primary residence. Our team will have to look at that to see there is anything in it that we would not want his lawyer to send to the Senate steering committee. Maybe it will persuade us to let him take his chances with Deloitte’s findings. If not, then I have told him I will be back on his case about repayment. I have told him that we have and issues management materials in preparation.
- p. 29: “…On February 21, Janice Payne sent an e-mail to Benjamin Perrin requesting media lines: spoke to our client last night and also said he would be sending some media lines. When I last spoke to my client this morning he did not yet have Nigel Wright proposed to Benjamin Perrin that they relay the media line to Senator Duffy over the phone, and added don’t like the optics of our sending lines to his lawyer. We could walk him through the support we would provide. Several more e-mails were exchanged discussing the media strategy, talking points, timing, and answers Senator Duffy would give to specific questions from the media. The prepared statement prepared for Duffy was amended by him to insert “PEI-isms” On February 21, Janice Payne sent an e-mail to Benjamin Perrin with a list of 5 conditions or demands. She acknowledged that there were discussions between Senator Duffy and the PMO, and that we can work out the communication, we will need agreement on the following before we can proceed.’ I. “The Internal Economy Committee will confirm that Senator Duffy has been withdrawn from the Deloitte review and it will assure him that his expenses are fully in order to date and will not be the subject of any further activity or review by the Committee, the Senate, or any other party. If any member of the Committee makes any statement it will ensure that such statement is consistent with the agreed media lines….”
- p. 31: “…That same day, Nigel Wright addressed Ms. Payne’s e-mail in a response to Benjamin Perrin and others in the PMO. Nigel Wright inserted his own comments in each of Janice Payne’s statements in brackets. I’ve placed them in bold for ease of reading…”
- p. 32: “…The PMO will take all reasonable efforts to ensure that members of the Conservative caucus, they speak on this matter, do so in a fashion that is consistent with the agreed media lines. (Agree, this is our view since the agreed media lines are accurate and we do not wish people to make inaccurate statements.) …On February 22, Benjamin Perrin responded to Nigel Wright: have just spoken with Janice and conveyed all of the points below. After a little back and forth, she was generally satisfied with the responses I think. “Point 3 requires follow–upv from her and us. She will provide info on her rate and hours for legal spoke of further communications with the party” noted this is all conditional on agreement on the statement and communications bounds being respected by the Senator. She said they would be replying with some proposed changes shortly. Nigel Wright responded that he would try to speak with Senator Gerstein…Later on February 22, Nigel Wright e-mailed Benjamin Perrin and others in the PMO stating now have the go–ahead on point three, with a couple stipulations: – I would like to understand who if anyone Sen. Duffy ever intends to inform about point 3 (or, for that matter, the entire arrangement). I assume that I know the answer, but I would like it to be explicit. For its part, the Party would not inform anyone. - -Related to that, funds disbursed from the Party under point 3 would be paid to Ms Payne ‘s law firm, since a good portion of them are in payment of their fees. –I would like to cap legal fee reimbursement at $32,000 (I wouldn’t kill it on this basis, but I just want to do this) and we need an accounting of what Sen. Duffy owes the Senate (we do not need the latter before his statement is rolled out). Ben, please go back to Ms Payne on these points and ascertain where they stand on everything else. I do want to speak to the PM before everything is considered final. Less than an hour later, Nigel Wright followed up with an e-mail stating “We are good to go from the PM once Ben has his confirmation from Payne.”
