Politics

New Democrats ask RCMP if they'll reopen Senate-expenses probe

The NDP is calling on the RCMP to reconsider laying criminal charges against Nigel Wright, Stephen Harper's former chief of staff, and open a new investigation into other senior members of Harper's inner circle in light of evidence filed in the criminal case against Senator Mike Duffy.

MP Charlie Angus asks in letter if police will charge Nigel Wright, investigate other Conservatives

The trial of Senator Mike Duffy, centre, has heard about emails between Stephen Harper's former chief of staff Nigel Wright, left, Harper's current chief of staff Ray Novak, right, and other senior Conservatives in the Prime Minister's Office and the Senate. (Justin Tang and Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

The federal New Democrats are asking if the Mounties will reopen their investigation into Nigel Wright, Stephen Harper's former chief of staff, and expand it to include Ray Novak, the most senior official in the prime minister's office, as well as other senior Conservatives in Harper's inner circle in light of new evidence filed in an Ottawa court room.

The question comes as Wright's testimony in the high-profile criminal case against Senator Mike Duffy revealed on Tuesday that he is still in touch with Novak, Harper's current chief of staff.

Duffy has pleaded not guilty to 31 charges of fraud, breach of trust and bribery related to expenses he claimed in 2013 as a senator and later repaid with a $90,000 cheque from Wright. 

Wright said under cross-examination by the defence that he was in contact with Harper's right-hand man as recently as two weeks ago, around the time the federal election was called.

The court heard again today that Novak was in the loop of Wright's payment for Duffy's ineligible Senate expenses.

Last week, the court heard evidence that Novak and Benjamin Perrin, then-lawyer for the Prime Minister's Office, were copied on a 2013 email from Wright that said: "I will send my cheque on Monday."

Harper, who faced persistent questions about the Wright-Duffy affair again today, has so far refused to acknowledge Novak's involvement in a scheme to make Duffy's senate expenses problems go away saying that the two individuals responsible — Duffy and Wright — are being held accountable.

The Conservative Leader maintains he was not told that his former chief of staff would be the one repaying Duffy's expenses.

'Clear response' sought from Mounties

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair said during an afternoon campaign stop in Parksville, B.C., that the New Democrats are asking the RCMP to "take a new look" and expect to receive "a clear response" from Paulson.

In a letter to RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson, the NDP's Charlie Angus says: "I am writing to ask whether the RCMP will now be laying charges against Nigel Wright.

"I am also asking, based on this new information, whether Ray Novak or any other staff working in the Prime Minister's office should be investigated for their role working with Mr. Wright in relation to this matter."

Evidence filed in court shows that senior staff in the Prime Minister's Office were working closely with Conservative senators to have Wright repay Duffy's expenses, in exchange for the senator saying he'd repaid them himself.

Wright denies meddling with audit

The Mounties charged Duffy with 31 charges related to Senate expenses but said last year that the evidence gathered in the course of their investigation did "not support criminal charges" against Mr. Wright.

"Since then, significant new evidence has come to light at trial that raises new questions about Mr. Wright's role in this scandal," said Angus in his letter to the RCMP.

"Evidence at trial points to over a dozen people involved in a plan to make a secret payment to a sitting Senator, have him make intentionally misleading statements to the public, and interfere with an independent audit," Angus wrote.

Wright denied under cross-examination on Tuesday meddling with an independent audit tasked with looking into the residency and expense claims of senators.

The RCMP confirmed in an email to CBC News on Tuesday that the investigation into allegations of fraud and breach of trust against Senator Pamela Wallin's Senate expenses "is still ongoing."

No charges have been laid against Wallin and none of the allegations have been proven in court.

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