Mulcair Sliced and Diced Harper and His Pork Policies

It was NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair’s finest hour  … or at least 15 minutes: the Opposition carved up the Prime Minister during Question Period Tuesday with the skills of an expert butcher carving up a pork roast , leaving Stephen Harper’s credibility in pieces on the Commons floor.

Rarely have I enjoyed a Question Period as much as I did this one … the first one Harper has attended since the scandal over the pig-at-the-trough spending by Harper-appointed Senator Mike Duffy, as well as the back-door repayment deal that cost Harper’s Chief of Staff his job, discredited the federal Conservatives for ALTERING and  SANITIZING a Senate report into Duffy’s spending habits.

It stinks! And the public want answers …and justice.

Mulcair was in the best form I’ve ever seen him … coolly and calmly asking Harper several questions to which the public want answers.

And what was equally interesting was the contrast between Mulcair and new Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau.

Mulcair, a lawyer, was clearly the more effective, experienced examiner/cross-examiner, scoring point after point; Trudeau, a  former teacher, showed his nervousness, inexperience and  ineffectiveness in taking on the Prime Minister.

Of course, neither got the whole story from Harper …but the exchanges were TERRIFIC.

Here is the Hansardian transcript as published on www.Vancouverobserver.com : Read it and ENJOY!

Mr. Speaker, on what date and at what time was the Prime Minister informed that Nigel Wright had made a payment to Conservative Senator Mike Duffy?

Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC)

    Mr. Speaker, I have been very clear on this question. This matter came to my attention two weeks ago, after speculation appeared in the media. 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.

Hon. Thomas Mulcair (Leader of the Opposition, NDP)

    Mr. Speaker, when did the Prime Minister first speak with Nigel Wright about Mike Duffy’s expenses?

Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC):

    Mr. Speaker, as I have said repeatedly, my first knowledge of this was on the date and at the time indicated.
    Prior to that point in time, it was my understanding that Mr. Duffy had paid back his own expenses.

Mr. Speaker, the question was when did the Prime Minister first speak with Nigel Wright about Mike Duffy’s expenses, and how many times did he speak with Nigel Wright in the week preceding his resignation?

Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC)

    Mr. Speaker, if the leader of the NDP is suggesting I had any information to the contrary from Mr. Wright prior to this, that is completely false. I learned of this on May 15 and immediately made this information public, as I have said many times.

Hon. Thomas Mulcair (Leader of the Opposition, NDP)

    Mr. Speaker, we are asking very simple, straightforward questions and the Prime Minister is not answering them. That is the problem. Canadians want answers.

[Translation]

     What instructions did the Prime Minister give to Nigel Wright or other people in his office to solve the problem of Conservative Senator Mike Duffy’s expenses?

Mr. Speaker, I did not give any such instructions. It was my opinion that Mr. Duffy was to pay his own expenses, and that is what I believed until May 15.

[English]

Hon. Thomas Mulcair (Leader of the Opposition, NDP)

    Then what changed, Mr. Speaker, between the time the Prime Minister expressed his total, absolute support of Nigel Wright and the moment he accepted his resignation just three days later? What changed?

Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC)

    Mr. Speaker, Mr. Wright accepted full responsibility for his error in this matter. He offered his resignation, and I accepted that resignation. As we know, he will be subject to an examination by the Ethics Commissioner, and that is the accountability mechanism we have put in place for these kinds of things.

Mr. Justin Trudeau (Papineau, Lib.)

    Mr. Speaker, as the country now knows, the Prime Minister‘s closest adviser secretly paid $90,000 to a sitting legislator to obstruct an audit. Will the Prime Minister commit to releasing all records, emails, documents, correspondence and other material relating to any arrangement between Mr. Wright and Mr. Duffy?

Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC)

    Mr. Speaker, the arrangement in question that the leader speaks to was, of course, between Mr. Wright and Mr. Duffy. It is a matter of examination by the ethics commissioners in each chamber of this Parliament, and obviously, should we be asked to produce any kind of information, we would be happy to do so.

