Nigel Wright, the prime minister\'s top aide, gave Sen. Mike Duffy a cheque for $90,000.
Nigel Wright, the prime minister’s top aide, gave Sen. Mike Duffy a cheque for $90,000. Photo: Postmedia News / Files

Published: May 20, 2013, 7:53 pm
Updated: 5 months ago

Section 17 (1) of the Senate Conflict of Interest code states: “Neither a Senator, nor a family member, shall accept … any gift or other benefit, except compensation authorized by law, that could reasonably be considered to relate to the Senator’s position.”

Section 16 (1) of the Parliament of Canada Act states that “no member of the Senate shall receive or agree to receive any compensation, directly or indirectly, for services rendered … in relation to any bill, proceeding, contract, claim, controversy, charge, accusation, arrest or other matter before the Senate or the House of Commons or a committee of either House. Moreover, Section 16 (3) makes “every person who gives, offers or promises to any member of the Senate” such compensation liable to imprisonment for up to one year.

Section 121 (1) of the Criminal Code states that anyone who “gives, offers or agrees to give or offer” to an official or “being an official, demands, accepts or offers or agrees to accept” any “loan, reward, advantage or benefit of any kind” in return for “cooperation, assistance, exercise of influence or an act or omission” in connection with “any matter of business relating to the government,” is guilty of an offence punishable by up to five years in jail.

Translation: paying a Senator under the table, for any reason, under any circumstances, is serious business. But when the recipient is under investigation by a Senate committee, when the purpose of the payment is to relieve him of responsibility for the expenses for which he is at that moment being audited, and when his benefactor is the most senior unelected official in the government, “serious” does not begin to describe it.

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