- p. 33: “…Benjamin Perrin ollowed up with an e-mail to Nigel Wright advising that Janice Payne wanted the agreement in writing, and stated explained that was not happening. We aren’t selling a car or settling a lawsuit here. She seemed to get it …Later on February 22, Nigel Wright requested that the government lines be sent to Senators Tkachuk and Lebreton, and also asks to be reminded that still has to send the letter to the Steering Committee, mimicking his public lines, saying ambiguity in the rules, might have made a mistake, desires to repay, needs to know….There were several back and forth e–mai1 exchanges between Benjamin Perrin and Janice Payne, as well as between Mr. Perrin and staff within the PMO. There were negotiated and changed media lines until all parties came to an agreement. Based on the e-mails, the agreed upon media lines are in two parts. Lines before the Senate Standing Committee meets, and lines after they meet. The lines are: Lines until the Committee meets: We have committed to ensuring that all expenses are appropriate, that the rules governing expenses are appropriate and to report back to the public on these matters.–Senator Duffy maintains a residence in Prince Edward Island and has deep ties to the province. -He has indicated that he will be taking steps to correct any possible error in how the forms were filled out. Lines Once the Committee has met to consider the matter: We have committed to ensuring that all expenses are appropriate, that the rules governing expenses are appropriate and to report back to the public on these matters. -Senator Duffy has taken steps to correct any possible error in how the forms were filled out. –He maintains a residence in Prince Edward Island and has deep ties to the province. The Committee considers all issues relating to Senator Duffy now resolved.”
- p. 35: “On February 27, Janice Payne e-mailed Benjamin Perrin advising that Senator Duffy received a letter from Senator Tkachuk advising him that he owed $90,172.24. She stated that Senator Duffy needed assurances from the Internal Economy Committee that repayment would result in his being withdrawn from the Deloitte audit. She sent another e-mail later that date stating: “Essentially we need confirmation expenses are in order, withdrawal from Deloitte and arrangements Benjamin Perrin forwarded this to Nigel Wright who responded to Mr. Perrin: “Ben, I do find this frustrating. There is a letter from the Subcommittee stating precisely what expenses are owed relating to the primary residence claim. Once those are paid, the Subcommittee can scarcely say that it got its amount wrong and needs more. Does Janice truly understand that if Mike has improperly charged for travel on Senate business when no Senate business actually took place that we cannot now say to him that those expenses are in order? Withdrawal of Deloitte is as we noted earlier – I agree that the Subcommittee has to do its work on that. Chris and Patrick are following the status of that. By “the arrangements”, 1 will arrange for the amount to be wired to Janice Payne in trust. Presumably Mike knows or can find out how to remit the proper amount to the Senate? Nigel Wright addressed the matter again on February 28…”
- p. 36: “…Also on March 1, Janice Payne e-mailed Benjamin Perrin for an update on Senator Duffy being withdrawn from the Deloitte audit. Mr. Perrin inquired with Nigel Wright, who wrote: “No we do not have an update for her on the Deloitte and Patrick and I are trying to make this Today I asked Sen. Gerstein to actually work through senior contacts at Deloitte and with Sen. Outcome we are pushing for is for Deloitte to report publicly that IF Kanata were the primary residence then the amount owing would be the 390 thousand figure and that since Sen. Duffy has committed to repay this amount then Deloitte’s work in determining primary residence is no longer needed. .. . The nub of what I said to Mike is that his expenses would have to be repaid, so his choice was between having that plus a finding that they were inappropriate or that without such a finding. That is what we are working towards. Despite pre-clearing that with the relevant Senators, I am no longer I 00% sure we can deliver, but if we can ‘t then we and Mike have a bigger problem…As to her timing, she can set whatever deadlines she wants, but none has been agreed to by us. Sen. Duffy would make this easier if he did not have outbursts in Senate caucus that make Senators oppose anything that helps him save face for expense claims that they see as inappropriate and as putting their own reputations in harm ‘s way. We are working on this matter. We are doing so with more dispatch than Sen. showed in bringing this to a resolution. I do not gather from the tone of her e–mail that she understands any of this, and it might help if she did…”
