I made one last effort. I said: I don’t believe I owe anything, and besides which, I don’t have $90,000. Don’t worry, Nigel said, I’ll write the cheque. Let the lawyers handle the details; you just follow the plan and we’ll keep Carolyn Stewart Olsen and David Tkachuk at bay.
There were elaborate undertakings negotiated among the several lawyers involved in this. They were taking instructions from their clients: at least two lawyers from the PMO, one I know of from the Conservative party and my own lawyer. There was an undertaking made by the PMO, with the agreement of the Senate leadership, that I would not be audited by Deloitte, that I’d be given a pass; and further, that if this phoney scheme ever became public, Senator LeBreton, the leader of the government of the day, would whip the Conservative caucus to prevent my expulsion from the chamber.
PMO officials confided it wasn’t easy to get this commitment to do as they were told from senators LeBreton, Tkachuk and Stewart Olsen, but the e-mail chain shows it took hours of shuttling back and forth as the lawyers checked with their principals about the guarantees they were going to give to ensure that I wasn’t censured for going along with this PMO scheme.
Given all of those e-mails, you can imagine my shock when I heard there’s not a single document about all of this in the PMO, not one. In response to an access-to-information request, CBC was told there’s not one single document related to this matter in the PMO.
Well, if they’re not in the PMO, they’re in the hands of my lawyers and I suspect in the hands of the RCMP. Why don’t I release those documents now? Because the people involved have rights, which under our system, must be protected. Are the police looking at possible criminal charges? Are they wondering about bribery, threats and extortion of a sitting legislator? This is serious stuff, and the people who were involved and there’s more than those I’ve mentioned here today deserve to have their rights protected. It’s the Canadian way. It will all come out in due course when all of the players are under oath and the e-mail chain can be seen in its entirety.
While all of this was going on in the interim, despite the big agreement, I was sent off to Deloitte, not by the Board of Internal Economy but by the special select subcommittee. Not Senator Marshall’s group, no, no. I wasn’t sent there. I was sent straight off to Deloitte by senators Stewart Olsen, Tkachuk and Furey – straight to Deloitte.
And then, when Deloitte wanted to see everything including my wife’s bank account, I was told in the reading room in the back: They’ve got all they need. It doesn’t matter. Don’t bother.
After combing my living expense claims, my travel claims, Senate air travel, my cell phone records and Senate AMEX, Deloitte found that I had not violated the Senate rules.
Then, in May, after someone leaked selected excerpts of a confidential e-mail I had sent to my lawyer in February, in which I voiced my opposition and concern about the deal, the PMO was back with a vengeance. I was called at home in Cavendish by Ray Novak, senior assistant to the prime minister. He had with him Senator LeBreton, leader of the government in the Senate. Senator LeBreton was emphatic: The deal was off. If I didn’t resign from the Conservative caucus within 90 minutes, I’d be thrown out of the caucus immediately, without a meeting, without a vote. In addition, she said, if I didn’t quit the caucus immediately, I’d be sent to the Senate ethics committee, with orders from the leadership to throw me out of the Senate.
With Ray Novak, my wife and my sister listening in on the call, Senator LeBreton was insistent: You’ve got to do this, Mike. Do what I’m telling you. Quit the caucus within the next 90 minutes. It’s the only way to save your paycheque, quote.
I understand that caucus disputes are internal and not a matter for the Senate. However, when one’s status as a senator is repeatedly threatened, I believe this amounts to an attack on my independence as a senator and is criminal, or at the very least, a serious violation of my privileges.