Democracy Gone Astray

Democracy, being a human construct, needs to be thought of as directionality rather than an object. As such, to understand it requires not so much a description of existing structures and/or other related phenomena but a declaration of intentionality.
This blog aims at creating labeled lists of published infringements of such intentionality, of points in time where democracy strays from its intended directionality. In addition to outright infringements, this blog also collects important contemporary information and/or discussions that impact our socio-political landscape.

All the posts here were published in the electronic media – main-stream as well as fringe, and maintain links to the original texts.

[NOTE: Due to changes I haven't caught on time in the blogging software, all of the 'Original Article' links were nullified between September 11, 2012 and December 11, 2012. My apologies.]

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Time to flush out the truth in the Duffy investigation

They cut off the wrong leg, mixed up the babies, confused the medications, screwed up the blood types and didn’t much like the patient.

If RCMP investigators and ministry of the attorney general’s lawyers had been doctors, they would have been facing a malpractice suit over Duffygate.

When will someone call for an investigation into this institutional witch-hunt in which a legal calamity was only avoided thanks to a crusading and indefatigable lawyer and a clear-eyed and fearless judge?

Not the gutless scribes who moaned that just because Duffy was acquitted didn’t mean he was innocent. Not the jackass Conservative politicians whose idea of a good judge is someone who does what he’s told. This needs to be investigated by someone who can tell his ass from a hole in the ground. Kevin Page comes to mind, with help from Sheila Fraser.

Is such a request over the top? Not at all. It passes all the usual tests. There is abundant evidence that there has been a travesty of justice here – even though in the end of the day there was an acquittal. A case could even be made that this was a malicious prosecution.

Finally, there is a public interest, an overwhelming one, in getting to the bottom of what happened to Mike Duffy. The federal Justice department and the RCMP used all of their extraordinary powers to investigate and then charge a single individual with 31 career and reputation-killing criminal charges. After years of public opprobrium directed at Duffy, and months of grueling court testimony, it turns out that the best investigative and legal minds that the federal system could muster to protect the integrity of the system, got it completely, utterly, and undeniably, wrong.

Would you like to be punted into criminal court by guys whose grasp of the criminal court is equal to their understanding of astrophysics?

Since no one else has even mentioned the obvious follow to last week’s events – a thorough airing of how this near train-wreck happened, allow me to pose a few questions that need answering. Duffy may not be Louis Riel, but

First up is the justice system:

  •     What are the names of the lawyers who worked on the Duffy file?
  •     Who assigned the prosecutors to this case?
  •     Did these lawyers meet with RCMP investigators before the 31 criminal charges against Senator Duffy were laid?
  •     Did lawyers express any disagreement with the decision to lay those charges or were the Mounties an prosecution lawyers always on the same page?
  •     Did prosecution lawyers offer any advice to the lead RCMP investigator on this case? If so, what was it?
  •     Will the prosecutor’s office release any written advice it may have given to the Mounties, and any minutes of meetings it held with investigators or RCMP executives in the course of their work on this file?
  •     If there were any communications or verbal briefings between the prosecution and the Minister of Justice or his staff, will the department make them public, including private emails and text messages?
  •     Was there any dissenting opinion within the prosecutor’s office on the number and nature of charges against Senator Duffy?

Next up is the RCMP:

