Yes, about that ...
It's peculiar that Harper keeps insisting he first heard about his chief of staff Nigel Wright's $90,000 payment to Duffy on May 15 following "speculation in the media", given that CTV's Robert Fife had contacted the PMO the previous day to confirm it and the PMO responded.
And you gotta love Steve taking credit for it coming out to the public here.
Asked whether he had spoken with his former press secretary now Senator Carolyn Stewart Olsen, seen at top shielding Steve from reporters and who successfully moved to whitewash the report on Duffy, Steve replied he had not but that he agreed with the Senate recommendations - which were, of course, whitewashed.
He answered subsequent questions with "The Senate committee report is the Senate committee report." Nothing to do with cabinet or government, says Steve.
OK, that would be the Senate committee report that according to its Harper-appointed chair David Tkachuk :
"... you’ve got to remember I would have been having a number of discussions with Nigel, I had a few of them. He didn’t tell me to do anything, really. We discussed Mike and the situation that he was in. I mean, the Prime Minister’s Office was very concerned about this. They don’t like this scandal going on. It was hurting us politically.
I talked to people in the PMO ... "
Q: Can you say though that any of the Prime Minister’s Office’s advice ended up impacting how that report was written?
A: Well, I don’t know, I suppose. It’s hard for me to say. It’s hard for me to say. Only because I asked for advice from many, many people, so it’s all in the report.Meanwhile the Senate has responded to having its rewrite outed by putting the deleted parts back in and handing the whole thing over to the RCMP.
Will all RCMP communications still need to be vetted by Vic Toews as per his 2011 mandate?
Will all subsequent questions from anyone else be greeted with the usual 'Can't talk about it because it's now under investigation' ?
ETA : From Kristy Kirkup, national affairs editor for Sun Media
On Duffy's email that after he was paid off, he was "staying silent on orders from the Prime Minister's Office", Steve doesn't know anything about that : “Mr. Speaker, these are not matters that I am privy to” - a Privy Council reference, perhaps? - and besides "Mike Duffy is no longer a member of our caucus."
Was Duffy's non-cooperation with Deloitte after receiving payment from the PMO part of the deal?
Steve doesn't even try for that one : "Mr. Duffy received no money from the PMO or the taxpayers of Canada."
No, Mr. Duffy is just the beneficiary of the extraordinary largesse of Steve's own chief of staff over an issue that "was hurting us politically." Duffy used the payoff to stop co-operating with auditors and that allowed an all too willing senate steering committee to use it as the excuse to whitewash their report.
Mulcair : "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's out of the Prime Minister's Office."
Well done, Mulcair. Best question period ever.