Mr. Justin Trudeau (Papineau, Lib.)

    Mr. Speaker, we are asking for that information.

[Translation]

     I will try again. Is the Prime Minister going to release all the documents, including emails and correspondence, relating to the arrangement between Mr. Wright and Mr. Duffy? Is the Prime Minister going to show the public a copy of the cheque made out by Mr. Wright to Mr. Duffy?

Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC)

    Mr. Speaker, once more, this was an arrangement between Mr. Wright and Mr. Duffy. I am expecting the ethics commissioners in each house of Parliament to look into these questions.

[English]
Mr. Justin Trudeau (Papineau, Lib.)

    Mr. Speaker, these are questions to which Canadians have been asking for answers, and they deserve those answers directly from the Prime Minister. Will the Prime Minister commit to having everyone involved in this affair, including himself, testify about their involvement, in a public forum under oath?

Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC)

    Mr. Speaker, the facts here are very straightforward. This is a matter between Mr. Wright and Mr. Duffy. It is the subject of an examination by the ethics commissioners in both houses of Parliament. What I think Canadians are completely bewildered about is why the leader of the Liberal Party thinks now is an appropriate time to try to pit one region against another region over the question of Senate reform.

Hon. Thomas Mulcair (Leader of the Opposition, NDP)

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister keeps referring us back to the whitewashed report of the Senate. Senator Carolyn Stewart Olsen is his former press secretary. Did he or did he not ever have any conversations with his former press secretary, Carolyn Stewart Olsen, concerning this affair in the Senate?

Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC)

    As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, no, I did not, but it is very clear the Senate committee itself has answered those questions. It is the author of its own report. That report mirrors the recommendations of an independent audit conducted on behalf of the Senate; and the government, as a matter of fact, agrees with the recommendations in those reports, which are that the expenses in question are inappropriate and amounts such as that must be repaid to the taxpayers of Canada.

Hon. Thomas Mulcair (Leader of the Opposition, NDP)

  Mr. Speaker, did the Prime Minister ever discuss this matter in cabinet?

 Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC)

    Mr. Speaker, the Senate committee has been very clear. It made its own report on these matters. The government’s position is also extremely well known. When people claim expenditures they never actually incurred, these are inappropriate and must be repaid to the taxpayers.

 Hon. Thomas Mulcair (Leader of the Opposition, NDP)

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister keeps trying to convince Canadians that he is being straightforward. That was a very straightforward and simple question. Did he ever discuss this matter in cabinet?

 Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC)

    Mr. Speaker, the Senate committee report is a Senate committee report. It is not a matter of government or cabinet business. That is plainly obvious.

[Translation]

Mr. Speaker, when did the Prime Minister learn that an agreement had been made with Conservative Senator Mike Duffy? This time we are asking about the agreement, not the payment.

Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC)

    Mr. Speaker, once again, it was the same date. On Wednesday, May 15, Mr. Wright told me that he had given a personal cheque to Mr. Duffy so that he could reimburse the taxpayers.  Until that moment, I thought that Mr. Duffy had paid his own expenses.

[English]

Mr. Speaker, who in the Prime Minister‘s Office spoke with Mr. Duffy about withholding information from auditors or others investigating this matter?

Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC)

    Mr. Speaker, I have no information to that effect. Obviously, as I have said repeatedly, the arrangements between Mr. Duffy and Mr. Wright are a matter of inquiry of the ethics commissioners of both houses of this Parliament, and we will provide any support necessary in those examinations.

Hon. Thomas Mulcair (Leader of the Opposition, NDP)

    Mr. Speaker, Mike Duffy wrote in an email that after being paid $90,000, he “stayed silent on the orders of the Prime Minister’s Office”. Who told Mike Duffy to remain silent?

Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC)

    Mr. Speaker, these are not matters I am privy to. This is an email from Mike Duffy, who is no longer a member of our caucus and certainly never conveyed that information to me.

