A former Conservative staffer asks Stephen Harper to come clean or resign

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

A former Conservative staffer has written a scathing op-ed article asking the Prime Minister to come clean about the Senate expense scandal or resign as party leader.

In the column published in the Ottawa Citizen, David Sachs — who worked for former cabinet ministers Lawrence Cannon and Peter Kent — says that Stephen Harper is putting Conservatives like him in an "ethical bind."

The conservative mindset understands that power tends to corrupt. How far will we let it corrupt us? I have been involved in party work for more than a decade and I call on other party members to demand answers, or resignation from our leader.

Some of the prime minister’s key people have conspired to undermine Senate investigations, to influence a third-party financial audit and ultimately to pay off a senator, all, in tragic irony, to maintain an illusion of party ethics. The prime minister has, in the kindest interpretation, hidden the full truth.

Is that acceptable to you, as a Canadian and a Conservative?

As Conservatives, there is much Harper and his government have done to be proud of. But as more power is seized by the unelected members of Harper’s inner circle; as more of his key, chosen people turn out to be ethically unsound or worse, we must ask: how far will we let our own leader go?

Sachs adds that if Harper is allowed to continue as is, he'll fall and take the party down with them.

[ Related: Tories retain two seats but suffer big loss in voter support on byelection Monday ]

There are people — on social media and elsewhere — who are arguing that we shouldn't get too carried away with one former staffer's comments.

While that's true, Sachs' comments shouldn't go unnoticed.

The RCMP court filing, released last Wednesday, has raised more questions about the prime minister's culpability in the scandal.

In the report, the Mounties allege that Nigel Wright — the prime minister's former chief of staff — committed fraud and breach of trust when he gave Sen. Duffy $90,000 so that he could repay inappropriate expense claims; it suggests that the PMO attempted to influence at least three Tory senators with regard to whitewashing Duffy's audit report; and it implicates other PMO and Tory staffers.

Harper continues to claim that he knew nothing about the scheme but polls suggest Canadians don't believe him.

[ More Politics: Harper grilled over explosive new allegations involving Nigel Wright payment to Senator Mike Duffy ]

It seems that some in his caucus are even having trouble accepting his version of events.

Over the past several weeks, there have also been rumblings about Harper's leadership from at least a couple backbench MPs.

According to CTV News, one Tory MP told them "This is not what we signed up for, sitting there and clapping, pretending everything is great."

One MP told the National Post's John Ivison that if Wright is charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust it's over for Harper.

"If charges are laid, there is no way the PM can continue. MPs are talking about it openly this week," the Tory MP said, according to Ivison.

"No one expects Jim Flaherty to run again, so he could be installed as interim leader and we’d still have time to hold a leadership contest before the next election."

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Again, it would be premature and even irresponsible to suggest that there was any sort of organized coup developing against Stephen Harper.

But, for the first time since he became prime minister, there are — within Conservative Party ranks — questions about his future

That has to be of concern to the prime minister and his advisers.

(Photo courtesy of the Canadian Press)

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