Stick to the lines, repeat the message, don’t expose any weaknesses with the hope of believing that anything Canadians don’t know won’t hurt them. That’s been Harper’s strategy in the first three weeks of this election campaign. As suggested by many people thus far, either the Prime Minister knew about the Wright payment or he was lied to by his entourage.
On August 20, 2015, when asked if he still had the confidence of Ray Novak, he responded, “…there is one person on trial here. It is Mr. Duffy because Mr. Duffy took taxpayers money that I believed right from the onset he should not be taking, and I told him so.” He later states, “and in this case I have held the two people accountable who are responsible: Mr. Duffy, who did not repay his expenses, and Mr. Wright, who allowed him not to repay his expenses.” Wait a second, is it Stephen Harper who investigated and laid charges? I have one piece of advice for the Prime Minister: let a judge decide if any person(s) are responsible or accountable. Canadians are tired of a Prime Minister acting like a judge, jury and executioner. Harper’s record with the Supreme Court speaks for itself. Stay out of the judiciary.
I don’t have a personal agenda here, as I have enough personal issues to deal with but I feel it necessary to share some views on the Stephen Harper I know. Now I know the vast majority of Canadians have very little sympathy for the Senate and perhaps rightfully so, but I’m hopeful and I trust Canadians have strong views on principles of natural justice, the presumption of innocence and democracy – three concepts Harper ignores.
Section 11(d) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees every Canadian citizen the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal. Fact is, Harper has done the contrary. With his public comments, he wants Canadians to believe we are guilty until proven innocent because he has decided as such. I suspect this is the reason he denied Senators Duffy, Harb, Wallin and myself an independent and impartial process to plead our cases in the Senate in 2013. It’s no great secret that Harper despises the Senate yet uses it for his own political gain. When he throws mud at the Senate, he knows many Canadians will sympathize with him because we’re all a bunch of “crooks” right? I ask you to keep an open mind and let us have our day in a real court of law – not Harper’s court of law. After all, has the Prime Minister been honest? Has the PMO? Has the RCMP been just in their investigation or is this all political?
The principle of natural justice, in its simplest form, can be summarized as fair play, ensuring that people have a right to be heard, decisions made being free of bias and based on evidence. Yes, actions were taken and decisions were made by the Harper Conservatives but did they take into account the principles of natural justice? With all the information and testimony coming out of the Duffy trial thus far and the alleged number of people involved in the Prime Ministers Office and other Conservative Senators in the “Senate scandal”, do you believe decisions were made free of bias and purely on evidence? I will let you decide but in my case, the answer is no.
Harper’s democracy is simple: it’s his way or the highway. As former Senator Segal once said, “Some folks think the best way to deal with these problems is to throw everybody under the bus…well guess what you’re going to run out of buses and you’re going to run out of people.” Ain’t that the truth! I don’t know this to be fact but I’m starting to think Harper must have been a young kid who was made fun of at school and to him, image was and is everything. Who knows, he may have been bullied for the way he looked, dressed or for what he said. If that’s the case, it surely explains how vengeful this man is. Think of people such as Bill Casey, Helena Guergis, Bev Oda, and Nigel Wright. Senators Duffy, Wallin, myself and perhaps others to come. Think of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, Beverly McLachlin. Think of unions, First Nations people, and interest groups. Think of those that we don’t know about. Don’t forget our Veterans. Are all these people wrong and only Harper is right, honest and accountable? Think of the 40+ Conservative MPs who are not seeking re-election under Harper. Think of high profile Cabinet Ministers such as John Baird, Peter MacKay, James Moore and Christian Paradis. They may all have great reasons for not running under the Harper banner but I suspect it is much more than that.
RELATED COLUMNS BY SENATOR BRAZEAU
One thing is certain; from what I know, Harper is a control freak. When I was in caucus, very few challenged him. Those who did were shut down, those who had differing opinions were silenced. One can assume this is not inherent to the Conservative party but it is ironic many MP’s are not seeking re-election under Harper. Let me just say that many of those were often not in agreement with Harper. Is it possible Harper promised between 2011-2015 that he would not be running again but decided otherwise? Did Harper’s command and control approach disengage some of his troops? Did PMO’s control and hand in every single decision, caucus, House committees, Senate committee’s piss off some people? I would lean on the yes side.
In fact, I most likely pissed off the Prime Minister long before my personal struggles began. I stood up to Harper in the fall of 2012 and shamed him in front of caucus for not having an Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women. In that same time period, I was successful in having the Senate committee on human rights study the rights of off-reserve Aboriginal people for the first time in Canadian history. The PMO, the office of the Aboriginal Affairs Minister and some of my own colleagues were against this study and gave me a hard time. Why were they against this project? It would have meant claiming jurisdiction of the federal government towards off-reserve Aboriginal people…meaning money and lots of it to correct the wrongs of the past. Once I got kicked out of caucus on February 7, 2013, Marjory Lebreton pulled the study out of the Senate. I was gone, out of their way. That’s how they operate.
When you contradict, shame or make the PM look bad regardless of its significance, watch out because some of his soldiers are coming after you. Is that “PROVEN LEADERSHIP?” No, its “PROVEN DICTATORSHIP” and it scares me and it should scare you. I’m afraid of what Harper and his entourage will do to achieve their ends because I have lived it and they have done everything imaginable to ensure I lose my job even though I have been honest, open and accountable. For heaven’s sake, I haven’t had a fair trial yet. Luckily, that day will come for me. Unfortunately, that day will come for the Harper Conservatives.
I’m not surprised none of Harper’s former soldiers have come out yet and corroborated just how heavy-handed the Prime Minister can be although I bet many would like to. I don’t blame them because if they did, they would likely be sitting beside me with others who were once loyal to Stephen Harper and that came with a great personal and professional cost. Harper got me into trouble in early 2009 following a meeting I had with him on December 16, 2008 and I took the bullets for him. No more.
My parents, like many others taught me when you lie, you eventually end up getting caught. Even though you try to hide it, get friends to tell your version of events and/or hope the lie goes away. Then you round up those friends and supporters with the narrative that everyone else is the problem and everyone is out to get us. That’s what Harper is doing and he’s hoping his base will believe him. Well I for one don’t buy it. There are many great Conservative candidates running in this election and Canadians will have a choice to make come October 19th but my choice is made: I was once a loyal soldier to the Prime Minister and as a former Conservative caucus member, Stephen Harper has got to go for the good of the Conservative party. His time is up and the CPC needs to find a replacement yesterday. I believe Harper’s love for power and control is dangerous and he has ruined the lives of people who were close and loyal to him. I cannot imagine what he does to his enemies.
Many Canadians have made up their minds as to whether Harper knew about the Wright-Duffy payment. Who knows, he may have ordered it, he may just knew about it or perhaps he was totally in the dark. Knowing how he operated, I have trouble believing it was the latter. But unlike Stephen Harper, I will not pronounce my personal views on the matter because I am not a judge, jury or executioner. Harper owes it to all Canadians to come clean and tell the truth. He only has to follow his own words. Let’s get Harper on a witness stand under oath. If not, let’s just get him out of office on October 19th!
Follow Patrick Brazeau on twitter: @senatorbrazeau