Mike Duffy and the PMO’s communications specialists

A new email in the Duffy affair

Sean Kilpatrick/CP

CTV has apparently obtained an email that suggests the Prime Minister’s Office was ready to work with Mike Duffy on the communications strategy around the repayment of his expenses.

An e-mail obtained by CTV News shows that on Feb. 20, two days before the repayment announcement, senior PMO officials approached Mr. Duffy to help him explain things. The electronic message, sent to Mr. Duffy from his lawyer Janice Payne, informs him she’s been contacted by a PMO lawyer who works for Mr. Wright. The Prime Minister’s Office names two PMO staffers who are standing by to craft messages for Mr. Duffy.

“Chris Woodcock of his office and Patrick Rogers are communications specialists – very talented and happy to work with you to develop various strategies around communications,” Ms. Payne wrote in the e-mail to Mr. Duffy.

The Prime Minister’s Office says, “This is not an email we have seen. It appears to be correspondence between Mr. Duffy and his counsel and without any context or detail it is difficult to comment on.” But the email is potentially relevant because of what Mr. Duffy told the Senate two weeks ago.

Senator LeBreton, some Conservative MPs and some PMO spinners have been attacking me for saying I had gotten a loan at the RBC. Some people, colleagues, just have no shame. That line about RBC was part of a script written for me and emailed to me by the PMO.

On February 21, after all of the threats and intimidation, I reluctantly agreed to go along with this dirty scheme. The PMO spin machine was in high gear. Cellphone and PMO telephone records from February will show there were numerous phone calls and emails to me as the PMO developed their version of events and rehearsed with me right up until minutes before I went on television the lines I would use with the media.

Early on, in those discussions with the PMO, the PMO experts predicted the media would ask, “Where did you get the $90,000?” When they heard that I had been using a line of credit to renovate my home in Cavendish, they jumped right on it. It was suggested I go to the RBC, borrow the cash to pay off that line of credit, and then, when the media asked, “Where did you get the money to pay the $90,000?”, the PMO told me to say, “My wife and I took out a loan at the Royal Bank.”

Well, that’s technically correct. We took out a loan, but that loan wasn’t to repay money, the $90,000 that the PMO agreed I didn’t owe. That line was written by the PMO to deceive Canadians as to the real source of the $90,000.

The day after Mr. Duffy made this speech to the Senate, Thomas Mulcair pursued this specific matter with the Prime Minister. Here is how the Prime Minister responded.

Mr. Speaker, the story that Mr. Duffy had reimbursed his own expenses when, in fact, he had not was the story of Mr. Duffy and Mr. Wright.

Let me repeat that. The story that Mr. Duffy had reimbursed his own expenses when, in fact, he had not was the story of Mr. Duffy and Mr. Wright. It is completely unacceptable for me and for the public to be misled in this way. That is why Mr. Wright no longer works here and that is why Mr. Duffy should not be on the public payroll, and the Senate should take action.

The suggestion here would seem to be that whoever was involved, the responsibility for this scheme lies with Mr. Wright and Mr. Duffy. (Last week, Mr. Harper said Nigel Wright “undertook these particular actions using his own resources, his own authority, and his own initiative,” a phrase he later repeated.)

Mr. Wright has told the RCMP that he recalls telling Mr. Woodcock, formerly the director of issues management in the PMO, about his decision to cover Mr. Duffy’s expenses. CTV has previously claimed that Mr. Rogers, formerly the manager of parliamentary affairs in the PMO, was also aware of Mr. Wright’s cheque.

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