Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Mr. Bumble: "The law is an ass!" CyberSmokeBlog: "Still is including the Harper government that crafts it!"

Spoken by Mr. Bumble upon being advised the law assumed that wives' acted according to their husband's direction. (From Charles Dickens Oliver Twist)

Good Day Readers:

The RCMP's recent announcement not to charge Nigel Wright in Duffygate raises a very interesting point. Is it, therefore, legal to make a secret payment to a sitting legislator? Can you imagine what would happen if you tried? Those in the Prime Minister's Office are unelected officials paid for but unaccountable to taxpayers operating with impunity above the law. Mike Duffy has described them a little boys in short pants while Green Party Leader Elizabeth May more recently suggested the PMO was "full of ruthless, cutthroat psychopaths."

One saving grace may be Democracy Watch a non-partisan advocacy group founded by Duff Conacher, a member of the University of Toronto's Faculty of Law, that's contemplating laying a private prosecution to force the Mounties and federal prosecutor(s) to explain precisely why Nigel Wright was not charged.Their public statement told voters/taxpayers nothing.

It's interesting to speculate perhaps a secret deal has been cut. Mike Duffy by all indications is likely to be charged meanwhile the Prime Minister has been publicly dumping all over his former Chief of Staff who has remained silent throughout. Assuming there's a trial will Mr. Wright sing like a canary under oath about the inner workings of the PMO? Talk about sweet revenge!

Perhaps Mr. Bumble got it "Wright" (sorry for the bad pun) after all.

Sincerely,
Clare L. Pieuk
Maher: It's up to our politicians to explain how that secret $90,000 payment can be legal

By Stephen Maher
Saturday, April 19, 2014

OTTAWA — When the RCMP announced on Tuesday that it was not going to charge Nigel Wright in connection with his secret $90,000 payment to Mike Duffy, I felt happy for him, because he seems in many ways an admirable man, whatever mistakes he may have made in this affair, and he appears to have suffered.
But I don’t know Wright. I met him only once, in March 2012, at the going away party for the good-humoured Angelo Persichilli, who worked as Director of Communications to Stephen Harper.

I shook Wright’s hand, introduced myself, and joked that we would miss getting leaks from Persichilli.

Wright laughed politely, because we both knew Persichilli wasn’t leaking me anything.

Wright made a point of not talking to journalists, even those friendliest to the government.

One of the hallmarks of the Prime Minister Wright served is his secretiveness.

Politics is by its nature secretive, but Harper has taken this secrecy further than his predecessors. The people closest to him — Ray Novak and Jenni Byrne — do not talk to reporters. He doesn’t talk to reporters. Wright didn’t talk to reporters.

The people they pay to talk to reporters don’t know what’s going on.

As a result, the press gallery really has no idea what’s happening in the Langevin Building, and we must behave like Kremlinologists, seizing on stray scraps of information, much the way CIA analysts once examined Politburo group photos for clues about who was enjoying Leonid Brezhnev’s favour.

The RCMP investigation into Wright’s payment to Duffy — with its dramatic court documents — pierced the PMO’s secrecy in a way that was difficult for the Harper government but good for our democracy. Democracy is only meaningful to the extent that we know what the government is doing.

Thanks to the RCMP, we know that senior officials in our government were conspiring to cover up tens of thousands of dollars in (seemingly) improper payments to senators. The internal emails and interview transcripts published by the RCMP show Wright, Duffy and a host of lawyers and senators doing all kinds of things they would never do if they didn’t think they could keep it secret.

It looks like poetic justice. Harper’s secretive approach to politics created an environment in which his servants did things that they couldn’t explain once they were exposed.

To avoid the short-term pain caused by revealing improper payments, Harper’s people created a much bigger problem, and gave us all a good long look at the sleazy way the game is played in the big leagues.

This has been fun for those watching at a distance, but unpleasant for everyone involved, including the Prime Minister, who was forced to stand in the House woodenly repeating unconvincing talking points to the NDP’s prosecutorial Thomas Mulcair.

The government has not yet shaken off the miasma of sleaze, and it is starting to look like it never will, although the news that Wright won’t be charged must give Harper hope that there is a path through this mess.

You don’t have to sport tinfoil headgear to note how convenient this is for the government. The Tories have exerted their control over the RCMP in alarming ways, and Harper has repeatedly shown that it is better to be his friend than his enemy.

