Humans vs. Harper introduces you to a very special group of people, all of whom played a starring role in the Duffy scandal. Best HvH can tell, these unelected people own the corridors of power in Ottawa. Political scientists and others call this governing from the centre and consider it problematic. We call it owning the centre.Except for Harper, none of the people pictured here are elected. Almost all worked or still work directly for Harper including, Senators Le Breton and Gerstein. Senator Duffy is currently on trial for fraud, breach of trust and bribery. Nigel Wright has returned to the private sector and is the key witness in the Duffy trial
At the time, all of these people were on the public payroll. In other words, we paid their salary. We are still paying the salaries of most of them. All of them say they concealed what they were doing from their employer, namely Stephen Harper. While many doubt that, one thing we do know is that all of them tried to conceal what they were doing from Canadians.
Despite being implicated in one of the biggest parliamentary scandals ever, most of these people are still working for the Conservative Party – some are still in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), some work for other ministers, others are working on his 2015 election campaign. Only two have left government. One who left, Chris Montgomery, was the only person to have raised concerns about what was going on.
All of these people work on manipulating the image of Stephen Harper and the Conservative government to convince us the Harper government works to protect Canadians’ interest. If Harper is re-elected, he will reward these and many more party insiders with appointments, including Senate appointments. We should keep our eye on these folks because their intention is, ultimately, to finish off our democracy.
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Ray Novak: This week (Friday August 13) Nigel Wright’s testimony at the Duffy trial revealed for the first time that Novak, Harper’s current Chief of Staff, was also involved in the attempt to cover up Wright’s payment to Duffy. A series of emails presented in court revealed that Novak, Wright and other PMO staffers (see below) were working with Duffy and a number of Conservative senators to keep the situation out of the media offering proof that Novak was aware of the deal with Duffy. Harper has repeatedly said that only Duffy and Wright knew of the payoff plan. A person would be hard pressed to find anyone closer to Harper then Ray Novak. Novak was appointed as Harper’s Chief of Staff in April 2013 after Nigel Wright resigned in disgrace. Prior to that, Novak worked as Harper’s Principal Secretary. When Harper left the Reform Party in January 1997, Novak followed him to the National Citizens Coalition (NCC) as a NCC researcher. After Harper became the leader of the Canadian Alliance in 2005 – the precursor to the Conservative Party – Novak moved to Ottawa to become Harper’s executive assistant.
Andrew MacDougall At the time, he was Director of Communications for the Prime Minister, and a long-time spokesperson before that. He left the position in August of 2013 for a post with a large communications firm in London, England.
Marjory LeBreton: LeBreton is a powerhouse Tory Senator and a long time Harper confident. At the time, LeBreton was the Government Leader in the Senate. RCMP documents suggest she knew about the proposal to end the Deloitte audit if Mr. Duffy’s expenses were repaid.
Chris Woodcock: According to a sworn statement Mr. Wright made to the RCMP, Woodcock is one of three people who knew about the $90,000 cheque to Duffy. Woodcock was Director of Issues Management in the PMO. In July 2013, he become Chief of Staff for Joe Oliver, Natural Resources Minister at the time.
Patrick Rogers Manager of Parliamentary Affairs for the Prime Minister, and son of CTV vice-president Paul Rogers. While the details are unclear, it’s understood that Rogers ensured a draft audit report was altered at a meeting with LeBreton and party workers. Rogers identified Chris Montgomery’s resistance as “the Problem,” at that meeting. Rogers also tried to get the auditors to back off making any findings about Duffy’s primary residency. Rodgers was one of the two PMO staffers willing to help Duffy develop media strategies to limit the scandals impact on him.
Senator Irving Gerstein: Appointed by Harper, Gerstein is an Ontario Senator and longtime Conservative Party bagman. The RCMP investigation found that the Party was going to pay Duffy’s expenses from a Conservative fund controlled by Gerstein. When Gerstein found out the amount was much higher then what he expected ($32,000), he refused to pay and Wright picked up the $90,000 tab. The RCMP also named Gerstein as one of the Party insiders who was inappropriately contacting the Deloitte auditors who were auditing Duffy’s expenses. Gerstein, a public official, has never responded to questions about his role in the Duffy scandal. Gerstein was also one of the four senior Tory insiders who plead-bargained their way out of criminal charges in the 2006 In and Out election campaign scandal.
Benjamin Perrin Then a special legal adviser to the PMO, he allegedly brokered the $90,000 deal between Wright and Duffy. According to a Wright sworn statement, Perrin was another one of the three people who knew about the $90,000 cheque.
Conservative Senator David Tkachuk: He stepped down as chair of the Senate Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration – the Committee charged with resolving the Duffy scandal. In 2013 , he resigned after critics accused him of tipping off Duffy about the results of the confidential and independent Deloitte audit.
Chris Montgomery: Director of Parliamentary Affairs for LeBreton. The only Conservative staff member who stood his ground on parliamentary ethics. Montgomery said no when he was asked to help tinker with a Senate report on Duffy’s questionable housing expenses. In a related email, Nigel Wright complained that “Chris simply does not believe in our goal of circling the wagons.” Montgomery left government in September 2013 and now works for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.