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VIEW: Nigel Wright’s role as party bagman deserves scrutiny, says McQuaig

Toronto Star columnist Linda McQuaig writes, “For a guy forced to resign at the centre of a raging political storm, Nigel Wright has so far emerged largely unbruised. While Senators Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin would be hard-pressed these days to find Conservatives willing to follow them on Twitter, Wright has been staunchly defended by conservative guru David Frum, who described Wright as the person he most admires in all of British, American and Canadian politics.”

McQuaig highlights that “less attention has been paid to Wright’s role as one of the Harper Conservatives’ top bagmen” and notes:

– “Wright was one of three founding directors of Conservative Fund Canada, which was set up in 2003 to finance the new conservative movement in its bid to bring about a conservative revolution in Canada —an aspiration Wright strongly shares.”
– “Wright and (corporate high-flier Senator Irving) Gerstein developed the fund into an effective fundraising machine that underwrote Conservative election campaigns and developed the party’s sophisticated computer systems. They also battled Elections Canada over the ‘in and out’ scandal — Wright is named in court documents — in which the Conservative party eventually pled guilty to election law violations and paid hefty fines for using a complex scheme that resulted in campaign overspending.”

And she argues, “Wright’s role as one of the party’s key money men bears scrutiny, since the notion that he acted on his own — paying off Duffy with his own money without telling the prime minister — is central to Harper’s insistence that he knew nothing about the possibly illegal payment to Duffy. …The Conservative narrative about Wright recklessly freelancing a private solution to the Duffy problem seems out of sync with what is known about Wright — that he’s a team-playing party loyalist who is highly disciplined (getting up at 4 a.m. to run 20 kilometres), with a strong connection to the money-raising side of the party. A public inquiry is clearly needed to establish how the Duffy payoff was orchestrated — which is essential for democratic accountability of the Harper government.”

For more, please read:
Nigel Wright’s role as party bagman deserves scrutiny
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