  •     Did the Commissioner of the RCMP or his staff have any communications from the PMO regarding the Duffy case, and if so, will he make them public?
  •     Did the Commissioner of the RCMP or his staff communicate with the Minister of Public Safety or his staff about the Duffy case? If so, did he offer or receive any advice and will he release those communications?
  •     Will the Commissioner of the RCMP fully describe his role in the Duffy case, including exactly how and by whom investigators were assigned to this case?
  •     Who in the RCMP, if anyone, met with the lead investigator in the Duffy case? If there were meetings, will the Force release any record of their input and advice to Corporal Horton, including any suggestions that may have been given about the nature and direction of his investigation.
  •     Did the lead investigator on the Duffy case seek the legal advice of anyone in either the public or the private sector before charges were laid? If he did, what are the names of those people and what were the areas of the investigation in which Corporal Horton sought advice? If he did seek such guidance, what was he told?
  •     The Privy Council Office houses the emails of the PMO. The RCMP was advised through “external PMO legal counsel” that “Prime Minister Harper had ordered that all emails of PMO staff were to be retained for the RCMP should they be required.” Who was that external legal counsel?
  •     The lead RCMP investigator was advised that the emails of Benjamin Perrin were no longer available because Perrin left the PMO in April 2013, and internal practice within the PMO was to removed a person’s emails from the computer server once their employment ends. This information turned out to be incorrect. PCO rules in fact require emails with “business value” for government activities to be kept.
  •     A four-day consensual search of PCO computers for all emails relevant to the Duffy case from December 2012 to September 2013, failed to turn up emails from Harper’s then legal advisor Benjamin Perrin. These emails were later found on November 29th 2013, almost two weeks after Corporal Horton’s ITO was made public. Harper’s national security advisor was immediately advised as was the Commissioner of the RCMP. Did the RCMP ever investigate if those emails had been removed from the PCO server and by whom?
  •     Was there any disagreement between the lead investigator, senior RCMP members, or prosecution officials about the number and nature of charges laid against Senator Duffy?
  •     Why did the RCMP proceed with bribery charges against Mike Duffy but not against Nigel Wright? The RCMP promised to reveal the reason at the appropriate time. If there was a deal struck with Wright, will the RCMP make public precisely what it was – such as consideration for Wright having handed over Duffy’s diaries, or proof that Wright had permission from his boss to do the expenses deal?
  •     Was there any executive input inside the RCMP into either the course of Corporal Horton’s investigation or its conclusions. If so, will the Force release any records revealing what that input was?
  •     Was there any dissenting opinion within the Force about either the nature or number of charges laid against Senator Duffy?

Those are just a few of the unanswered questions about Duffygate. Under normal circumstances, if there was no stomach to call an inquiry into how police and justice officials failed Mike Duffy, Canadians could count on the Official Opposition to raise the matter. We can all forget about Rona Ambrose and the Conservatives standing up against the abuse of power so clearly evident in this case. According to Justice Vaillancourt, Ambrose’s former leader and his PMO minions were the lead abusers.

The judge ended his 308-page decision with these words: “Mr. Neubauer [one of the Crown prosecutors] stated that Senator Duffy’s actions were driven by deceit, manipulations and carried out in a clandestine manner representing a serious and marked standard expected of a person in Senator Duffy’s position of trust. I find that if one were to substitute the PMO, Nigel Wright and others for Senator Duffy in the aforementioned sentence that you would have a more accurate statement.”

Every once in a while, a defeated political party reminds everyone of why it was thrown out, and more importantly, how unfit it remains for office. Rona Ambrose showed once more that she is a not a leader but a dead-end partisan just as uninterested in the truth as her former boss.

In the wake of last week’s court verdict, instead of acknowledging that things had gone horribly wrong in the political persecution of Mike Duffy, Ambrose and almost all of her caucus had nothing to say about the disgraceful conduct of Harper and his PMO. Worse, they had nothing to say for themselves – not even that this kind of political scape-goating and abuse of power was dead wrong and would never happen again under Conservative auspices.

There is no surprise in this. Ambrose and the Conservatives are still operating under Harper rules. Faced with a bad news story when he was the government, the lynchpin of Tory communications theory was don’t turn one bad story into two bad stories. In other words, don’t respond to negative news and tell journalists to go piss up a rope. But you can’t “no comment” your way out of a hand-in-the-cookie-jar moment like this one.

Harper was right about one thing those: loose lips sink ships. The self-styled law and order crowd have been made into monkeys by one of their own. Conservative MP Candice Bergen won the Sarah Palin Award on Twitter for her hapless remarks in the wake of Justice Vaillancourt’s stinging indictment of Stephen Harper and his PMO.

In defending her former boss, Bergen said the verdict was, “the judge’s opinion.” Bergen was upholding a Harper tradition – disrespecting the courts when its findings collided with PMO speaking lines. Her choice of words was asinine. Only Justice Vaillancourt saw all the evidence. Besides, wasn’t it Dean del Mastro who famously said of the judge’s verdict finding him guilty of electoral fraud “That’s her opinion.”

It’s not a matter of opinion, Candice, it’s a matter of legal record and rule of law – not rule of Steve. Time you and your party learned the difference.

As for the RCMP and prosecution lawyers, both will remain in disrepute over Duffygate until they explain how they could have been 100 percent wrong in their professional judgements of what is a crime and what is not. This fish stinks from the head.

Original Article
Author: Michael Harris

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