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CBC readers seek answers following Nigel Wright's resignation

Categories: Canada, Politics


CBC readers were left with several questions following news that Prime Minister Stephen Harper's chief of staff, Nigel Wright, stepped down on Sunday. His resignation followed revelations that he wrote a $90,000 cheque to repay improperly claimed housing expenses for Senator Mike Duffy.

"My actions were intended solely to secure the repayment of funds, which I considered to be in the public interest, and I accept sole responsibility," Wright said in a statement.

"I did not advise the Prime Minister of the means by which Sen. Duffy's expenses were repaid, either before or after the fact."

The announcement came as something of a surprise to many observers, as the Prime Minister's Office insisted as recently as Friday that Wright had the "full confidence" of the prime minister and would be "staying on."

Wright's resignation sparked swift reaction from Parliament Hill and, likewise, thousands of readers took time out of their long weekend to weigh in on the news.

Many felt that Wright's statement and Harper's response to it were vague at best, and evasive at worst. The questions began pouring in on Sunday.

  • 'I did not advise the prime minister of the means by which Senator Duffy's expenses were repaid, either before or after the fact,' said Wright. Careful words. Exact words. Keep in mind his legal background. Who did he advise? If Wright wanted to say that Harper didn't know, he would have said so . . .There are way too many unanswered questions . . . We don't need PR or spin, we need the unvarnished truth,"- the crucible
  • "I would really like to know why Nigel Wright felt the need to give Duffy a personal cheque," - mettaulysse
  • "If his intention was to secure the repayment of funds in the public interest, why didn't he repay the money for all the senators involved?" - pat1959

Several expressed concern over the timing of the issue, noting that the announcement happened on the Victoria Day weekend, and that on Tuesday Harper will fly out to Peru for a trip that will last until the end of the week.

A handful even took the longer view and pushed for the issue to be resolved before the summer recess, which is currently scheduled to begin on June 21.

  • "This is happening at an inconvenient time for the rest of us because soon everyone in Harper's caucus, including himself, will disappear for the summer," said Freudian's Slip

Others pointed out that the Senate expenses controversy does not only involve Conservatives.

Senator Mac Harb resigned from the Liberal caucus last week after he was ordered to repay $51,000 in housing and mileage claims by a Senate committee, and some readers feel that he hasn't been subjected to enough scrutiny.

  • "When is Harb Mac paying his money back?"said guystone. "Where is his money?,"
  • "It's not just CPC senators...Liberal Mac Harb is in big trouble too." said Malabar Front

There were also some readers arguing that speculation isn't productive, and defending Wright as an honourable public servant. Many gave him the benefit of the doubt.

  • "There are a lot of jubilant (spiteful?) posts about this, but people should be thankful the process is unfolding as it should - it would not in many other countries, nor in some previous Canadian federal governments . . . We don't know yet why Mr. Wright gave Duffy the money, but that is likely to come out in time. Perhaps he has done the right thing in resigning, but it is a short sighted view to kick him as he leaves. By all accounts in addition to being fallible like the rest of us on occasion, he is very smart and capable and we have now lost that talent . . . Stories like this have a way of developing their own steam where speculation trumps fact. I think we should continue to press for explanations, particularly of the actions of the Senators involved, and hold judgement until those facts are known." - billcowan
  • "Wright's departure is a great loss for both the PM and for Canada. He was a good public servant whose first loyalty is to this country. He is not dead he is just away. He did in fact try to leave last January but was persuaded to stay on. He became a distraction with the media and when he became the story he left of his own accord. Of course the opposition bolsterd by the media will try to spin this into something sinister. I give it two weeks," - sealedknot

Meantime, Harper's principal secretary since 2008, Ray Novak, will take over as chief of staff.

Thank you, as always, for following our coverage. Please feel free to comment on or challenge any of the points above and continue the conversation below.

Tags: Canada, Politics

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