- p. 37: “…On March 5, Janice Payne e–mailed Benjamin Perrin and Arthur Hamilton (Conservative Party lawyer) seeking advice. She stated the following: “Senator Tkachuk took the initiative to speak to Senator Duffy today and suggested to him that I write to Deloitte state the following: “As you are no doubt aware, Senator Duffy has decided to resolve this matter by repaying the housing allowance paid to him since his appointment. He does so not because he believes he improperly claimed the allowance but because the rules are not clear and he prefers to make the repayment rather than continue to suffer the considerable distraction that this matter has caused him and his confirm that he will be withdrawn from the review you have been asked to undertake as soon as the repayment has been “Ben and Arthur.’ Please confirm today that you have no difficulty with this approach. If some other approach or course of action is under consideration, please update me. Nigel Wright responded to PMO employees: would like this checked with Irving…I would support taking the approach below IF I can be satisfied that Deloitte will accept the proposal. I do not trust that Sen. Tkachuk has ascertained that with Deloitte before making the suggestion to Sen. am reluctant to have her ask Deloitte to specify the amount of expenses owing because that would give Deloitte an excuse to ask for documents from Sen. Duffy …On March 8, after an inquiry from the media about the Conservative party possibly paying Senator Duffy’s expenses, Nigel Wright advised Chris Woodcock in an e-mail that there had been discussions, but that the party was not paying. He added…For you only.’…I am personally covering Duffy’s…On March 8, during e-mail correspondence pertaining to Deloitte’s mandate from the Senate, Patrick Rogers stated: “Senator Gerstein has just called. He agrees with our understanding of the situation and his Deloitte contact agrees. The stage we ‘re at now is waiting for the Senator’s Contact to get the actual Deloitte auditor on the file to agree. The Senator will call back once we have Deloitte locked in….”
- p. 38: “…On March 20, after sending an e-mail to Benjamin Perrin and Arthur Hamilton about the Deloitte process, Janice Payne sent an e-mail to Senator Tkachuk seeking confirmation that the audit would be called off upon repayment. This information was relayed in an e-mail from Chris Woodcock to Nigel Wright. Nigel Wright responded: Very dangerous tactic by her. Also, I wonder if she is paying attention, because Ben will have explained to her several times that it is not “the audit being called off”, but rather Deloitte not having to come to a conclusion on primary v. secondary the assumption that Kanata is the primary residence, an assumption made valid by Sen. Duffy’s decision not to contest-that-point… jj.On March 21, Patrick Rogers advised Nigel Wright and others that he heard from Senator Gerstein with an update on his inquiries with Deloitte. He advised that: “Any repayments will not change Deloitte ‘s conclusions because they were asked to opine on residency. However, they can ‘t reach a conclusion on residency because lawyer has not provided them anything. This is despite their attempts use “public information about residency. Their report will state that lawyer did not provide information when requested. They were asked to complete the work by the end of Mai*ch and plan to. Patrick Rogers later wrote: would propose that the Senator continue to not engage with Deloitte…I believe that we should make arrangements for repayment knowing that Deloitte will not say one way or another on his residency. If asked following the report why he did not participate with Deloitte the Senator can say because he had already made the decision to repay the money and as he said at the time, he looked forward to moving on. It is then up to our esteemed Senators on the committee and our Senate leadership to move on. Benjamin Perrin responded with: “At a minimum, I think in good faith they need to know the info you found out. We would then need to convinced them why they should do nothing. The Senator’s instinct may be to go in and fight this out again with Nigel Wright responded with: do agree with Patrick’s suggestion . .. .I would suggest that they send a similar since Sen. Duffy has taken of the table the one issue DT [Deloitte] was asked to review, they do not see a purpose for that review…”
