It's come out in the media today that Nigel Wright, the PM's Chief of Staff, gave Senator Mike Duffy, from Prince Edward Island, $90,000.
Senator Duffy was the subject of a minor scandal earlier this year regarding improper housing expenses, one of several that rocked the still very unelected, unaccountable and ineffective Senate. Senator Duffy paid back the improperly expensed funds, but it has just come out that he did so after receiving a personal cheque from Nigel Wright.
Some people are trying to stir up a fuss about this, and honestly, I think it's rather silly.
What Senator Duffy did with respect to his expenses was wrong, that's fairly obvious. Taxpayers should be repaid the full amount, and other possible actions could be taken against Senator Duffy. However, Duffy did not have the funds required to reimburse the taxpayers. Rather than let this drag out into a longer scandal, and leave the taxpayers without their money for some longer period of time, Wright decided to write a personal cheque to Duffy, from his own account, to allow the public to be repaid immediately.
Is it good that Senator Duffy didn't feel much financial pain out of this? Probably not, but would we rather the Senator be stuck in debt and the public be out $90,000, or would we rather the taxpayers get their money back?
I'm more concerned with restitution than with punishment, so I'm quite happy to see the money repaid, even if Senator Duffy was helped by a friend.
Now I wonder if Nigel Wright wants to give out similar personal gifts to people who haven't created any political scandals for him to clean up. I'll wait by my phone for his call.
UPDATE: This keeps getting weirder, apparently Duffy didn't use the cheque to pay back the taxpayers, it's being held in trust by his lawyer.