Hon. Thomas Mulcair (Leader of the Opposition, NDP)

    Mr. Speaker, once Mike Duffy received the $90,000 from the Prime Minister‘s Office, he stopped cooperating with Deloitte, which was the auditor in the file. Was that part of the deal with Mike Duffy?

Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC)

    Again, Mr. Speaker, I think it’s important to note the falsehood in that particular question. Mr. Duffy has received no money from the Prime Minister‘s Office, nor from the taxpayers of Canada. Mr. Wright has been very clear that Mr. Wright gave this money to Mr. Duffy out of his own personal resources, and to my knowledge, there is no legal agreement between the two of them.

Hon. Thomas Mulcair (Leader of the Opposition, NDP)

    Mr. Speaker, actually, when the chief of staff of the Prime Minister in the course of his functions from the Prime Minister’s office gives $90,000 to shut up a sitting senator, that is out of the Prime Minister’s Office. No legal document? A cheque is a document. Do they have a copy of the cheque? Has the Prime Minister or anyone in his office seen that cheque?

Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC)

    Mr. Speaker, once again, contrary to what the Leader of the Opposition just said, there is no cheque from the Prime Minister’s Office. There is no use of Prime Minister’s Office funds in this affair.   This was an action Mr. Wright took, using his own resources, on which he is now subject to examination and accountability by the Ethics Commissioner.”
This was Question Period at its best: no heckling; no shouting, no hooting … no longwinded preambles and antagonistic rhetoric setting up impossible-to-answer queries.
Just first-class questioning by Mulcair … displaying Parliamentary skills that bested BOTH Harper and Trudeau.
Harv Oberfeld
(By the way, despite the current scandals,  I am NOT one of those who wants to get rid of the Senate: change Yes, but abolition No: Hear why … in an interview I did this week on Digital Talk Radio .)
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22 Responses to Mulcair Sliced and Diced Harper and His Pork Policies

  1. Kim says:

    Yes. Mulcair was superb.

    Political watchers Nationwide were in awe. That was one helluva QP!

    I’ve never seen the Tory caucus look so gobsmacked.

    But Nathan Cullen put in another very relevant question. About the PM’s own (former)Council and his involvement. How can the PM maintain plausable deniability when his own lawyer may have committed an illegal act of conflict of interest?

  2. .. thank you for that ! .. your report presents exactly what Mr Harper was trying to slither around, about and nowhere near honestly .. as he was on the record.. cameras rolling .. and these were not questions ‘approved by the PMO’ ..

    The evasion and stubborn refusal to answer certain questions simply, honestly defines Mr Harper’s duplicity .. and embosses a flawed, flailing legacy of deceit and arrogance..

    At the same time.. the applause, clapping and cheering by his ludicrous MP’s and caucus is as always, stunning. Pantomime, empty evasive rhetoric and buffoonery during Question Period.

    Why any single Konservative MP would clap or applaud Stephen Harper.. much less the entire addled group, stand to give an ovation is the stuff of Monty Python .. or Alice in Wonderland.. where things are not at all what they seem to be.. or completely inane and/or insane ..

    Where stony shocked silence and concerned, grave and hopeful for truth is the indicated and realistic response.. the trained seals instead act hysterically.. with glee and mirth and denial …

    Do any of these egotists actually watch replays of such pitiful performance ?

    What abject losers and ignorance we have discovered in Parliament.. We have known of this ethical and competency shortfall for quite some time.. but its stunning to see adult, elected partisan politicians strip and go naked and join their naked emperor in all his redolent, transparent finery.

    (Response: Diver Darren should read your comment: it’s exactly what I was trying to point out in my response to him. Sometimes it’s not what the respondent says …it’s what he or she refuses to say when good questioning is directed at them. h.o)

  3. Diverdarren says:

    Harvey I watched the “great” question period.

    It was, as you say pointed and direct with none of the bluster of business as usual for the Commons.

    And it was useless.

    Do you really think that Mulcair’s examination enlightened this scandal? All it drew out of the PM was pointed direct responses. Question period is not a law court; it was never meant to be. If it were, and I was on the jury I certainly wouldn’t feel that the prosecution broke the witness.