- p. 39: “…On March 23, Janice Payne e-mailed Benjamin Perrin and stated: “Ben, yesterday we discussed the Senator sending a cheque to Deloitte with a letter explaining our position that the ongoing review should now be moot. I am preparing such a…She then sent Mr. Perrin a draft of the letter she intended to send to Deloitte, and solicited comments from Mr. Perrin and Nigel Wright. Nigel Wright responded to Benjamin Perrin: think that this is perfectly fine (and I resist making minor suggestions since I would prefer to be able to answer, if necessary, that PMO did not write it). Nigel then followed up with an e-mail to David van Hemmen: “My cheque is in the correspondence folder. I don ‘t have enough funds in my chequing account, so I have e–mailed Murray Culligan to ask him to transfer them in from another account. You might call him on Monday morning to assure that he is doing it, as I dated my cheque for Monday and I expect them to negotiate it that In an earlier e-mail to Benjamin Perrin. Nigel Wright stated: think her approach works. I will send my cheque on Monday On March 24, Janice Payne sent an e-mail to Benjamin Perrin stating that Senator Duffy….asks for assurance that should any Senator seek his removal, will want to add “or any reason to provide the information requested”. We can never suggest that they say this latter bit, because we cannot trust them never to say that PMO told them not to respond to DT’s requests for information….kk. On March 21, Senator LeBreton sent an e-mail to Nigel Wright stating…mm. “Hi Nigel. Senator Duffy was whining to me this afternoon in the Senate Chamber saying Carolyn Stewart- Olsen and David Tkachuk are not giving him any assurance that the audit would be withdrawn even though he reminded them that he has a commitment from you and PMO. I said “Mike you have just got to trust us on this and please don’t crashing around invoking Nigel name or that of the PMO. Go through your lawyer and pay the money – I ‘m sure that everything will be fine. He said he heard Carolyn was going to move a motion to force him to sit as an Independent. I asked him where on earth he heard such nonsense and wondered if he lies awake at night dreaming up these things! I assured him that this is not going to happen! Just so you know. Marjory…On March 23, Janice Payne e-mailed Benjamin Perrin and stated:”Ben, yesterday we discussed the Senator sending a cheque to Deloitte with a letter explaining our position that the ongoing review should now be moot. I am preparing such a…She then sent Mr. Perrin a draft of the letter she intended to send to Deloitte, and solicited comments from Mr. Perrin and Nigel Wright. Nigel Wright responded to Benjamin Perrin: think that this is perfectly fine (and I resist making minor suggestions since I would prefer to be able to answer, if necessary, that PMO did not write it). Nigel then followed up with an e-mail to David van Hemmen: “My cheque is in the correspondence folder. I don ‘t have enough funds in my chequing account, so I have e–mailed Murray Culligan to ask him to transfer them in from another account. You might call him on Monday morning to assure that he is doing it, as I dated my cheque for Monday and I expect them to negotiate it that In an earlier e-mail to Benjamin Perrin, Nigel Wright stated: think her approach works. I will send my cheque on Monday On March 24, Janice Payne sent an e-mail to Benjamin Perrin stating that Senator Duffy . .. .asks for assurance that should any Senator seek his removal…”
- p. 40: “…the Gov ‘t leader in the Senate will urge her caucus to vote against such a motion, as well as any motion to refer the matter of his housing and expense claims for further investigation or action by Deloitte or any other party. .. Follow-up e-mails between Nigel Wright, Benjamin Perrin, and Patrick Rogers show that they need to speak to Senators LeBreton and Tkachuk before making that commitment. Nigel Wright stated: “It has to be handled very delicately. We are not asking Senators to absolve him of anything — they would refuse that, quite properly. We are asking them to treat the repayment as the final chapter of the expenses issue relating to his designation of the cottage as his primary residence to this point in time. That is something to which Sens. LeBreton and Tkachuk and Stewart-Olsen already agreed once. Patrick Rogers followed up with separate e-mails on March 25 stating that both Senators Tkachuk and LeBreton were on side and in agreement. On March 25, Janice Payne sent an e–mail to Benjamin Perrin stating that Senator Duffy wanted better clarity, and changed the previous language regarding assurances that the government leader in the senate would urge caucus to vote against motions to