OTTAWA – Opposition leader Tom Mulcair is calling on the prime minister to release all the documents connected to a $90,000 payment to a now-disgraced senator.
Stephen Harper’s chief of staff resigned over the weekend after it was revealed he gave Sen. Mike Duffy the money to pay back taxpayers for his disallowed housing expenses.
Mulcair says the series of excuses and explanations Harper’s government has deployed since the scandal broke don’t add up – and it’s time the prime minister addressed the facts directly.
“I want to hear Stephen Harper say he is going to put all the documents on the table,” the NDP leader told a news conference Wednesday.
And he accused Harper of hiding out in South America rather than facing Canadians who are demanding answers in the growing scandal.
Harper is currently in Peru on a trade mission, and is expected to take questions from reporters later today.
“Be clear, be forthright, stop hiding out in the Andes, get back up here, tell people what actually happened,” Mulcair said.
“There is something that doesn’t wash in this whole story. Canadians understand that, they get that.”
In a speech to his caucus Tuesday, Harper pledged Senate reform and greater accountability but did not specifically address the issue of Wright and Duffy.
Conservative senators, meanwhile, sent Duffy’s expenses back to the same closed-door committee that initially reviewed them, rejecting a Liberal bid to have the matter referred directly to the police.
Liberal Senate leader James Cowan argued the committee on internal economy had lost credibility with Canadians and the police should take over.
He said the initial report on the former Conservative senator’s expenses had been “whitewashed” by his Tory colleagues, and then further thrown into doubt when the details of the $90,000 transaction emerged.
But Senate Speaker Noel Kinsella ruled Cowan’s bid was out of order, and the Conservative majority in the Senate voted to have the matter sent back to the committee.
Wright resigned Sunday, and Duffy quit the Conservative caucus last Thursday, after the details of their transaction began to emerge.
After that payment from Wright, Duffy stopped co-operating with an audit into his expenses. The Senate report into Duffy does not include some of the same language used in nearly identical reports into the claims of senators Patrick Brazeau and Mac Harb.
Harper’s office insisted Tuesday there was no agreement between Wright and Duffy, and that as a result no documentation of such a deal exists. But no one has yet provided a full explanation of what transpired between the two men.