    Question period is (and should be) political theater. A chance to put the fire to the feet of the government. To make a point. What point did Mulcair make?

    It’s great that Mulcair can show himself as a good Crown Prosecutor. Of course, the public kind-of expects the Leader of the Opposition to show that they can be a good Prime Minister. And in this regard Mulcair failed.

    (Response: Well, you should read the exchanges again, setting aside your political bias. Mulcair was very effective in exposing Harper’s hypocrisy, declaring full confidence in Wright …then as the heat increased, accepting his resignation three days later. Also Harper’s sliding around on the cabinet discussions was also damaging. And take it from me, the most important point sometimes in asking questions is not necessarily the response but the impression left by the questions themselves, when they are NOT answered. And I believe Mulcair was VERY effective in this regard. h.o)

  4. chuckstraight says:

    Mulcair nailed the Con leader Harper.
    Period.

  5. D. M. Johnston says:

    Ah, I see the Mr. Mulcair is doing what Dix did not do – expose the corruption within and take no prisoners.

  6. e.a.f. says:

    The CBC ran the “show” on Tueday night with their panel. It was like watching a reallly realllly good show. Finally they had their A game! I applauded. Not since the days of Broadbent, Sheila Copps and her crew in opposition have things been this interesting.

    It was nice to finally see the opposition parties stop with the speeches and just ask the questions, and demand the answers. Now if they just all keep it up we might just get somewhere. This ought not to be let slipped from the front page or let the P.M. simply say it is now with the RCMP. the opposition parties showed their A game. The citizens have a right to see that game each and every day.

    What has happened in the senate is a disgrace. The Senate needs to be changed. If they can’t “open” the constitution for a re-work then as a min. each area should be able to vote for whom they wish to have as a Senator and then the GG can “annoint” them. Perhaps “annointed” senators should be approved by a committee made of equal members of all parties. Leaving it up to the “reigning” P.M. to “annoint” gets us what we got.

    I for one do not appreciate my tax dollars being used in the method it has been by some senators. There are veterans who don’t receive enough support. We have children in this country who don’t have enough to eat and we see these senators with their mouths open gorging themselves. it is disgusting.

    By the way, I like your captcha much better than the others. Yours is always easy to read and its there to read. thank you.

    (Response: I agree Senate has to be changed. It’s numbers really should be apportioned to reflect the population reality or, if that’s not achievable, then give each province/territory the same number of seats … ALL elected. h.o)

  7. Larry Bennett says:

    Harper made Mulcair look like the scumbag he is, especially pointing out that it took him (how many) years to get around to telling the police about the stuffed envelopes. What did he think they were stuffed with, pimento and crab? And furthermore, can we be sure he didn’t accept them? The mayor is so damaged that no one would believe a word he said, either way.

  8. G. Barry Stewart says:

    Hmm… is that why the BC Liberals have an aversion to actual sitting in legislature — too many chances to be asked uncomfortable questions?

    (Response: The NDP did a terrific job of asking those questions….so maybe the answer to your question is Yes. Plus not much to offer in legislation to address many of BC’s problems…like child poverty, transportation, tax reform, improved environmental controls? h.o)

  9. e.a.f. says:

    Hello Larry Bennett, the topic is what Harper and the cons did. Not what Mulcair did and didn’t do. attempting to deflect the spot light from Harper, the cons, and the senate will not work this time. Harper has to account for what went on in his government, under his watch. He was the one who came to power with the mantra of open and honest government, changing the senate, etc. What he did was anything but. So no for now we all get to take a wack out of Harper and his cons. Perhaps next time, if there is any wrong doing on the part of Mulcair then we can have a look at that but at this point in time, we need to finish with the Cons.