refer his matter. The new language included a reference to urging caucus to vote against any motion to refer the matter to the RCMP. Nigel Wright refused to agree to this language. On March 25, David van Hemmen e-mailed Janice Payne and advised her that he had a bank draft to deliver to her on behalf of Nigel Wright. On March 26, Benjamin Perrin received an e-mail from Janice Payne’s office stating “we have just sent the cheque to Senator Tkachulc by courier”. On April 18, Senator LeBreton responded to an e-mail from Senator Duffy pertaining to a request from media for an interview. Senator LeBreton provided encouragement, advised him to await the Deloitte audit results and avoid the media. Senator LeBreton forwarded the e-mail to Chris Woodcock and Nigel Wright, advising them that Senator Duffy had stopped by her office that afternoon because of media report and rumors he heard. Senator LeBreton stated: assured him that all of us are working on a plan to manage this once we have the audits and have prepared the report to be tabled in the Senate. I told him once again that he must trust us on this and not complicate the issue by talking to the media”. By April 19, it still had not been publicly announced that Senator Duffy had repaid the $90,000. There were several back and forth e-mails between Chris Woodcock and Senator LeBreton, as well as internally within the PMO, about inquiries from the media citing sources that Senator Duffy had paid the money…”
- p. 52: “…He does recall that there was correspondence, a letter, from Senator Duffy’s lawyer, containing five points. He does not recall the contents, or who the letter was addressed to; believe this is the letter that Janice Payne sent to the PMO on February 20, 2013. I do not have a copy of, nor have I seen that letter. I have seen subsequent e-mails referencing that letter between Benjamin Perrin and Nigel Wright, containing the five conditions of repayment.] He did not know that Nigel Wright paid $90,000 to Senator Duffy ‘until he saw it on the news; . There was no committee consideration to refer the matter of Senator Duffy to the RCMP because Senator Duffy had already paid the money back. He had considered the matter closed. Senator Furey did ask that question of Deloitte auditors, and that they advised that they did not find criminality; After receiving the Deloitte Report on April 29, 2013, Senator LeBreton called a meeting which he attended. Several others attended as well, including Nigel Wright. They discussed logistics of the final reports being completed; . The Senate Clerk and his staff completed the initial draft Senate report. He may have been provided an advance copy by the clerk, but does not recall; . There were two Steering Committee meetings during which they reviewed the draft Senate report, and made changes. They occurred on May 7 and 8, 2013. He does not recall if he met with people from the PMO during those two days, but it is possible that he met with Chris Woodcock and Patrick Rogers; . He does not recall if he met with Senator Stewart Olsen or others to discuss the report after the meeting on May 8, 2013; The report was tabled to the full 15 member committee on May 9, when an additional change was made to the report, tabled by Senator Stewart Olsen; He does not recall if a draft of the Senate Report was sent to the He does not recall if PMO staff helped with the writing of the Senate Report, but it is possible; He does not recall if he had further meetings with anyone regarding changes that would be made on May 9. There was another change made in the Standing committee meeting, moved by Senator Stewart Olsen, and then the report was…”
- p. 59: “…His primary job was to assist Nigel Wright in all capacities, which included preparing briefs, setting up meetings, and arranging phone calls. He was essentially the barrier that people went through to reach Mr. Wright; He first became aware of Senator Duffy’s potential Senate issue when there were media stories relating to Senator Duffy applying for a health card in His involvement in the matter was peripheral. He would arrange for meetings or phone calls between Mr. Wright and others such as Senator Duffy or Senator Tkachuk, but he was not directly involved in discussions; He was often carbon coped in e-mails by Mr. Wright, or to Mr. Wright; The decision by Nigel Wright to pay $90,000 to Senator Duffy was a personal decision taken by Mr. Wright, from an ethical position that the money needed to be reimbursed; . His impression was that Mr. Wright did so begrudgingly as he was not impressed by Senator Duffy’s attitude of self–entitlement. At the same time, it was clear that Senator