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Harper’s former chief of staff had ‘detailed’ binder of Duffy’s activities

Nigel Wright, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's chief of staff, arrives to testify before the Commons ethics committee on Parliament Hill in Ottawa in this November 2, 2010 file photo. Harper announced May 19, 2013 he has accepted the resignation of Wright, following revelations his chief of staff had been involved in the ongoing Senate expense account spending scandal.

CHRIS WATTIE/REUTERS

Stephen Harper's former chief of staff had a binder full of details on Senator Mike Duffy's official and personal activities, but appears not to have provided it to auditors reviewing Duffy's expenses nor to police when they first opened an investigation.

The existence of a binder of calendars, chronicling Duffy's life over four years, was revealed in RCMP documents filed in court his week.

It raises a host of new questions about how much the prime minister's office knew about Duffy's movements, at a time when the former Tory senator's expenses were under the microscope.

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"The calendar is quite detailed and contains notes of Sen. Duffy's travel, meetings, teleconferences, social events, holidays, noteworthy current events, speeches, and political interactions," Cpl. Greg Horton wrote in a court filing.

In early February, the Senate asked independent auditors to look into Duffy's expenses following allegations he was improperly claiming a home in P.E.I. as his main residence. Some time that month, Duffy couriered the binder of calendars to Nigel Wright, who was then Harper's right-hand man.

"Mary and I copied and redacted my four years of diaries; added a summary of my days in P.E.I, and pics of the cottage under construction etc. and sent it to Nigel by Purolator," Duffy wrote in a Feb. 20 email obtained by police.

Duffy never gave those calendars to the Deloitte auditors and they finished their report in May pointing out the many questions they still had about Duffy's whereabouts and expense claims. Still, the Conservative Senate leadership did not demand more detail and backed a report that contained no criticism of Duffy.

The news broke shortly afterward that Wright had given Duffy a $90,000 cheque in March to repay questionable expenses.

A Senate committee started scrutinizing Duffy's expenses again, this time connecting more dots with the help of detailed information from Senate finance officials. The matter was forwarded to the RCMP.

By mid-June, the RCMP were talking to Wright's lawyers about the controversy. But Wright's legal counsel did not send the binder of calendars to the police until more than two months later.

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The Canadian Press put questions to Wright about the documents through his lawyers. Peter Mantas responded Wednesday that they "could not comment on the matter."

The Prime Minister's Office also did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the new information.

Duffy has said he will not comment.

The RCMP have outlined four areas of investigation as they file production orders for documents:

  • The $90,000 transaction between Duffy and Wright.
  • Duffy’s housing expense claims.
  • Duffy’s travel expense claims.
  • $65,000 worth of Senate-paid contracts Duffy provided to a friend over three years.
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