The end justifies the means

There are two trials going on–a criminal trial for Mike Duffy and a trial of public opinion for Stephen Harper and Nigel Wright.
Duffy, the charged, and Wright, the witness, are under oath to ‘tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth’ unlike Harper who only has to convince the voting public that he is telling the truth.
Telling the truth simply means giving correct information as far as you are aware, whereas telling the “whole truth” also brings in the concept of omission of facts.
Omission of facts is powerful in defending one’s virtue. Harper wants us to forget that he personally chose Duffy as a PEI Senator for his fundraising abilities against the advice of his in-house lawyer, Benjamin Perrin and the wishes of Island residents. Duffy was not a PEI resident having lived and worked full-time in Ottawa for over 40 years.
Under oath Wright said we needed “the public to believe that the cheque was from Mike Duffy because the public would never accept the truth”. He also said that his ‘good to go’ comment related to Harper approving the media strategy—for which we now know was intended to deceive the public. Harper can say he didn’t know it was a deceit, but in a court of law, ignorance is not a defence.
The primary role of any chief of staff is to know and do the Prime Minister’s will and most importantly ‘preserve plausible deniability’. In this case, the ‘fact’ that was supposedly preserved from the Prime Minister was how Duffy’s expenses were paid. Harper has this ‘truth’ point to make and he doggedly repeats it day after day.
Harper likes to use the media line, “Canadians with common sense would expect Duffy to repay”. Should common-sense Canadians not also reasonably believe that any Prime Minister, especially the most control-oriented PM in the history of Canada, ever allow his underlings to wield that much power and control without his knowledge?
Then there is the whole issue of telling ‘nothing but the truth’, not lying or making assumptions based on facts. First Harper said nobody, other than Wright and Duffy knew of this deal. Yet during Duffy’s trial, we find out that everybody in Harper’s staff knew, including his current chief of staff and long-time ‘like a son’, Ray Nowak.
Caught in a lie, and out to protect Nowak at all cost, Harper goes on the offence, charging that Wright is totally to blame. “I certainly don’t hold subordinates accountable for the actions of their superiors,” says Harper. The problem for Harper is that Nigel was not the superior, he was Harper’s subordinate.
In his question avoidance, Harper daily becomes the moral judge, juror and executioner. “There are only two men accountable, Wright and Duffy, and when I found out their actions, I held them responsible.” But the problem is much broader than two men and one court case where no judgement has yet been rendered.
Harper’s staff attempted to tamper with an independent audit by Deloitte, thwarted Senate committee independence, attempted to cover Duffy’s disputed expenses from tax-receiptable donations to the Conservative party, re-wrote a Senate Committee Report, developed an elaborate media lie, told Duffy not to cooperate with the auditors, wrote the media “lie” for Duffy, and planned to create a special Senate subcommittee to ensure the “right senators” would interpret the eligible expenses to protect all Harper-appointed senators with spending problems in the future.
Bill Clinton survived impeachment by sticking to his truth ‘ism’.  “I never slept with that woman”. It was the truth, just not the whole truth and nothing but the truth. He didn’t sleep with her, he only had oral sex with her!
Harper is counting on returning to 24 Sussex by sticking to his truth ‘ism’. “I didn’t know who wrote the cheque.” And his media avoidance strategy, “I’m not going to answer the questions (posed by the media during the election campaign) because I don’t accept your rendition of the truth.”
Harper, fortunately does not have to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth or answer questions. Wright did, although his memory was not always as clear in remembering details as that of Harper’s former in-house legal advisor, Benjamin Perrin.
But Wright had to be very careful because as he testified and the 500+ e-mails were entered into evidence, Duffy started to appear as the unwilling participate in the scheme and others, including Wright, seemed to be the instigators.  Alas, time will tell whether the RCMP charged the right guy with bribery and fortunately for Harper that will be long after the federal election. As for Perrin, he has no political or personal reasons to be fuzzy with details; he appeared to be confident and non-contradictory in his facts during his testimony and cross examination. It was like he was relieved to be able to speak the truth and get it off his chest.
Harper appointed Duffy against Perrin’s legal advice, set the tone for the office, approved the deceitful media strategy and is the superior with the ministerial responsibility for the PMO and its staff.
The buck does stop at Harper, but as Clinton and others have proven throughout history, the voting public is pretty good at resolving any inner moral conflicts by rationalizing, “the end justify the means”.

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