Consider that the last Commissioner of the RCMP, William Elliott, is living, all expenses paid, in an $8,000-a-month Manhattan luxury apartment, courtesy of our tax dollars. And consider that the previous commissioner, Giuliano Zaccardelli, interfered in the 2006 election by announcing the Mounties were investigating Ralph Goodale for something he didn’t do.

And if you closely consider the political position of senior cops, you can see why they might like to investigate politicians but not charge them.

It is wise to be suspicious of the Royal Conservative Mounted Police, but we have to assume that in this case the Mounties have made the right call for the right reason: that there was no reasonable prospect of convicting Wright. The RCMP consulted with provincial Crown prosecutors in the same office that pressed charges against former Ottawa mayor Larry O’Brien, who we must believe are independent.

And if the Mounties were in the tank for the Tories, would they have pushed this investigation as hard as they have, causing such misery for their political masters?

The way our legal system is set up, we will never know why the Mounties decided not to proceed unless it comes out in court if the force proceeds with charges against Mike Duffy, which is expected in the coming weeks. But it’s up to politicians, not police or judges, to tell us how it is that the prime minister’s chief of staff is able to make a secret payment to a sitting legislator without facing criminal prosecution. (emphasis CyberSmokeBlog)

There is no way that should be legal.

smaher@postmedia.com
@stphnmaher

And then there was this .....
Democracy group wants to lay private charges against Wright

By Stephen Maher
Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A watchdog group is considering laying a private prosecution against Nigel Wright for his secret $90,000 payment to Senator Mike Duffy.

Democracy Watch, a non-partisan advocacy group that pushes for greater accountability, says it will lay charges against Wright unless the RCMP and prosecutors do a better job of explaining why they have decided not to charge the Prime Minister’s former Chief of Staff.

“We don’t even know who the prosecutors that were involved are, the RCMP officials involved in the decision, let alone the reasons,” said Duff Conacher, founder of Democracy Watch.

Last Tuesday, the RCMP announced that “upon completion of the investigation, we have concluded that the evidence gathered does not support criminal charges against Mr. Wright.”

Conacher says the evidence presented in court documents by the RCMP makes that hard to understand.
“Given the clear evidence that Duffy was required to do specific things in return for the payment from Nigel Wright, and given that the laws have never or very rarely been ruled on by the courts, the RCMP or prosecutors must provide a detailed explanation or they will face ongoing questions about what they are covering up and whether they have properly enforced the law in the public interest,” he said.

In documents filed in order to force the production of documents, RCMP investigator Corporal Greg Horton alleged that Wright violated section 119 of the Criminal Code, which forbids anyone from “corruptly” giving or offering money to a parliamentarian “in respect of anything done or omitted or to be done or omitted by that person in their official capacity.”

Former parliamentary Law Clerk Rob Walsh has said that since Wright was not seeking private benefit — like a federal contract or grant — the payment likely doesn’t qualify as “corrupt.”

Conacher, who is a faculty member at the University of Toronto Law School, disagrees with Walsh’s interpretation of “corrupt,” and says the law was designed to prevent even the offer of a payment.

“If you just offer to pay them, then you have violated 119, and thank God it’s written that way,” Conacher said. “Otherwise attempted bribery would be legal. And they could legally take the money and not do the action.”

Conacher has lined up a criminal lawyer to lay an information against Wright with a Justice of the Peace, using evidence from court documents filed by the RCMP. Theoretically, a Justice of the Peace could allow the prosecution to proceed, but in practice, the Provincial Attorney General’s office has the right to block private prosecutions
.
Conacher says he wants the opportunity to ask the RCMP and prosecutors to explain their decisions.

“Hopefully the Justice of the Peace will require them to provide an explanation,” he said. “That’s what we’re looking for.”

Conacher does not trust the independence of the RCMP, and says he believes the decision not to lay charges is a “coverup.”

The RCMP, which is expected to lay charges against Mike Duffy in the weeks ahead, said in an email Tuesday that it can’t explain its decision not to charge Wright.

“We are not in a position to comment on the matter,” said Corporal. Lucy Shorey. “Doing so may jeopardize our ongoing investigation. We can, however, confirm that many witnesses were interviewed and facts were thoroughly examined. Upon completion of the investigation, the evidence gathered did not support the laying of criminal charges against Mr. Wright.”

Wright’s lawyer, Peter Mantas, declined to comment on Tuesday, reiterating a statement from Wright last week, in which he stated his “intention was to secure the repayment of taxpayer funds,” and that he always believed his actions were lawful.

Duffy has also said that he believes his actions were legal, and blamed the Prime Minister’s Office for forcing him to pay back expense payments.

smaher@postmedia.com

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