Duffy had no means of paying back the money himself; He made all the arrangements for Nigel Wright by dealing directly with Mr. Wright’s bank, arranging for a transfer of funds from one account to another, picking up the bank draft in Ottawa, and delivering it to the office of Janice Payne, Senator Duffy’s lawyer; He knew the week prior to that Mr. Wright was going to pay the money; He was also not aware of any plan by the Conservative Fund to repay Senator Duffy. The only contact he had with Senator Gerstein was to arrange phone calls between Senator Gerstein and Nigel Wright;. He knew that Ms. Payne and Benjamin Perrin were in communication, so assumed that Mr. Perrin was aware of Mr. Wright’s arrangement to pay the money; He was not aware of other PMO staffers being aware at the time. As the executive assistant to Mr. Wright, he kept their conversations private; He has no knowledge of any plan to reimburse Mr. Wright for the money, and does not believe that Mr. Wright received any direction to pay the money; . He has no knowledge that the Prime Minister was ever aware of the arrangement…”
- p. 75: “…Conclusion: Based on the investigation and evidence gathered to date, I believe that Nigel Wright, as Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister, believed from a moral and ethical position that Senator Duffy should repay $90,000 to the public purse. Also as Chief of Staff, it was his job to mitigate political issues that posed problems for the Prime Minister. 1 do not believe that he believed that Senator Duffy had committed a criminal offence by filing living allowance expense claims, but rather that Senator Duffy had crossed ethical boundaries by collecting an allowance for a house that he has lived in for many years prior to being appointed to the Senate. Mr. Wright rejected a condition to not refer Senator Duffy’s expenses to the RCMP in the future, believing that if criminality was revealed, it should be referred. The e-mails show that Mr. Wright wanted Senator Duffy to repay the money, and at various times was of the belief that Senator Duffy was going to repay. Senator Duffy maintained that he did not do anything wrong, and therefore did not believe that he should have to repay the money. Based on that, Senator Duffy agreed to repay, but with conditions. Back and forth negotiations between Senator Duffy and Mr. Wright were facilitated through legal counsel, Janice Payne and Benjamin Perrin. Senator Duffy set 5 conditions under which he would repay. Those conditions were: a. Withdraw from the Deloitte audit; b. Acknowledgement that Senator Duffy meets requirements to sit as the Senator from…”
Law Society Complaint Filed
So far, only one concerned member of the profession, an University of Ottawa law professor, Amir Attaran, has come forward to make a formal complaint about “conduct unbecoming,” and, according to media reports, in relation to the conduct of Prof. Perrin whose formerly “lost” e-mails from during his tenure at the PMO (including his alleged legal handiwork on the Sen. Duffy-Nigel Wright $90,000 cheque payoff ) suddenly and somewhat mysteriously resurfaced this weekend past.
According to Prof. Attaran’s complaint to the Law Society of Upper Canada, “There is no scope in legitimate legal representation knowingly to assist a client in the commission of an offence.”
Finally and without prejudice to any of the vaunted legal weasels embroiled thus far in the Duffygate scandal, we note that the law society’s current rules of conduct contain many a pithy exhortation about ethical risks and pitfalls that seem to have an uncanny application to the, er, “case at bar,” including the following sub-rule 5.0.1:
A lawyer should also be on guard against being used as the tool or dupe of an unscrupulous client or persons associated with such a client or any other person. A lawyer should be alert to and avoid unwittingly becoming involved with a client or any other person who is engaged in criminal activity such as mortgage fraud or money laundering….To obtain information about the client and about the subject matter and objectives of the retainer, the lawyer may, for example, need to verify who are the legal or beneficial owners of property and business entities, verify who has the control of business entities, and clarify the nature and purpose of a complex or unusual transaction where the purpose is not clear. The lawyer should make a record of the results of these inquiries. It is especially important to obtain this information where a lawyer has suspicions or doubts about whether he or she might be assisting a client or any other person in dishonesty, fraud, crime or illegal conduct.