Sometimes, the news doesn’t give a complete view of what happens on any given day in Parliament. You hear one snippet of question period on the late-night news, or read the prime minister’s latest denials about what he did or didn’t know about Nigel Wright, Mike Duffy and the Senate scandal.
But you don’t get the true repetitive impact of a politician staying firmly on the message track, question after question, barely changing a word in his answers.
Here’s a series of answers from Prime Minister Stephen Harper to a variety of questions from NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau on Wednesday. The questions, by the way, were about other individuals involved in the coverup — but Harper would only talk about two people.
“Mr. Speaker, Mr. Duffy said that he had repaid taxpayers for his inappropriate expenses. However, that was not the case at all. It was Mr. Wright who did so. When I learned this, we took action. That is why Mr. Wright no longer works for me and Mr. Duffy is no longer a member of the Conservative caucus.”
“Mr. Speaker, once again, what is at issue here is that Mr. Duffy made claims to repay inappropriate expenses when he, in fact, had not done that. That was actually done by Mr. Wright. Obviously, that information was not properly disclosed to me or to others. For that reason, those two individuals are under investigation and we have taken action against the appropriate individuals.”
“The issue at hand here is the fact Mr. Duffy made claims to repay inappropriate expenses when he had not done so. Mr. Wright had done that on his behalf. He had not sought authority to do that. He had no approval to do that. That fact was misrepresented to me and to others. For that reason, we have taken action against the appropriate individuals.”
“Mr. Speaker, it is clear that two individuals are under investigation in relation to the fact that Mr. Duffy claimed that he repaid expenses, but did not. On the contrary, Mr. Wright did. Mr. Wright did not provide this information. He was not authorized to do it and he did not give me or anyone else that information. For that reason, we took action against the individuals concerned.”
“Mr. Speaker, what was inappropriate here was that Mr. Duffy claimed to have repaid inappropriate expenses when he had not done so. On the contrary, it was Mr. Wright who paid those expenses, and those two individuals had not sought authority and had not properly disclosed that information. That is why, when we learned of that, we took the appropriate action.”
“Once again, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Wright was responsible for this. He is no longer in our employment. Mr. Duffy and other senators who broke rules have been dealt with harshly by the Senate, not simply exiting from the Conservative caucus but are under suspension without pay.”
“Mr. Speaker, it was Mr. Duffy who made claims about having repaid inappropriate expenses. Those claims were completely untrue. The fact of the matter was that Mr. Wright had paid those expenses on his behalf. As those two individuals did not properly disclose that information, they are the ones responsible. That is why they are under investigation and why we have taken the appropriate actions.”
Ah, the good old broken-record defence. Maybe if you just keep saying the same thing over and over again, regardless of what you’re asked, you can even begin to believe it yourself.