OTTAWA – Did the prime minister’s former chief of staff Nigel Wright resign or was he dismissed?
That is the big question after Prime Minister Stephen Harper seemingly contradicts his own story about a $90,000 cheque written by his then chief of staff to Sen. Mike Duffy.
In an exclusive interview with our Halifax sister station News 95.7, Harper seems to have been at odds with his own story.
“As you know, I had a chief of staff who made an inappropriate payment to Mr. Duffy. He was dismissed,” he said in the interview.
Liberal Leader in Senate James Cowan said it seems like the story just keeps changing.
“If you say…’I was dismissed’ or ‘I resigned,’ those are two very different things,” he said.
“I think that most people would see that as more than a nuance.”
He adds that this is an important difference because it may have had an impact on Wright’s severance package.
“Normally, if you resign, you resign. If you’re dismissed for cause, then normally — as I understand it — you would not get any benefits. You would be just gone,” he said.
“There’s certainly a difference between resigning and being dismissed.”
When asked why the prime minister said something different, his office did not clear it up.
In a statement, the office said that Harper was not aware of the agreement and had he known, he would not have approved it because it is inappropriate, which is why Wright no longer works for the prime minister.
In the spring when word of the secret payment first surfaced, Harper initially praised Wright, before appearing to regretfully accept his top lieutenant’s resignation several days later.
“I accept that Nigel believed he was acting in the public interest, but I understand the decision he has taken to resign,” the prime minister said May 19.