Another Conservative MP has joined the growing chorus of support for Nigel Wright, as Prime Minister Stephen Harper takes an increasingly hard line against his former chief of staff.
Speaking on CBC News Network’s Power & Politics, Alberta Conservative MP James Rajotte called Wright a friend and characterized the former Bay Street businessman as an “exemplary character.”
“Every time I dealt with Nigel as a member of Parliament, as chief of staff to the prime minister he did an exceptional job in terms of dealing with me, especially on policy issues,” Rajotte told host Evan Solomon. “That’s not contradictory, in my sense, of Jason [Kenney] saying he’s an exemplary character, an exemplary person high intelligence. I think even people across the aisle recognize that.”
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Minister of Employment and Social Development Jason Kenney told the Calgary Herald he considered Wright to be an “extraordinarily capable man with high ethical principles.”
“I know Nigel Wright to be a person of good faith, of competence, with high ethical standards. And as far as I can tell, this was an uncharacteristic lapse of judgment on his part, both the decision to write a cheque and apparently the way it was handled thereafter,” he told the newspaper.
The defence comes after Harper lashed out at Wright this week.
“On our side, there is one person responsible for this deception. That person is Mr. Wright,” he said in the House of Commons.
Harper initially said he accepted Wright’s resignation with “regret” after his decision to cut a personal cheque for $90,000 to cover Senator Mike Duffy’s inappropriate expenses. But more recently he said that Wright was “dismissed” because of his actions.
Rajotte said that he supports Wright’s integrity, but regrets his action on the Duffy file.
“I would stand before you today and say Nigel was a friend of mine, and I do hold him in high regard, but obviously I can say to him as a friend that in that instance I wish he would have done something entirely different,” he told Power & Politics.