Mike Duffy and Stephen Harper are playing a high-stakes political poker game. But no matter what happens to Duffy, it is Harper who has much more to lose.
Say what you will about Duffy, he is playing the hand he was dealt about as well as could be expected.
It doesn’t really matter, for example, whether it was right or wrong for the Conservative Party’s lawyer to pay his legal expenses.
All he has to do is bring it up and link it to the Prime Minister’s Office. That’s what voters will remember.
More importantly, it’s what the Conservative “base” (which appears to be an overriding
concern for Harper) will remember.
Never mind that what Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau did may have been unethical or even fraudulent. In the larger scheme of things, we’re talking about small amounts of money.
What it really comes down to for Harper is the perceptions of Conservative supporters.
They work hard to raise money for the party, and the thought of it possibly being funnelled into unethical practices has to be enraging — and rightfully so.
The Conservatives’ convention gets underway Thursday night in Calgary, and the Senate
scandal will no doubt be a major topic of conversation in the hallways.
Conservative senators would like to have this issue dealt with before then, but the timing of the all-important vote on suspensions is dragging out. And even if they manage to get the vote out of the way, there will still be lingering controversy about whether the punishment was premature.
Even worse, the matter is bound to wind up in court. Duffy says he and his lawyer have a trail of emails that will be even more incriminating.
Those lawsuits could easily drag into 2014 when the next federal election is scheduled, and the revelations — if they do indeed exist — could be embarrassing, to say the least, during the middle of a campaign.
In the end, it’s entirely possible that Duffy will pull out some kind of win even if he loses.
We Say editorials represent the viewpoint of The Daily News and are written by publisher Tim Shoults, city editor Tracy Gilchrist, or associate news editors Dan Spark and Mark Rogers.