Conservative Leader Stephen Harper says he has demonstrated leadership by taking steps to ensure that anyone responsible for wrongdoing with regard to the controversial payment of Senator Mike Duffy's expenses will be held accountable.
The long federal election campaign began its second week on Sunday, three days before Mr. Duffy's trial on fraud, bribery and breach of trust charges is set to resume with the testimony of Nigel Wright, Mr. Harper's former chief of staff.
Mr. Wright, who has been called as a witness for the prosecution, personally covered those expenses with a payment of $90,000 in 2013.
Both Mr. Wright and Mr. Harper have said Mr. Harper was not aware that the money came from Mr. Wright. But Mr. Wright will undoubtedly be asked on the witness stand to explain an e-mail he wrote to Conservative colleagues saying they were were "good to go from the PM" on the Duffy repayment plan.
When asked by reporters during a campaign stop on Sunday morning to explain what was meant by "good to go," Mr. Harper replied that those were not his words.
"They are somebody else's." he said. "I have said repeatedly, and I think the facts are clear, I did not know that Mr. Wright had made a payment to Mr. Duffy. As soon as I learned that, I made that public. And Mr. Wright has been clear about that."
One of the hazards for Mr. Harper in calling an early election campaign is that he is expected to face a daily grilling about the Duffy scandal and the trial which will be playing out in the court as he travels the country making a pitch for his Conservative party's re-election.
Mr. Duffy, who has pleaded not guilty, is just one of several senators appointed by Mr. Harper who have found themselves in trouble over questionable expense claims.
In regard to Mr. Duffy, said Mr. Harper, "as soon as I learned about this particular matter, we brought in the authorities. We have been working with the authorities and people have been held accountable. So those who are responsible will be held accountable and I will let the court do its work."
But reporters pressed him to explain what the affair says about his leadership abilities.
"A leader always thinks things will go well," said Mr. Harper. "But the reality is that bad things do happen from time to time and a leader, a real leader, takes action in those cases to ensure that the people responsible are held accountable for the actions and that's exactly what I did in that situation."