  10. ron says:

    Who says federal politics is boring when it’s like a classic TV series?
    This week we saw “Perry Mason” Thomas Mulcair grill “Colonel Klinck” Stephen Harper – who persists in repeating “I know nothing”.
    Despite all of the main characters in the Senategate scandal being personally appointed by Harper: Senators Duffy, Wallin, and Brazeau, and Chief of Staff Wright of his Prime Minister’s Office – he ignores that all avenues of this growing scandal lead to his Office during his watch.
    Meanwhile “Fonzy” Justin Trudeau never has a bad hair day even as he steps in every cow pie in the field – with divisive and often contradictory statements often in the form of dramatic exaggeration.
    While the Conservatives profess to want to “reform” a Senate they have packed, and Justin is delighted that the current Senate has 24 Quebec Senators while B.C. and Alberta have only six each, only Thomas Mulcair is on point as he argues that the Senate should be abolished. This action would save taxpayers $91 million annually and rid 21st Century Canada of an anachronistic triple-U Senate: Unelected, Unaccountable and Undemocratic that was originally created to assure that the political-economic elites would limit the powers of the people’s House of Commons.

    (Response: They way he answered … I knew nothing, I saw nothing … perhaps Harper was more Sgt. Shultz than Col Klink? h.o)

  11. Larry Bennett says:

    e.a.f. – the topic is for Harvey Oberfeld to decide, and it is up to his commenters to state whether or not they agree with his view of what occurred in Parliament on the question of what the P.M. knew and when, and his supposition that the same was “sliced and diced” by the opposition leader re: political pork. If he is speaking to his ‘Amen’ corner, or a nodding fan club, he should say so. If he should decide he wants no detractors, his finger is on the button that would accomplish same, and has been used to silence me on the be-jeweled pinkies of other bloggers who don’t take criticism well.

    (Response: My next one …you might BOTH agree on. Now, there’s a challenge for me! 🙂 h.o.

  12. Maharg says:

    Thanks Harvey for a good synopsis of latest observations and assessment of our extremely dysfunctional Senate.

    Unfortunately not all your readers can relate or appreciate the pork barreling that dominated both the Mulroney and Chretien eras. What is worse is the latest exploitation of our democracy has been completely breached by the Harper Regime. As expected, LB continues to be blinded by the perpetual dishonest “scumbag Harper” and his dogma.

  13. 13 says:

    I might as well wade into this one. I do not like the federal NDP. They are every bit as crooked as any other politcal party. I do like Harper and the conservatives. They to are every bit as crooked as the rest. In this instance Mulcair did put on a fine performance and Mr Harper did a less than adequate job of responding. At least Duffy and Ford have taken peoples minds off of the Liberal win vs NDP loss.

    (Response: The Senate has always been a pork barrel for “favored” friends and allies, which is too bad. If properly organized and elected, it could contribute a great deal to better government in Canada. h.o)

  14. Crankypants says:

    It was unusual to watch the proceedings without the trained seals clapping for their next herring tidbit. Unfortunately this exchange and the subsequent one the last two days clarified nothing. If anything we are left with more questions than answers.

    It sounds to me that Mr. Wright did for Mr. Harper what Mr. Dix did for Mr. Clark. Did they do so on their own initiative or were they coerced? Likely we’ll never know.

    I think from a taxpayers point of view the crux of the matter is that our various levels of government have carte blanche to use someone elses money to do with as they wish in regards to what they deem they are entitled.

  15. Paul says:

    Here’s the video of the May 29th Question Period for people who may have missed it.

    http://cpac.ca/eng/programs/question-period/episodes/may-29-2013-0

    (Response: Thanks Pau. Good to have a tech-savvy contributor to the discussions! 🙂 h.o.

  16. Ian Fromme-Nelson says:

    Somebody call the UN Committee on Human Trafficking… because Mulcair OWNED Harper!

    There there, Larry — I know it can’t be easy seeing your hero be shown for the dishonest, slimy, corrupt sleazebag that he is… gasp, by a SOCIALIST yet! Horrors!
    You could almost say… Harper was in over his head!
    Thanks again, Harv — have a great weekend!Now I think I’ll watch that QP link above. Got some popcorn — the bright pink stuff, natch!

  17. GeeBee007 says:

    Harvey – in one of your responses above your chastise a commenter with this comment….”setting aside your political bias”

    May I respectfully request that you do the same.

    You are a fun read but your continual political attacks against Harper and anything conservative is getting tiresome.

    Your blog – your rules……if you don’t want me here, no problem…. but ‘do as I say, not as I do’ is a little silly, don’t you think?

    (Response: Well, let’s see …I now have an almost perfect “bias” score! I have been accused on here of being an NDPer, an anti-NDPer, a BC Liberal, and yes, even a federal Tory! (You must have missed my blogs “Kudos to Harper for Shipbuilding Methodology” or the one entitled “Bravo Stephen Harper!” re his strongly principled foreign affairs stances. What you should understand is, I am not reporting anymore (just repeating what OTHERS say) I am blogging …giving my views on various topics/issues. Of course, they reveal my opinions …or biases .. but I don’t see them as particularly partisan: I have, over the years, voted for all FIVE major BC and federal political parties. I am an equal-opportunity critic: I let politicians of every side have it when I think they’re letting the voters down; I call out my own media colleagues … esp management … when they sell journalism short. As for Harper, he is these days an easy target: he’s in power; he disrespects Parliamentarians, he has almost shut down the public’s access to information (other than press releases); he has SILENCED civil servants from even answering questions; and he has shredded several important programs and environmental protection programs …not to mention (but let’s) the Kits Coast Guard Base fiasco. But watch for my next blog, you may like it better! 🙂 h.o

  18. Larry Bennett says:

    I’d really like to know why so much of the language used in the House is en Francais? Oh, right, it is because Mulcair and Justine have the majority of their base there.
    By the way, Fromme-Nelson (la de dah) he is, my hero and I can’t recall in my long life, (and I am besmeared with sluttish time) who was so straight forward, unpretentious and sensible. Who hasn’t seen Chretien supposedly into extreme sports, making a fool out of himself in late life? And finally, time and justice has caught up with the butcher Morgentaler – the man made my skin crawl! He was supported mainly by the likes of your heroes.

  19. crh says:

    Thank goodness we are all not blinded by Harper as the likes of Larry are. If we all put corruption up on a pedestal and worshiped him that would be the end of Canada. It’s about time to be rid of Harper and his secretive cronyism.

    (Response: What really bothers, though, is who is the alternative to really represent ordinary British Columbians and their interests in Ottawa? Scary! h.o)

  20. 13 says:

    Harvey, your response to geebeebond is dead on. You have shown time and time again that you can blast all parties equally. I am not as open minded and quite enjoy reading the posts that cant stand the right. I once was a miss guided lefty but have seen the right light. Like Larry Bennet ( I wish he would get off the fence and move to the right) I like Harper . He is as good as it gets for a westerner. The two other leaders likely get shivers and chills just looking to the west.

    (Response: I used to say I was against whoever was in POWER at the time: I’ve changed … as British Columbians ,we have such poor representation from all of them, there’s LOTS to criticize on all sides! Which makes blogging even more fun! h.o)

  21. dan says:

    “Who hasn’t seen Chretien supposedly into extreme sports, making a fool out of himself in late life?”

    Better still who has not witnessed one Larry Bennett continually embarrass himself with the religious based statements against others which only reveal the tremendous bias he has for the rest of the entire world, as the rest of the world apparently does not see life as Larry does.

    (Response: Now, now! I admire Chretien’s ability to go out and be so active (although he looked a bit uncomfortable); the only way I get out onto the water these days is in a balcony cabin on a cruise ship! 🙂 h.o.

  22. RS says:

    “Mr. Speaker, as the country now knows, the Prime Minister‘s closest adviser secretly paid $90,000 to a sitting legislator to obstruct an audit. Will the Prime Minister commit to releasing all records, emails, documents, correspondence and other material relating to any arrangement between Mr. Wright and Mr. Duffy?”

    Anyone think Harper and Wright would have left anything more than a wink wink, nudge nudge between them in this sordid affair?

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